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rdbot 2013-03-20 12:57 AM

Start date, Forecast Workarounds for missed start dates
Hello. After reading a bunch of articles on here and elsewhere, I'm still a bit unclear how to maximize start dates-start dates seem to be the preferred way to push off actions that you can't attend to immediately, or to not overwhelm w/ past due, but after switching my non hard due dates to start dates, many things were lacking that I've seen complained about in the forums, but still not sure what workaround is best.

Mainly, I'm on the ipad, I used the computer to set prefs and perspectives and when I have a lot of typing, moving things around. Iphone when I'm on the go.

Forecast view is the main prob. On the one hand, start dates take away the pressure of the #s in the badges and under the weekdays, and overdue, but start dates have too little presence. Especially, if I have a start date and I haven't ben in OF for a while and that date passes. If it wasn't flagged, I pretty much lose track of it, unless there's a good/fast way to see this. With due dates, at least I have a "past" area I can see what fell off the table and move it up again. Also things like alerts, etc have been brought up, as well as color coding, orange and red-most don't like to see red, but to me that just means something I meant to start today got overlooked and I don't stress about it, just move the date up..I get more stressed when I wonder if I missed something that slipped by because I used start dates.

Maybe there's a way to use perspectives to solve this, or another way?


Brian 2013-03-20 09:57 AM

Can you give us a specific example of a situation you're having trouble with? That'll help us respond meaningfully.

The start date is essentially a "don't bother me about this until" date - once that date passes, the action just shows up on your Available task lists and gets reviewed/worked on/deferred as needed.

An action w/a start date in the past (or no start date) shows up on your Project list when you're planning, gets reviewed in Reviewed mode, and will show up in whatever context you assigned it to when you're working on your actions...

whpalmer4 2013-03-20 10:10 AM

On your Mac, create a context mode perspective that groups your actions by start date. That will work on the iPad or iPhone, and you can use it to keep tabs on any actions where the start date is in the past. Usually, if I have something that I'm working on and am not going to finish the first day, at the end of the evening I'll go to the Forecast view and bump the start date ahead to the next day. The only place where I don't like to do that in my practice is if it is a repeating action of some sort altering the start date might then affect the next one. In that case, I'll flag it.

rdbot 2013-03-21 12:14 AM

start dates
Thanks so much, guess I'm trying out different ways to deal w/ things... now w/ start dates and trying not to flag too many things...

The way I've been working (and like but has a lot of limitations) is when reviewing projects and actions... say I have 200 spread across active and inactive projects... I'll go through and just flag the things I feel even vaguely that I'd like to put in the forefront, say 50-75 things. That of course is too many flags to be useful in flag view or in some perspectives which use flags. But I don't really want to put 50-75 arbitrary start dates because then that stresses me a bit, and depending on that arbitrary start date I may not see it again for too long, or it may pass under the radar if the date passes. I like the idea of just flagging to say, "this is something I'd like to keep on the radar"... the conflict is that I also want to sometimes say "this is something more important than the other things" So they're at odds in my usage.

But, If I have a start or due date, for say 20 of those things, then the flags can make more sense, cause I can only then flag those of the 20 that are really important, assured that the start/due date will keep it in the forecast. If no date and no flag, then I have to find it again by review which isn't always efficient.

But, If I do use start dates, then I lose my alarms and color codings and forecast numbers which can also be helpful. I've put for now repeating tasks on start instead of due, but I don't get my reminder that hey, it's time to go to the gym now/today. So what to do w/ the 50-75 to keep them on the radar w/o just creating a start date just to create one (eg. I may not want to say (yet) that i need to research something, but I don't want it to get lost in the shuffle of my projects or change their context from something useful, and I feel also putting an arbitrary date w/ the methods above will have me looking in the past for things I said I'd start but didn't-that stresses me more than simply flagging an item)... Flagging is also much easier/faster than setting a date, esp on the ipad.

If this was confusing, then it's an accurate reflection of my thinking at the moment. :)

Thanks again,


Lizard 2013-03-21 08:43 AM

Some suggestions that have worked for me: (Your mileage may vary, etc.)

1) Move the gym reminders out of this app. Maybe somehow OmniFocus should work well for this, but for some reason, it doesn't. (If I could figure out why, I'd campaign to fix it.) For me they go in the clock/alarm app on my phone. For other people, they go on the calendar. Getting to the gym happens more consistently when I treat it as an appointment (with a nearly-fixed date and time) than as a "to do". Because it's okay to procrastinate on a "to do", but if I miss an appointment, it's gone.

2) 50-75 actions is still too much. For the contexts that are available to you very frequently (Home, Work), put entire projects on hold (to be reviewed and re-activated later) or give them future start dates. And then put future start dates on more actions. Start dates work better when they're used to hide things for now than to draw your attention to them later.

Gardener 2013-03-25 04:36 PM

> If no date and no flag, then I have to find
> it again by review which isn't always efficient.

I think that this is a large part of the problem: You don't trust your review. As I see it, because you don't trust your review, you're trying to make your daily scan of items replicate the function of a review. But showing all of the material for a review, every time you try to choose a task, is showing too much.

> I'll go through and just flag the
> things I feel even vaguely that I'd like to put in the forefront, say
> 50-75 things.

In fact, it sounds as if you don't trust one of the fundamental purposes of GTD: To hide things that you're not currently focused on. Most of what you say in your post seems to be aimed at keeping things in your vision as much as possible. You're working very hard to thwart GTD. :)

So I'd go back to that basic question: Why? Why do you feel the need to be aware of such a large percentage of your workload, rather than seeking that "mind like water" thing? Is it because the workload is insanely large, so that you're trapped in a constant process of chasing whatever's least overdue? Is it because every item in the workload is fascinating, and when you narrow it you get bored? Is it because your schedules are uncertain and you're never quite sure when something is due?

Each of these is a different problem, requiring a different solution. And there might be a dozen other reasons behind your need to be aware of so much of your workload. I suspect that you need to figure out the "why" before you can really solve the problem.

intranation 2013-03-26 05:23 AM

I use a [URL=""]next actions perspective[/URL] to handle this. In my daily review I check my next actions list - if something has just become available it'll appear there and I can proceed with it as normal.

rdbot 2013-04-04 10:11 AM

mulling over the good comments on the philosophy vs. the practices I'm trying to employ.

Cypher 2013-04-04 12:56 PM

[QUOTE=whpalmer4;121553]The only place where I don't like to do that in my practice is if it is a repeating action of some sort altering the start date might then affect the next one. In that case, I'll flag it.[/QUOTE]

I always found the repeating actions gave me the same problems, the repeat icon shows up on the Mac version but you don't know what the repeat is set to. but on the iPad you don't even know its a repeating action without drilling into the action, so I changed my system to flag repeating actions differently than standard actions. Each of my repeating actions starts with a $ sign usually followed by either a "d" daily, "w" weekly, 2w... "m" monthly etc

eg $2m - Issue job sheets for meter inspections.
I immediately know this is a repeating task with a 2 monthly schedule.

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