Two GTD sticking points: time needed and a today list
I'm rebooting my GTD for 2008 as a kinkless GTD (Now that I'm a Mac user and since OmniFocus is still alpha-beta), and things are good except for two sticking points I've had with GTD since the get go:
1. Time needed. Given that I have x number of minutes in a day, should I not be tracking how much time I estimate I need for each Task?
2. A Today List. With 70+ projects, each with at least one Next Action, I need some way of organizing the next actions I want to tackle today. Yet there's no where in the GTD methodogy I can see for this, other than ceaselessly scanning my Next Actions and acting on one. That seems to be a great deal of overhead and leaves me at the mercy of what I may want to do vs. what I should be doing to further strategic goals.
Any suggestions/thoughts would be appreciated.
Four Criteria Model for Choosing Actions
Remember the Four Criteria Model for choosing actions in the moment.
1 - Context
2 - Time Available
3 - Energy Available
4 - Priority
In your situation, number 4 is especially important. David says choosing the action that will give you the "Highest Personal Payoff" is key after looking at the first three criteria.
You want to be careful about time specific to-do lists as they are set up for failure because our environment changes so rapidly.
Hope this helps.
A common concern here....
This is one of the most common concerns posted on this site apart from choosing contexts -- how do I choose what to work on today? I have all of my next actions on context lists and now it is time to work -- what do I do? Well, this has to come from each of us, based on the methods David has described in his book and listed above -- context, time, energy, and priority always should come into play. I too choose during my weekly review what projects I really need to focus on the next week and try to maintain that focus. This can be done by scheduling specific block time per project on your schedule, or just noting the projects that you will focus on for the morning, or afternoon, or all day, or whatever. In the times when you do not wish to focus on one project, then you can scan through your next actions lists and choose what to do. It really is, as it always is, a judgement call in the moment.
I see two ways to help you focus -- it is true that if one has too many next actions, the lists become very difficult to use and one becomes quickly overwhelmed. First, limit your next actions to only what you are going to try to get done this week -- everything else goes on your Someday/Maybe list. You revisit this of course during your weekly review -- every week! Another way is to adopt Michael Linenberger's system if you are using Outlook and have your taskpad or to-do bar in Outlook 2007 setup so that only the next actions you have on deck show up -- everything else is on a Master task list. In essence, it functions the same way as Someday/Maybe. Either of these approaches will work if you need a shorter, really active list of next actions -- place everything else out of your sight for now. You can review this on a daily basis because we all know that things change...
I hope this helps some...
Best to all,
"Would like to get done today"
I am in a similar situation. What I do is mark those NAs that I would *like* to do today, and then use this list instead of full NAs list. I have predecided to overfill this list a bit on purpose, and not feel bad about not completing them all. They just spill over to the next day. The purpose of overfilling is to take advantage of any kind of time windows or situations that I may be in.
By marking I don't mean marking it as due today; it's just a selection, an extra flag. Or a very very dynamic priority.
This is working great for me, but YMMV.