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How to handle "new" next actions between reviews

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  • How to handle "new" next actions between reviews

    (Duplicate post from Yahoo group. Apologies to those who frequent both.)

    Any advice on how most effectively/efficiently to remind myself--between weekly reviews--that once I finish a next action I might need to **immediately** go to my project materials for some new next actions?

    Here's my scenario. I frequently find myself with several "hot", relatively short-term projects in which I'd need to complete several sequential next actions before the next weekly review.

    Example:
    Project name (tracked in Shadow): "HOTPROJECT". It has 10 actions total. I can do 3 of them immediately, but the other 7 require completion of at least one of the first 3 actions. (So the other 7 are not, by definition, next actions...)

    Next actions (Datebook 3+): All named "HOTPROJECT--Action 1" etc. So, I know the action belongs to project "HOTPROJECT".

    When I complete the original 3 next actions that didn't require any predecessor tasks to be finished, I need to go to the project list for "new" next actions, so I can keep moving on schedule. But my weekly review might not be for 4 more days. Any advice on reminding myself (not having to think about it) to check for "new" next actions?

    This happens sufficiently often that I'd like to systematize it, rather than letting it be an "exception" basis.

    TIA!!

  • #2
    Handling "new" Next Actions Between Reviews

    Bryan,

    I think that the problem you are having is because you are using a weekly review of your project (which is tracked in one application) to determine which items on your project plan are now next actions (which are tracked in another application).

    As I see it, you have two choices.

    The first is to do more frequent reviews on those projects where you are regularly clearing your next actions well in advance of the next review.

    The second is to always determine the next action as soon as you finish the previous action. Let's take your example of having ten planned actions and three next actions. If you have done a proper job of specifying your next actions, as soon as you finish any of them you will need to determine what action follows that one. It may be one of the seven actions you have already identified in your project plan. Or, it may be something totally new. In either event, you need to identify it and process it. Can you do it in two minutes? No? Then determine the context in which it will be done and add it to the action list for that context. Yes? Then do it, and then figure out what the next action is.

    I do it the second way. The main benefit is that you never allow a project to remain stopped pending a project review.

    Hope this helps.

    Scott

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    • #3
      I find that when I'm reviewing as often as I need to, I know instantly what next actions go with what projects. If I have a string of actions for a project, I just put all of them in the project note. Enter the next action for a project into the system as soon as the current one is completed. I'll often just go down the list in the project note if it's a string of short things. I'll also just work out of my head in one sitting and, when I stop, I'll put the next next action in my lists.

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      • #4
        Re: Handling "new" Next Actions Between Reviews

        Originally posted by Scott Lewis
        Bryan,

        The second is to always determine the next action as soon as you finish the previous action. Let's take your example of having ten planned actions and three next actions. If you have done a proper job of specifying your next actions, as soon as you finish any of them you will need to determine what action follows that one. It may be one of the seven actions you have already identified in your project plan. Or, it may be something totally new. In either event, you need to identify it and process it. Can you do it in two minutes? No? Then determine the context in which it will be done and add it to the action list for that context. Yes? Then do it, and then figure out what the next action is.

        Scott
        Yes! For me, this is key. I just use the weekly review to "touch base" with my projects. Usually, when a next action is completed, I'm already thinking of the next thing that I have to do.

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        • #5
          I'm also in the camp of determining next actions as soon as I complete one. I've developed this habit to the point where I feel really uncomfortable not doing it. In fact, if I finish an action and happen to be interrupted right then, I will at least put "Project X - next action?" on my Work list.

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          • #6
            So, first you have to check off the next action in DateBk and then you have to switch to Shadow for setting a new next action. Isn't that a little annoying to work like that . Or is there another way?

            Peter

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