Tell me about your GTD implementation

dashik

Registered
As someone about to start GTD for the first time, I'm curious to know how you implement GTD and what works for you. I know GTD is flexible and that YMMV, but what do you find works and what doesn't for you?

I'm particularly interested in things like:
  • How do you handle soft deadlines for your actions (e.g. a Next Action that you should do by a certain date, but it isn't set in stone)? Do you put these on your Calendar, or do you simply mark it somewhere on a NA list?
  • How do you handle recurring tasks (for stuff like "Exercise 30 minutes" or "Read Spanish textbook for 1 hour")? Do these go on your Calendar? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment even if you do the same things everyday?
  • How do you handle unexpected changes to your blocked Calendar time? That is, if something more important comes up and interrupts the time you set aside to do something, do you reschedule it elsewhere on the Calendar?
  • When looking at your NA lists, how do you keep yourself from doing smaller, less important things instead of larger, more urgent things? Is it just a matter of discipline and motivation?
  • What are your most useful contexts?
  • Do you ever find yourself unmotivated/unwilling to use GTD, or are constantly adjusting and shuffling how your implementation works?
I appreciate your experiences!
 

Folke

Registered
  • How do you handle soft deadlines for your actions (e.g. a Next Action that you should do by a certain date, but it isn't set in stone)? Do you put these on your Calendar, or do you simply mark it somewhere on a NA list?
    - Next action. I do however put a red mark on actions that I do not want to risk overlooking (and I put a turquoise mark on those that I can skip in my daily morning review. And my regular ones are marked blue.)
  • How do you handle recurring tasks (for stuff like "Exercise 30 minutes" or "Read Spanish textbook for 1 hour")? Do these go on your Calendar? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment even if you do the same things everyday?
    - Never on the calendar, unless the time is agreed/fixed somehow with someone. Many of these I do not put anywhere at all (read books, exercise etc). For other things I often put up a recurring action in my app (e.g. to pay bills at the end of the month)
  • How do you handle unexpected changes to your blocked Calendar time? That is, if something more important comes up and interrupts the time you set aside to do something, do you reschedule it elsewhere on the Calendar?
    - If something more important or interesting comes up I interrupt what I was doing. I generally do not block out time.
  • When looking at your NA lists, how do you keep yourself from doing smaller, less important things instead of larger, more urgent things? Is it just a matter of discipline and motivation?
    - The urgent ones are not a problem for me, but the important, non-urgent ones can tend to get procrastinated. I have no fool-proof trick for that.
  • What are your most useful contexts?
    - People (requires real-time dialogue with a particular person, by phone, chat or face-to-face), Out (away from home or office), Clearheaded (requires mental calm, clarity and peace), Base (must be done at home or office), Info (can be done almost anywhere, unaided or perhaps just using a phone, wallet or other things that I tend to have available or with me almost everywhere)
  • Do you ever find yourself unmotivated/unwilling to use GTD, or are constantly adjusting and shuffling how your implementation works?
    - I adjust my approach whenever I have a better idea. I can get irritated at apps that I cannot get to do what I want.
 

Vickie

Registered
dashik said:
As someone about to start GTD for the first time, I'm curious to know how you implement GTD and what works for you. I know GTD is flexible and that YMMV, but what do you find works and what doesn't for you?

I'm particularly interested in things like:
  • How do you handle soft deadlines for your actions (e.g. a Next Action that you should do by a certain date, but it isn't set in stone)? Do you put these on your Calendar, or do you simply mark it somewhere on a NA list?
  • How do you handle recurring tasks (for stuff like "Exercise 30 minutes" or "Read Spanish textbook for 1 hour")? Do these go on your Calendar? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment even if you do the same things everyday?
  • How do you handle unexpected changes to your blocked Calendar time? That is, if something more important comes up and interrupts the time you set aside to do something, do you reschedule it elsewhere on the Calendar?
  • When looking at your NA lists, how do you keep yourself from doing smaller, less important things instead of larger, more urgent things? Is it just a matter of discipline and motivation?
  • What are your most useful contexts?
  • Do you ever find yourself unmotivated/unwilling to use GTD, or are constantly adjusting and shuffling how your implementation works?
I appreciate your experiences!

Hi, Before I share what works for me, let me tell you a bit about my system. Since I work for a highly regulated financial company, I have to keep two separate systems for home and work.
Work: Outlook tasks (to-dos); One Note (reference); Mindmanager (project Plans)
Home: Omnifocus (iphone); Evernote (reference and project plans)

Soft deadlines - I usually set these up as tasks with due dates. When I've put them in my calendar, I tend to ignore them for some reason. It works better for me to set this up as a task. Now that I think about it, I think I'm much more motivated to complete them as tasks because I get the satisfaction of checking it off! :)

Recurring tasks - Same as above. Putting it on my calendar never works for me. It works better if I set it up as a recurring task. For example, Lift Weights (repeat every two days). Meditate (daily). If I happen to miss it, no biggie, it will come up again soon enough. PS. Visit GTD forums every 3 days is a recent add to my recurring task list! See, it's working! :)

Unexpected changes to blocked time: I typically don't block time for tasks but I maintain a "hot list" of no more than 3 items (preferably) that I focus on during any free time. My energy level and context may impact which gets done first.

How do I keep myself from doing the less important tasks? The hotlist is great for this because I usually physically extract these items from the larger list to a note card or sheet of paper so that I'm not distracted by the other stuff.

Do I ever find myself unmotivated? Of course! think everyone does at some point. If it's on a day that I don't have anything too pressing to get done, I will pick some easy low hanging fruit from my list or maybe not even look at my lists if I'm really that unmotivated. What's great is that once you understand the core concepts, you can walk away for a bit and find your way back pretty easily. I tell people it's like eating healthy. If you do it most of the time but have a few "bad" days, it's really no big deal. You can find your way back on track in no time!

Hope this helps!
Vickie
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
Here is my setup:

(1) If it is something I want to focus on a do within a number of days, I will set a self-imposed due date. If it is a high-energy, high-focus task that will require 1+ hours to complete, I block this off on my calendar.
(2) I block these important items directly on my calendar. Exercise and family time must be protected as much as possible. In my mind, these definitely belong on the calendar.
(3) The calendar has to be flexible. Work coming in may be a higher priority and overrule what is scheduled on the calendar. But that is a real judgement call. The vast majority of the time, I go with my commitments -- what I had determined was important to me and scheduled on my calendar.
(4) I schedule my big rocks --those important tasks that move me forward in my career. To me, it is that simple. I do not let other people's agendas drive what I want to focus on.
(5) I pretty much use the standard GTD contexts. I take in consideration the 4-fold list of things when I schedule tasks -- how much time I need, what contexts are available, how much energy do I have, etc.
(6) I have modified GTD to fit my personal style. I cannot emphasize how important it is to not use boilerplate GTD. Are you a prioritizer? A planner? Embrace what works best for you and do not try to force yourself to do things my way, or anyone else's way. Modify, modify -- make it work for you. The heart of my system is absolutely the principles of GTD. I do thorough, 90-minute weekly reviews without fail, I maintain a project and next actions list, I have a someday/maybe list, I have a waiting-for list, etc.
 

GTD-Sweden

Registered
Thats sounds like a great strategy. I´m about to launch something like that myself. As it now I think about schedule family stuff, for example, rather than actually doing it... One question on the linguistic side - what does " not to use boilerplate GTD" mean?
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
I meant do not use exactly everything David Allen states in the book as THE ONLY WAY to do things. If it DOES work for you -- great. But if you struggle because it does not match your work style, then modify based on that. Here is link to Carson Tate's website where you can take the assessment and find out what your preferential work-style(s) is/are.

https://hbr.org/2015/01/assessment-whats-your-personal-productivity-style
 

Longstreet

Professor of microbiology and infectious diseases
I know I am a heretic....I certainly hope the GTD police do not show up at my office door. :lol:
 

Oogiem

Registered
dashik said:
  • How do you handle soft deadlines for your actions (e.g. a Next Action that you should do by a certain date, but it isn't set in stone)? Do you put these on your Calendar, or do you simply mark it somewhere on a NA list?
  • How do you handle recurring tasks (for stuff like "Exercise 30 minutes" or "Read Spanish textbook for 1 hour")? Do these go on your Calendar? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment even if you do the same things everyday?
  • How do you handle unexpected changes to your blocked Calendar time? That is, if something more important comes up and interrupts the time you set aside to do something, do you reschedule it elsewhere on the Calendar?
  • When looking at your NA lists, how do you keep yourself from doing smaller, less important things instead of larger, more urgent things? Is it just a matter of discipline and motivation?
  • What are your most useful contexts?
  • Do you ever find yourself unmotivated/unwilling to use GTD, or are constantly adjusting and shuffling how your implementation works?
Soft deadlines are just on my list. If they are hard they have a due date. Only fixed time things on the calendar list.
I have projects for recurring items. I am experimenting with placing them into folders so they are a bit separated from my other projects. I separate recurring ones by the season in which they start.
I rarely set aside time to do things, but when I do if work as it apperas is more important I will dump the set aside and go do the more important task.
I try to make sure I go to every possible context at least every few days and do my best to knowck off as many of the small things as possible. Even small thingsd are important or I wouldn't have them on my lists at all.
Most useful contexts are outside with help and outside by myself. On a farm many things require more than one person to do so no sense seeing them at all if I don't have a second pai of hands.
I am doing a lot of reshuffling of my system right now but it's because it was getting hard to manage. I've stayed witht eh same tools now for over 6 years.
 

notmuch

Registered
Longstreet said:
(6) I have modified GTD to fit my personal style. I cannot emphasize how important it is to not use boilerplate GTD. Are you a prioritizer? A planner? Embrace what works best for you and do not try to force yourself to do things my way, or anyone else's way. Modify, modify -- make it work for you. The heart of my system is absolutely the principles of GTD. I do thorough, 90-minute weekly reviews without fail, I maintain a project and next actions list, I have a someday/maybe list, I have a waiting-for list, etc.

This! Heretics unite!

For the longest time I resisted scheduling tasks on my calendar because it "wasn't GTD". Now I make my today or "hot" list ON my Google Calendar every morning. I have multiple color-coded calendars... 2 are hard landscapes in the traditional GTD sense, and four match task contexts (GTD heresy!). I use a real time day view so I can easily visualize available time when planning. The rest of you are insane for not doing this. ; )

To address some of the OP's questions:

soft deadlines: I try to limit these, and keep them on my lists. Instead during my Weekly Review, I create a list of weekly objectives, (in my tool that means tagging items with "#week"), and then refer to that when I make my daily plan.

recurring tasks: If they take more than 15 minutes I put them on the calendar, otherwise they go into a smartphone reminder app.

unexpected changes to your blocked Calendar time: I drag and drop or delele to make room. I can delete because I consider my "task/events" as bookmarks to my main GTD lists; deleting the bookmark doesn't delete the task.

One last bit of advice.. when something pops into my head the first question I try to ask myself is: "What's the best way to have this info when I need it?" and NOT "how do I get this into my inbox or GTD app". It's a subtle, but time saving distinction. Practical examples: write it on a post it note and stick it to my door... or fire up Siri and say "Remind me to X tomorrow at 9a" Everything doesn't have to gointo your shiny new GTD lists.
 

MJP

Registered
notmuch said:
One last bit of advice.. when something pops into my head the first question I try to ask myself is: "What's the best way to have this info when I need it?" and NOT "how do I get this into my inbox or GTD app". It's a subtle, but time saving distinction. Practical examples: write it on a post it note and stick it to my door... or fire up Siri and say "Remind me to X tomorrow at 9a" Everything doesn't have to gointo your shiny new GTD lists.

I love this! It's a great way to re-phrase the question. (Although I suppose the GTD caveat would be: don't use too many methods or you will no longer have a "trusted system" - if your brain can't be sure you will see the info when you need it, it will not let go. But sometimes a sticky note on the door is truly all you need.)
 

chirmer

Registered
dashik said:
  • How do you handle soft deadlines for your actions (e.g. a Next Action that you should do by a certain date, but it isn't set in stone)? Do you put these on your Calendar, or do you simply mark it somewhere on a NA list?
  • How do you handle recurring tasks (for stuff like "Exercise 30 minutes" or "Read Spanish textbook for 1 hour")? Do these go on your Calendar? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment even if you do the same things everyday?
  • How do you handle unexpected changes to your blocked Calendar time? That is, if something more important comes up and interrupts the time you set aside to do something, do you reschedule it elsewhere on the Calendar?
  • When looking at your NA lists, how do you keep yourself from doing smaller, less important things instead of larger, more urgent things? Is it just a matter of discipline and motivation?
  • What are your most useful contexts?
  • Do you ever find yourself unmotivated/unwilling to use GTD, or are constantly adjusting and shuffling how your implementation works?

I recently had to change how I was handling my GTD because my roles, and thus tasks, shifted. I now use the Todoist app, because it gives me some assistance in a few of these areas. I do marketing work, so a majority of my tasks have a hard deadline or a day they absolutely must be done. It's not ideal for GTD, but it can't be done any other way. So, my setup might be quite a bit different from others. Here I go with my contribution:

1) I put these in Todoist with a date, but no priority set. Todoist has 4 priorities, which I use as:
- RED: Hard Deadline (must be done by this date or there will be severe consequences). Always accompanied by a date.
- DARK BLUE: Scheduled (Many, many, MANY of my tasks must be done on a certain day - not before or after). Always accompanied by a date.
- LIGHT BLUE: Sooner rather than later (often, if people are waiting on me, or if something is relatively time-sensitive). Sometimes dated (if there's a day I really want to get it done but it's not a deadline).
- NONE: Regular Next Actions. Sometimes, but rarely, dated (if there's a day I really want to get it done but it's not a deadline).
So, these will all show up on my Today list in Todoist, but I can tell at a glance what types of items they are and prioritize accordingly. If I put them on my calendar, it'd be illegible.

2) I'll put it on my calendar if I MUST do it (or if it has a good time to be done), and set it as a repeating task in Todoist if I WANT to do it. On my calendar are things like "Go for a walk" and "Practice instrument." In my Todoist are things like "Get Evernote inbox to zero" and "Check email."

3) Thankfully, I have very little, task-wise, on my calendar. Marketing is a lot of spontaneity, so I try to keep my calendar as open as possible. I do have my Weekly Review blocked off, though, and will drag it to the next soonest available block of time if it gets interrupted by an emergency.

4) My NA list is meticulously sorted by priority. I have a Deadlines list, where I stick any deadlined task, and then a Next Action list for all non-dated tasks. Every task is placed in its precise location with regards to priority.

5) I have very few. My most used context is “website”, which are all the tasks I must complete on our website. Having to constantly log in to WordPress, update a page, and do a backup for each change is terribly annoying. I clump tasks together and it really speeds up the process. Not too exciting, though.

6) I feel like yes, I do constantly shift. It’s tricky to find a good setup when you have 3-4 new tasks thrown at you each day, and when most of your tasks involve hard deadlines. I also feel like most electronic tools end up having some flaw that nukes my ability to use it long-term, whether it’s crappy mobile/web/desktop apps, no offline mode, terrible search, what have you. I even tried paper, but having to re-write my list every time a new task with a new priority came to my desk was incredibly taxing (and a massive waste of paper). Todoist has given me the most luck, as it’s feature-rich but doesn’t require lessons on its use. We’ll see how it goes :)
 

Folke

Registered
Longstreet, knock, knock ... just kidding.

But I find it fascinating that so many people who use dates in an "un-GTD" way still say they like GTD. Seriously. I am probably quite a bit of a heretic myself (perhaps more in the way I talk than in the way I walk, though) but I'll stick out my neck and say: Avoiding dates (except truly hard ones) is just about the only major thing that makes GTD different from any other form of "time management". The desire to avoid dates is the sole reason I "joined the GTD army" in 2011 when I discovered that there were people quite like me who actually have a documented method, not just their natural intuition, which is all that the rest of us ever had, except those who fell for the time planning craze of the '80s.

So here is my own heresy: For somebody (perhaps a bit like you) who does not particularly mind to set deadlines or blocking out calendar time just for planning purposes, what the heck is left in GTD that attracts you guys so much? I have asked this question (or similar ones) many times before, and I get answers I do not understand. Some say "the next action" concept - but which methodology does not have something like that? Some say the "project" concept - but don't they all have that. And "inbox zero" - jeeez (didn't even the old cowboys know they must open the letters that the stage coach brought them?). And it goes on.

I like sticking with the GTD crowd because of the higher potential here to be able to explore ways (together) to manage our stuff using the hard landscape rather than the planning calendar.

I am honestly curious what else may attract a "date planner" to GTD.
 

GTD-Sweden

Registered
”What gets scheduled gets done”, is the old time-management rule you refer to, I imagine. Can someone really deny that? But listen to this. Do GTD exactly as David described in the book. And THEN schedule in your calendar the really important stuff and get them done? Then, It least in my world, you will get the ultimate system to get your stuff done. And, may I interpose, is that not the ultimate goal of this whole endeavor?
 

mommoe436

Registered
Thank you for this question - I have been less diligent about my weekly reviews lately and this helped me to focus on WHY I USE GTD METHOD (in no particular order):

1. CAPTURE EVERYTHING
2. WEEKLY REVIEW
3. 2 MIN RULE
4. NEXT ACTION
5. FLEXIBILITY TO ADJUST TO YOUR PERSONALITY, WORK/LIFE ENVIRONMENT
6. BEST PRACTICES RATHER THAN STRICT RULES
7. GET IT OUT OF YOUR HEAD/OFF YOUR MIND
8. APPROPRIATE ENGAGEMENT

I have never undrstood that blocking time is "UN-GTD" or the only thing that differentiates it from other productivity methods. For some people, it is necessary and, more importantly, it works - if you don't need this kind of focus/reminder, no one will judge you for not making appointments with yourself.

My world is too busy for ME to keep all that in my head or to take the time to read details when I have time to work from my lists. I do this thinking and planning during my weekly review, leaving time in my days or adjusting as my world unfolds.

Blocking time is no different than having a LIST - it is just a more visual list and in a world that many of us work/live in, that changes so quickly, it is often the only way I can truly get it off my mind. I block time for ME during the week - for me to work on pre-defined work. I can see in a weekly view those items that really must be moved forward this week. I do this blocking on a separate calendar, unless it is something that has a hard deadline, then it goes on my regular calendar. If my day changes, as it often does, I drag that time to another date/time or consciously decide that it won't be worked on this week. It makes me feel relaxed control.

This also helps me with decision fatigue, i only have to compare the work I have blocked against new input.

I am also easily distracted, so this blocking helps me to stay focused on a project or context/AOF tasks.

Maureen
 

DaveInMilwaukee

Registered
Good question and I love the responses.......

Here are mine:
  • How do you handle soft deadlines for your actions (e.g. a Next Action that you should do by a certain date, but it isn't set in stone)? Do you put these on your Calendar, or do you simply mark it somewhere on a NA list?
They do not go on my calendar. I do make notations of soft deadlines on the NA whenever required. When I do my weekly review, I scan for these and highlight them so they don't get lost in the long list of NAs
  • How do you handle recurring tasks (for stuff like "Exercise 30 minutes" or "Read Spanish textbook for 1 hour")? Do these go on your Calendar? Do you feel a sense of accomplishment even if you do the same things everyday?
I've never felt the need to write daily recurring tasks anywhere (exercise, eat, read) as these are habits.
  • How do you handle unexpected changes to your blocked Calendar time? That is, if something more important comes up and interrupts the time you set aside to do something, do you reschedule it elsewhere on the Calendar?
It depends on what kind of blocked time I have set aside on my calendar. If it is to work on a 'must get done now' project, I tend to treat it as an appointment and it does not get bumped unless it is an emergency. If I have set aside blocked time so that I can get something done rather than be overbooked with meetings, then I will likely reschedule.
  • When looking at your NA lists, how do you keep yourself from doing smaller, less important things instead of larger, more urgent things? Is it just a matter of discipline and motivation?
For me there is a certain amount of discipline. As part of my weekly review, I write a some NA's on a 3x5 card. I carry that card with me until I've completed them all. It helps keep me focused. When I've completed them, I dip back to my list to scoop up a few more. Because my energy level falls later in the day, I let myself get some less important things done.
  • What are your most useful contexts?
My contexts are very simple (@Home, @Work @Errands ). When I traveled more for work, I had used @ Internet @ Computer (No Internet). I haven't needed an @ Calls in a very long time. I don't get many calls and have actually tried to train people to communicate with me via email. I found that it wastes less time...unless it is purely social.
  • Do you ever find yourself unmotivated/unwilling to use GTD, or are constantly adjusting and shuffling how your implementation works?
Unmotivated? Sure. But having a system, helps to reassure myself that when the motivation strikes again, I can just pick up where i left off.

Adjusting my system? Very little. I've found that I'm calmer and more productive now that I've settled in to my own system and am not consistently looking for some new software, system etc. Zen.

Dave
 

GTD-Sweden

Registered
I forgot to mention a great practice that Meg Edwards mentions about scheduling (as said on one of the webinars) that even the most GTD-ortodox should be able to practice... Its both a psychologically sound and a logical take on the scheduling-debate I think. She says that often people in the end, when some stuff has hang on to long on the NA-lists, puts the stuff in the calendar and gets it done that way. I have tried that a lot of times myself and think its a great practice. Hope that helps.
 

notmuch

Registered
Folke said:
...Avoiding dates (except truly hard ones) is just about the only major thing that makes GTD different from any other form of "time management"...

David Allen readily admits GTD is a compilation of productivity tips. He also states "there is no single, once-and-for-all solution". (all from page 2 of the Welcome chapter) Perhaps, different tips for different Folkes? : )

I visit this forum, primarily to gain insights in how different people, in different situations solve problems using GTD. It helps me with clients whose brains don't work the same way mine does. I deal with streamlining business systems, which are almost always influenced by personal systems... thus my unofficial GTD coaching side role.

A recent example: A business woman, running 3 small, but growing companies was overwhelmed. She actually was incredibly organized in most areas. The biggest GTD-esque breakthrough? Inboxes. She essentially had evolved into 3 identities, each with its own roll and social media presence. I call it "inbox creep". As we identified the growing list of "collection buckets", I could see the light bulb going off in her head. She consolidated and eliminated where possible, and made two checklists, daily and weekly. It was a huge stress reliever for her. The concept of inboxes is not exclusive to GTD, but it is where I learned to completely document them.
 

Folke

Registered
Wow, this is quite fascinating. Apparently there are a number of GTD lovers here who all take the same view as GTD haters - that "putting it on the calendar" is a sure way to get things done.

It is certainly true that David Allen encourages people to adapt their system to their own needs. In that sense you could argue that any system at all is GTD - as long as they give at least some credit to David.

But if you look at what David is really recommending - as the starting point, before you start customizing the system - is to be very cautious about using dates, and instead use your gut feeling in the current situation (context, energy etc). He actually recommends against using any manner of artificial rigidity, whether it is done by using phony dates, stiff priorities or any such device.

Unfortunately, this very open and flexible approach tends to also leave people with next action lists that are overwhelming to them. People often seem to feel that they cannot see the forest for all the trees. And different people then use different tricks to come to grips with that. Scheduling time is one of those tricks. It actually goes against the basic principles of GTD, but many people apparently find that it helps them. Personally I don't use this trick, but that is not because I am a blind zealot, but because I find phony dates to be just a sad distraction and unnecessary work. They certainly do not help me. I know in my heart that they are not true, so I do not take them seriously. For me, things certainly do not get done just because I put a date on them. But I can respect the fact that others apparently seem to see some benefit in doing so.

Even so, I still need a way to get beyond the overwhelm. I cannot stand long lists or lack of overview. And I cannot stand phony dates. So this is what I do instead. It is also "un-GTD", but I like it a lot:

I put a red marker on all actions that I absolutely do not want to overlook any day from now on. I check for red actions every time I open my list (my digital list manager helps me do that very conveniently). I use the red marker quite sparingly, only if something really needs my attention very soon and is particularly important. I find this to reduce stress tremendously as I can easily see these red actions anytime I want (and I do not even have to "filter" for them, as the red marker is always visible regardless of in what order I have my list displayed).

I do a mini review every morning. To speed that up, and to improve my overview, I also have turquoise markers for all actions that I do not need to assess every single morning (if it enough to check them whenever I look for a particular context or project later in the day, or when I do my weekly review). This means I can focus on my red and blue actions (blue = regular) in my morning mini review, which saves a lot of time and ensures that I pay enough attention to the things that most deserve it.

Incidentally, the red-blue-turquoise marker feature is called "priority" in the app I use, but I use it to represent "review attention" as I just described. I often do turquoise actions first of all if I happen to be in the right context for that, or if I decided to focus on a particular project or area for a while. A red marker is certainly not a firm decision that will actually do that action first. It only guarantees that I will not forget to at least consider doing it. The decision is still gut-felt in the moment, as per core GTD, but the markers help me to find things I may want to look at. It takes away anxiety, and it does not need to be constantly adjusted, like phony dates do. For me it is the perfect balance.
 

chirmer

Registered
Folke said:
But I find it fascinating that so many people who use dates in an "un-GTD" way still say they like GTD. Seriously. I am probably quite a bit of a heretic myself (perhaps more in the way I talk than in the way I walk, though) but I'll stick out my neck and say: Avoiding dates (except truly hard ones) is just about the only major thing that makes GTD different from any other form of "time management".

From my perspective, after reading the original GTD book years ago and recently re-reading the 2015 version - the way GTD handles dates is a minor portion of the task management philosophy. I've gotten that impression every time I've read the books, or listened to DA's talk on Lynda.com. Not scheduling tasks, or having deadlines, really and truly isn't that big of a portion of the method. The much bigger philosophy is having in front of you the tasks you can do right here, right now, and knowing that you're working on what you should be tackling at any given time. David Allen even says in his GTD talk on Lynda.com that we should schedule our "hard dates" on the calendar and work our other tasks around them. That's part of GTD, straight from the horse's mouth :rolleyes:

GTD's date philosophy boils down to putting "hard dates" on the calendar, and avoiding scheduling things you "want" to do on certain dates. Many of my tasks must be scheduled; for example, I have to regularly schedule and plan out press releases and social media posts. Due to paper scheduling and effective marketing, it does us no good for me to just have "write press release for this" and "write press release for that" on my task list, to be completed when I get to it. If I send 5 press releases to the paper within a few days, they will call me up to let me know they won't be publishing them all. So, in order to do my job well, I have to space them out. Therefore, it's easiest for me to schedule them and treat them as "hard dates" because otherwise they're ineffective. The same goes for social media - Facebook's News Feed algorithm favors certain post schedules over others. For maximum outreach and effectiveness, I must schedule these as "hard dates." So, I think even people who have jobs that require many "hard dates" are still well within the GTD method. After all, I only schedule what I absolutely must - I try to keep all other tasks date-free (unless they're legitimately time-sensitive). I'd rather put a soft deadline or two and get tasks done that really should be completed quickly, versus having a word with my supervisor. It keeps me in perspective of my priorities.

I should mention, however, that all dated tasks are kept within my todo app. I have never, ever ever ever, been even remotely accurate at predicting the amount of time it will take to complete a task. I spent so much time adjusting my calendar because I'd over-compensated here, under-compensated there... Now I just keep a list. It's essentially my Priority context list, if you will. But these are very much "hard dates", not "phony deadlines." If I fail to meet enough of them, I lose my job. I don't think David Allen would ever say that GTD isn't for people whose jobs require scheduled tasks - it's all about implementing them properly. After all, I struggle to think of any career that doesn't have things as simple as committees that meet regularly, and thus members of said committees who have tasks that must be completed by the next meeting. GTD isn't about not having dated tasks - it's about having effectively dated tasks, in context with all other tasks that must be done. I think it's a misunderstanding of GTD to believe that it discourages dating tasks - or at the very least, an oversimplification.
 
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