A few newbie questions

lorenaustin

Registered
Hello all.

I have just read the GTD book, got all of my head into my in-tray, completed the two minute tasks and delegated/deleted what I need to.

I am in a customer facing role with just under a 100 tasks (projects) that will need multiple actions. All are (fairly) urgent, and I'm looking at the list, not quite knowing which ones to start on, but knowing that I need to understand what my next actions are for each of them, which is fine.

My main question I suppose is that if my next action is 'write the report', this may take two days to complete and will be to the detriment of the other projects that may also need work doing on them, not forgetting new work coming into my in-tray.

Is it common practice to work on one of the projects for a few hours, then move focus on to a similar project, or is it best to complete the next action until starting work on another one?

Thanks very much for any assistance - I will be back with more!
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Hello all.

I have just read the GTD book, got all of my head into my in-tray, completed the two minute tasks and delegated/deleted what I need to.

I am in a customer facing role with just under a 100 tasks (projects) that will need multiple actions. All are (fairly) urgent, and I'm looking at the list, not quite knowing which ones to start on, but knowing that I need to understand what my next actions are for each of them, which is fine.

My main question I suppose is that if my next action is 'write the report', this may take two days to complete and will be to the detriment of the other projects that may also need work doing on them, not forgetting new work coming into my in-tray.

Is it common practice to work on one of the projects for a few hours, then move focus on to a similar project, or is it best to complete the next action until starting work on another one?

Thanks very much for any assistance - I will be back with more!
For me, unless the report was a couple of paragraphs sent by email, “write the report“ is a project or part of a project. I might start with something like “Review material needed for report“ or “Browse manuscript” ( I often write reports about other people’s work). I would then proceed to an outline or jotting notes about what I want to say, proceed to a draft, then finalize and proof. All of these are next actions for me. Sometimes I do them all in one sitting (but I do take breaks) but more often I do them one next action at a time until I am confident I know what I want to say. How you work is up to you, but next actions function like a bookmark to tell you how to start up again.
 
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ivanjay205

Registered
It really depends on my focus situation... For example this morning I have a “Project” I need to work on specifically. I have 3 hours of time blocked and I will use my GTD system to systematically go through the next actions for that specific project. Other times I have 30 minutes betweeen meetings and I want to grab any next action related to any project just to keep something moving forward.
 

TamaraM

Registered
I have similar questions, so I'm trying out two new context lists this month: 1-Offs and Project Actions. Almost all of my actions can be done from anywhere, so in the past, I only had specific context lists for Errands, Waiting Fors, and QuickBooks (which is a hassle to get into to I like to batch it up).

Now, with these two new lists, when I am ready to start a new Next Action, I am evaluating based on how much time I have available and my energy level. I almost always have all the tools I need handy. If I have more than a half-hour or so, I'll look to my Project Actions and I'll work on it until my next commitment. If less than that, I go to 1-Offs and churn through as many of them as I can.

In my main Outlook Tasks view, I group by Category/Context, and then sort by Due Date, and then by Creation Date. This helps in situations where my best next action isn't very clear. If there is no obvious "best" 1-Off options, I choose the oldest one. I find that there is always an obvious "best" Project action, based on urgency or importance.

I also do block out time for mission-critical projects and those with upcoming deadlines to ensure that I make sufficient progress on those specific things.
 

TamaraM

Registered
@TamaraM How do you handle recurring Next Actions in that system?
This is probably more detail than you wanted, but it was useful to think it through.

Recurring items that are not project-related are given a repeating due date and are marked @1-Off. I treat them as isolated, quick tasks with a deadline. I can clear out a lot of these during my In-to-Empty block in the morning. The rest are done along with other @1-Offs during short windows that day.

If they ARE project-related, I create a recurring @Project action with a due date to kick off the project, and create new actions as I progress, based on the documented procedure. For example, the last weekend of each month kicks off our month-end financial close and we have a 7-day expected turnaround.
  • The recurring @Project action, dated "last Friday of each month," is "Month-End Start: Remind Mgrs to complete time reviews this weekend." And there's a link to the OneNote page where the month-end checklist lives. Once I've reminded the Mgrs, I close that action out...
  • And create a @WaitingFor: "Mgrs: Month-End: Time reviews complete? [date requested]"
  • As directed by the checklist, I also then create a 3-hour block of time on Monday morning for "Invoicing" and an all-day calendar entry for 7 days from that Monday, "Month-End Deadline."
  • When I hear back that the Mgrs are done, I close the @WaitingFor and create a new @Project action based on the next step in the checklist: "Month-End: Create, QC, send,& sync invoices." This gets finished during that blocked out time on Monday.
  • Check it off, revisit the checklist, and create new @Project action: "Month-End: Calculate bonuses/commissions & notify staff."
  • And so on...
If I find myself with larger than usual blocks of available time, I'll work on that project until I hit a point where I'm waiting for input from someone else or hit a necessary elapsed time window (software needs time to sync, etc.). I may not create new actions if I'm just moving down the checklist in a single sitting. But once I stop, I create a Project action for what's next, so I don't need to figure out where I was.
 

Gardener

Registered
My main question I suppose is that if my next action is 'write the report'
This would be too large for a next action for me. That's not universal, but for me a next action is something that I can complete without significant interruptions--so, maybe two to four hours of work at most.

So I do prefer to complete the current action before switching to another one, but the actions are sized accordingly.

I also prefer to stick with the same project as long as possible, but I think that may not be relevant to your question here.
 
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