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« Too Much Work? | Main | Getting Going Again: Day 20 Update »
Tuesday
Mar112008

Comments and Discussions

I’d like to draw your attention to some important recent discussions in the Comments and on the Discussion Forum.

Getting Going Again Day 20 Update. I answer a reader’s question about how to deal with a really large backlog of paper.

Task that Do Not Need to Be Done this Week But Later. A question about why a task which is due in 2 weeks time should be put in the Task Diary for tomorrow. I say why I think it’s important it should be.

Task Diary and spreading out tasks over the week? Should tasks be scheduled forward to days when you know you are going to have some time? I say why I think they shouldn’t be.

Reader Comments (4)

Greetings Mark,

I'm so glad you've got your blog going again - you have so many valuable insights to help people work with your system, which despite being simple is not always easy to tailor to one's own life circumstances and temperament.

Since you started yourself back on DIT recently, I decided to try it again too. It has been great at dealing with my backlogs, except that I run into trouble with the very first thing of the day: the current initiative. I have found tackling this backlog first thing in the day to be so exhilarating and energy-boosting that I have real trouble stopping and moving on to the other, current, work in my life.

As a result I am experiencing real forward motion on things that have been hanging over my head for a long time, but feeling less organized than usual with my normal work. I used to hop out of bed and start on my current work right away, so delaying it causes me to feel a loss of drive.

Any thoughts?
March 12, 2008 at 2:17 | Unregistered CommenterKate
Dear Kate

Remember that clearing a backlog depends on first being able to cope with your current work - otherwise you will just continue building up new backlogs. So your primary emphasis should be on completing the new work rather than clearing the backlog.

What I suggest you do is set a time limit on how long you work on the backlog. Stop dead when the time is up. That will also help to concentrate your efforts.

You might also consider introducing a simple points system like the one in the book, by which you score 1 point when you finish your Will Do list, and lose 1 point when you don't. The challenge is to beat your highest score.
March 12, 2008 at 12:01 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Hi Mark,

Thanks for your feedback. I'm now doing my backlog with the help of a kitchen timer which has helped greatly.

Like David (another person who's posted comments), I'm a university professor (music) and have to deal with three distinct types of demands on my time: teaching and various other set appointments, administrative work (consisting of both academic bureaucracy and the kinds of details that move my career forward), and daily practice and rehearsals. Since taking up your method again, I've started counting my practice as an item in my Task Diary. This can be rather daunting, as most of the other items are relatively simple and quick, in contrast to something that is meant to take half my day.

On days when I practice AND teach a lot (3 days a week), it's simply not possible to get to much of anything else. For example, if I practice from 7-10 and teach/sit in meetings from 10-6:30, it's hard to then spend much time at all dealing with a task list. Often I have to go to an evening concert anyhow so there's not always discretionary time in the evening.

I guess my question is, do you think scheduling it in the task diary is the best way to try to get a recurring daily action done? I know you've touched on this in your books, but I'm very curious to hear more about it. Doing it at the same time every single day isn't possible b/c I can't reliably keep that time free. I practice multiple hours a day, which is essential as I am a professional musician and play frequent concerts.
March 14, 2008 at 11:58 | Unregistered CommenterKate
Kate:

No, the Task Diary is not the place for recurring daily actions like piano practice (what I call "continuous projects"). Basically these need to be scheduled. But there is no reason why they always have to be scheduled at the same time. Schedule it in the same way that you would schedule a daily piano lesson for a pupil. Only in this case you are the pupil!

See today's blog entry "The Key to Keeping Your Work Focused" http://www.markforster.net/blog/2008/3/14/the-key-to-keeping-your-work-focused.html as to why you should put all your other work in your Task Diary for tomorrow, even if you expect to have very little time available tomorrow.

If you are unable to do much work on your task list every other day as you suggest is the case, then you might want to amend the points system so you get 2 (or possibly even 3) points for successfully completing the list and lose 1 point every time you fail to.

March 14, 2008 at 12:30 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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