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If I use a classical project management tool like a Gantt diagram, I know if I'm being too slow because I can see the critical path. If a task is not completed in the time allowed, I'm probably not going to finish the project by the date planned.

Can I have this control over dates with a GTD/checklist system?

I can have deadlines in a calendar but I don't know what happens if a task is delayed because in a GTD system it is not possible to have something like a critical path, or is it possible?

I can check weekly if the project is live because I can see how many subtasks have been completed this week but I cannot know how much time it has been delayed...can I?

One solution could be to use software like Microsoft Project at the same time as the GTD system.

Is it possible or useful to use Microsoft Project to manage project milestones and deadlines in parallel with a GTD system? How?

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Hi, Thanks for your question. It has an interesting premise. Apparently deadlines are very important and quite strict in your work. I don´t think this changes when adapting a GTD approach. At least it depends who set these deadlines and milestones. Do you work alone, in a team or a big one? And in what capacity if I may ask. In case with working with others, there is always the nag-factor that helps to remind you when something is behind ;) But If you could tell us something more that would be great. – DDdW May 15 '14 at 20:16
The deadlines are established at the beginning of the project and compromised with a customer or myself, depending on the duration of the tasks that compose the project. I work in a team of three people and I'm the project manager. My problem is not reaching deadlines but to know if I'm on the correct path right now and I can relax or if I should go faster now to arrive to the deadline a month in the future. – kinunt May 15 '14 at 21:57

Yes, you most certainly can have control over dates by using Gantt diagrams within a GTD system.

GTD is about the process and not about the tools you use.

The process being is as follows...

  • Collecting things and ideas that have your attention.
  • Clarifying what each of those things and ideas mean to you by deciding on outcomes and next actions to achieve those outcomes.
  • Organizing by putting away the results of your thinking as reminders at places where you will see them when you need them.
  • Periodically reviewing everything in your systems to clarify and organize anything that is new or has changed.
  • Engaging by simply getting out there and achieving that which you have decided is important.

This will be familiar to many but I wanted it to restate it in order to understand where the Gantt diagrams belong in a GTD framework.

Gantt diagrams fall within the realm of organizing.

You have collected what needs to get done; you have clarified the outcome and determined foreseeable next actions that appear to have a time sequence and an expected duration. This is your critical path.

A key benefit GTD introduces is to give you an opportunity to review periodically and determine whether or not your Gantt diagram still accurately reflects your project in the real world. You will want to keep track of whether the tasks are actually being achieved within the projected timeframes. You can decide whether the sequencing of the critical path is still accurate and whether or not tasks need to be added or removed as steps toward accomplishing your goal.

Gantt diagrams are one aspect of your project view. You can also use a Kanban board where groups gather in order to understand progress. You can distribute task lists to individuals so they can focus on their particular responsibilities. These need to be kept in sync with each other. The Gantt diagram is an important tool to make sure you are managing your resources in a timely manner in order to accomplish your project goals successfully.

  • PS - Often in GTD context based action lists have been favored as places to store reminders about next actions. In day to day life, trying to peg things that can get done on a calendar can be counterproductive. The situation you are in at the time the calendar appointment time falls may not match the situation necessary to complete the task. It cam be more effective to peg the reminder to a context than a hard date.
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manuelhe's answer is quite right! Indeed what @Dennis S has been following is simply the critical path. Although this is an 'absolute' path, GTD tends to give more flexibility because it's more context based. You might work on 1 project a whole day, but maybe because the context is similar you might work on multiple projects. I do believe every project should be owned by one person as a form of respobiblity, but the tasks can be shared. I don't know if MS projects lets teammembers see an work on projects though. – DDdW May 20 '14 at 15:04
GTD is not in itself more context based. It simply acknowledges that some events or actions have a fixed time frame and others do not. It is not the framework or workflow that dictates these. It is the particular requirements of the work that dictate the time frame. David Allen uses the analogy of landscaping. There is hard landscaping which are immovable objects such as pavement and structures. There is also soft landscaping with movable objects such as dirt, plants, and flowers. – Manuel Hernandez May 20 '14 at 17:03

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