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Next Action: select it as a To Do or always select?

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  • Next Action: select it as a To Do or always select?

    Been sort-of GTD-ing for about 6-12 months but just last month bought the book. What a difference that makes!!

    I uset Outlook/PocketPC as my main projects/actions list.

    Now my "problem" is this... When you look at something do you always define what the Next Action is or do you select it at the start/end of the day as a means of putting it on the table for that day?

    Otherwise, don't I end up with a list of 50+ NA's instead of a clear short view of what I'm about to do?

  • #2
    Depends on the common sense assessment of importance and urgency.

    Originally posted by westbroek
    When you look at something do you always define what the Next Action is or do you select it at the start/end of the day as a means of putting it on the table for that day?
    I think it depends on the common sense assessment of this something's importance and urgency.

    For "Put out the fire in the kitchen" project you will probably define the Next Action immediately.

    "Prepare a checklist of things to pack for the travel to Japan in July" project may wait until the Weekly Review for the Next Action definition.


    • #3
      Makes sense - thanks!

      I think I will modify the GTD view in Outlook to include my priority filter again. Items I mark high priority are meant to be my Next Action instead of just a "what would the next action be here". Otherwise looking at a list of so many action items occupies my brain again trying to figure out which of those I should actually start doing now


      • #4
        You'd better have at least one NA for each project. NA is a next visiable phisical action. You can add priority for top three NAs to start with or scroll the list when you're in a context to choose the most important for the moment. That's up to you. I beleive that you can end up with 50 NAs in one context if you don't make any outgoing calls for one week or don't use your computer for the same time So that's not real




        • #5
          A "next action" is a next action for a particular project, not necessarilly what you will do next in the following days. I have "next actions" for projects with due dates in two months time. In Outlook you can filter out next actions with a due date in the future, so I won't see them until their due date arrives.

          I still have more than two hundred next actions that appear in my active list. Each day I look through them and mark the ones that are high priority. I then apply another view which only shows high priority tasks. This gives me a a shorter list to focus on for that day. Sometimes I copy and paste the list into Word and then put the tasks into the order I will do them in that day.

          Having a long next action list can be daunting but at leat it gives you an honest account of what's on your plate. One can then prioritise the most important/ renegotiate / delegate as necessary - focussing on the urgent but confident that the others will get done in due course.


          • #6
            I guess my reading of NA was/is wrong. I've been defining *every* action in context. So if I have a project with 10 steps, each step has an @HTML, @Content, @Waiting, etc. attached to it. Consequently *every* item appears on my list as next action as well... that's useless, right?

            Maybe the idea is then to only define the action for those things you are about to do... No, makes no sense either...

            Well, maybe the GTD add-in is not done right, lol. Project and action are there while maybe it should be project, na, context?


            • #7
              It's no problem having multiple next actions for a project, as long as they aren't dependent on each other. If the project tasks are sequentially dependent on each other you should only put the next one that is doable. That way your mind gives less resistence to moving forward with the project than when you see a mountain of tasks and the most important next action is not clear.

              That's the idea of GTD anyway and it works for me.


              • #8
                If the project tasks are sequentially dependent on each other you should only put the next one that is doable
                Precisely my point of confusion I think.

                We need to clear out our mind. So, when I think about project X I enter all the steps I think about: do this, that, and also such and so.

                So far I have been assigning a context/action (@....) to each one of those. Think that is where I mess up big time, right? I should only assign a @.... when it really is going to be the very next thing I will do with that project.

                This would make more sense, yes....


                • #9
                  Originally posted by westbroek
                  This would make more sense, yes....
                  You can put the whole life to your NA list But it's better to have the very next physical action of the project in the system (maybe two or even three) that you CAN do independently. When finished you add new NA for this PROJECT on the fly or at your Weekly Review depending on the due date of the PROJECT.

                  I have Projects (actually project plans) with 1000++ lines but I don't really care about them right now because I CAN do only 1 or 2 now that are somewhere between 100 and 120 line




                  • #10

                    Maybe a little example would help.

                    I make embroidery kits and when an order comes in I add it to my project list under the customer name. I then list the first clump of next actions underneath, such as print the chart, print the front cover, cut the fabric and cut the threads. The printing has to come first really so that there is a physical "package" to put into a bag and take to the cutting room for the fabric and threads to be added to it. Therefore anything that needs printing for that kit can be tagged with the "@printer" context straight away. Once this process has been completed the @upstairs context can be added to the cutting steps.

                    Of course a customer can/does order more than one kit at a time so there can be @print owl chart, @print dog chart, @print cat chart etc. all as next actions at the same time. And once I start on the printing and the owl is done I can add an @upstairs context to the next action on that particular kit before the other kits are printed.

                    My context lists then tell me the very next thing that is possible for each kit. In general I tend to spend a chunk of time printing before I go up to the cutting room so I work from the @printer context list and clear that before changing contexts.

                    Once the rest of the ingredients are packed in the kit, the followup context is @errands where "send Mrs Smith's order" is listed. This cannot possibly be done until all the kits are made and packed, so doesn't go on a context list until the very end. It is dependant on all the other next actions for that project/order being done first.

                    Hope this helps and doesn't confuse even more




                    • #11
                      Thank you both, this really helps.

                      You can outline every action you think of but you assign it an @context only once it becomes the next action.

                      Think I got it straight now. Applied this during the day and it works wonderful!