Outlook - Due Dates

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by SeanKarrim, Jun 9, 2017.

  1. SeanKarrim

    SeanKarrim Registered

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    Hi

    Should I use due dates in outlook in terms of what I think I need to do

    today
    tomorrow
    this week
    next week
    this month
    next month

    It makes sense for me to assign dates to my next actions. I known David Allen is against assigning dates but assigning dates makes me know what to focus on now instead of going through my entire inventory of items which might include items due later than today.
     
  2. Damian

    Damian Registered

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    Hi Sean,

    This is often something that comes up when I'm chatting with people about GTD. For me your word focus is a key one. There are other variables in play though. The time available and energy you have are also key. It's likely you won't have the awareness of these two elements at the time you set due dates. In fact, in my personal experience and with others, we over estimate what's achievable because these factors are not fore front when setting dates. This can sound obvious and easy to skip over. Letting go of the need for arbitrary dates is one of the real benefits of the gtd way of working. It needs you to fully trust your system though.

    If you are setting dates and hitting them, then fine. It's common that many people find that they spend time renegotiating with themselves (and others) for dates that have slipped though. This can create a drag on your system and therefore make it less likely you'll want to fully engage with it. In fact, it can mean you end up avoiding it because of those 'red items'. That said, if something really has to be done on a date or not at all then having a due date is essential.

    Hopefully that helps.

    Damian
     
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  3. dbvirago

    dbvirago Registered

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    I am date/priority driven rather than pure GTD, but I agree with Damien. If it works, great, but if you start sliding undone items to the next date(s), then it doesn't. It's rare that I don't complete today's tasks today. I used to work with someone that had hundreds of tasks pop up in her to-do list every day following years of sliding. Clearly, it didn't work for her.

    To me, the purpose is to get things done, not follow a methodology. If you follow GTD, it will work, but it's not the only way. Do what works for you.
     
  4. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    Hello Sean; Outlook has two great tools for this - the calendar and the task. In some apps, for tasks, there is only a due date. With Outlook, there is a start date and a finish date. Before I get into this, I want to dissect your wording "what I think I need to do". In GTD, this belongs on your "Maybe" list. Create a separate task directory list for this. Leave the start date and end date as the default "(none)". Once you decide you are going to commit to completing this task, it's morphs into an active task or an outlook appointment on your calendar.
     
  5. K-S

    K-S GTD Connect

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    I second to Damian and use due dates only for things that really (!) have to happen on that day, i.e. for deadlines
     
  6. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    For Outlook-tasks, you can leave both the start date and due date at (none). However, if you set a start date, you must set a due date. (The system defaults to a due date the same as your start date.) Once an Outlook-task becomes overdue, its color changes from black to red. You can also have multiple views in Ouitlook-task, so you can have one view for everything you might do in your entire life and another view for tasks with a start date today or earlier.

    For what tasks you want to do tomorrow, next week, this month, it makes sense to have a start date set for the earliest date you can start such tasks. My advice is to assign a due date on everything. Let me give you an example of a low=priority task; On my @ Errands list right now is "Return library book" (which is due in a week), "buy yogurt and creatine from a specific grocery store". The library book incurrs a fine at $0.15 a day so no urgency. The grocery store is right beside it and I have almost a week of yogurt and creating. I put a due date on the grocery store for 5 days and the library book due in a week 2 weeks from now. the start date on both is today. These tasks have an Outlook priority setting of "Low". Before I get in my car to drive somewhere, I look at my @Errands list in Outlook to see what I can knock off. If I don't get it done by its due date, it turns red, which is my signal to re-evaluate it. This is my signal to bump it to a higher priority task or schudule it as an appointment, As another example, I have an auto-repeat task "take garbage to curb" every Tuesday. This is a high priority task as it must be done early in the morning.

    Before you laugh at the trivial nature of these tasks, consider that my Outlook-GTD system looks after them completely! I don't have to devout any brain power or memory to them because I know my trusted system reminds me of such tasks exactly when I need to know.
     
  7. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    I tried that and just found everything slipped. So I use due dates very sparingly. But I have found with Outlook tasks if you put a space in front of the task subject it puts it to the top of the list, so I'll add that in to tasks I want done sooner than later.
     
  8. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    What do you mean by 'slipped'? Years ago when I used a paper-and-pen system, I had to copy the tasks I didn't get done today to tomorrow's to-do list. This forced me to be realistic about what I could get done in a day. With outlook tasks, if I don't get it all done... its automatically on tomorrow's list. While this is convenient, it's to easy to let "slip" because there is not the psychological admission that I failed to complete what i set out to do.

    Outlook does not have an indigenous way to prioritize tasks on a list. (GTD purists would say "that is good"). i developed a work-around that I'm going to share.
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2018
  9. Suelin23

    Suelin23 Registered

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    That’s what I meant by slipped, I didn’t do them, they end up on tomorrow’s list and each day the list gets longer
     
  10. TruthWK

    TruthWK Registered

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    My understanding is that you are using due dates as your priority system. I think there is a psychological value in seeing priority through the lens of when you'd like to have something done by. As others have mentioned, it's easy for things to change and for due dates to either fall behind and become meaningless or constantly require updating. My current solution is to allocate out the 168 hours in a week to different areas of focus and track where i'm spending my time on an area level. This is purely to feel that i'm balancing the different areas that I have on a weekly basis and being more aware of the progress I am making so I don't feel guilty. I'm currently testing to see what's realistic. I'm not putting any artificial due dates on individual next actions. I am using Google Calendar's goals feature to do this and I have a clear delineation between what's truly my hard landscape and anything that may tell me loosely to focus on a particular area of focus during a larger block of free time because I want to keep my time spent in that area at a sufficient level.
     
  11. John Ismyname

    John Ismyname Registered

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    This thread his hitting on the differences between GTD and the A list B list prioritize methods of olden days. The systems I used had priorities like this;
    A- list tasks that you MUST have done today
    B-list tasks that you would LIKE have done today
    C-list - I can't remember. maybe tasks that you DREAM to have done today

    My understanding of GTD is that the A tasks are put in the calendar for a specific day.
    The C-list are the GTD equivalent of @ context items. No hurry, but they still have to be done by some date.
    B-lists (theoretically) have no place in GTD. A task is on the calendar or on the context list

    A task is going to be on the A-list for one or both of these reasons:
    consequences - of not doing it by its deadline
    convenience, of doing it while it is in its @ context

    If it's an A-list item due yesterday and you did not finish it (or start it), and there are no consequences then it was an 'artificial due date" as @TruthWK correctly calls it.Make it an @ context task with its meaningful due date. If the task never has to be done, then it goes on your @ Maybe list.
     

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