TesTeq said:I NEVER mix time-blocking with Next Actions.
I see "time blocking" as a scheduling thing, as in "8:00-8:15 Monday: Write notes for the WidgetBase meeting."
I see "spend fifteen minutes" as a task that happens to be defined in terms of a unit. In this case, the unit is time. Another task might be "Wash and press three lengths of fabric" in which case the unit is a count. Another task might be "weed twelve square feet of garden", in which case the unit is an area.
TesTeq said:What's the successful outcome of "Spend fifteen minutes prepping notes for the WidgetBase meeting"?
I don't do "successful outcome" phrasing for actions; they're actions. I do them for projects. Does David Allen call for that phrasing just for actions?
To clarify what I mean:
Action: Make a quart of clarified butter.
Outcome: A quart of clarified butter is in the fridge.
Action: Sew buttons on blouse.
Outcome: Blouse has buttons.
Action: Take turkey out to thaw.
Outcome: Turkey is thawing.
I think that phrasing every action as a successful outcome would make my system unusable for me.
TesTeq said:Fifteen minutes spent. In my world this NA would be "Prepare notes for WidgetBase meeting". I want high quality, good enough notes. Not 15-minute notes.
That's certainly a valid option. For me, defining tasks as units of time is useful. It may be useful in different ways.
- As an upper limit. If I suspect that preparing the notes will really take me five minutes, but I tend to spend too much time over-preparing for meetings, this stops me from perfectionizing.
- As a way to get me to enter a task that still feels nebulous. The first task, "Spend fifteen minutes thinking about..." lets me take a step on an effort that is still a complete fog for me. The fifteen minutes might help me find the next task, or if it doesn't, I'll just write another task for another fifteen minutes. (Or hour, or whatever.)
- As a way to get a too-large task get done bite by bite. One chapter of a book, one bed in the garden, a brief period spent brainstorming on something that is stressful enough that spending a longer time wouldn't be productive.
I prefer that my actions be of a "just do it" size, where the task is whittle and whittled to the point that I know how to do the task. "Figure out how to get WidgetBase converted" is not "just do it." THINKING about that problem for a specified time, is.