To-Do-Lists and the calendar

About a week ago I read about to-do-lists at lifehack ("Back to Basics: Your Task List").

And then I also watched some videos of David Allen about the GTD and how important it is to get the things out of your head (see an interview with David Allen here and a presentation held by him here).

I do also feel better when writing things down and when I make lists (of what to buy, what is still to do in our new flat and so on). Until about two years ago I was using mostly To-Do-Lists but I used the calendar only for noting down appointments with external people.

Now I use GTD like methods (see "GTD - E-Mail Folders or Tags") - see also See also "A Two Minute GTD Overview from Success Making Machine".
But: I make also intensive use of the calendar.

Mr. Allen points out, that actions that take more than two minutes should be done immediately and others should be deferred. One "destination" for the longer tasks may be the calendar. I want to point out that using the calendar is even more important than creating to-do-lists!

When I used only To-Do-Lists I had the following problems:
  • When asked for a particular project finalization date or asked for possible schedules for new projects then I could never tell real dates instantly.
  • I wrote down the things to do but mostly did not write a time duration estimation to each task.
  • I set priorities but no deadlines.
  • I had noted an order by in reality it is usually not possible scheduling bigger tasks always one after the other. The reality is that I have to work on different projects in parallel.
  • I was not in Sync with other people relevant for a project.

When you use a calendar and schedule everything you need or want to do then the problems mentioned above are all addressed:
  1. When you are about to put a task into the calendar you automatically think of the task length because on most calendars there are written real times. As you need to find free time for each task you will automatically fill up the next days. You can see free space (gaps) and when your last task is scheduled. Tasks taking longer than a day must be split and you have to schedule another day and another. - The big advantage is that you are dealing with fixed dates. So you have an overview about your time (spent) and not "only" about the things that need to be done.
  2. Priorities are set implicitly by moving or deleting a task to make fit in another. It is also a decision about priorities but you don't have to figure out a number (as it is usually done).
  3. You can schedule two hours working on project A and afterwards scheduling two hours working on project B. Next day can be the same time splitting and so you can make progress on both projects. Such splitting is usually not showing up on a to-do-list.
  4. As I note down also the vacations of other important people at customers I also have an overview of not-available-times of other people and can sync my actions accordingly.
You can also schedule for instance 1 hour each day for all the small tasks that you get notice of (un)expectedly - for example review and act on the items in the action folder.

Related posts GTD - E-Mail Folders or Tags, Network planning. The benefit of planning.

1 comment:

Martin Wildam said...

Now also the importance of the calendar is mentioned at lifehack: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/back-to-basics-your