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GTD software to handle next actions that are not ready to get done

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  • GTD software to handle next actions that are not ready to get done

    I have tried to implement GTD using Evernote. I felt that Evernote was a good tool to use for data referencing, but I have a problem when using it for administering projects and actions. My problem is with that my action lists are overpopulated with actions that are not relevant.

    Example: Let's say that I have defined a project that consists of four actions A, B, C and D, where D is dependent on action C being completed, C is dependent on action B being completed, and action B is dependent on action A being completed. The only action that is relevant for me when beeing in a context where action A can get done is action A. And if I am in a context where action B can get done, but action A is not yet completed, then action B is not relevant for me.

    I have considered using Evernote to collect and archive data, but writing my own software for handling projects and actions. But before I do so, I would like to hear if anybody out there have had the same challenges, and if there indeed is software out there that can handle this (I have done some searching myself).

  • #2
    Using "Secret Weapon" for GTD and Evernote

    I've been using Evernote for GTD for several months, and I had a similar problem of too many non-actionable tasks at first. I've tried to implement The Secret Weapon (http://www.thesecretweapon.org/) as a way of integrating GTD and Evernote and it's been working for me.

    For each project, I use a PROJECT PLANNING note where I name the project, identify key information (other team members or important contacts ...), then I have a section on that note called NEXT ACTIONS and a section called BRAINSTORMING. My NEXT ACTIONS section is a list of all actions that I can think of that relate to this project, but I select the one or more actions that can be tackled now and create new individual notes for them. I tag the new notes and the PLANNING note with a project name tag, then I tag the one or two next action notes with a tag for when it needs to be done (0-today, 1-next, 2-later) and a tag for context if I need that (@home, @office, etc.).

    When I complete an action, I remove the context and time tags and add a new tag called ACTION COMPLETED. I review my project planning note, select the next action, and start over...

    I'm sure there are many ways to improve what I'm doing, but this is working for me for the time being, and I know it will evolve as I get better at this.

    Comment


    • #3
      Next Action Software

      Omnifocus. It allows you to assign "start dates" to actions. Items will not appear on your action lists until the start date. You can also define your projects as "sequential" meaning that actions will not show up until the necessary previous action has been completed.

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      • #4
        B, C, and D are not Next Actions since they are not immediately doable.

        Originally posted by Globen View Post
        Example: Let's say that I have defined a project that consists of four actions A, B, C and D, where D is dependent on action C being completed, C is dependent on action B being completed, and action B is dependent on action A being completed. The only action that is relevant for me when beeing in a context where action A can get done is action A. And if I am in a context where action B can get done, but action A is not yet completed, then action B is not relevant for me.
        B, C, and D are not Next Actions since they are not immediately doable. Shouldn't be placed on @context lists - should be stored in a Project notes or reference file.

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        • #5
          Project Support

          Originally posted by Globen View Post
          My problem is with that my action lists are overpopulated with actions that are not relevant.

          Example: Let's say that I have defined a project that consists of four actions A, B, C and D, where D is dependent on action C being completed, C is dependent on action B being completed, and action B is dependent on action A being completed.
          The only item that should be in your context lists is item A. It is the Next Action. The others can be in project support.

          Or you can use a tool like Omnifocus that allows you to set projects to be sequential where actions you've planned ahead only show up once the action that is at the top of the list is completed. A lot of folks will point out that too much planning is usually not good as your actual true next action will change once you get there but I find in my world that many projects can be planned days or even years in advance and my next actions are still the correct once when I finally get there So I use Omnifocus, plan as many actions as I need to get the plan off my mind and set the project to sequential so I don't see anything that is not ready to be completed.

          When I have multiple projects that have to be completed sequentially I set the last action in the parent project to be to go make active the child project(s). That way my active projects list isn't cluttered with project sitting with Waiting for's to be completed.

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          • #6
            Your answer is here...

            NirvanaHQ.com

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            • #7
              only the next action should be tagged as such

              the answer was pretty good worded already but indeed you should make sure that you have a tag for each context and only tag the next actions that you can actually do at that time. (the next actions in a separate note)

              Check my signature, I've made a video series about the subject.

              best regards,
              Matt

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              • #8
                To be honest friend almost any list manager will do start dates as well as end dates, and not show you the next action in a list.

                What I would say is that its often not worth bothering with future next actions, for one of two reasons.

                The first reason is that its often difficult to guess the future, and projects proceed in weird ways, so writing out the next actions can become redundant. For example you're expecting a report from a staff member and your next action is to send it over to your boss - but then when it comes you realise its not in the format they want, or its not good enough and needs amending, or there is something else required of you first. Hardly an outlandish scenario, any of the above would make the time you spent writing out future actions a waste of time,

                The second reason is that, while there are times when the next action is predictable, those predictable actions (for me) are often the sub 2 minute ones. So the report comes back and I email it on - it takes me 10 seconds, why make it 20 seconds by writing out the Next Action, when I have a WF that ensures I wont forget it?

                If you are running a project thats very predictable - say you're setting up the monthly meeting you've run 100 times before - then its probably better to just have a checklist that you refer to after each Next Action or Waiting For is completed. That way you get the prompt, but dont have to waste time entering future actions.

                On another note, I personally found Evernote lacking for GTD. I use it daily as its a super repository for project support information, ideas, pictures, agendas, meeting notes and things like that. But there are better options for next actions and project list managers.

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                • #9
                  Thank you for all the replies.

                  The concept of having a "project support" list was something that have somehow slipped my mind when I read GTD. I am currently thinking about implementing GTD in Evernote only, because I know the software, it is quite simple, and available on windows/web/android. And at the moment I want to focus on implementing GTD in my life, and not on smart software. Once I am in the habbit of using GTD on a daily basis, I might consider migrading to other platforms. In Evernote I will use tags for project identifications and contexts, and I will have notelists for Inbox, DataReference, Somday/Maybe, NextActions AND ProjectSupport.

                  I agree that future actions in a given project can sometimes be quite unpredictable. Therefore I think it is good idea to be flexible, and accept that in some projects the future actions are being defined "along the way", while some projects are more static, and can planned step-by-step from the get-go.

                  I have just started doing a brainstorm, to identify all the "stuff" in my life, and will dump it in my inbox for processing. I have a lot of free time this weekend, where I hope to be able to get through my intitial inbox. I have an idea that this will take quite some time.

                  I will look into www.afterthebook.com and www.thesecretweapon.org before starting my own implementation.

                  Once again, thanks!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Globen View Post



                    I will look into www.afterthebook.com and www.thesecretweapon.org before starting my own implementation.
                    My first real system was based on TheSecretWeapon. It was a very helpful system for using Evernote.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Globen View Post
                      And at the moment I want to focus on implementing GTD in my life, and not on smart software. ....I have a lot of free time this weekend, where I hope to be able to get through my intitial inbox. I have an idea that this will take quite some time.
                      Good thoughts. Use something that you are already familiar with to start to learn the GTD system. I'd make a project that you set to become active in about a month or so to "Revisit my GTD practice and see if I need to make changes" That way you know you'll be re-checking it soon enough and can focus on learning how to use the GTD methods to help you.

                      Secondly, you are on the beginning of a lifelong learning curve. I first started learning about and trying to implement GTD back in 2008 and I am still learning new stuff and getting better at it all the time.

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                      • #12
                        I use Evernote and can do both of these things...

                        I use Evernote with a different implementation than AftertheBook and TSW, and can still do both of these things easily. So I'm confident you can find a way, in just about any list manager to resolve things thing.

                        I blog about my implementation but one of the techniques I use that I haven't blogged about is 2-step projects. So let me quickly explain this one in case you find it helpful. I basically write the first next action and then tag it with a ^Next Action tag. Then within the body of the note I describe what the next action is. So once I've completed action A, it's simply a quick scan to the body of the next action to read what action B is. And I can either do it right then and there, or park it for the next time I can get it done.

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                        • #13
                          MyLifeOrganized

                          I use a program called My Life Organized.

                          It allows you to create next actions that don't become active until one or more actions are actions are completed. You can also keep a next action inactive until after a selected start date.

                          I can't speak highly enough about it, but it is a little spendy. You have to buy the PC application ($50) and mobile app separately ($15). There is also a nominal fee ($15/year) in order to sync in order to sync the two. There is no strictly cloud based option, and no Mac desktop application (there are iOS mobile apps).

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                          • #14
                            Software you might like

                            MyLifeOrganized (mylifeorganized.net, Windows/Android/iPhone/iPad, but not Mac) allows you to make any task dependent on the completion of another. So, instead of being forced to choose between sequential or parallel tasks in a given project, you can have a mix. For example, you might have 5 tasks, two of which can be done right now, but three of which depend on the completion of others. You can have the two that can be done right now show up as next actions while the others won't pop up until their respective predecessor tasks are complete.

                            The main reason I stopped using it is that there is so much to tinker with I kept tinkering instead of getting things done.

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                            • #15
                              Play2Focus.

                              Play2Focus has mailbox-like user interface.
                              You can totally control the status and priority of tasks manually with simple swipe actions.

                              This application is not well-known yet.
                              I think this is very good idea.

                              When I saw mail-box for the first time, thought it's very good interface for GTD, not only mail.

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