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Question on Next Action process

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  • Question on Next Action process

    This seems like a ridiculously simplistic question, but it's been haunting me.

    I would like to understand the process of updating the Next Action list. When an action gets done there is usually a relatively obvious next action that is generated. When does THIS next action appear on the list? At the end of the day or immediately?

    Does the NA list contain only ONE NA per project? (Assuming that only one can be done concurrently.) So, when you actually do an action, do you IMMEDIATELY write down the one next action that is created? Or are you looking at a small cluster of sequential next actions for a project? I'm just unclear on the process of NA's progressively showing up on the list.

    I guess I just am imagining a Sisyphian effect where a next action immediately rushes in to replace the one just finished, and you have this constant re-evaluation of priorties at every action completion.

  • #2
    Great question!

    I don't have an answer, but like you am eager to see what other GTD graduates / students say.



    • #3
      If you know the NA, you have three choices:

      1. Do it if you have the time, or if it takes 2 minutes or less.

      2. Delegate it.

      3. Defer it -- put it in your system (on your NA list, tickler file, or any other place that is appropriate for this action).

      Once you get started, sometimes you just keep going, one NA after another without working from or adding to your list. Put it on your list when you reach the stopping point for today.



      • #4
        No rules here.

        I think there are no rules - your intuition should work here.
        If you feel that there are more Next Actions for the project to be done in a given context - go ahead and just do it.
        Personally I think that Next Action is done when I have decided if it generated any additional Next Action(s) for a project. These Next Action(s) should be captured as soon as possible in your GTD system.

        Project can have more than one simulaneous NA if they are independent.



        • #5
          The nature of NA's is that completion of one often triggers in your mind the possibility of another, or several more, NA's that may be related to the same project or other projects.

          As with anything, make sure you capture the NA as soon as it shows up. As ceehjay said, if its going to take 2 minutes or less, you could do it then, or when processing.

          Otherwise, and unless its urgent, I would tend to leave it until the next time I process my intray, and then organise it (them) appopriately.

          This is the way I tend to operate, but David does stress that the system should be simple, so that it can deal with the complexities of your life.

          Best wishes



          • #6
            If you think of a new next action, the key is that you capture the next action somewhere so that you can get it off of your mind and not have to worry about forgetting it. As others have noted, if it is a two-minute next action and you are in the right context, you can go ahead and do it. Otherwise, you can add it immediately to your next action lists or put it on one of your inboxes for later processing. If you need time to think about what the next action is, then your next action is to evaluate a new next action for project x. You certainly can have more than one next action for any given project on your context lists as long as they are independent of one another. The downside of this approach is that your lists may get too unwieldy for a quick scan. For this reason, I try to limit multiple next actions to only a handful of projects.