• If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.


No announcement yet.

Next Action in Too General Projects

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Next Action in Too General Projects

    Hi all,

    I'm a newbie to GTD. It works for me so far, mainly in the workplace. However, I have some problems with next actions for my personal projects, which are too general.

    How would you define next action if these life projects were yours:
    1. Have a lot of fun.
    2. Be healthy.
    3. Dress better.
    4. Earn 3-times average salary.
    5. Fulfill the purpose of my life.

    I suppose I'm making mistake somewhere. Maybe too-general-projects are all wrong.

  • #2
    Those sound a bit more like Areas of Focus or higher level goals, not projects to me.

    A project would have a clearly defined finish line that you will mark "done" within the next 12-18 months. How will you know you are dressing better? Do you need to buy a new wardrobe? Then that would be the project. What would be true when you are achieving "Be Healthy"? Have you reached a certain weight? Gotten some diagnostic tests done? Climbed Mt. Everest? Those would be the Projects. See the difference?

    I'd recommend reviewing the Horizons of Focus, explained in great detail in Making It All Work and in these System Guides. Essentially, here's the chart:

    50,000 = your purpose
    40,000 = 3-5+ year vision
    30,000 = 1-2 year goals and direction
    20,000 = your areas of focus and responsibilities
    10,000 = current Projects
    Runway = current Next Actions

    Hope this helps,


    • #3
      Aha! You are right, my examples are not projets, as defined in GTD. I've slighly reviewed Horizons of Focus in the book. My examples are probably from highest three horizons. As I understand, this is out of scope of GTD, right?

      I can restate 'my problem' like this:
      How to clear my head off the doubts - if I'm doing the right 20,000 and 10,000-feet projects to fulfill my higher-level goals?

      And if this problem is out of GTD scope, can you recommend some other resources?


      • #4
        Defining all of these levels is within the GTD scope, for sure. I would highly recommend Making It All Work book, as it really does go into much more detail on this than the Getting Things Done book did and should shed some clarity on all of this for you. It gives concrete examples of each level too, which people find really helpful.


        • #5
          Not Projects

          While I'm the queen of long term projects those are not projects to me. Those are the sorts of things I'd have sitting in Someday/maybe as possible future things to deal with.
          For me once I decided to actually do anything on them I'd have to define what done means a lot better.

          So taking a guess -

          1. Have a lot of fun.
          What does this mean? Reading more books, travel to a specific place, entertain friends more? finish or work on some specific hobbies or what? Have a lot of fun can't have a next action because you don't even have defined what "fun" is.

          So an example from my own projects where that is an area of focus of having fun would be Complete my 2009 Personal Family Scrapbooks. Done means all the pictures are in the books, embellishments put on the pages, all journaling done, page protectors on the pages and the books on the scrapbook bookshelf. A specific next action is to Power layout 1 box of 2009 personal pictures.

          Another would be Weave fabric for a Moy gown on my big loom. Now to finish that project it might take me several years because of the nature of the craft, esp since my current next action is locate fleeces that match the Moy gown wool type. I've got 135 sheep but only get 2-4 fleeces a year that match. It's going to take something like 6-8 fleeces to make enough yarn for that project so of necessity it's a multi year process. But done is well defined (enough fabric hand spun and woven from our sheep wool to make me a replica of the Moy gown garment from Ireland) and my next action is also similarly specific.

          2. Be healthy.
          Again, not really defined as a project. What does healthy mean for you? Follow a paleo diet for 30 days to see if it works for your body? Or be able to walk for a mile without having an asthma attack? Without a definition of what you mean by healthy you can't define what is the next thing to do. Right now today my project in this area is Recover from the late fall cold I seem to have gotten and my next action is thaw out some fowl soup to make a big chicken stew for dinner.

          3. Dress better.
          Again undefined. What does "better" mean? For me the only equivalent I had a couple years ago was Determine what set of layers, coats, overalls, shirts, sweaters, socks, hats, boots and gloves would keep me warm enough to feed the sheep outside during the coldest days when we have wind. I had actions like evaluate insulated coveralls and pick which brand fits acceptably on me and order more silk t-shirts from Travelsmith. That one is done and I have a set of better clothes for when those cold windy days arrive and I still have to be outside for several hours working. right now the project is get my winter clothes out and my next action is locate my glove liners which have gone AWOL over the summer.

          4. Earn 3-times average salary.
          Even this, although closer, is not well defined 3 times average for what job? For what location of the country, heck for what country? 3 times average compared to a person living in subSaharan Africa in a small farming village probably won't get you very far if you are currently in New York City. So you need to define it better before you can make the necessary projects.

          5. Fulfill the purpose of my life.
          This is the biggie. Without knowing what your purpose is how can you decide whether you have fulfilled it? And how do you handle the inevitable changes that will occur in purpose over your lifetime? That is certainly 50K level stuff not a project. To get to what your purpose is then a project might be to write your own obituary that explains what you want to be remembered by. A next action might be, google for obituary formats. If this is a brainstorming exercise knowing that a typical obituary has your age at death, who your family is, what your profession was, what your hobbies were and so on will give you insight. If you are 23 and the obituary you write has you dead at 35 because you died while climbing Mount Everest then you know what you need to do to get there and hopefully along the way figure out how not to die. If it has you living to 100 and surrounded by many children and grandchildren and remembered for a spectacular garden and you haven't even started dating and live in a city apartment then you too now know what you need to do to get there.

          Does that help any?


          • #6
            You can hardly find the areas of life that are "out of scope of GTD".

            Originally posted by wysiwyg View Post
            Aha! You are right, my examples are not projets, as defined in GTD. I've slighly reviewed Horizons of Focus in the book. My examples are probably from highest three horizons. As I understand, this is out of scope of GTD, right?
            I think that "Getting Things Done" book requires thorough reading - some people read it more than once to find that you can hardly find the areas of life that are "out of scope of GTD".


            • #7
              Everything everyone else has said is useful stuff, so I won't repeat it here.

              However, I will note that you are doing one very important thing right: When considering something like "have fun" or "be healthy" or "earn more money", it is exactly the correct thing to do to, somewhere and somehow, have Next Actions related to turning those goals into reality.