Need help with Due/Available Methodology

Hey everyone! Haven’t been on the forums in quite awhile, but they’ve always been extremely helpful.

I don’t work in OF2/GTD using David’s preferred “working by context,” because while it may be great to take care of all your phone calls while you have a phone, or email when you’re in front of the computer, I may not be doing my most important task/work at that moment. So, basically, I’ve set up my system this way, and I work items in this order.

Tasks with a Due Date
Flagged (may have a due date, or might be “important not due” but I want to call special attention to
Important, not Due (items I’d like to get done sooner than later, but do not have an actual due date.
With Start Date, No Due (items that aren’t overly important that I can start whenever I want).
Someday (no Start or Due date).

Since I started using OF1 many moons ago (and now OF2), I was using Due Dates for when I wanted to get things done, rather than when I had to get them done. I’ve been slowly weaning myself off of these, which has drastically reduced the amount of “timeshifting” I had to do each week (reassigning due dates). So I’m trying VERY hard to only have a few things due each day, and the rest fall into the other categories above. I have perspectives for each of the categories above as well, which helps.

Here’s my dilemma. I just got a task today that’s due Thursday. It’s going to take some research, so I don’t want it to show up Thursday and then I might scramble to get it done. I’d like for it to have a Start Date of today, and due of Thursday.

Trouble is, I have a lot of items that have a start date and I worry about glancing over it when I look at the huge list of items I have with a start date. Since the due date is 3 days from now, it’s not going to show up in Due until Thursday. I don’t want to use flags all over the place.

How would you handle this? I don’t want to be so inflexible about my start and due dates, but I really want to try and be true to those dates. I COULD add a start and due of a day before, but that really doesn’t tell me that that is its true due date.

Thoughts? Sorry about the long post…

Thanks in advance!

I use Defer dates to control when an action will appear as available. This is just when it shows up on the radar, not necessarily the day that the task is accomplished.

If you have a lot of actions that are available today (i.e. have a blank defer date or a defer date of today or earlier) I recommend that you go through these tasks and defer those that you definitely won’t get to today, either because it isn’t physically possible to do this task (e.g. change lightbulb in your kitchen when you’re 1,000 miles a way) of because of commitments to do other tasks, attend appointments, etc.

If you have a task that is due Thursday that you likely won’t get to today, consider changing the defer date to a day or two before, perhaps even flagging the task so that it won’t get lost in the shuffle on the defer date you specify. You can re-evaluate once the defer date arrives, and decide whether you want to keep it available for that date and whether it’s still appropriate that it be flagged for that date.

I hope this helps.

I might tackle this problem in one of two ways …

Method I (pre-allocate required time for each step)

  • Project X (sequential)
    – collect information (due Tuesday)
    – draft report (due Wednesday)
    – finalize report (due Thursday noon)
    – submit report (due Thursday 5pm)

Method II (rank categories to indicate daily priorities)

  • Project X (sequential, due Thursday)
    – collect information (@1)
    – draft report (@1)
    – finalize report (@1)
    – submit report (@1)

In my approach however, I also use a Kanban board to help keep a broader oversight. So, I would have this in OF …

  • Project X (sequential, due Thursday)
    – collect information (@research)
    – draft report (@do)
    – finalize report (@tidy up)
    – submit report (@deliver)

My “Next Action” perspective context list in OF would show the sequence …

– …
@tidy up
– …
– …
– collect information
– …
– …

… and in my Kanban, I would pull the equivalent note-card for Project X in to the “active” column.