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Task Management in Knowledge Outliners

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Posted by Simon
May 4, 2021 at 03:45 PM


It is interesting to see how other people approach their tasks. I have discretionary and non-discretionary time (Mark Forster). Non-discretionary is time I don’t control, meetings, appointments, calls etc. discretionary time is where I chooses what I do next. This is where I lose most time, or did until I changed how I work. Cal Newport’s time-blocking is not new. But the idea of looking at your week and filling in exactly what you will do when is very helpful. A more relaxed version is Ivy Lee’s 6 things. My conclusion is that the time in my diary is the only time. By placing my tasks in my diary, I simply move from one task to the next. This allows me to accomplish quite a lot. Interruptions obviously can’t be shceduled, but also don’t need to interrupt at exactly the moment I’m focusing on something else. If the interruption gives me another task, I add it to my inbox. When I clear my inbox I must decide when the task gets done. For me, the bottom line is that I only have so much time available. Taking on more work than I have time for either means overwork, or not finishing all I have agreed to do. It’s only by placing things in my diary in time slots that I actually see how busy I am. This is not visible from a list of tasks elsewhere. In the past I’ve had tasks on a list that after a year still weren’t done. I’m better off putting everything in my schedule to see just what time I have free or prune my list. Cal Newport does that each week. My job is fairly fluid, so I do it on a daily basis, but also what needs to be accomplished that week.

Sadly calendars do not cater for such a workflow. I have signed up for a Noteplan 3 trial and it seems ideal for this.

Luhmann wrote:
Regarding calendar based task management. This really makes no sense for
>me. I have due dates, yes, but how I use my time throughout the day is
>very fluid, and it would not make sense to try to put my tasks into a
>calendar. Calendar entries are basically times that I can’t do anything
>else because I have a class or meeting or social engagement. If I were
>to, say, write down that I will spend two hours writing in the morning,
>the most likely scenario is that something else will come up at that
>time which requires my attention and I won’t actually do the writing
>until the afternoon. Much more important for me is to know what I will
>write that day because I have some notes or an outline that will enable
>me to get to writing quickly without having to sit and remember what I
>was going to write about. But I guess everyone has very different work
>habits and jobs that lend themselves to different solutions.