Someday/Maybe: Projects vs Actions

Ben S

Registered
I'm wondering what you all typically do with your someday/maybe lists? If a project is moved to someday/maybe do you move the next actions on that project to someday/maybe as well? If not, do you move them to some project reference or some other list? Do you have any other suggestions for how to track deferred actions?

Thanks!
 

Ben S

Registered
Also, a follow up question: Is it possible to have next actions from an active project in someday/maybe? I'm thinking that maybe once that point is reached, the project is by definition not a project, but an area of focus. I'd be curious what everyone's thoughts are on that assertion.
 

Oogiem

Registered
I'm wondering what you all typically do with your someday/maybe lists?
I keep all of mine in a separate system away from my active projects. I find it easier to review that way.

If a project is moved to someday/maybe do you move the next actions on that project to someday/maybe as well?
Yes. When a project, perhaps even one that has been active for a while, is moved into Someday/Maybe I also move all the actions that relate to it. Otherwise my next actions lists get cluttered with irrelevant stuff. My list manager tool makes that easy.

If not, do you move them to some project reference or some other list?
If I ahve other project support material in my system. I will move that back into the general reference filing system. I will put a link to that location in my S/M list so I know there is more stuff elsewhere. Those links may reference electronic data in a computer file or folder, or physical data or items that are located elsewhere.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to track deferred actions?
A deferred action is, to me, separate from a someday/maybe. So I do not use the above system for deferred actions.

An example of a deferred project or an active project with deferred actions would be something like this one that is currently active for me.

The project is Spring Vaccinations for the Sheep. It is a series of actions that happens once each year.

The project is set to kick off in February each year. Once of the first actions is schedule dates for vaccinating pregnant ewes. Since the start and end dates for the ewes will vary from year to year and can only be determined after I've taken the breeding rams out that's why the entire project start in February. We usually finish breeding in January. Another action is order vaccine from vet. and then waiting for vaccine to come in, go pick up vaccine at vet office and so on. Then there are a series of deferred aactions. The current one I am working on is Vaccinate pregnant ewes. It had a start date 6 weeks prior to our start of lambing date which is 145 days after primary rams in with ewes for breeding. It has a due date of 4 weeks prior to start of lambing. That's because that is the timeframe that provides best transfer of immunity from the mother's colostrum to the newborn lambs. That task for me for this year had a start date of 11 March and a due date of 25 March. Similarly the start and due dates for the vaccinations for the other 3 classes of sheep (ewe yearlings, ram yearlings and adult rams) is set back in February. I like to spread the vaccinations out because of the workload so I do them in logical groups.

a follow up question: Is it possible to have next actions from an active project in someday/maybe?
Not for me but that is because I don't ever think to look at Someday/Maybe for actions for current active projects.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I'm wondering what you all typically do with your someday/maybe lists? If a project is moved to someday/maybe do you move the next actions on that project to someday/maybe as well? If not, do you move them to some project reference or some other list? Do you have any other suggestions for how to track deferred actions?

Thanks!
I’m using a tool (Things 3) where a Project is a self-contained object with notes, next actions, scheduled actions, someday/maybe next actions inside. If I had project support material stored stored externally, then I would move next actions out of project support when the project was activated. I think those are your two best choices.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Also, a follow up question: Is it possible to have next actions from an active project in someday/maybe? I'm thinking that maybe once that point is reached, the project is by definition not a project, but an area of focus. I'd be curious what everyone's thoughts are on that assertion.
I don’t think so. I have someday/maybe stuff for projects all the time. They are not next actions because they are neither next nor necessarily well-formulated next actions. They are just ideas for how the project might proceed. I might buy tires from Firestone but maybe I‘ll see if I can do better at Costco. Not an area of focus.
 
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ivanjay205

Registered
The system I use also moves the next actions with it. So If I set a project to on hold or future I dont see the next actions. i think thats important as sometimes I want to plan it out but I am not ready to implement it. With what is going on right now for example related to coronavirus a few projects got put on hold in my world and will resume in a few months
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
I'm wondering what you all typically do with your someday/maybe lists? If a project is moved to someday/maybe do you move the next actions on that project to someday/maybe as well? If not, do you move them to some project reference or some other list? Do you have any other suggestions for how to track deferred actions?

Also, a follow up question: Is it possible to have next actions from an active project in someday/maybe? I'm thinking that maybe once that point is reached, the project is by definition not a project, but an area of focus. I'd be curious what everyone's thoughts are on that assertion.

Thanks!
It may be helpful to start with what goes on Someday/Maybe. For anything on that list, you have made no commitment to do it. The only commitment is to review the list regularly to see if you want to delete or activate any item.

Anything on my next actions lists is either for an active project or is a one-and-done. If I move a project to Someday/Maybe, I add any next actions for it to project support.

For me, the Someday/Maybe list would not have any items for an active project. If the item needs to be done to complete the project, it's either do-able now (goes on a next actions list) or dependent on something else happening first (goes in project support).

If you have anything on your next actions lists that is dependent on something else happening first, you'll slow yourself down having to mentally eliminate those items as you look at your lists to choose what to do.
 

Ben S

Registered
Thank you all for your great suggestions!


It may be helpful to start with what goes on Someday/Maybe. For anything on that list, you have made no commitment to do it. The only commitment is to review the list regularly to see if you want to delete or activate any item.

...

For me, the Someday/Maybe list would not have any items for an active project. If the item needs to be done to complete the project, it's either do-able now (goes on a next actions list) or dependent on something else happening first (goes in project support).

...
thanks so much for this clarification. Ive been using someday/maybe to also hold actions that I don’t have bandwidth for right now but have committed to do, and I think that’s the root of this problem. Where would you put actions that you plan to do but don’t plan to do right away? It’s not that there are prerequisite actions, I just know I won’t have time for a while and it’s not urgent but is important.
 

Oogiem

Registered
Where would you put actions that you plan to do but don’t plan to do right away? It’s not that there are prerequisite actions, I just know I won’t have time for a while and it’s not urgent but is important.
That to me is still someday/maybe. I plan to do it someday but not now. That's how I interpret made no commitment to do it. I am not ready to do it now. Commitment to do it means I am ready, able and willing to do it now.
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
Thanks so much for this clarification. Ive been using someday/maybe to also hold actions that I don’t have bandwidth for right now but have committed to do, and I think that’s the root of this problem. Where would you put actions that you plan to do but don’t plan to do right away? It’s not that there are prerequisite actions, I just know I won’t have time for a while and it’s not urgent but is important.
I'll describe what I do, but please adapt to what works for you. The main thing to observe is whether your system gets stuff off your mind.

I'm comfortable with fairly long lists that have items I may not do for quite awhile. I often find that my predictions about when I will get to something are inaccurate, because circumstances change. On Tuesday of this week I recorded with David Allen about working from home. When I started on Monday that was not on my calendar or my projects list. Around 10am I got the idea and pinged David. Next thing I know, it's on my calendar for Tuesday at 8:00am and I'm planning the project on Monday afternoon. As of today I've spent several hours on that project, even though I thought I'd be working on other things when I began this week. Today the opposite happened as well. My dentist called to postpone my appointment from next week out into April. So unless something changes, I now have about two hours to work off my lists next Tuesday. Oh, this week I've also spent about four hours on two trips to the vet that weren't on my calendar a few days ago. My take on the old saying is, "Man makes plans; dog laughs." (The dog is fine now.)

If you like working from shorter lists and nearer time horizons, then moving some things to Someday/Maybe could work very well.

I also use a Projects On Hold list. I'm committed to doing these projects within 12 months, but I know I won't move them forward for at least a month. My Projects list has the near-term outcomes that I review often during the week. I only need to review Projects On Hold weekly.
 

Hydro

Registered
I always read that someday/maybe is for tasks that we could do or like to do in the futur.

But, as some people say, where to put tasks that you NEED to do but just not now.
Like something that came after another task or something that can be done start next monday.

Let's take examples :

1 - buy water starting next monday

Not in my calendar because it's not the end of the world if I don't buy water on monday.
So multiple choises I guess :
- Next action with start date on monday
- Tickler list
- Someday/Maybe : but for me it's not something I may want to do.

2 - pick up sister at the airport :

To do this action, I must change my tires, Let's say I have everything to do it, my next action is to change tires.
What do I put "pick up sister" ?
- Next action block by the first one ?
- Someday/Maybe : here again I must pick up my sister and I don't want to wait for a weekly review to review my someday/maybe list.

At the moment, my current GTD app worklflow that works pretty well is :

- when I have a NA that I must defer but can't go into my calendar, I set a start date and this action still in the next action list but in the "deferred" section.
- when I have a NA that came after anothers, I can "block" this NA until others are done. My NA goes to "blocked" section. When others are ok, my NA automatically goes to "Active" section.

So how do you handle this kind of tasks ? Tasks that you MUST do but not now because of other tasks or time.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I always read that someday/maybe is for tasks that we could do or like to do in the futur.

But, as some people say, where to put tasks that you NEED to do but just not now.
Like something that came after another task or something that can be done start next monday.

Let's take examples :

1 - buy water starting next monday

Not in my calendar because it's not the end of the world if I don't buy water on monday.
So multiple choises I guess :
- Next action with start date on monday
- Tickler list
- Someday/Maybe : but for me it's not something I may want to do.

2 - pick up sister at the airport :

To do this action, I must change my tires, Let's say I have everything to do it, my next action is to change tires.
What do I put "pick up sister" ?
- Next action block by the first one ?
- Someday/Maybe : here again I must pick up my sister and I don't want to wait for a weekly review to review my someday/maybe list.

At the moment, my current GTD app worklflow that works pretty well is :

- when I have a NA that I must defer but can't go into my calendar, I set a start date and this action still in the next action list but in the "deferred" section.
- when I have a NA that came after anothers, I can "block" this NA until others are done. My NA goes to "blocked" section. When others are ok, my NA automatically goes to "Active" section.

So how do you handle this kind of tasks ? Tasks that you MUST do but not now because of other tasks or time.
If you are using a list tool that has both start dates and sequential actions, then you should strongly consider using those features. What somebody else does with a different tool is not so relevant. However, changing the tires is DUE before you have to pick up your sister. Because changing tires takes time, you should consider scheduling time to do it. Picking up your sister goes on your calendar because it’s a time-bound commitment to another person that you want to be aware of when you look at that part of your calendar.
 

Hydro

Registered
Alright, you get the point. Thank for the comment.

As for the tires story, maybe not the best example.
The question is really what to do with NA that I can't do right now (even if context/energy/time are ok) but I must do (within a timeframe or not).
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Alright, you get the point. Thank for the comment.

As for the tires story, maybe not the best example.
The question is really what to do with NA that I can't do right now (even if context/energy/time are ok) but I must do (within a timeframe or not).
The master question for situations like that is "How do you want to be reminded/made aware of this?" This is not a question of bells going off or little notification boxes. The question is "How would you like this to enter your conscious awareness?" By looking at your calendar, checking ticklers, during the weekly review, message in a bottle? Some people have a dashboard or hotlist where they go to check for the urgent and/or important. That's them, and you're you. You have to try different approaches and see what works best for you.
 

NickLS

Registered
Alright, you get the point. Thank for the comment.

As for the tires story, maybe not the best example.
The question is really what to do with NA that I can't do right now (even if context/energy/time are ok) but I must do (within a timeframe or not).
I asked a similar query and was advised the next actions you can't do right now go in the project support materials, that way when you finish the current action you can look at the support materials for what the next actions might be. Works well for my projects that have a very defined list of next actions, that way I can work through these without them all cluttering up my next actions list. I might do a couple in a row, so when the project is done for the day I mark off all the ones I have done and select the next one to add to the next actions list. Hope this helps.
 

treelike

Registered
The question is really what to do with NA that I can't do right now (even if context/energy/time are ok) but I must do (within a timeframe or not).
If you can't do the NA right now (if context/energy/time is OK) then it's not a NA.

If you can't do the NA because other NA's are more important right now, then that's a choice you have made.

The reason we use GTD to keep things out of our heads is so that we can use our heads to make these kinds of decisions.
 
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Hydro

Registered
I asked a similar query and was advised the next actions you can't do right now go in the project support materials, that way when you finish the current action you can look at the support materials for what the next actions might be. Works well for my projects that have a very defined list of next actions, that way I can work through these without them all cluttering up my next actions list. I might do a couple in a row, so when the project is done for the day I mark off all the ones I have done and select the next one to add to the next actions list. Hope this helps.
Thank for the comment, it's something I must consider !

If you can't do the NA right now (if context/energy/time is OK) then it's not a NA.

If you can't do the NA because other NA's are more important right now, then that's a choice you have made.

The reason we use GTD to keep things out of our heads is so that we can use our heads to make these kinds of decisions.
Yes it's not a NA but what is it ?

Based on @mcogilvie, if I want to review it every week, it goes to my smb list, if I want to review it on a specific time, it goes to my tickler file.
I have just problem to put tasks that I MUST do on my smb list because for me, it's a list for things that I MAY do.
 

TesTeq

Registered
Yes it's not a NA but what is it ?

Based on @mcogilvie, if I want to review it every week, it goes to my smb list, if I want to review it on a specific time, it goes to my tickler file.
I have just problem to put tasks that I MUST do on my smb list because for me, it's a list for things that I MAY do.
An Action that is not a Next Action yet is a Project reference item waiting to become the Next Action when circumstances will allow.
 

Hydro

Registered
I start to see the light, well I hope.

If I resume my vision :
  1. an action that I must do and I can do right now, if context/energy/time are ok, goes to my NA list.
  2. an action that I must do and I can't do right now because of date goes to :
    1. my calendar if I must do it on a specific date.
    2. my tickler system if this action goes to my NA list at this date (like a start date).
  3. an action that I must do and I don't want to do right now, goes to my tickler system for futur review (I guess this one is different for everyone).
  4. an action that I must do and I can't do right now because of other tasks goes to my project references (and when it's a standalone task ? :p)
  5. an action that I may do and I don't want to do right now, goes to my SMB list.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I start to see the light, well I hope.

If I resume my vision :
  1. an action that I must do and I can do right now, if context/energy/time are ok, goes to my NA list.
  2. an action that I must do and I can't do right now because of date goes to :
    1. my calendar if I must do it on a specific date.
    2. my tickler system if this action goes to my NA list at this date (like a start date).
  3. an action that I must do and I don't want to do right now, goes to my tickler system for futur review (I guess this one is different for everyone).
  4. an action that I must do and I can't do right now because of other tasks goes to my project references (and when it's a standalone task ? :p)
  5. an action that I may do and I don't want to do right now, goes to my SMB list.
Sort of, but the framing (must/may and want/don’t want/can’t) is not something I would use. It lacks agency, and a big part of GTD is relaxed control of one’s life. Some specific comments:

1. A next action is something you need or want to do, and could be done now.
2.1 Many people use due dates in their list tool; some apps support start dates too.
2.2 Many people don’t use a tickler system. It’s not required.
3. If I did what you suggest, I would never do some things I have to do.
4. For most people, most future actions are contingent. Plans change.
5. You might want to do something on a someday/maybe list now, but the time is not right.

You might enjoy reading David Allen’s book Ready for Anything, which is a good complement to the GTD book.
 
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