Top Down, Bottom Up Do they meet in the middle?

I have been reading Getting Things Done, and the 7 Habits Lately, and I was wondering has anyone found a way to do both forms of planning at once? I have in mind the personal exploration of the Top Down Approach to start, followed by just listing out everything I need to do, and then using each month, week, day, doing an overview of them.

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scheduling in both directions

Hi.

It seems to me that the two different planning systems represent different approaches. I am a user of MS Project, which uses the concepts of scheduling based on your start date, or scheduling based on your finish date. It seems to me that GTD is more "Schedule from the start date" and Covey is more "Schedule from the finish date".

That is to say, GTD is 'start with now and everything you have to do now' and Covey is 'start with where you want to go and when you want to get there'.

I like both approaches for different things. When someone else is directing my work (such as my boss), I like the GTD approach. You take all the stuff he's given you to do, and you list it all out and go through them one by one. When I direct my own work (such as at home with the housework), I like the Covey approach. I list out all the elements of my plan and decide when they will be done and schedule them appropriately.

The common element would be 'listing it all out'. :)

I would say that when you have the time to do top-down, you should try it. And when you just get a barrage of stuff to do from someone else (honey-dos, boss-dos, etc.) then you have to have a way to handle the barrage sanely. GTD offers a good standard approach for that.

The part I always find tricky with a paper based system is the recurring tasks. I hate rewriting the same stuff over and over, so I have to find a way to include rescheduling and recurring without rewriting.

Kristina

Copying recurring work

"The part I always find tricky with a paper based system is the recurring tasks. I hate rewriting the same stuff over and over, so I have to find a way to include rescheduling and recurring without rewriting."

For paper planning I like either
a. writing my recurring tasks on the relevant templates and then photocopying the set, so my templates always have the same set of fundamental "tasks that won't die"
or
b. using powerpoint to add the items to the templates, as text boxes floating over the PDF.
This is very handy for my fobster as I can't write neatly in 6 point :)

Copying Recurring Tasks

"The part I always find tricky with a paper based system is the recurring tasks. I hate rewriting the same stuff over and over, so I have to find a way to include rescheduling and recurring without rewriting."

For groups of tasks, I often use a sort of "category name" and just write down the group as a whole, rather than each individual task. Also, for recurring tasks, abbreviations can be useful. :) If you really complete the tasks that often, the abbreviations will not be hard to remember.

Be blessed!
~Rachel <><

I think they work best used together....

I've found that they work best used together.

When I do my GTD "weekly review", I also do a Covey-esque plan of my coming week. But of course my week never works out that way, so I use the GTD system to improvise-- I have the plan, but I also look at my context-lists and decided whether the plan is still the best path to follow.

Same on a daily basis: at the beginning of the day, I plan out prioritized tasks in a Covey-esque fashion to use as a baseline, but then spend the rest of the day improvising GTD style.

I think that both the "top down" and the "bottom up" are unrealistic on their own. It's unrealistic for most of us to be able to plan the week (or even the day) out in advance and stick to it, but it's also unrealistic to assume that a total bottom-up approach will always get the most important things done when they need to be.

Well, I tried to answer you...

Well, I tried to answer you but my message was "flagged as potential spam" to be "not displayed until it can be reviewed by a site administrator". So, um, check back later I guess. (If this one refuses to post as well, I'm going to give up and leave for a while...)

I have no idea what in my prior message could have triggered the filter (I didn't recomend any products, for instance) but it did.

[Sorry about that. The spam filter is zealous about such things, and for some reason it got a false positive. Now de-spammed. -- DJ]

I have finally developed a system!

Below is how I am now doing my planning.

Weekly:
1. Review Mission & Vision Statement
2. Review Last Week
a. What goals were achieved
b. What were the challenges
3. Decide Roles to act on for the week
4. Identify Physical, Mental, Spiritual, & Social areas to improve
5. Process Inbox
a. Loose papers
b. Notes
c. Head
d. Lists
e. Calendars
f. Next Actions
Daily:
1. Preview Hardscape
2. Prioritize Next Actions in each context.

Note: Make sure that you include in your "mundane" projects a few related to your Goals, Mission, and Vision.