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How I made a choice what to do today

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  • How I made a choice what to do today

    Last week I understood I didn't feel satisfaction when checking off Next Actions from my @action list. I enjoy doing something only when I can concentrate on the most important project in the moment and work till some point where I can't go further (have to wait for any additional information or reached time limit). That way I see how my project moves forward, advances.

    The day started. I had to make a choice. Though my @Action list is current and updated I always have a feeling that there're could be more important actions I can do for any given project. So I decided to go to the Projects list . I scaned it to find the most important project, opened it, opened the project support materials and started dumbing and planning along with doing. That was better then making a choice based on Next Actions and Contexts. I knew that I was doing the most important project and to move it forward I had to do all I could not looking at contexts (if I needed to change it I was easlily changing it), time, energy or priority.

    When I came to some point in the project where I couldn't move further (waiting for) I had to choose the next project to act on. When I was already somewhere in the middle of my Projects list (for today it has 25 projects without SM'd projects) I started to forget which projects were already moved ahead today and which not I went to my @Actions lists to find Next Actions belonging to the Projects I was doing to find out the point where I stoped.

    It's really useful to have Next Actions in place to move other projects in smaller steps also or have a bookmark for the most important projects I worked on. Though It's really difficult to control that each project has the most current bookmark (Next Action) parked on the @Action lists. But I really liked to work from my Projects list.

    Do you work from your Projects list? Any advices?

  • #2
    For me...

    Personally, I break down my projects into next actions. Those actions are on the list with other less important things, though. At the end of each day, I decide which actions I'm going to complete the next day. Typically, I give Project related actions a higher priority.

    For me, I'd go nuts if I worked from my project lists directly. Isn't this one of the main tenents of GTD methodology?


    • #3
      List of upcoming deadlines

      I've started doing something along similar lines, which is to maintain a short list of projects with deadlines upcoming (whether the deadline is externally imposed, or internally). I tend to have the same experience you describe with long next action / context lists, which is that its hard to pick a starting point and a direction, and at my worst (low energy, low mood, etc.), it can become an avoidance mechanism to pick a not-so-important action compared to something more pressing.


      • #4
        I recently started comingling the GTD and Franklin/Covey methodologies...

        I keep "Projects" and "Next Actions" lists, as prescribed by GTD; and then I also maintain a Prioritized Daily Task List based on Franklin/Covey. Now, before you shout "Heretic!", here is the method to my madness...

        "Projects" contains all of my active projects. In my case, "active" means anything that I want to move forward this week. I don't worry about the likelihood that I WILL move it forward... it is just stuff that I WANT to move forward. Projects are moved into and out of "active" during the weekly review.

        "Next Actions" is the collection of "the very next thing I can do" for each project, organized by context. The Next Action for a Project is determined on-the-fly whenever I stop working on a project.

        "Prioritized Daily Task List" (and this is where the madness begins... hold on to your hats!) is, more or less, a set of goals for each day. It is based on the "Projects" list, but, unlike the Next Action (which tells me the very next thing I could do), it represents where I would like to be at the end of the day for my most important projects. During the weekly review, I plan out my daily progress points for the week; then, each day, I assign priorities.

        For me, this fills two significant gaps in GTD -- (1) the part which lets me schedule in the so-called "big rocks" before the pebbles have a chance of filling my bucket (If you don't know what I'm talking about, you can find a wealth of information from this Google Search). And (2) the part which tells me when I am supposed to change contexts (so I don't wind up spending all day surfing the 'net just because I happen to be on the internet and because my @Internet list has 82 sites I want to check out).

        Yes, it violates DA's rule that the calendar is sacred, and that I should only schedule the things that MUST be done on a particular day. But in my case, I have to plan ahead for the "big rocks", otherwise I will spend an inappropriate amount of time dealing with the pebbles beneath my feet (all the while ignoring the boulder that's about to fall on my head).

        So, how does this work in my day-to-day life?

        Each morning, I review my Calendar, my Projects and my Prioritized Daily Task List (PDTL) to ensure that my day is properly planned. In particular, I make certain that I can realistically achieve each of the end states on the PDTL. If not, then I reprioritize. Next, I select the first thing to work on -- this selection is actually quite easy, because I've used the Covey Quadrant system to identify the most important and most urgent tasks. Then, I check my Next Action list to see what is the first thing I need to do to kick-off that item from my PDTL, and then I just continue until I (a) reach my stated goal for the day and can check off the item from my PDTL, or (b) reach an interruption at which point I check-off the old Next Action and write a new one. Once I have gone as far as I can on all of my PDTL items, then I can work directly from the NA lists to push some of those "might like to" projects forward.

        Here is an example from today:

        Project: Prepare Dave's Annual Review
        Next Action: [@office] Download annual review template from HR website
        PDTL: Write first draft of Dave's annual review

        Tomorrow, my PDTL contains the following item: Edit/revise Dave's annual review

        And the day after that: Email Dave's Annual Review to boss for review

        All throughout the day, I had to stop and restart Dave's review, so the Next Action was constantly being updated, but the PDTL Item did not change until I actually finished that draft.

        Hope this wasn't too confusing.



        • #5
          1. Forum member Rainer Burmeister has solved this perfectly with his "working packages".

          2. Me, I have an appointment each day: work on most important project. I just designate one project as the most important one and put that on my calendar.


          • #6
            I liked your approaches! Simple and great. Is it possible to integrate daily goals approach into GTD more smothly? And does it worth it? Actually daily goals are subprojects with the deadline for that particular day. Isn't it?

            I think it doesn't worse putting the most important project on the calendar as you can always consult your project list and make an intuitive choice what's the most priority in the moment. Maybe this way you can have more then one important project for the day. It looks like some people use Project lists and not @Action list to determine priorities. David Allen doesn't say that directly in his book or any related materials from the Connect site though.


            • #7
              Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
              1. Forum member Rainer Burmeister has solved this perfectly with his "working packages".
              I couldn't find it. Could you please give a link or describe in your words what that means?


              • #8
                I just found that when I took the most important project it was hard to remember where I left I had to go through all my context lists and calendar to find the right Next Action. I felt like a lost The easiest that comes to my mind to duplicate the NA in the Project list. But that overhead... Any ideas on how to make it more clear?


                • #9
                  Work Packages

                  Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
                  I couldn't find it. Could you please give a link or describe in your words what that means?





                  • #10
                    Work Package in PM

                    The usual defintion of a work package in project management goes something like this:

                    A work package is the basic building block of a work breakdown structure. It can be considered as a sub-project. It is composed of one or several tasks.

                    A work package may typically last a week to a month in duration and is performed by an individual or small work group.

                    Well, I tweaked this definiton somewhat to suit my needs.



                    • #11
                      Yes, that's a great idea! Thanks for sharing it. Could you please explain how do you use @Action lists then. Do you use them only for one-step actions? Or do you use them as bookmarks for your Projects? In the last case, are you Ok with spending time looking for the right bookmark in your @Action lists and calendar or you duplicate a Next Action somewhere in the title of the project in you Projects list?


                      • #12
                        I do not just work from my context lists, since they will only contain the very next action for a project. If that project is important, I will want to work more on it than just one NA. I'm continuously moving back and forth from context list NAs to projects. I also create daily priority lists, which in my case will just list the few projects or NAs that I need to work on. As far as I remember, DA never said to just work off a context list.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by sdann View Post
                          As far as I remember, DA never said to just work off a context list.
                          But he never said to work off the project list either Where's the truth? And how to handle Next Actions more smooth: are they for picking up where we left (and how to find them easlily between other actions then) or just a patch for discretional time???


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
                            And how to handle Next Actions more smooth: are they for picking up where we left (and how to find them easlily between other actions then) or just a patch for discretional time???
                            The former.


                            • #15
                              Different kinds of Next Actions

                              Originally posted by Borisoff View Post
                              And how to handle Next Actions more smooth: are they for picking up where we left (and how to find them easlily between other actions then) or just a patch for discretional time???
                              Definitely both!

                              Usually I have at least two kinds of reminders for next actions. One kind is part of the scheduling entry (calendar or planner) and the other kind lives in a context list (@work or @home).

                              Next action reminders as part of the scheduling entry in my planner (paper notebook):

                              Let’s say in my job (occupational safety engineer) I have a project called „Inspection of the Institute of Pathology“. On my projects list I have several work packages for this project. One work package for this project might be „Update safety regulations for the use of Formaldehyde at Institute of Pathology“. The very next action would be: „Research safety data sheet for Formaldehyde“.

                              Somewhere in my planner then there would be the entry:
                              „Update s. reg. Formaldehyde at Pathology: Research safey data sheet for Formaldehyde“. This serves as a bookmark for the work package.

                              After I have finished this action I can either do something else for this work package (if there is still enough time scheduled for it) or work something completely different.

                              Next action reminders as part of a context list (@work or @home):

                              They can be used for discretional time and might be part of a work package or just one-step stand-alone actions.

                              For me it is a matter of priority to choose where I write the next action reminder, trying to match the worth of the action with the available resources of time and concentrativeness.


                              All commitments are equal, but some commitments are more equal than others.
                              Last edited by Rainer Burmeister; 01-22-2008, 10:13 AM.