I have been practising Getting Things Done (GTD) for years, but I continue to misuse Due Dates. I have a variety of tasks that I believe I want to do “relatively soon”, but they don’t have a specific deadline. Since I want to keep them near the front of my mind, I mark them either with reminders or due dates in the near future. They pop up every few days, I decide not to do them today, so I end up rescheduling them and rescheduling them and rescheduling them… it doesn’t work.
Today I found a simple solution to this problem. It’s the kind of simple solution that makes me feel stupid for not having thought of it sooner. As my mentor Ron Jeffries has repeatedly said, “Learning something is good news about today, not bad news about yesterday.”
Try This At Home
When an idea strikes you, add a task into your trusted system like so: “Schedule time to do
$THING”. This formulation is a task that you can complete, which makes it a fine candidate to add to your Next Actions database. What does it mean to schedule time to do
$THING? You could add it to your calendar, for example, so that you might actually do it. That’s what I tend to do.
This is a simple technique with powerful benefits. I get a jolt of energy from completing a task. I spend a few minutes thinking about when I’ll actually do
$THING. I make time to do
$THING. Everybody wins.
And mostly, I don’t put a totally unrealistic “due date” next to
$THING that I later feel guilty for missing. When I do this, I merely train myself to ignore my own due dates. That seems unwise. I’d rather take my own due dates more seriously, so I’d rather use them only for tasks that truly have a deadline. This microtechinque respects that intent.
Does this help you? Say something in the comments thread below. Or don’t. As you wish.