A big trap I've noticed with computer-based next actions...

PeterByrom

Registered
... is that it seems really tempting to define next actions in a vague way, such as "work on", "research", "continue with", etc, which doesn't complete the next action thinking process properly.

For example, "work on budget spreadsheet" may not be enough. "re-configure cross-referencing formulae in budget spreadsheet" may actually be the more precise next action that you need to define, to truly have finished the thinking in order to get started.

I wonder if this may have something to do with the fact that @computer next actions require an extra layer of visualisation. When you are out on errands, for example, it's easy to picture yourself walking into a store and looking for lemons. But when you're visualising being @computer, it seems as if you have to then think about not just the fact that you're sat in a room looking at a screen, with a piece of software or a document loaded up, but specifically what are you doing with that document / in that software on the computer? I.e. you have to imagine that extra layer, into the digital environment.

Anyone else finding this?
 

mcogilvie

Registered
... is that it seems really tempting to define next actions in a vague way, such as "work on", "research", "continue with", etc, which doesn't complete the next action thinking process properly.

For example, "work on budget spreadsheet" may not be enough. "re-configure cross-referencing formulae in budget spreadsheet" may actually be the more precise next action that you need to define, to truly have finished the thinking in order to get started.

I wonder if this may have something to do with the fact that @computer next actions require an extra layer of visualisation. When you are out on errands, for example, it's easy to picture yourself walking into a store and looking for lemons. But when you're visualising being @computer, it seems as if you have to then think about not just the fact that you're sat in a room looking at a screen, with a piece of software or a document loaded up, but specifically what are you doing with that document / in that software on the computer? I.e. you have to imagine that extra layer, into the digital environment.

Anyone else finding this?
No, I don’t. A lot of my work is abstract in nature, and I never think about myself sitting in front of a screen looking at a window on the screen. I think you may want to distinguish the different modalities of working on the computer. If you are looking at a spreadsheet, changing it’s structure and not entering data or hunting bugs, your focus should be on the abstract model which the spreadsheet represents. “Work on budget spreadsheet“ is probably never enough.
 

TruthWK

Registered
So i've had a simliar problem in the past. Because a computer is so multifaceted and you can do so many different things, the computer is kind of like an errands list in one sense. You have to go somewhere virtually whether that be an app, a file, a URL, etc and then do something. So just like you may have different lists for different stores, this may be the same thing. Now some places may only have a few items so depending on your @ Computer list, you may not need to split it per se. What you may do is use a hyphenated action item. The first part is the where you are going. The second is the what you are doing when you get there.

Your example: re-configure cross-referencing formulae in budget spreadsheet is basically this. the place is the budget spreadsheet and the action is to reconfigure the formulae. So you could rewrite it as Budget Spreadsheet - Re-configure cross-referencing formulae. This can be useful if you have multiple items in one "place" so you can see them next to each other in a standard way.

I agree work on is bad if you have any fuzziness on what that entails. In the virtual world, I've sometimes found that the nouns tell the story of the action better than the verbs. So for example, Confluence gives me a better mental picture all by itself of what I'll be doing than write. If I said write documentation, the documentation part really conveys the image better than the writing action because ultimately, as you said, the physical action is just sitting at the computer typing etc. To me, its visualizing the virtual room I'll be in that gets me feeling the same level of comfort that I do from an action like clean bathroom.
 

PeterByrom

Registered
So i've had a simliar problem in the past. Because a computer is so multifaceted and you can do so many different things, the computer is kind of like an errands list in one sense. You have to go somewhere virtually whether that be an app, a file, a URL, etc and then do something. So just like you may have different lists for different stores, this may be the same thing. Now some places may only have a few items so depending on your @ Computer list, you may not need to split it per se. What you may do is use a hyphenated action item. The first part is the where you are going. The second is the what you are doing when you get there.

Your example: re-configure cross-referencing formulae in budget spreadsheet is basically this. the place is the budget spreadsheet and the action is to reconfigure the formulae. So you could rewrite it as Budget Spreadsheet - Re-configure cross-referencing formulae. This can be useful if you have multiple items in one "place" so you can see them next to each other in a standard way.

I agree work on is bad if you have any fuzziness on what that entails. In the virtual world, I've sometimes found that the nouns tell the story of the action better than the verbs. So for example, Confluence gives me a better mental picture all by itself of what I'll be doing than write. If I said write documentation, the documentation part really conveys the image better than the writing action because ultimately, as you said, the physical action is just sitting at the computer typing etc. To me, its visualizing the virtual room I'll be in that gets me feeling the same level of comfort that I do from an action like clean bathroom.
This must be one of the benefits of having list managers with nested tags for contexts. There can be a "computer" context tag, and then that expands into sub-contexts. e.g.

@Computer:
--@Confluence
--@CRM
--@Email
--@HR System
--@Offline
--@Printing
--@Teams
--@etc...
 

mcogilvie

Registered
This must be one of the benefits of having list managers with nested tags for contexts. There can be a "computer" context tag, and then that expands into sub-contexts. e.g.

@Computer:
--@Confluence
--@CRM
--@Email
--@HR System
--@Offline
--@Printing
--@Teams
--@etc...
That’s a lot to manage. How do you think it helps you?
 

PeterByrom

Registered
That’s a lot to manage. How do you think it helps you?
If the parent tag show all the children tags, then it’s as if it’s all on one list anyway. I might as well have them as tags if the alternative is to be repeatedly re-typing them at the start of an action.

And if those sub-contexts require logging in, or switching a connection or type of mental mode, then they could help with batching tasks, by filtering them down.

but yes, of course, always best to start simple and then expand.
 
Last edited:

Oogiem

Registered
For example, "work on budget spreadsheet" may not be enough.
I have actions like Work on Codon 171 bug in AddLamb. That has taken over 6 hours so far scattered over a week. Bad new is I won't be able to tell for sure if it's fixed until next year lambing. It works fine on the bench but had been failing in the field. I think I found the problem but I cannot test it as no more ewes left to lamb. So I find that work on can frequently be enough if the problem is described well enough.

I do have research actions that are open ended because if I knew which way the research was going to take me I wouldn't need to do it. SO the action is to get me started and then I follow where it leads.

By splitting my @computer actions by application I find that in and of itself also make a huge difference in how I approach them
 

ivanjay205

Registered
I had tried a similar thing with the subtags or more specific tags and I found it wasnt a good idea for me.... Sometimes I need to make a dent in a particular project and switching apps on a computer is not difficult. SO i found I was limiting my progress by limiting me to a specific app.

I find I do fall into the trap of "research" or "work on" and I just remind myself to stop being lazy and break out the steps. That resolves it :) Until the next week when I start doing it again :)
 

TesTeq

Registered
I have actions like Work on Codon 171 bug in AddLamb. That has taken over 6 hours so far scattered over a week. Bad new is I won't be able to tell for sure if it's fixed until next year lambing. It works fine on the bench but had been failing in the field. I think I found the problem but I cannot test it as no more ewes left to lamb. So I find that work on can frequently be enough if the problem is described well enough.
Are there features in the "live" environment that cannot be tested in the "test" environment?
 

Oogiem

Registered
Are there features in the "live" environment that cannot be tested in the "test" environment?
Yes. Live environment has alive ewes with current breeding records with EID tags. All the EID tags I have are from dead sheep or from rams. I can't add a breeding record to a dead sheep. There are safeguards to determine the sire based on gestation period and that fails once I am out of the window.

So live testing is using both EID and current breeding records. In the test environment I usually look up the sheep by name or by farm tag number. Now it's all supposed to work the same no matter what ID type I use tolook up a sheep but it's not. I can't drag my development environment out to the field to capture a debug trace when doing it for real.
 
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