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Friday Review - Next action item lostness

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  • Friday Review - Next action item lostness


    I have read the book, I looked through the forum, and I digged through the webside. I fully agree that Gtd is the way to overcome a lot of my daily problems in work and privat life. So far so good.

    Now, as a citizen of the company I am working for, Outlook is the tool to use on a daily base in terms of organizing and planning. Now, I have downloaded the documentation, explaining how to setup Outlook, so it will support the Gtd methodology best, if someone is not going to buy the software addition for Outlook anyway. After setting everything up like explained, I felt rather excited and energized, ready to go.

    I worked through my collected stuff as discribed in the book and filled the different list with my action items. Fantastic experience! In the next week I started to work out action items from my lists. On Friday I started to do my review and ... I got lost.

    I crossed off everything I had finished but I got lost in that respect that I had no visibility about which project now misses a next step item. I was looking at a list of about 70 projects and I could not figure out which one still has an unfished actiom item sitting in some of the action items list and which one is waiting for a new action item to be asigned. To be honest with you that throwed me off the waggon.

    It might turn out that I am a stupid idiot not seeing the obvious in this process but I would like to ask you forum members to let me know how you are handing this issue. I am very interessted in solving this issue.

    Thanks for your feedback on this issue.

  • #2
    Originally posted by 1xoid1 View Post
    I crossed off everything I had finished but I got lost in that respect that I had no visibility about which project now misses a next step item.
    Here's something that may help...

    1. Don't wait until the weekly review to cross off next actions. Cross them off as soon as you complete them. And then...
    2. Immediately record the next action.

    Weekly reviews are there (in part) to help ensure there are no gaps in your lists. For the most part, you should endeavor to always keep your next action lists up-to-date.


    • #3
      In my experience, once you get into the habit of doing the weekly review every week and spending time keeping your lists up to date, you'll get to know your commitments at a much more instinctive level.

      When that happens, as you scan down your project list as part of the review you'll instantly know which projects don't have next actions assigned.


      • #4
        Outlook Tips

        Originally posted by jknecht View Post
        2. Immediately record the next action.
        This one is key particularly for NAs that are part of an overall objective (PROJECT)!

        Another trick is carefully wording projects and next actions so the FIND feature in Outlook can "tie" them together during the Weekly Review.

        PROJECT= Dallas seminar presentation delivered
        @CALL = John re: his travel plans to Dallas, ###-###-####
        @COMPUTER = Check Expedia re: Dallas flights
        @ANYWHERE = Start a mind map re: Dallas presentation

        So FIND = Dallas would isolate all of these items during a Weekly Review or anytime you just wanted to check-in on the status of this effort.

        Good luck!


        • #5
          Originally posted by Mark Jantzen View Post
          So FIND = Dallas would isolate all of these items during a Weekly Review or anytime you just wanted to check-in on the status of this effort.
          In my experience, this is actually a good idea even if your systems are paper-based. I tend to write Next Actions that read like the above and start with a verb, so my brain can make the intuitive connections between project and actions for me. Then I need only set my project and NA lists side-by-side to see fairly quickly and easily when a project isn't represented in my actions list.

          -- Tammy


          • #6
            At least for me, the trick is in *how* I do my review... But first, let me take a step back. Basically, when I'm working on a project and reach a stopping point, I'll quickly jot down the NA on a piece of paper and throw it into my inbox. That's my place-holder so I know where I left off and what I need to do next.

            This gets processed and organized into the system later. Then, when I sit down to do my weekly review, I'll go through my lists, checking off anything that I might have missed during the week. Then, I'll go through each project one at a time and scan my NA lists to see if there is anything on them related to the project I'm looking at. If there aren't any NA's, I'll pull out the project folder and think it through. I'll look at my project notes, remind myself what the outcome is, etc... and that usually triggers what the NA is.

            I've found that if you're good at doing the review (i.e. consistent), there don't really tend to be any gaps.


            • #7
              I am only just starting to implement GTD. I have it all set up at work, but similar to you, we don't have the add-in, so I do it as the white paper.

              How I do my weekly review is I firstly print off my checklist of things to do in the review, so I have a piece of paper I can cross things off on. I then also print off my projects list (minimise all categories except project and print) so I have another piece of paper I can cross things off on.

              Due to the nature of my work, I can group things with careful use of the subject line. For instance, I will have the main top-level project at the front of the subject in square brackets (eg [personal], [dept-admin], [plane-variant] (I work in the aerospace industry)). The next part of the subject would be any code that would connect it back into the internal company organisation, for instance a report number if one exists. This isn't always possible, so isn't essential. The square brackets thing I find invaluable though, and part of my weekly review I ensure all projects have this. Then I have a brief description of the project. So, for instance, a typical project for me would be "[CTOL] 2ABC12345 vertical tail skin" or "[Dynamics] Organise team meeting". That way, all related projects are grouped in my list.

              For my next actions, I start off the task subject with the project title, so for instance "[Dynamics] Organise team meeting - call Rob to find out available times" in @ calls - this gives easy visibility against each project.

              Then, the next "off-track" way I deal with tasks is I never delete, I only edit. So, after I have called Rob, I would want to schedule the meeting in Outlook, so I would edit the task to say "[Dynamics] Organise team meeting - schedule time in Outlook" and perhaps have notes from the conversation with Rob in the task notes. In actual fact, I would probably just schedule without writing a task as it would be less than 2 minutes, but this is just an example.

              The benefit of this is you constantly have a next action, and you have easy visibility against each project when it comes to weekly reviews. The downside is you have no history of completed tasks, but I rarely use this anyway.

              Then in the weekly review, I go down my list of projects and check against each next action. I also go down my next actions and check against the projects (raising any projects I haven't already done).

              It may not be quite the "pure" way, but it works for me.

              Hope this helps.