Next actions sheet: All next actions or just the first?

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by Thomas Stewart, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. Thomas Stewart

    Thomas Stewart Registered

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    Hi all, I've now read most of the book and am looking forward to taking my two days to gather, process and organise all my projects. However, there is one key principle I don't understand.

    I understand that you want to keep a project list with all the things that you are working on/in your mind so that it's out of your head. For each of these projects you need the purpose of that project plus all the next steps to complete that, +/- brainstorms, support materials etc depending on it's complexity. So for that project you have a next steps list that may be 2 steps or 20. I don't understand whether you're supposed to keep all these next steps list in that project or transpose all the next steps to your master next steps document.

    For example, in my work I always tend to have 5-10 projects on the go. Some will be very complex with 30-40 steps and some will have 2-3. Do I collate all the next steps on one document or just take the first next step and put all those on one document. If you're transposing only one, the next step, this would seem to waste a lot of time going back and forth from your projects to your next steps list.

    Thanks for any feedback/advice offered.
     
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  2. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    It will depend on what tools you use to keep your lists. If you are using paper then I'd say you only need to put on your context lists those actions that are independent of each other. If you are using an automated tool many if not most of them will allow you to enter in as many tasks as you wnat and hide those you cannot work on automaticaly.

    One argument for not putting too much into your action lists is that for many people many of their project steps change rapidly as prevoius ones get completed. One argument for putting everytign into your lists (with a tool that supports that) is that why re-think things?

    In my world I can usually predict with 95% or higher certainty every step a project will take, even years in advance. I rarely have to change course significantly on a project. I use Omnifocus and that tool allows me to set up projects for the long term and it just works.
     
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  3. Thomas Stewart

    Thomas Stewart Registered

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    Thanks for your response. So I will be using Evernote to implement. I also like to fully plan out a project, even if it involves 50 steps otherwise it will live in my head (the opposite of the books goal).

    However, this hasn't addressed the original question. Do you keep two copies of the original next actions? One in your project file and one in the next actions list? Or do you just keep one copy in the master next action lists?

    For example, in my work if I embark on a big project I will define the purpose and do a brainstorm to map out the implementation, and then transform that brainstorm into a next actions list, most likely divided by context (at home, in the office, meetings with boss). What I don't know is what to do then. Do you just cut and paste this list into the master next steps list? All of the actions? Just the first? Do you keep a copy of the next actions list in the original file just after the brainstorm? Because this may give me 40-50 next steps. If I then copy and paste this into a master next actions list the order will be lost or I lose the timeline of the project as the tasks merge with other projects. Yet, if I keep all the next actions in the original file then I have to go to each file to look at all the next actions, there is no collective list of next actions.

    In a different context, when implementing this at home I'll have maybe 20-30 simple projects all with only 4-5 steps. But again, I don't know how to collate the next actions. I feel this is one area the book isn't clear on.

    Thanks,
     
  4. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

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    I use Omnifocus. All actions that I plan are in that tool. I do not use project support tools to hold next actions. Most of my project support is in DEVONThink. There is no duplication of actions, they are in only one tool at a time.

    Someday/Maybe is also in DT so I may have actions there but then that means the whole project isn't in my OF system.

    So I guess I'm confused. As I said it depends on your tools. In my set I never have actions entered in 2 places at the same time so for me only 1 copy of a next action is ever around in my system.
     
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  5. Thomas Stewart

    Thomas Stewart Registered

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    Thanks, this really helps. My main query was whether the next actions list is duplicated or not. Having only one copy of an action makes sense.
     
  6. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    So you have to move an action from the Project support (plan) to the appropriate Next Action list and after doing it move the action back to the Project support (history or log). Copying and pasting is not efficient so you can use tags to achieve it if your tool supports tags.
     
  7. Thomas Stewart

    Thomas Stewart Registered

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    I use Evernote but you can only apply tags to individual documents, you can't add tags to text within the document. And of course creating a note for each next action doesn't allow you to see the entire project vertically.

    Is there a programme you use where you can add tags to text? Thanks
     
  8. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

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    I wanted to comment on this--you definitely don't need all the next steps. You say in a later post that you like to have all of those steps, and that's fine, but it's definitely not required. For me, having too many steps is definitely counterproductive.
     
  9. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    In Nozbe you can add tags to Projects, in Things you can add tags to Projects and Next Actions, in Trello you can add tags to cards, and finaly in Editorial in TaskPaper mode you can add tags to text!
    Thank you for reminding me about this simple and powerful TaskPaper method of managing lists in text files!
     
  10. bcmyers2112

    bcmyers2112 Registered

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    If you have a project with one or more actionable items that don't have dependencies (i.e. things you have to do first) those belong in your next action lists. Future actions belong in project support. Where your project support lives depends on your tools.

    I use Evernote with individual notes for each project, and I keep most (but not all) of my project support (when I have it -- not all of my projects require support materials) in the body of each project note. You don't have to do it that way, but Evernote offers you that option.

    There is list management software that lets you create a sequence of actions, hiding all but the current action. When one action in the sequence is marked complete, the next one is promoted to active status. The downside is that if something about your project changes, you will have a whole bunch of things you need to edit.

    I understand it seems inefficient to keep a list of future actions in one place, and then cut and paste them into another when you're ready to do them. On the other hand, I've learned it's possible to be inefficient in the pursuit of efficiency. You can spend all your time searching for a way to build a better mousetrap, or you can roll up your sleeves and build mousetraps. You can't do both simultaneously.

    As for whether or not to plan every action for a project in advance, it depends on your projects. If your projects are like @Oogiem's then it makes sense to plan everything in advance. I think most people's projects, though, tend to have greater elements of unpredictability than hers do. I used to try to completely plan all of my projects in advance only to be frustrated when the real world forced me to scrap my plans.

    These days when I have more complex projects, I create broad, loose outlines and also capture future actions if they're ones that I'll forget. That works for me. I'm not saying you have to do it this way, or that you even should. But just trying to illustrate that there's a lot of room between planning nothing and planning every single action related to a project in advance.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2018
  11. JenniferOrigami

    JenniferOrigami Registered

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    I like to preplan project actions too. Each of my projects has its own folder or note in Evernote in a stack called “Projects”. The moving back and forth, etc used to drive me bonkers until I realized that I could just call the next action “Complete task 24 in ‘Name of Project’ plan”, guaranteeing I don’t have to keep moving a string of tasks and ensuring I could easily look at the big picture every time I work on an individual task if I need to.

    Also, if you have lots of next actions for a project that can all be completed independently of each other and dont want to flood your other Next Action lists (To Call, At Computer, On Airplane, In Office, etc) just make a temporary next action list called “Name of Project”. Just be sure to only put actual next actions on this list and leave “necessary, but not yet actionable” tasks in your project plan until they are ready to be completed.

    HTH!
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2018

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