What's the Next Action? Is it ok to....

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss the GTD Methodology' started by mrje1, Oct 11, 2019.

  1. mrje1

    mrje1 Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Hello everyone and good day to you.

    I am a newbie and I am in the process of going through the book. The one thing at the moment I am stuck on is when I get to the What's the next action? and I can't think of an action at the moment and I don't have the energy or mindset to think about this particular task or project, is it ok to defer it to a particular list without adding an action and just do it later so I can get it out of my "In" basket?

    Thank you all for any assistance you can give.
     
  2. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    627
    Likes Received:
    57
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Before you ask "What's the Next Action?", ask "Is it actionable?" If not, it either goes to Reference or into the trash.

    If you have an actionable item and don't know what the Next Action is supposed to be, you should clarify your purpose with that thing first. Your "why". What do I want to accomplish with this?

    If you don't have the time or energy to deal with this now, you can create a Next Action item "clarify X" or "brainstorm Y" or something like that.
     
  3. David Parker

    David Parker GTD Connect

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    94
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Lancashire, England
    Home Page:
    . . . or put it in a TICKLER FILE to be brought out at some time in the future, or on a SOMEDAY/MAYBE list that'll be seen at your next WEEKLY REVIEW. Put a useful verb on the front of the action to remind you - "RESOLVE x", "DECIDE what to do about x"
     
  4. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,475
    Likes Received:
    415
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Just because something is out of your in-basket doesn’t mean it’s out of your head, so no. You can put a process next action on a list, for example “Mindmap XYZ project.” However, it sounds like you may be having a more fundamental difficulty.
    • Is your project really a project? Do you know what the successful outcome is? You can often work backward from the outcome to the next action.
    • Are you committed to the project? Is there something about it you are uncomfortable with? A lack of clarity? Fear of failure? Fear of success? Concerns about consequences? Should the project be moved to a someday/maybe list?
    If you would like to share examples of projects you are having difficulties with, this group can Provide more specific help.
     
    AnneMKE likes this.
  5. Dave John

    Dave John Registered

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    60
    Trophy Points:
    28
    2 suggestions.
    1. Imagine you are at the end of the task or project. Look back along the path that got you there. This perspective can make the next action very visible.

    2. Imagine you are telling someone else what to do in that situation; its another way of getting the next action to emerge and reveal itself.
    Bonus suggestion – don’t beat yourself up, wait until you have a little bit of quiet time to review your task or project list and tease out the next action to get the task rolling again. You already know the next action anyway, you just have to calm down and let it separate itself out from all the other actions that you associate with the task.

    Dave
     
  6. mrje1

    mrje1 Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Hey Everyone,

    Thank you very much for awesome replies and your time. I like the ideas and will consider doing it as I think more etc.

    Here is a live example. I was reading the book for about two hours and I felt tired. I still felt like giving the system a shot. The next task in my "In" basket was "Get my Weight Training Routine Ready". I just didn't have the energy to start the process of thinking about it and it will take time to get the whole routine thought out etc. and I wanted to continue processing what was in my "in" basket.

    With that said, would you guys still give me the same advice to handle this?
     
  7. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,475
    Likes Received:
    415
    Trophy Points:
    83
    That sounds like a project to me, and not too big. It’s one I resonate with, because my trainer recently suggested I get some heavier weights for home use than the ones I already have. My first question: are you an expert on weight training? If you are, then completing the project should be easy. If you are not, then you need trustworthy advice and information. Do you know where that will come from? I don’t want to offend you, but when I see words like “it will take time to get the whole [thing] thought out,” I am reminded that sometimes “project planning” is just a form of procrastination. We all do it. GTD focuses on outcomes and next actions in part because of this tendency. What’s the next physical action? You don’t have to do it, just write it down.
     
  8. mrje1

    mrje1 Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Thank you very much for your response. Awesome! That is great to hear that you are working out. No offense. I am grateful you are taking the time out to help me. I am not an expert, but I have enough experience and knowledge to do it. My problem is that I am trying to reinvent what I used to do in the past and set up something new with some new information I received. I am sure I will come up with a whole bunch of next actions. I am accustomed of doing this pre GTD. I use Microsoft To-Do along with Outlook as my Task Manager. In To-Do I would have the task and then put the steps or subtasks underneath. Is this ok to do in the GTD realm?
     
  9. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    627
    Likes Received:
    57
    Trophy Points:
    28
    In GTD parlance that would be the project plan and it would get filed away as project support along with all other material you need to accomplish the project. Just make sure that every next action you could theoretically tackle right now is in it's appropriate @context list. And all other tasks wait on the project plan until its their turn.
     
  10. mrje1

    mrje1 Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2019
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Thank you very much for your reply. That's very helpful. I was stuck on this. That's what I'll do. So when a project is completed do you just delete it or just press the complete button in the software and keep it for future reference? I like to document what projects and tasks I complete for future reference. Is it better to do what you said and have it in a reference file or project support material?
     
  11. Cpu_Modern

    Cpu_Modern Registered

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2006
    Messages:
    627
    Likes Received:
    57
    Trophy Points:
    28
    At several points I tried to build an archive of all the projects I've completed and all that. In fact, I do have boatloads of such materials on my hard disk, they go back as far as 2004. I am sure in some paper drawer I have some old DIY paper calendars, pre 9/11…

    How many times did I revisit this stuff and got a great insight from it?

    Not. Even. Once.

    Why do I keep that stuff then? Because it is slightly re-assuring psychologically. I mean, I could check it out, if I wanted.

    So, yeah, I keep that stuff, but I never use it.

    A completely different topic is of course time-logging, monitoring, habit tracking, the quantified self… When you set out to specifically gather data about your doings in order to gain insight. This can be helpful.

    Many, many years ago David Allen said that it is useless to save completed Next Action items, but it could be potentially useful to save completed project items.

    Many things get done without ever having been on a list. How do you book keep those?

    I would say, make sure what you want to track and why and then track those things.
     
  12. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    4,785
    Likes Received:
    544
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Female
    I'm different. I keep track of my completed projects in archives from Omnifocus and I also keep detailed calendars that document what I worked on and major events. I have calendars going back to 1989. I have major project accomplishments going back as far as I can remember and even further with major events and projects done by my parents before I was born. I refer to the calendars often at least once or twice a week and the completed projects info at least once a month. Just 2 days ago I went back to the calendar info and looked up something that was started in 1998 and not completed until 2005. For me the biggest issue is I am in the middle of converting the calendar data into something that takes less space on my computer but is still searchable. Ditto for emails, which go back to the mid 1980s on my machine and are referred to frequently.
     
  13. Gardener

    Gardener Registered

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
    Messages:
    821
    Likes Received:
    141
    Trophy Points:
    43
    To me, you've stated the next action here: "Start the process of thinking..."

    You could make it a bit more specific, such as, "Spend half an hour taking notes about readying weight training routine."
     
  14. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2003
    Messages:
    4,788
    Likes Received:
    520
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Really? For example you were fixing a roof ten years ago. Wouldn't it be handy to have these old experiences and checklists today when your roof needs some work again?
     
  15. Oogiem

    Oogiem Registered

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    4,785
    Likes Received:
    544
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Female
    I add them to my lists and immediately check them off during my weekly review. Not for every little thing but certainly for most of them. But then again, I estimate that less than 5% of my actions are not on a list somewhere.

    What's usually the case for actions I do that are not on my active projects or actions lists is that they are part of a project or action that I had put in Someday/Maybe. Sometimes I don't even realize that I had captured it as a S/M item until I review those lists then I can say oh yeah I already did/started that. I'll update my system by either adding it to active projects (since it clearly was more active than I thought) or update the note in S/M with where I am now with that project.
     

Share This Page