Connection between Project and Next Action

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by PatrickRe, Oct 4, 2019.

  1. PatrickRe

    PatrickRe Registered

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    Hi there, during the implementation of GTD I stumbled upon a question that I haven't been able to think of a great answer.

    Let's say you have one Master Project List and 6 separate Next Actions Lists with multiple defined Actions (with connection to a Project or single Actions without a Project) on each of them. Now there might be some very specific Actions that might not have a very clear connection to a Project.

    E.g. "Build a new bed" (Project) with a Next Action "Find out where to borrow a car" (Next Action) as you need a car to buy timber but don't own a car. Letting this sit around for 3 weeks, the connection between this Action and the Project might not be clear anymore when you see one of these items on a list.

    How do you make sure that you
    1. immediately be able to find the Next Action for every Project on the Project list and
    2. understand which Project any Action belongs to (or if it's a single, standalone Action)?

    I'm happy for any ideas.

    Thanks,
    Patrick
     
  2. Mateusz

    Mateusz Registered

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    I believe most people use digital software for their GTD system. Digital tasks manager does this connection for you. Let’s say as an example Nirvana does this beautifully.
     
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  3. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I use Omnifocus and it automatically links the next actions to their projects just by how you enter them in. I can view my lists either as just project lists or by contexts or by start or due dates or many other ways. So depending on how I want to see the data I can choose my viewing options.

    I also have two lists that are catch alls for those actions that are not related to a project, the one-off items I need to do. Once is generic and one is specifically for errands. Things like Go to Bank or Go to Post Office that I don't want to forget to do when I am down to town.

    That seamless linking of projects and next actions is one reason I could never work comfortable in a paper system I like to see my GTD system in many different ways and paper pretty much eliminates that as an option.
     
  4. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    A better next action would be specific: “Ask at work about borrowing car for lumber for bed.” Some people put a project reference in as a tag, as in “Ask at work about borrowing car (new bed).” Some apps support a linkage, with varying degrees of convenience. Some people find this linkage unnecessary and even unproductive. In any case, it is the weekly review that will give you an overview of how everything fits together. If I were able to give advice to my past self, it would be “Always try what David Allen says first. That’s the best way to start.”
     
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  5. RS356

    RS356 Practicing GTD since 2005

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    In my experience using both paper and digital systems, the most reliable way of answering these questions is:
    - A regular, thorough Weekly Review, and
    - Frequently reviewing the contents of my lists

    For me, app features that link projects and actions are helpful, but certainly not necessary if I'm doing my Weekly Reviews.
     
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  6. PatrickRe

    PatrickRe Registered

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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    I don't plan on using a new/specific software for GTD but would rather realize it with simple files (Office/Google Documents/Sheets) for the most part. Let us please look at simple text files for now.

    At the moment I'm just adding a Project name in brackets after the action as suggested by @mcogilvie, e.g. "Find out where to borrow a car (Build a new bed)" which works, but might not be the best option.

    Are there any other ideas for a very simple solution?

    Thanks,
    Patrick
     
  7. Mateusz

    Mateusz Registered

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    Why do you want to use google docs instead of a simple app that is dedicated to that job?
    I'm just curious.

    Basically putting a project name into the brackets is more effort than using a simple dedicated app.
     
  8. RS356

    RS356 Practicing GTD since 2005

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    By all means, use whatever tools work for you and you're comfortable using.
     
  9. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Depends on the app. Depends on the person. Depends on technology available, cost, need to archive, et cetera.
     
  10. PatrickRe

    PatrickRe Registered

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    One of the reasons I'm interested in GTD is to get rid of some clutter, which includes digital as well. I don't plan on adding another software to my list right now but would rather like to work with the apps I already have. If that doesn't work out, I can still switch to some dedicated software in the future.
     
  11. AnneMKE

    AnneMKE Registered

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    My task management software is Outlook, which doesn't link tasks and projects. The classic GTD answer to this is that if you do the weekly review, they'll stay linked for you, and if you don't, those links and a lot of other things will fall apart. I've found that to be true. Noting the project in the task name is a good habit too.
     
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  12. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    That's totally your call, but I'd suggest having in the back of your mind the possibility that the acrobatics needed to make a simpler app work for GTD might be more mental clutter than a dedicated GTD app.

    Now, if I were using a non-GTD app for GTD I think I'd use Excel. I wrote up a plan for that somewhere here, and it worked decently for a very brief period before I made a complete change and switched to paper.

    Here's that post. In a later post I added a column for Complete.

    https://forum.gettingthingsdone.com...p-track-of-processed-items.14960/#post-117187
     
  13. PatrickRe

    PatrickRe Registered

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    Thank you for your solution. I'm actually doing s.th. very similar right now but with Google Sheets (easier to synchronize between devices).

    For example the Next Actions List is a single sheet/file with separate tabs for different categories (computer, at home, etc.).

    Each tab has three columns
    1. a checkbox that will strike through the whole line when checked
    2. the name of the task
    3. the name of the corresponding project (blank, if only a single action)

    All columns can be both filtered (e.g. by project name) and sorted (e.g. alphabetically by project names or status open/done).

    For me that's working quite nicely with the single exception that the mobile view of Google Sheets is not ideal.
     

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