Do you really need that deadline?

Most task management apps with any meat on them will let you have both dated and undated tasks.  In those cases, it can be a temptation to s...

Most task management apps with any meat on them will let you have both dated and undated tasks.  In those cases, it can be a temptation to start adding deadlines to every task - even those that don't really have deadlines.  I suggest that this is a temptation you ought to resist.

Pocket Informant, Todo, Toodledo, Google Tasks,.... These are just some of the major task management apps that let you have both dated and undated tasks.  This makes a lot of sense, because knowing due dates are an important part of deciding what to do next.  People will often start with whatever needs to be done that day, and then, time permitting, worry about other tasks.

But there is a temptation - I feel it myself - to assign due dates to tasks that don't really have them.  That is, one may decide to assign a due date to a task not because it's actually due on some date, but because one merely wishes to be able to do it by then.  In combination with start dates or horizons, the temptation becomes even greater.

For instance, I need to call my aunt in Italy.  There's really no hard deadline for that, but I would like to get it done "sometime this week."  So I set it as a task with a start date of Monday and a due date of the following Sunday.

While that may seem perfectly reasonable, it can create a trap (which even I have fallen into - more than once).  The trap is this: as you assign due dates to more and more tasks that don't really have them, it becomes less and less likely that you will ever get to your undated tasks; and that can easily lead you to adding due dates to more and more of your otherwise undated tasks, just to increase the odds that you'll actually do them.  You end up, in the logical extreme, having due dates on all your tasks, and not knowing which due dates are real and which are only your preferences.  And that rather defeats the purpose of having due dates at all, doesn't it?

This also highlights the difference between a task's due date and its significance.  Some tasks just have to get done, even though they don't have a proper due date - getting one's annual physical examination, for instance.  Other tasks may have a hard due date, but the task itself isn't so significant - for instance, buying a new suit while a sale is on at your favorite clothing store.

This leads me to my preferred solution: I use due dates only for things that actually have due dates, and I use priorities - or whatever other mechanism afforded by the tool I'm using - to rank significance.  It would be nice if I could separately rate the amount of work required to complete a task (something I've written about before), but it seems that that's just not in the cards for now.

COMMENTS

[effectiveness][column2][#fc0000]
Name

Action Lists agenda AHP API app atoma autofocus background balance bibliography bookmarklet boxers calendar calvetica circa citation Clear clothing cognition content creation context dayrunner de-clutter decision matrix decision-making delicious DESIGNTAXI Diigo discipline document management Documents To Go dressing DropBox due date effectiveness efficiency elastic binding emacs email evernote extension Shortcut Manager file sharing file system filofax Firefox focustodo format foswiki free G-Whizz geetasks Gmail Google Google Bookmarks Google Chrome Google Docs Google Reader Google Scholar Google Tasks gtd habit hack health hipster history home iDecide+ importance ink integration iOS iPad iphone journaling keyboard Keyboard-Fu Lamy learning leuchtturm1917 Listmaker Macbook Air meta meta-data method minimalism misc moleskine multicolour pen myndology note-taking notebook notes Office2 HD omega org organization OS X outliner pairwise comparison paper pen planner pocket informant pocket mod post-it priority procrastination productivity Put Things Off reflection research review rhodia Rotring rule scheduling shortcut social bookmarking software sorting succes tag taska taxonomy todo toodledo tool trousers Vimium weave web Whitebook wiki X17 X47 zotero
false
ltr
item
DFW: Do you really need that deadline?
Do you really need that deadline?
DFW
http://dofastandwell.blogspot.com/2013/01/do-you-really-need-that-deadline.html
http://dofastandwell.blogspot.com/
http://dofastandwell.blogspot.com/
http://dofastandwell.blogspot.com/2013/01/do-you-really-need-that-deadline.html
true
7278955797447398611
UTF-8
Not found any posts VIEW ALL Readmore Reply Cancel reply Delete By Home PAGES POSTS View All RECOMMENDED FOR YOU LABEL ARCHIVE SEARCH ALL POSTS Not found any post match with your request Back Home Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat January February March April May June July August September October November December Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec just now 1 minute ago $$1$$ minutes ago 1 hour ago $$1$$ hours ago Yesterday $$1$$ days ago $$1$$ weeks ago more than 5 weeks ago Followers Follow THIS CONTENT IS PREMIUM Please share to unlock Copy All Code Select All Code All codes were copied to your clipboard Can not copy the codes / texts, please press [CTRL]+[C] (or CMD+C with Mac) to copy