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next actions: paradigm isn't woking when the the stuff comes in fast.

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  • next actions: paradigm isn't woking when the the stuff comes in fast.

    When processing paper stuff and objects, I usually think I know instantly what the next action is and if it will take more than two minutes and the context I can do it in. But, I am having problems with working from the lists I make. I often cannot tell at that particular moment where it fits in with everything else. If I wait for the weekly review, I will have a couple of hundred N/As to process and miss deadlines and not take action to set the next week up.

    These are the issues I think. Maybe somebody can see this whole thing more clearly.

    1. I may already recorded that next action on a context list, then I have it twice. Or if I can do it in more than one context, but do not realize it at the time, I have have it on two lists without realizing it. In order to determine this I have to look at my list, and these next action lists get pretty long.

    2. I find that I have already done it. Have you ever completed the same form twice? Or bought a specialized battery twice? Or left the same message for someone. I have to have a way to look this up. Or researched something but not remembered having done so.

    3.I also can't always remember at that the time if the action it related to a project that I have already started acting on or am still planning or have put in the SDMB list.

    4. Where it fits with other priorities. So for example, it may not be a priority to get an oil change but I am going to be next door to the oil change place.

    5. If there might be a batch of similar actions that can be executed in the same sitting.

    6. It is little action that is crucial to a project but moving on that project is not crucial on this day.

    Any thoughts on this? I think I need to get to a higher level of thinking on this or have a method that works better.

    I am starting to thinking that working by crisis has a lower cognitive load than planning it all out.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
    I am having problems with working from the lists I make.
    A few thoughts on those comments.

    Most of all it seems you dont have a clear overview of your workload, both at project level and NA level.

    If you're consistently finding that you're doing things twice, not realising that things are on other lists and problems on that ilk, then maybe you should take a bit more time to get the weekly review done thoroughly. The end point of the review is when you have a thorough understanding of your projects and how they inter-relate, not just when you have a couple of NAs for each project.

    When i do a weekly review nowadays I start with going through all the projects, moving them into or out of SDMB, adding new ones, going through trigger lists and getting a really good picture of where my job is. Only then do i start adding NAs. After Iv done the NAs I might revisit the project list - if the NA list is dauntingly long then maybe il move some projects back into sdmb - but the project list is the primary level to think from.

    On the other hand maybe spending 15 minutes in the morning going through your NA lists rather than ploughing straight into them would help? Its good for spotting things to be done in batches, noticing those 5 minute tasks that would keep a project ticking over or noticing errands you can do at the same time. Personally I print out my list and highlight the handful that would bring the greatest benefit if I completed them.

    Another thing to point out is that if you're getting NAs coming in that are time specific or with a close deadline, they probably shouldnt be on your context lists. The calendar sounds like a better place for them. At the very least I would additionally put a reminder on the calendar to make sure you remind yourself about the deadline.

    A final thought, it sounds like youre not using a computer to do your NA lists, since searching for a project or NA takes a second and helps you avoid doing things twice. Maybe that something to think about changing.


    • #3
      good insight into my practice

      Thank you for your insight. You are absolutely right that I need to do a more careful overview. Frankly, the overview is scary and demoralizing at this point, as SDMB grows and grows, and the active projects take longer than expected.

      As to searching, I am using the old fashioned plain vanilla Palm (Hand held and desktop). The search problem is that if I do not enter the project into the list with a unique and memorable name, and one that I can reproduce accurately off the top of my head, than when I search, I pull up a lot that I have to look through. So, I have a naming convention but even with that, sometimes I just don't find the project on the first try. Similar with next actions, where the problem is a worse because they can be more alike.

      I hope to move into Mac technology so I can use OmniFocus (as well as for other advantages) but it won't be for at least a year, since I would need both $$ and a good analysis of my expectations, and time for learning . I am thinking that I can improve the way I am populating my next action context lists and the way I am accessing them.


      • #4
        Also need to process and review on a daily basis, weekly review is only for catchup processing