Makes one wonder if there really is an "old topic"
Makes one wonder if there really is an "old topic"
My runway still gets muddy when it rains ...
Transcript from around 27:45
Sometimes, you know, as good as you get at all this stuff, life can still get crazy. And many times I need to sit down and just say, "OK, I need my sort of daily to-do list." Now, many people know that I'm kind of against daily to-do lists. I'm not actually. I'm actually for them. You just need to be able to unhook them. You might need to redraw them 43 times in a day. Which is fine.Even the devil can quote scripture (or, in this case, David Allen). Apart from this appeal to authority, I personally find there are often good reasons for me to create a daily to-do list.
I've adapted my GTD system with templates from DIY Planner (you can google it). There is one template that has a daily schedule with an "actions" column next to it. If something needs to be done at a specific time, I write it in the actions column next to the time and draw a line connecting the schedule with the action. If there are other things that HAVE to be done that day, but not at a specific time, I write it in a blank space. It goes right along with GTD because any commitments that HAVE to be done a certain day should be on the calendar.
Of course, reviewing is key here too. If an action is not completed I assess why it didn't get done, and what I want to do with it. I can "throw it away," put it on my someday/maybe, or move it forward to a future day.
At the end of every day, I check off items I got done on my schedule and on my NA lists (some things are double-listed but that's ok with me.) Then I look at what else needs to be done on my NA lists and I put them on my schedule according to when the best time would be to do them. During times where I don't have something specific, I start tackling other items on my NA lists or I review the projects I'm working on.
It's working very well with me. I think having it tied to my schedule makes a big difference. It makes it so it's not just another list of things to do.
I like the quote from David, I think flexibility is the key and adding one when they are needed increases effectiveness. I also think spending the time doing it as a routine reduces effectiveness when they are not always needed. I prefer to keep it flexible and simple.
wow, longlasting debate.
My two-pence; If im at my desk all day, and my day specific actions are all done, I see nothing wrong in picking out the handful of tasks from my Next Action lists that have the greatest priority. If sketching them out again helps focus your mind, fine.
The important thing is not to take them off the Next Action list, otherwise if something comes along that turns the day on its head, you're going to be going back through your old daily to-do lists to find the actions to bring forward.
I've been waiting for Kelly or one of the other coaches to jump in here, but I can't resist. First, a disclaimer: I'm not a coach, but I play one around my office.
I consider myself fairly black belt about GTD. Here's what I do:
I keep my calendar and all my action and project lists in Outlook 2007, with the GTD Outlook Add-in, on my laptop. The first thing I do when I get in in the morning is open up Outlook, which automatically opens to show my calendar and, on the right side, all my next action and project lists. I scan my calendar (in week view) as a reminder of any appointments that day, as well as any all-day events or information I put on that day. If there was something I know had to be done that day (and would die or get me in trouble if it wasn't), it's on my calendar that day as an all-day event.
After scanning my calendar, I then look at my action lists for the context(s) I'm in: @Office, @Computer, etc. I also scan @Waiting For to see if there's anyone I need to nudge. Only then do I process emails. I stick strictly to the two-minute rule as I do so. In fact, I generally spend less than two minutes per email -- I get bunches, and I'm generally able to get them into the right places pretty quickly.
Finally, I start "doing." You all know the drill. And you also know there's no mathematical formula for deciding which of the many next actions to do first, then second, then . . . Keep scanning your lists. If you've done the thinking up front, you don't need to re-think your next items to decide which ones to do. Now you're just working off of punchlists.
The problem with a daily to-do list is that at any minute you can get something new that makes that list worthless. Your daily to-do list may hold pre-defined work, but that's only one of the three categories of things you need to be doing. Sometimes the ad hoc stuff that shows up requires a complete reshuffling of your day and renders your daily to-do list obsolete. I also have a real allergy to writing and re-writing the same stuff on a daily to-do list.
I also do a weekly review (weekly, believe it or not), which is key to keeping things current. I also regularly take a few minutes each day just to see what's coming up on my calendar and look at my project list to see if something new needs to be add to my next action list. Just a quick scan, not a complete review.
Of course, your mileage my vary, but after years of working with GTD and testing ways to do things, I have discovered that -- surprise -- the system as David describes it works amazingly well for me.
Silly me, I forgot to mention that each morning as I'm waiting for Outlook to load I also check my tickler file!
Sometimes these things are so "routine" you can forget to include them in a description . . . I guess that's what David means when he talks about getting your system on cruise control.
A static to-do list wont help, but if I find out that suddenly a key staff member is going away for a month and I have half a dozen things that I need to speak to him or her about, and some work I need to complete before I do, then I need to be looking through my lists to pick out the tasks related to that. personally I will stick these in my calendar rather than make a new to-do list since i can do that with a shortcut key in onenote/outlook, but if I was on paper Id need to define them differently.
Another similar point on to-do lists that occurred to me yesterday - how granular do you want to go? If im thinking about writing a report, my Next Action isnt going to be "turn on computer" or "pick up pen". Last night I had to prepare for a meeting with our full board - my Next Action was "Print Papers for Trustee Meeting" (i had all the papers on the computer for printing). But when I came to do it, I still sketched out a quick to-do list of the 7 sets of papers, so that as I went through I could mark of each one as done, just to make sure I didnt forget any. It would be daft to have a Next Action "Print off Agenda" "Print off Minutes" "Print off diagram" - Id spend more time typing than doing. But when it came to it, a quick written list on a post it really helped.
I wouldn't save processing as a task unto itself, you need to get the stuff in your system asap, so when you do a review you know its current. If you had a truly gargantuan bit of processing, like one of those filing cabinet sized corporate contracts, that might be different of course.
I wish I knew before that having daily and weekly (and monthly etc) lists is okay with GTD! I somehow thought it was not true GTD and tried to do with contexts only, didn't work for me! (had too many NAs and projects/maybe projects and got lost in them..)
I'm still learning - having tasks on context lists and daily list seems a great idea, not to repeat stuff indeed - might try that!
It's also important to treat lists as 'guidelines' and 'preferred action' and not obsess too much about them (I sometimes lost them and only then remembered to do stuff and felt sort of guilty about it!)
It's still actually best to be accountable to someone to actually do stuff