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Processed, Developed Lists, Completed the Next Action... now what?

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  • Processed, Developed Lists, Completed the Next Action... now what?

    I'm somewhat embarrassed that I keep hitting such an elementary roadblock. I absolutely love Omnifocus for iPad. I use that and OmniFocus for Mac, synced to Omnigroup's sync server.

    I get to the point where I have lists of next actions in their contexts, and even sorted into perspectives that remain relevant through certain areas of my life and parts of my day. Then I do the next action, it disappears when I do it, and then the next action following that... well I haven't decided what that is yet. And until I do a review and see that project still there, I don't define a next action. As a result, everything moves 1 step forward a day - or however frequently I do a review after the next action is done.

    How do I seamlessly progress to the following next action once I complete the first, especially if I needed to complete the first before deciding what comes next?

    Many thanks!

  • #2
    It sounds like the next action is to determine the next action.

    When you complete the first one, you need to stop right there, determine the next step and get it in your system. If that throws you off or you don't have time, then you need to create an new next action step called something like "determine next step for xx project".


    • #3
      "As a result, everything moves 1 step forward a day - or however frequently I do a review after the next action is done."

      Sounds like you both want to increase the speed of your workflow and also be able to stay in the flow of work instead of waiting for the weekly review to get clear about your next action?

      To me, whenever i complete a next action on my action lists, I take a moment to define the next action. This way I am always moving 1 step forward so to speak.
      I have experienced that this way of relating to actionlists is more effective and intuitive than to set up 2-3 or even 5-6 next action steps in a sequence. Why? Because the parameters of work are always in movement, never fixed. So why bother to have a fixed structure of action items on your actionlists? Creating project support plans is enough for me.

      Is this helpful? Any "next questions"?



      • #4
        Agree 100% with both posts above.

        As soon as I finish an action, I do a little re-processing where I put away any outputs and define the next action.

        I always have 2 next actions. The final action of each project is a symbol that means "define next action for this project". I use the recycling symbol ♻.
        (1) Discuss injury with Doctor
        (2) ♻

        If I can see a decision coming up then I may put in:
        (1) Discuss injury with doctor
        (2) ♻ Review doctor's response
        meaning that I have to define the next action, but with reference to a previous output in case I forget.

        If I have broken a big action into smaller steps, then I'll put them all in and finish with my recycling symbol.

        I never discover projects with no actions at weekly review and I don't like trying to define next actions in weekly review as I find it hard to switch context from project to project.
        Last edited by pxt; 04-05-2011, 02:15 AM.


        • #5
          For me there are two things I do that arent really in the GTD methodology as I initially understood it. Firstly, to me the next action is a little bookmark on where that project is up to. I know the next action, but when I complete it, if its appropriate to do so, I just keep on working.

          A real life example from this morning - I have a project to create new contracts for all my staff. My next action was to make a folder and copy a blank contract per staff member into it. After this, my next actions were to rename them all, open each one & put the terms and conditions from their last contract into it, print two copies of each out, copy them to a secured place on the shared drive, email each staff member with a time to meet me. So i just did it. I didnt bother to write out the next actions each time, or wait until my weekly review, that would take forever.

          I think GTD got me into this mindset that unless I had defined and written down a next action I couldn't do it. Thats completely untrue, and it kind of stops me getting in to the flow of work.

          Of course this is completely optional if I so choose. If im feeling braindead, or I only have 15 mins, or if working out the next step involves more thinking than I choose to do at that moment, I just choose a couple of Next Actions and knock them off the list.

          Second thing - each morning I look over my projects list, and decide if any of them really need moving on, as opposed to looking over my Next Action list. This tends to prompt very different thinking. A project may have ended up with no Next Action in it because of how the last was completed (for example if I had to leave my desk quickly). This way I see what project needs working on, then check it out and if there are no Next Actions, I make them.

          In practice this means that the weekly review becomes a safety net. It isnt the time you make your Next Actions, its the minimum frequency that you'll do it.


          • #6
            In my project plan I have a table for all the open loops in a project, and the possible actions I could do to close it out. So when I've completed an action I go back to my project plan for ideas on the next action, and any other loops that may need to start now.


            • #7
              In OmniFocus, every one of my projects has a final action of "Write another action". That keeps them from falling off my radar when I finish the last "real" action.


              • #8
                I've developed the habit of reviewing completed actions at the end of each workday. I often don't want to stop working through next actions to plan new ones when I'm in the middle of working (especially if I feel like I'm in a groove), so the end of the day review is a good safety net. I take a look at each completed action and decide whether I need to generate a new next action right then or if I'm okay with waiting for the weekly review to do more planning.