Task Qs - How to Plan

Much of the stress that people feel doesn’t come from having too much to do. It comes from not finishing what they’ve started.
— David Allen

Reviewing The Three Types of Work

Filling Qs - This is done all the time, any time new information has to be captured, so we won’t cover it here.

Sorting Qs - This is the act of deciding and arranging, of planning. We’ll cover this now.

Clearing Qs - This is work time. Picking the next thing on the list and making it happen. We’ll cover this next.

Sorting Qs aka Planning

Sort The Week - Every Sunday morning, after blocking off the schedule, load work for the week. Scan through active project lists and assign next items to yourself while rearranging or clearing complete items. Once assigning

Sort On The Fly - Sort down your list for the day whenever you need to. Between tasks is a good time to roll the list and make sure everything is still in the right order. If you’re feeling rushed or disorganized, five minutes sorting your list can save you from hours of frustration and distraction.

Sort Tomorrow - Add sorting down tomorrows tasks to the daily close down routine. When you close your task list for the day, make sure there is nothing left on it and that all open items have been put in their place in the future. This process eliminates stress about what you need to accomplish. You know that any loops that haven’t been closed today will be closed later and in the correct order.

Realism - Setting Up Success or Failure

Impossibly front loaded task lists are reoccurring theme in my work. I see people with twenty items for today, fifteen for tomorrow, and nothing for the rest of the week. No matter how much they focus and how hard they work, every day will feel like a failure since they can’t even break the half way mark on the list. After a few days of failing, no body wants to continue and the process is bankrupt.

Instead of loading everything into today and tomorrow, sort by importance and only load three things a day at first. You can add more later but only so much as you can tackle 80% of your work in any day. Rolling a few to tomorrow is fine as long as you have scheduled buffer time tomorrow. The more you operate from a winning state, the more wins you will get.

Action

► Sort today’s tasks into a realistic list

► Complete the whole list


Why you won’t do it.

  1. I have to get all of this done today.
  2. I can power through it.
  3. I work better under pressure anyway.

How to do it anyway

  1. What you believe has to get done and what you can actually complete in a day can be very different. Identify the most important things and complete them. Eliminate or negotiate a new due date for everything else.
  2. You can power through work for a few days while sacrificing your biological and social needs but how long are you willing to do this? Every day you ‘power through’ is signal indicating that you want to be loaded with more meaningless tasks to power through tomorrow. Every day you prioritize and execute cleanly with time to spare is a signal indicating that you are above the line and intend to stay there.
  3. You don’t work better under pressure. You think you do because you’re so far underwater that it takes pressure to work at all. You’ve most likely floundered and put off work until the last minute and the external forces make you create something out of desperation. You have abandoned responsibility for your work and have donated it to someone else’s deadline.
Johnathan Deckert