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I agree that it's disconcerting, but the discrepancy helped me identify a couple of overdue actions that I had been missing. The actions were overdue, but were blocked by undated actions. The red numbers prompted me to go looking for the overdue actions in Planning Mode and clean up a couple of open loops that I had missed. So, in my initial use, I like that the numbers are totals rather than just total visible.

I can imagine changing my mind over time, though. For example, if I'm in a context where I simply can't take action on an overdue item, then the red number is merely a stress inducer. I could push the due date forward, but that seems perilously close to copying to-do items from one page of a planner to the next.

Rather than push due dates forward, I could just use fewer due dates on items. My trouble is that, as an academic, my actions are very urgency driven. Class sessions must be prepared four times a week, homework graded and returned before exams, papers submitted before deadlines, etc. In the midst of all those urgent and important tasks, I don't even notice the non-urgent, important tasks unless I give them a false sense of urgency with a "due" date.

I don't think GTD provides much guidance here. Allen says that only hard landscape items should go on the calendar. He defines hard landscape as items that must be done on a particular day. But in my readings I haven't seen any discussion of projects that must be done by a particular day. I'm handling those by breaking them into sequences of actions with intermediate, artificial due dates.

This issue of maintaining progress on non-urgent projects in the midst of a storm of urgency is my biggest challenge. I'd love to hear how others are successfully dealing with that.