Productivity and GTD

Do You Need a Daily Action Plan?

AUTHOR: Francisco Sáez
“Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” ~ Peter Drucker
Daily plan

The alarm sounds. A long day ahead to enjoy, but also many things to do. Do you feel relaxed or overwhelmed by everything you have to do? Do you have a plan for your day?

The truth is that there is a difference when you start your days knowing what you’re going to find. But beware! Preparing your day in advance doesn’t mean filling the calendar with good intentions, it means deciding what actions you’re going to pay attention to, and anticipating possible needs or obstacles in carrying them out. Planning doesn’t answer the question “When am I going to do this?” But questions like, “Will I have the time and resources to do this?” and “How am I going to do it?”

A daily action plan should be a guide destined to eliminate the stress of uncertainty and motivate you to carry out a series of actions that you have formulated as fully feasible. However, you don’t know for sure what will happen tomorrow, so you must be open to partially or even completely modifying your plan if the conditions you had imagined are not met (paraphrasing Eisenhower, “although planning is everything, plans worth nothing”.)

If you use GTD as your personal productivity system then you already have a structure of action lists that show you your action options when you need to see them. If you are also a good GTDer — you try to align your actions with your goals and areas of responsibility, and keep your system perfectly updated through the Weekly Review — then your daily action plan is reduced to knowing where to look at each moment:

  1. First, you must look at the events that you have committed in your Calendar. You will have to block the time necessary to carry them out.
  2. At times when you don’t have to do any Calendar activity, you must check your Next Actions list and decide which task is more interesting to get done at the time. Choose an action based on the context in which you are, the time you have available, and your energy at that time.
  3. If you use the Calendar correctly, that is, you only put there actions and events that must happen at a specific date or time, and your list of Next Actions is up-to-date, you may not need to look any further. As new items come into your life (emails, calls, ideas, unforeseen stuff, etc.) evaluate the need to spend a little time to clarify what each thing is and organize the new information. There will be days when you don’t need to do it, and others where you need to do it on a couple of occasions.

2 comments

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7
Commented 6 months ago Cyrus

Well put.

I am reminded of a saying that goes as follows: "Man thinks; God laughs". I have always consider this saying to be the perfect example of why it is not a good idea to come up with plans. I would rather structure my day and take actions as time and energy allows. I schedule that which MUST be done and get to everything else as time and energy allows during the day.

Of course, this lack of being militant with one's to-do list is one of the negative comments I hear about GTD. That is to say, if you get to pick and choose from your list of items, you'll never get it all done or will avoid things you don't want to do. Which is true, to a point. A good GTD'er will recognize that they will have work that is more interesting than others, but will still do it. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to attach work to goals. It gives you the reason "why" you are doing the work in the first place. If you have work that is not attached to a goal or does not further your ambitions, time to ask if the work is necessary to begin with.

Plans are great, but plans change more times than not. Best to keep a steady eye fixed on goals and let that which helps you succeed take your time to complete.

8bb2c9a97155fbcffcc91ca918d103c7 Cyrus

Well put.

I am reminded of a saying that goes as follows: "Man thinks; God laughs". I have always consider this saying to be the perfect example of why it is not a good idea to come up with plans. I would rather structure my day and take actions as time and energy allows. I schedule that which MUST be done and get to everything else as time and energy allows during the day.

Of course, this lack of being militant with one's to-do list is one of the negative comments I hear about GTD. That is to say, if you get to pick and choose from your list of items, you'll never get it all done or will avoid things you don't want to do. Which is true, to a point. A good GTD'er will recognize that they will have work that is more interesting than others, but will still do it. This is why it is SO IMPORTANT to attach work to goals. It gives you the reason "why" you are doing the work in the first place. If you have work that is not attached to a goal or does not further your ambitions, time to ask if the work is necessary to begin with.

Plans are great, but plans change more times than not. Best to keep a steady eye fixed on goals and let that which helps you succeed take your time to complete.

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb
Commented 6 months ago Francisco Sáez

Hi Cyrus,

I hope that the people interested in this article read also your comment, because it's a perfect explanation on how to face your day-to-day under the GTD philosophy.

Thank you so much!

Fcb879f1bc70aa0f661b842011f280fb Francisco Sáez

Hi Cyrus,

I hope that the people interested in this article read also your comment, because it's a perfect explanation on how to face your day-to-day under the GTD philosophy.

Thank you so much!

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