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How to read through NA list?

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  • How to read through NA list?

    I have 54 work related next actions. These are my commitments. I know that they must be done at some point. But the list looks quite long and it takes at least 1 minute jusr to read through. And usually I can't read to the end because I stop at a next action somewhere in the middle, usually not the most important one. I don't like the idea of choosing a few items for the coming day. On the other hand it looks like I should pre-choose. My questions:

    1. Does David Allen pre-choose actions for the day?

    2. How many next actions are there on the longest list of David?

    3. Is it possible to see ANY of next actions list of David himself?

    Best regards.

  • #2
    trust yourself... and/or use (due) dates


    I don't know about David Allen's lists, but I can tell you this about mine:
    - I usually have around 100 items ons my NA-list
    - my list is in excel, I can filter according to varying items such as project the NA is related to, context, or (estimated) time to accomplish the NA
    - to define what I will work on I ususally look at due dates
    - for items without due dates I often set "wish" dates (when would I feel like working on it, for example: I have to fill out a form, this doesn't have a real due date, but if I might like to complete it by the end of next week, then I set this as a wish date: when I sort according to due dates and wish dates the items I "need" to work on or "would like to work on" show up first. I still can ignore the wish dates (for example if I feel like doing some 5-minute-NA's instead of working in a larger chunk)
    - all items without due date or wish date show up at the bottom of the list (I know some people will move these to SDMB list but I don't want to do that, if I feel like it, I work on them too)
    - from the 100 items on my list, usually around 20 or 30 have a due date and 15 to 20 have a wish date

    When I finish working on the items with a due date, I work on items with a wish date or on something else (if I feel like it). That is the "trust yourself" part. I do start to notice that I get actions done that are absolutely not urgent know, but that allow me to move projects forward in a comfortable not deadline-driven way. And that feels good.



    • #3
      There are lots of different ways to approach the NA list.

      Reading through the GTD books, I think DA suggests just looking through the appropriate context list each time you have time to do something, and choosing what seems most important given the various criteria that define priorities.

      There isn't anything in the books (i can recall) talking about pre-choosing actions from the list. However i heard a podcast (from this site somewhere) where DA and a colleague talk about highlighting a few NAs in the morning that you want to get through that day. This is what I usually do.

      The important thing is not to take them off the NA lists. In my case although I use a computer system I like my NA lists on paper so I print them out, normally reaching about 3 or 4 sides. I then go through in the morning and highlight the dozen or so that I would really like to knock off on that day.

      Doing it this way means that if an emergency crops up I can just ignore the list. If i created a new list or moved it to my calendar, I would have to take the time to move all my actions back on the list.


      • #4
        Make more contexts

        Originally posted by Makarin View Post
        the list looks quite long and it takes at least 1 minute jusr to read through. And usually I can't read to the end because I stop at a next action somewhere in the middle, usually not the most important one.
        Not David but my longest next action list has about 25 items on it at any given time. I've found that if the list gets much longer than that it is a signal that I probably need to look at the context and split it up into 2 or more contexts or I need to re-evaluate how many active projects I have. I can see a list of 25 or so items in one screen on my desktop system and on 2-3 screens on my iPod and that is the limit of what I am willing to scroll through.

        For example here is my list of items in the context @Computer Mac

        Scan 1 box of negatives on my desk
        Get pictures from Ken's cameras
        Scan ABWMSA Bank Statements
        Scan 1 folder from boxes under stairs
        Scan TDRC Assesments
        Create DW Quicken Yearly Report
        Balance Personal Investment Accounts
        Update Desert Weyr Quicken with DW Cabela's Charges
        Edit my OF Someday/Maybe to include my personal "bucket list"
        Review NAGP list for any missing ewe line samples & add to list
        Check on last of the bills due and verify all have been received
        Scan 1 folder of old legal documents for TDRC
        Write first draft of sheep flock breeding guidelines
        Listen to GTD CD
        Index 2006 Wales trip Scrapbooks
        Scan Photos I found for Uncle Paul & Stephen
        Make a BU of financial and emergency contact data as a text file
        Add time estimates to OF actions & get a sum of time to complete various contexts
        Test scanning glass negatives in new Photoshop
        Create PDF files of my basic documents
        Decide which files must be encrypted
        Make PDF files of 2003 calendar data
        Make a print file of image 100

        If I look at that list and it's repelling me I'll split it up. In the above example I could easily split it up into @Scanning with ScanSnap and @Photoshop contexts in addition to the @Computer Mac context.

        Maybe your @work context should be split into smaller buckets so it's easier to read and work from?