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Synchronizing plans and next actions

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  • Synchronizing plans and next actions

    A lot of my fiddling with GTD has centered around mechanisms that integrate plans and next actions: Bonsai, PigPog, PocketThinker, MindManager, etc. I'm currently using a plain palm/outlook solution where I randomly number each project (as a task), then label each of its active next actions with that number, so I can sort (I got a simple task replacement on my palm) by number.

    Do some people not worry about this? That is, they've got plans, they've got next actions, and they somehow know which Next Actions go with which projects? My projects change all the time, as do their next actions.

  • #2
    Background: I use the Outlook task folder, modified heavily for the GTD methodology. I've been doing GTD for about a year now (just became active on the forum today when I found it had an RSS feed ), although my task folder continues to be tweaked as I learn to use GTD more effectively.

    Like you, I want to have my next actions linked to my projects. So, I've added a field to Outlook tasks called, not too surprisingly, "Project". I fill that field with the name of the Project. When I do my weekly review, I look at a list of my Projects and a view of my tasks sorted by project.

    I also added a Next Action field which I fill in as yes/no. That way I can create future tasks for a project when I think of them (keeping my mind empty), but my task list for today only shows my next actions.

    Hope this helps.

    Deb Miller
    www.pensieve.com

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    • #3
      Projects and Next Actions

      Tying projects and next actions together is the holy grail of GTD and I think that sometimes we worry about the tight integration of them too much. Personally, I've gotten tired of stressing out over it.

      If you use fairly descriptive labels for your next actions there is little likelihood that you will not remember which project it pertains to.

      What I find a little harder to track is which projects might be languishing for want of a current NA. Still... in all likelihood, if you are doing the weekly review like clockwork and are generating new next actions from that you should be ok.

      But that could be just me... each person has to trust their system. People with chronic projects that generate many next actions per day may feel uncomfortable with waiting as long as week.

      All I know is that the longer I do GTD the closer I move toward David's plain vanilla approach and, to my knowledge, he relies solely on the review to tie his projects and NA lists together.

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      • #4
        Well, I'm going to give it a shot. I've been gradually shaving away frills to see if things work better with Vanilla. Wish me luck!

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        • #5
          debmiller

          I like the way you organize your tasks do you know if there is an easy way to get the projects field to be a drop down field. Otherwise I like your customisation of the tasks. Probably exactly what I needed.

          Cheers

          Johann

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          • #6
            Johann, unfortunately, I don't know of an easy way to make it a drop-down list. My guess is that someone could write some VB code that would do that, but I don't know of any. I use copy and paste. Usually when I think of a new task for a project, I'm already looking at that project, so I just copy the project name and paste it into the new task.

            Sorry I don't have a better answer.

            Deb

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            • #7
              Visualising projects and next actions

              Mindjet's MindManager is a great way to visualise smaller projects without becoming a heavyweight project manager. It provides just enough capabilities for thinking about sequence so that you can keep on dividing down to get to your next actions, so you have a picture of your project and its actions in one place, so next actions and projects never become disconnected. Our "ResultManager" software then sweeps your maps and creates the GTD lists automatically.

              Best regards

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              • #8
                Originally posted by debmiller
                Johann, unfortunately, I don't know of an easy way to make it a drop-down list. My guess is that someone could write some VB code that would do that, but I don't know of any. Deb
                You can easily create a drop down list on a custom item form in outlook with the point and click interface. However managing what is on the drop down list dynamically will require some VB. If your projects don't change much you can create a form with a custom project field and add your on-going projects to the drop down list. When you have a project that isn't on the list you can either type in the new project name or modify the form to include it in the list....

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