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Time for Next Action lists?

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  • Time for Next Action lists?

    Two questions:

    1. My day is quite fast and full of expected and not expected meetings. Office... It means that I can find myself without any spare time for my action lists. I know they are asap lists but that asap could be one or two weeks long. And the list keeps growing making it even longer Do you schedule doing time or your work time is more relaxed so you usually have spare time between meetings?

    2. I'm in sales and need to call people. In the morning I think it's too rude to call my customers. Then the Office takes me into the flow and I find myself when the day ends and I have no energy to call That looks like procrastination because of fears connected with calls. Connected with Point 1 above that makes my progress really week. I need support! Any ideas?

  • #2
    I work off my action lists during non-discretionary time. Depending on how schedule-driven your life is you might need to block off some time so that you can work on them (either specifically or in general) but it's not required. If calling clients is a mission-critical activity (for sales it likely is) and you *truly* can't do it in the morning then you may have to block off time for that activity in the afternoon and focus on less important things in the morning.

    Not every action needs to be nor should it be scheduled. Your calendar is for three things: time-specific actions (appointments, meetings), day-specific actions (this must be done on this day or it dies) and day-specific reminders (birthdays, anniversaries, a colleague's vacation days, etc).

    I sometimes have next actions that sit on my lists for weeks because I know I'm going to need a large block of time and energy (and perhaps weather conditions) to handle them and the opportunity just hasn't presented itself.

    Bear in mind that GTD doesn't run your life for you. It gives you the means to make a good intuitive judgment call about what you should be doing in any given moment. It gives you permission to feel good about going to that meeting instead of doing defined work when you intuitively feel that there's more value added in the meeting than the actions. It also gives you permission to feel good about saying "no" to that meeting when you intuitively feel that it's not the best use of your time. You can only feel good about what you're not doing when you know what you're not doing.

    If you don't have an inventory of your actions you might attend that meeting just to avoid having to think about what's lurking in your psyche. You won't, however, be able to avoid that GSA (gnawing sense of anxiety) factor while you're in that meeting instead of making those sales calls on your list.

    Best of luck in your GTD journey.


    • #3
      Say NO to "the Office" more often...

      Originally posted by Moka View Post
      Then the Office takes me into the flow...
      Say NO to "the Office" more often when it invites you to join its flow...


      • #4
        I hope these questions help. They're suggestions of things for you to think about;
        don't feel you have to answer them here.

        Why do you think it's rude to call in the morning? Do other people tend
        to think the same way? How do your customers actually feel about it?
        Can you find out by saying things to them like "I didn't want to disturb
        you too early in the morning" and see what they say?

        What about around 11AM? Would you be able to call then without either
        rudeness or tiredness? If so, what about declining any meetings scheduled
        for 11AM? "Sorry, I have another commitment then." Or 1:00 PM.

        How about taking some time in the morning to lie down for a rest with
        your eyes closed, or put your head on your arms on your desk, or
        go for a walk in a park etc., so that you'll have energy to call in the afternoon?

        How about getting more sleep at night so you'll have more energy during the day?

        How about taking a more relaxed mental attitude about meetings, so that
        you can attend them without getting as tired?

        You can try to think in terms of importance rather than urgency.
        In other words: is attending a meeting scheduled for 10 minutes from now
        really more important than making a phone call that's one of many
        that must be done within about 2 weeks in order for you to make
        useful progress in your work?

        You can list the expected (and general types of unexpected) meetings for
        the upcoming week (e.g. estimate total 5 hours unexpected meetings
        of miscellaneous type during the week), order them in order of importance,
        decide how much time you want to spend on meetings in total,
        and select the highest-priority meetings to attend, (e.g. will attend
        total of 3 hours unexpected meetings -- not necessarily the first
        ones that come up early in the week! Save some time for
        possible more important unexpected meetings later in the week) and send
        regrets for the others. If there were two meetings scheduled for the
        same time, you would presumably be able to decide quickly which one
        is more important for you to attend; you can use that thought process
        to sort them and to feel confident to decline them in order to make
        calls. And, maybe if you've specifically declined a meeting in order
        to make calls, you may be more motivated to actually do a lot of
        calls during that time.


        • #5
          Some great thoughts here

          There's been some great thoughts in this thread.

          It sounds like you would benefit from blocking off some doing time. Not everybody needs to do this or do this all the time but it is essential for some people. I try to keep an eye on my calendar and when meetings start getting booked back to back to back and the white space is dwindling I try to jump in and book a meeting with myself.

          1. I do have a standing meeting with myself on Friday morning for my weekly review. If absolutely necessary I will reschedule to a different day, but having it blocked on my calendar means if someone else wants that time we need to have a conversation about it.
          2. Generally, I would suggest blocking "Doing" time as opposed to working on a specific Next Action. Things change, priorities shift, new work shows up. In order to keep the committment with yourself, you just need to look at your current NA lists and work from there. (In your case, you might want to block "Calls" at a specific time.)
          3. I do occassionally book time for "Processing" as well. If you've been out of the office and unable to process for an extended time this can be very useful.


          • #6
            I suggest that you download printed material and watch the webinar on the Threefold Nature of Work. Some people can never or almost never work off their lists. Some professions move so fast their lists have to be designed differently. Anyway, I think this information would be useful to you.


            • #7
              Originally posted by OF user View Post
              I suggest that you download printed material and watch the webinar on the Threefold Nature of Work.
              I would agree. If you're a member of GTD Connect, you can find the article on Threefold Nature of Work in the Document Library. I also did a 30 minute Express Webinar on the Threefold model that should be very helpful.

              If you're not a member, you can find it in our Free Articles library: