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  • Confused about where to keep next next actions

    I've used GTD for a couple of weeks now, but have one problem. For my projects there are typically a number of very clear actions, but they are not necessarily next actions. Where should I keep them?

    Let's say I have a project "Clean out garage". I know I need to:
    • Recycle all old paint buckets
      Move my tires to an off-site storage
      Buy a new tool box
      Put tools in the tool box
      etc..
    What should go on the NA list and what should not? And how do I keep track of the items not on the NA list? E.g. the "Put tools in the tool box" is not possible to do until I've purchased the tool box, but I still know I need to do it.

  • #2
    Use notes area to stage next action

    I agree with Cosmo. I build out my next actions when I begin a project in the notes area. When I'm ready to close the current NA, I cut the list from the notes field, create a new task, paste the list into the notes field and cut and paste the next NA in the list to the subject line.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the info, I guess you are using Outlook and/or Palm software? I don't use that, but it wouldn't be hard to translate to my system (Wiki-pages on our intranet if you're interested).

      Is the notes area invisible when you view all your projects? I remember that the GTD book stated that the projects list should only contain a list of your projects and that supporting information should be elsewhere.

      Also, do you keep all possible NAs relating to a project on the NA list or only one action per project?

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      • #4
        Originally posted by morberg
        Also, do you keep all possible NAs relating to a project on the NA list or only one action per project?
        I keep at least one NA related to each project in my action lists (To in my PDA), and sometimes keep two or three. Never more than that, however. The important thing is that each NA on my current action lists has to be able to be done now, not dependent on other actions.

        One item keeps an action for each project in my scope, so those projects keep moving forward. Much more than that just adds more actions to my already large lists, and I would rather not overwhelm myself with that. When I complete an action step and check it off my list, I can add a new one from that project. Also, new actions frequently get added during my weekly review.

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        • #5
          Use notes area to stage next action

          I keep a list of actions\outcomes in the notes section of my project list (for smaller projects). When I perform my review, I'll move all actions on which I can move to the appropriate to do lists. For example, I have a project "Build Kid's Play Area". I had an action "Clear Brush". Once that was complete, I moved "Level Area" to the @Weekend list. I also have actions "Visit Childlife Store" and "Visit Creative Playthings Store" in my action lists. All 3 actions can be acted on concurrently. The action "spread peastone" is still in my project notes since it is dependent on my completing "Level Area". GTD requires that there always be at least 1 action per project, but there is no max restriction on the number actionable items per project.

          During each project review, I may add or remove pending tasks from my list, but I find it most helpfull to maintain the list of future, project-related to do's in the notes section.

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          • #6
            Remember that a project can have more than one next action active IF it's not dependent on anything else, so for your list above you could have "Put old tires in back of pickup" and "Put old paint cans in back of pickup" on your @home list, and "buy tool box" on your @hardware-store list. For the "put tools in box" item, I would either put it on a "waiting for" list, or add it as a note in the "Garage is clean" project entry (I try to state projects as "future truth" statements.)

            -Mark

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            • #7
              How to manage next actions - don't quite get it...

              David mentions that he has a single category for Projects, one item for each project - in his todo list. Does this mean he has a single todo item, for example - "clean garage", and that he puts all the next action items in the notes field for that task? It sounds like others have different setups, though I'm having trouble "getting" the gritty details. Mostly, I'd like to understand what David Allen is recommending so I can try that for a while first before I try to adapt.

              Thanks,
              Harold

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              • #8
                Re: How to manage next actions - don't quite get it...

                Does this mean he has a single todo item, for example - "clean garage", and that he puts all the next action items in the notes field for that task?

                Hi,

                I'll field this one (David may show up too!).

                I figure for *most* of my projects, I want -at least- the OUTCOME on my projects list, and the NEXT ACTION organized by context.

                So:

                Submit workflow article to editor = that's on my project list
                Brainstorm conclusion for article for Patti = that's on my computer list.


                Now, when I write an article, I usually *start* that as soon as the item shows up (that is: I get a phone call or e-mail asking for the next piece). I take a manila folder, and open it so I'm looking at 17X11 canvas. There, I brainstorm ANYthing I am already thinking about the project. (In some cases, I'll even use flip chart paper.)

                Then, throughout the project, I'll refer back to that original -and subsequently added to- "data capture" for next actions, extra information and more ideas.

                I don't do that for *every* project; just the ones that I need all the steps/actions/ideas that I've ever thought of.

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