Talking to several people, and reading articles on the web, I discovered two basic personality types of approaching projects: The push and pull types. This article explains the two types. You will know what type you are, and you will understand the potential productivity traps associated with this type.
The Push Type
The push type structures his daily work by browsing his projects and next actions based on the due dates. He works on all items that need to be done today. He uses reminders to keep him aware of important (and unimportant) tasks. His daily goal is to fulfill all scheduled tasks.
To maintain his system, he regularly adds due dates to actions based on when they need to be done. When he adds new tasks, they often have a due day already.
The Pull Type
The pull type structures his daily work by browsing the projects and next actions and decides about what needs to be done. He marks the next actions for today, and works on a couple of task. When he is finished, he pulls new items. The pull type uses reminders and due dates only for absolute necessary items. His goal is to do what he has decided to do.
To maintain his system, he adds new tasks in the related context or projects.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The push type uses a predetermined set of priorities — the due dates. He may feel pushed to get all things done, and the constant drum of new deadlines can feel stressful. On the contrary, he enjoys clarity about his next actions, and uses less time on deciding what to do.
The pull type sets priorities on a daily basis. He spends some time thinking about what to do. He may avoid difficult tasks and choose easy ones instead. He may be puzzled what to do next if he has several open projects.
Combining the types
Do you tend to use reminders and due dates? Or do you like to decide what to do next? Then you know your basic preference. And this allows you to mix the two. When you feel like avoiding difficult projects, set due dates for some next actions. If you feel stressed about to much deadline, reduce the number of next actions with a due date, and start to pull some actions.
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