View Full Version : Question about Appointments & Pre-defined Tasks
11-21-2003, 02:36 PM
I am so pleased to have found this forum. Thanks to all of you for sharing your time and expertise! I have been reading "Getting Things Done" for months on end (don't have time to devote much to it, too many things to do! :wink: ) Now I've worked my way up to the book, GTD audio tapes, Ready for Anything CDs, and the Outlook Add-in. I guess I'm forced to implement, since he doesn't have anything else for me to buy!
I am wondering how to account for the many deliverables that are due on a certain day. If I put them on that day, not time specific, I might not even look at them until then, and that is not enough time to get the project complete. If I just put the next action in my list, it gets lost in the mass of stuff to do. Is there a way to prioritize tasks based on when they are due to be completed? I don't want to just list them as urgent, the majority of my NA list would be urgent! Anybody got any input?
Second question. Is there any way to set up template projects that have a list of standard next actions associated with them? For instance, I handle 15 or so contracts. Everytime I get a modification to one of those projects, there is a sequence of actions that need to happen to implement that mod across all of our systems. It would be great if there was some sort of form where I could just check boxes as that piece of the task was complete, instead of having to type in all the next actions. Please tell me there is some easy way to do this.
Thanks a bunch!
11-21-2003, 03:58 PM
Welcome to GTD - and to the forums. I think you'll find a very eclectic blend of people here, who've applied the theories each in their own different way. (As a matter of fact, someone just posted a quote from David about that a couple of days ago...)
I resonated VERY strongly with your post. I work in an Ad Agency in NYC; and like you - everything can have a "false sense of urgency" to it. Also - many of the Client Deliverables have to happen on a particular day - period.
I have a pretty standard "GTD" set up on my Palm/Outlook (with the GTD Add-In). I have Next Action Lists, grouped by context. I have a Projects list; and each Client Project has a job number associated with it. That becomes the title of the Project for me. All of these are in the Outlook Task section. The GTD Add-In helps me collect the e-mails in regarding the Project in an Outlook PST file, and all tasks/appointments are linked to the Project.
Project Schedules are created in either a database or Excel. I have actually described a job schedule to others as a list of "Next Actions." After I've created the Project Schedule - I cut and paste the dates and Next Actions from the schedule into the body of the Project XX-XXX task. When I go to the Task List, and I open up the Projects category, and open up Project 1234 - I would see:
Tue-11/18/2003 Schedule to be Developed and Approved Internally
Mon-12/01/2003 Internal Review of Concepts/Ballpark Costs Created
Wed-12/03/2003 Present Concepts to Client with Schedule/Costs
I then cut & paste each line item into it's own "Next Action" task - grouped by context. For example:
The 11/18 "Schedule" task went on my @Computer list - with a due date, and reminder set in Outlook for 11/18/03.
The 12/01 "Internal Review" task is on my @Routing list (meaning moving from department to department for review)- with a due date, and reminder set in Outlook for 11/26/03 (just to make sure it is moving along properly).
The 12/03 "Present Concepts" task has not gone on any list, or Calendar, because it is dependant on the 12/01 Action being successfully completed.
You can leave it to your own judgement whether or not you wish to include the Project Name/Number in the title of every "Context" task associated with it.
I find this relatively simple approach works very well, and I have over 100 projects currently on my list. I frequently use the "Waiting For" Context category when doing morning status reports with the team.
11-21-2003, 11:13 PM
In my Palm-centric universe (no Outlook anything for me), I'm consistently frustrated by the limitations of the screen (which, in the built-in apps gives me just over 10 short lines of display) which makes it difficult to manage a super long list of projects.
But you can't really skimp on projects, so I was stymied on how to handle the couple dozen customer accounts I had to handle. A suggestion on this forum led me to create a Customers list, in addition to the standard @home, @office, @errands, projects, waiting for, and someday/maybe lists. It's like a context-sensitive Projects list. It contains just the name of the Customer, that's it.
Then, for each customer, I have a physical file, and in that file I have a xeroxed checklist. For my work, this makes sense, since the timeframe to complete actions is usually multiple days or weeks. If I needed to go through a list in a shorter timeframe, I might keep a generic list electronically. Probably in the fantastic HandyShopper2 app on my Palm.
As far as the time-sensitive tasks goes, I simply assign due-dates to tasks that have a specific due date. These then filter to the top of the lists (and thus out of the confused fray) because everything else is unassigned to any date. In my weekly review I create a plan for these time-sensitive tasks to be sure that I have things organized so that everything gets completed before deadline.
My one sometimes concern is that, for a Friday-due project, I have a list of actions -- some of which are real Next Actions, and some can't be started until the existing Next Actions are completed. I don't want to put them on any NA list -- because they're not -- but they won't magically appear there by themselves once all the prerequisites have been met. My (simpleton) solution is to make a note about them in the preceding task. Thus, I might have an item on a list which reads "Call Richard about European forecast (check proj list)" so I'm reminded to check the list I made in my project support file for next actions before I check this one off. And because I'm lazy and don't want to write all those extra words on my Palm, I'll just use a personal shorthand. For me, it'll say "Call Richard about European forecast ->" where the "->" means that I have another action primed to follow this one. And I know that it'll always be in the corresponding project support file.
BTW, I've found this forum to be invaluable, too. I may be verbose, but I couldn't repay what I've received from this forum if I typed all day.