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how do you use OF to decide what to get done next? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardener View Post
In my case, I make most of those actions not available, so that the ones that are available do have some significance.
So, you’re using the available date to “hide” actions for arbitrary periods, i.e. until you think you’ll want to do them? Sort of like a hopeful due date, except with the added benefit that they are hidden until they become available?
 
This is a cornerstone of the software. Start Dates is one of the most important aspects of making sure you are looking at the most relevant activities at any given time. Setting a "Start Date" will hide the action from view (unless you choose to see all actions) and then have it show up when ready. So, using your example before about calling Joe in three weeks - input the action and set a start date for three weeks from now. It will not appear on any of your "Available Action" lists - so it is not on your mind at all. And then in three weeks - if you have growl set up - a little window will appear that morning saying "Call Joe." If you don't use growl, then it will just be sitting there in your available actions list, waiting for your attention.

Now it will be visible on your Available actions. You can choose now to set a due date (if you really want to!) flag it, let it sit or better yet - Call Joe!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigcloits View Post
However, I am still leery of the idea of relegating "due" to near meaninglessness for non-urgent items. And I'm leery of making an item that really is due "just" available, because that demotes it to the same level of urgency as hundreds of other actions that are also available, but not actually due any time soon. And, still another concern: an "available" date obviously makes sense for an action that is literally irrelevant or impossible before a certain date, but it often such actions are also more or less due at the same time that they become available, or very soon after, which brings due right back into the equation a lot of the time, unless you (once again) use due only to indicate both due-ness and urgency ...

Still, excellent food for thought. Thanks very much for the ideas.
Build yourself a tickler perspective. This is context view, group by start date, available. Look at it each day to easily check on things newly available for action. Helps you jump on things as soon as they are available. Lots of satisfaction in knocking something off before it has a chance to sit around and ferment!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigcloits View Post
So, you’re using the available date to “hide” actions for arbitrary periods, i.e. until you think you’ll want to do them? Sort of like a hopeful due date, except with the added benefit that they are hidden until they become available?
Yep, exactly. They're hidden, and if they pop up and I still won't have time in the next few days, I don't get the same guilt that I do from missing a "due" date - I just push them forward again. And they don't clutter up my "due" lists, so I can trust those lists to include things that are really really due.

Editing to add: The down side of this is that many tasks that I _could_ do, that might happen to be the perfect task for some particular moment, won't appear at that moment because I set their Start Date to some date in the future. I'm largely disregarding this for now, because having too many tasks keeps me from even looking at my task list at all, and that's worse. Eventually when I can handle a longer task list, I'll try to restrict my use of Start Dates. But I'm not there yet.

Gardener

Last edited by Gardener; 2008-11-12 at 01:44 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardener View Post
Editing to add: The down side of this is that many tasks that I _could_ do, that might happen to be the perfect task for some particular moment, won't appear at that moment because I set their Start Date to some date in the future. I'm largely disregarding this for now, because having too many tasks keeps me from even looking at my task list at all, and that's worse. Eventually when I can handle a longer task list, I'll try to restrict my use of Start Dates. But I'm not there yet.
Yeah, that was exactly the downside I was worried about when I asked for clarification! Tried to express it, couldn't, and then just decided to ask for clarification ... and you've said it perfectly.

And I completely agree that it's the lesser of evils.

Certain kinds of actions are especially suited to this strategy, though, and I started using it immediately after you first posted it. It just suddenly seemed natural and obvious for some tasks.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jantz View Post
I started using Flags to help with the GTD-style of choosing what to do.

Another "trick" I've found helpful is to open a context and pick one item and DO that one. Don't worry about whether it's right or wrong just do it. It helps connect with your lists and to also make sure your next actions are truly the next physical, visible action.

Good stuff here!

- Mark
I agree.

It is SOOO easy to get sucked into the planning and record keeping and not get anything done. Much of the time getting *something* done is good enough. The planning helps to get the important ones done if you can't do them all, it helps you combine tasks effectively (especialy errands) and it helps you from getting into a trap where something is stuck until something else happens. (What do you mean the new shower will take 3 weeks to get here?)

I get sucked in and dither a lot from project to project. (I've got the attention span of a gnat.) Often at the end of the day, I've made some progress on 8 different things, but haven't finished a single action. I'm hoping that OF will help me focus, and spend less time flipping from one thing to another.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sgbotsford View Post
I agree.

It is SOOO easy to get sucked into the planning and record keeping and not get anything done. Much of the time getting *something* done is good enough. The planning helps to get the important ones done if you can't do them all, it helps you combine tasks effectively (especialy errands) and it helps you from getting into a trap where something is stuck until something else happens. (What do you mean the new shower will take 3 weeks to get here?)

I get sucked in and dither a lot from project to project. (I've got the attention span of a gnat.) Often at the end of the day, I've made some progress on 8 different things, but haven't finished a single action. I'm hoping that OF will help me focus, and spend less time flipping from one thing to another.
If you haven't finished a single action, perhaps you are making your actions too big. Yes, it makes the list seem even more daunting to have a lot of smaller actions (vacuum floor mats, pick up trash, clean windows, file gas receipts) vs. some bigger ones (clean car) but sometimes the smaller actions are a better match to attention span, energy/motivation, available time, etc. You'll probably make more progress getting a bunch of those done (even if you might not finish the whole project) than picking up and dropping bigger, less-defined tasks. It doesn't take that long to list a couple of steps and check them off, and you'll recoup the little time it takes with your increased productivity.

If you're running 10.5, check out the OmniFidget widget available from the OmniFocus product page. You tell it which context(s) to work from, and it just pops up one action after another for you to do (or skip).
 
Item #1: I have found it helps to relieve the anxiety of having too many things to do...to just go in and start marking as completed, or deleting, things that I thought of and typed in...but probably am not going to do. Just cross stuff off. Guilt sucks as a motivator. Just cross off stuff. If you screw up and cross off something you should not have, it will probably come back anyway. You can't do everything you can think of. It's OK to type in everything you think of -- clears the RAM in your head, lets you move on, helps you process. But typing it in doesn't mean you are honor bound to do it. The GTD police will not bust you: just cross off stuff. See Item #2:

Item #2: as others have noted on this thread, the secret is to get regular and systematic about weekly reviews. Set up a perspective for your reviews. It finally dawned on me that I don't have to review all projects at the same time, a big three hour weekly ordeal. The inspector in project view neatly lets you stagger the review schedule. I have some projects I schedule for review every few days because they're on fire. Others need a look once a month. Etc. Most projects once a week -- but some of those weekly ones I look at on Monday, some on Tuesday... Stagger your project reviews, but DO them religiously.

Item #3. Create a to-do that pops up every day or two to look at what you need to review.
 
A wee update ...

A while back I changed my due colours, as someone suggested in this space, and, dammit, blues and greens actually are more soothing!
 
I've been using GTD and OF since Christmas. I certainly don't consider myself an expert, but I've read the book and I've really changed my method of organizing myself and my work.

My recent problem I've been having is that my work environment is just completely e-mail crazy - _everything_ is e-mail driven. I've summarized that my priority list consist of who is most frequent and most loud in my Inbox. It drives me crazy.

Trouble is, in a dynamic environment where there are too many cooks in the kitchen on everything, not responding to e-mail or problems that are in the current "flow" of the majority of people results in you getting left out of decisions. This can be problematic because decisions are made that can adversely affect you, or you can essentially lose clout or face if you're not actively participating. Maybe this is a personal problem? ;-)

So, I have these big lists in OF, I use OF Services in Mail to generate Actions based on e-mails, but really OF seems to be relegated to my "Don't forget to check this" list, instead of my "Focus on this now" list.

In short, @Work I can rarely get to my OF list of Next Actions. OF seems to not drive my work.

Home is another story, OF is working great @Home. @Work however, it seems everyone keeps switching my Contexts on me.

Maybe I'm not looking for solutions so much as empathy? In the real madness of dynamic, scattered, and voluminous information, GTD seems to really be breaking down on me and not really helping me focus.
 
 


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