ForumsGetting Things Done®GTD and due dates

GTD and due dates
Author Message

Posted: Jul 18, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
I haven't actually read David Allen's book(s?) but I've read a lot of online material related to it, and thus have been inspired to incorporate many of the GTD concepts into my process.

That said, I have a question about GTD and due dates and Toodledo.

I know DA emphasizes that there is a "hard landscape" of true due dates and meetings and whatnot. I have very little that is actually fixed in time, but I find myself wanting to set due dates for lots of things, especially for regularly repeating tasks.

My problem is, I'm wondering if there's a better way to distinguish between hard deadlines and soft deadlines. I like how setting due dates in Toodledo brings their Importance up, and ensures they're on the Hotlist. But then I find myself shifting the due dates of things that aren't really set in stone, because they aren't *really* due or overdue, and that usually results in a lot of shifting.

Does anyone have any ideas of how to deal with this? I suppose I could use the notes field, but I am just wondering if anyone else has any clever ideas.

...Hmmm, in asking, I've just come up with something clever: I rarely use the Start Date field, so perhaps I can set it to the same date as the Due Date when I originally set a Due Date. Since the due date isn't set in stone, I don't technically need to see the task until the date I've decided to do it. And, if/when I end up shifting the due date, I can keep track of how long I've been postponing the task.

So flexible, this Toodledo is~! :)

Posted: Jul 18, 2008
Score: 1 Reference
I think that the idea of true due dates is one of the bigger concepts I have tried to accomodate from GTD. Your idea of the Start Date might work. I have been using Priority in combination with the Stars to help me here. I have developed a system that is, more or less, in line with DA's other concepts concerning the Weekly Review and thinking in terms of week-long blocks of time. Lastly, I have also tried to incorporate into my thinking the fact that everything on my lists are to be done ASAP, even if they don't have a hard due date - except for the Someday/Maybes. Basically, here is my system:

Star = today (I am "starring" things as I finish other things, depending on how quickly I slog through stuff. Some starred items carry over to the next day).
Priority 3 = This week.
Priority 2 = Next week.
Priority 1 = This month.
Priority 0 = Next month.
Priority -1 = This year.

This system works best when I stick religiously to a Weekly Review and don't miss any days checking ToodleDo. I have to adjust Priority, but it isn't nearly as rigid as the Due Date situation - and I find it actually helps me to think about my projects over a span of time better.

Hope it helps (somebody!).

Posted: Jul 21, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
Thanks for your reply! I am also using priority, actually, but I have no solid rules for it. I use priority in much the same way as due dates: it gets tweaked so I can have a bit of control over tasks on my hotlist, so I can better decide what to work on next. I've got a bunch of things without due dates, but with High Priority, sitting on the bottom of my Importance-sorted Hotlist just as a constant nag to do them. :P

Maybe it's not so bad that I'm using both due date and priority in a flexible way. I just wish there was some better way to distinguish between "definitely due" and "it'd be nice to have this done on this date".

I guess I also only set a due time if there really is a due date, and that's one way for me to know...

...and maybe that Start Date thingie I discussed above will turn out to be perfect after all, and I just need to keep using it to see how perfect it is.

I'm still open to other ideas, either within Toodledo or in the approach to scheduling such tasks!

Posted: Jul 22, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
I had a thought, perhaps a memory of something I read about the hard landscape of commitments, and just now Googled to see if I could find a quote. Success!

"You need to trust your calendar as sacred territory, reflecting the hard edges of your day's commitments, which should be noticeable at a glance when you're on the run...those that you absolutely have to get done on that day."

~David Allen, Getting Things Done

Lo and behold, I HAVE a calendar! A real, hanging-on-the-wall-beside-the-computer calendar. I have already been using it for appointments and temporal commitments! I don't NEED Toodledo to do it for me -- Toodledo's job is to remind me to write appointments and such on the calendar!! And to help me keep track of the zillions of other things I have to do!

So I'm going to treat most deadlines within Toodledo as soft deadlines, until they are transferred to the "hard" calendar. When it's on the calendar, that's as good as being carved in stone!! I may consider moving my calendar online someday, if I start getting too many appointments for the paper version, but for now, the wall calendar is perfect because it is "noticeable at a glance when [I'm] on the run!"

I hope this revelation helps others with meshing Toodledo and GTD! :)

Posted: Jul 23, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
If you have a hard due date and list it in Toodledo, you can export that due date through Toodledo's iCal feed to an online calendar such as Google Calendar. The nice thing about the iCal feed is that you only set the hard deadline once--in Toodledo--and then it shows up in Google Calendar regardless of whether you log in at home, the office, on your cell, etc. Wall calendars are nice, but they're hard to take with you and check "on the run."

Posted: Jul 24, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
Kevin, thanks for replying.

I'm afraid the problem is still that I can't distinguish between the hard deadlines and soft deadlines within Toodledo -- it's not possible to export only SOME of the due dates.

The other thing is: I am almost always at home. My "on the run" just means hurrying out of the house for something, and the calendar is on the way out the door. :)

If I do go back to doing more stuff outside of the home, I'll probably reinstate my hipster PDA:

Then it's just a matter of manually "synching" my hPDA with the calendar on the wall, which should be fairly fast and easy since I really only need the current day's info.

Posted: Jul 25, 2008
Score: 0 Reference

David Allen certainly introduced a good concept in managing tasks, but always remember that no one person's methods may be exactly what you need personally to get your tasks done. You can modify your task management system to suit how you work best.

I know that some GTD "followers" have a way of insisting that you cannot ever vary your system from what David Allen wrote in his book. But that's just not true. Some say that Allen teaches that you should never, ever use a prioritization method for rating the importance of your tasks, though that is definitely not true. He doesn't push priorities but he does say that you may need them at times. Personally I use them all the time!

And as far as calendar usage, I don't use it as much now as I once did, but when I was working to complete projects for clients they required meetings, conference calls, etc. at specific dates and times and the calendar was a necessitiy for virtually all my work tasks.

Mold it to work best for you. Tweak it here and there and you'll get it fine-tuned and know when it is just right!


Posted: Jul 25, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
Thanks, Jim, I appreciate the assurance. I am feeling more and more confident that my own system is evolving in a way that IS working great for me.

Interestingly, your advice indirectly made me realize that I should be very careful I'm not over-analyzing, as I so often do! :) It was either David Allen or Merlin Mann who said something like: the system is there to support the things that need to be done, not the other way around. The point of GTD is Getting Things Done, not Organizing Things Nicely. :P

Posted: Jul 30, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
Posted by Qrystal:
I'm afraid the problem is still that I can't distinguish between the hard deadlines and soft deadlines within Toodledo -- it's not possible to export only SOME of the due dates.

What if you just do NOT set a due date in ToodleDo unless it is a HARD deadline?
This may take awhile to undo (remove due dates) if you already have many tasks.

Posted by Qrystal:
Then it's just a matter of manually "synching" my hPDA with the calendar on the wall, which should be fairly fast and easy since I really only need the current day's info.

The other benefit would be that most of your tasks will have no date, and therefore will print AFTER all hard-dated tasks on the "date order" page in your printed ToodleDo booklet.

So your printed TD booklet becomes your hipster PDA (just dated tasks and blank note pages).

Posted: Jul 31, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
Posted by InfoJeff:
What if you just do NOT set a due date in ToodleDo unless it is a HARD deadline?

Then I wouldn't get the benefit of being able to set recurring tasks, and that is something I find tremendously useful.

Some of my recurring tasks might work if set to be "optional", and maybe that's part of the answer. I'm sure I'll try that soon!

And as for the printed booklet, I've actually had much more luck just printing from the web interface onto index cards... but it's much faster to just jot down what I need in pencil. My time away from a web browser is rarely complicated enough to warrant more effort than that.

Thanks for the thoughts on it though! :)

Posted: Aug 11, 2008
Score: 0 Reference

In the spirit of Dave Allen and the GTD method, the reasoning for NOT assigning Due Dates is the prevention of procrastination. You should be executing action on all tasks.

That said, "soft" DD's should be "deferred" until you can continue. "Hard" DD's should be "calendar" until their DD arrives and you can take action.

Again, this is purely the academic form of GTD. I understand your dilemma. There are no rules against using a hybrid form of GTD. Do what works best for you. I frequently find myself up against a "like to be done by....." and assign a date to keep it on my scope.

This message was edited Aug 11, 2008.

Posted: Aug 25, 2008
Score: 0 Reference
It might make sense to think about the purpose of having "soft" due dates. How does that help you with your projects? Personally, I've found that I tend to use soft due dates to either 1. keep project outcomes somewhere in front of me or 2. create a kind of wish-list of what I hope to get done.

I am trying to keep both items above in separate lists--and use them as reference material in my weekly review.. One list is "project outcomes"--basically a list of the major milestones and deliverables for each project. I can scan it to help me determine what the next actions should be. I don't really keep the wish-list as an actual document, but I do keep a list of all the deliverables coming up in the next month or 6-week period--also a reference item to help me keep my priorities straight.

Anyway, the point is that perhaps the soft due-dates could serve you better as lists and reference material.

This message was edited Aug 25, 2008.
You cannot reply yet

U Back to topic home

R Post a reply

To participate in these forums, you must be signed in.