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Initial processing: actionable, but not next

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  • Initial processing: actionable, but not next

    I'm implementing GTD for the first time. I wanted to share an observation: As I go through my inbox ("Getting 'in' to empty"), I find a lot of stuff that's actionable, but it's not really the next action; it's more like step 12 of 30. At first, I didn't know what to do with those things. I'm guessing that the value of the next action list is precisely that every thing on there can be done next--that is, it's not dependent on doing something else first.

    So where to put those things, I wondered. I realized that these things were really more like project support material.

    I'd be interested to hear whether/how others dealt with this in their initial processing of their inbox.


    // m

  • #2
    I just realized one response might be to put those things on a Defer list. But that doesn't seem quite right. I guess because I'd like to collect things for a given outcome together.

    Or am I complicating stuff?


    // m


    • #3
      RE: Initial processing: actionable, but not next

      Every project can have a list of actions which are not (yet) next actions. How long the list is depends on the complexity of the project and how much project planning has been done. The tasks you describe seem to belong in these lists, below other actions on which they depend. In Outlook, this list is part of the Notes field for the project.

      Hope this helps!


      • #4
        Actionable But Not Next


        Next actions are only waiting on two things:
        - for you to be in the context they are listed under
        - for you to start doing them

        If they are waiting on anything else, they are not next actions.

        The future actionable items you describe presuppose that they are part of a project ("step 12 of 30"). I put these items in the apropriate project files. Having done that, I also make sure that there is something that will refer me back to them when it's time for them to become next actions. For small projects I can just rely on memory. For larger projects, I add steps to project plans or put notes on existing steps of project plans.

        You might also have future actionables that are not part of a project. They are just future next actions. You would put these in your tickler file or your calendar.


        • #5
          I put the actions that are not the NEXT action in one of two places:
          1) On the Projects list in a note attached to the project.
          2) In certain (simple) cases, in the note attached to a next action. For example, say I am going to call Joe and then call Sam to tell him what Joe said. In @Calls will be a task to call Joe. In the task's note, I will have "Call Sam re: conversation with Joe."

          In your example, step 12 of 30, I would put that list in the note attached to the name of the project on the projects list.