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Projects: Multiple Next Actions: New User questions

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  • Projects: Multiple Next Actions: New User questions

    Hello everybody, I am a brand new user, just got done reading GTD. I have a couple of questions:

    On my projects list, all of these projects have next actions. Should these next actions be written on both the projects list ("under" the project in which it is a next action) and on my "Next Actions" list under the appropriate context, or should the next action just be on the "Next Actions" list?

    If it is just on the Next Actions list should I designate by the next action which project it corresponds to? (for instance, if I do not , I may have a block of time come up and be wanting to move a project forward but I will then have to look through my hundred or so next actions to remember what was the next action on this particular project)

    Also, usually when I am thinking about a project, quite a few things come up that need to be done regarding a project. Do you make sub-projects (items within projects that will take more than one step) and then have separate next action steps for that subproject on my Next Actions list? Also where do you put all the second, third, fourth, and fifth steps for some project as you think of them? Do you just line them up below the project waiting until the next step actions are done ahead of them so you can transfer the next step over to your Next Actions list?

    Sorry for the length, but I want to get this straight before I dive in.

    Thanks ahead to everyone that helps me.


  • #2
    Welcome to GTD!

    This question is a very familiar one to the folks here. Basically, there are a couple of answers:

    First, if you have projects that are relatively straightforward and require keeping track of only a few things, most GTD users just set up a "Projects" list and use a note attached to the project item to list the steps. Then they cut and paste individual items onto a context list when they come up. Only the very Next Action goes onto the context lists.

    Second, if projects are more complex, many users have an Action Support paper file for each project and use that to store notes and information about upcoming steps in the project. Others use some sort of software solution: One Note, Shadowplan or similar outline processors. Still others tweek Outlook by adding categories for each project or by using a Contact Form to list projects instead of a Task Form, and associate Tasks with the Contact for that Project. You will find many descriptions of solutions to this here. There is even a dedicated program sold by Davidco to add this feature to Outlook.

    Learn to keep your Projects List limited to actual projects, and put other things on your Someday/Maybe List. Finally, think of the Next Action you put on one of your context lists as a bookmarker for where you left off when last working on that project. You don't have to list all the steps of every project. The bookmarker is there to help you pick up where you left off.

    Glad to help,
    Scot Giles


    • #3
      Multiple Next Actions

      Hi J:

      Next Actions are distinguished as those items that are independent and available to be Done immediately. They may or may not be date/time related. When you look at your Calendar (first) and your Next Action List, you can go ahead and select an item and proceed because everything you are looking at is Doable.

      Projects may be structured tree-like with steps (sub-Projects or Next Actions) that are parallel (actionable) or dependent (not yet actionable). Traditionally, when you plan a complex Project, you list out the steps and then arrange them in some logical order, noting dependancies. GtD Action Lists focus on the immediately actionable (independent) steps, but there is merit to retaining these notes - normally in a Project Support file, which may be an attached note to an electronic Projects list item.

      The main distinction that I use is that the Action Lists are for Doing, while the Projects List is for planning. It's an important distinction for me because I can be tempted to revert to planning if all of my lists are visible - I need a limited Agenda to just get on with the work. I do not prioritize the Action List, but I do prioritize my Projects. In time planning, if I want to work through several steps of a Project in one sitting, I know that this preference will not be apparent from an unprioritized Action List, so I block out a Calendar appointment to work on the Project.