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How do you priortize na tasks relative to your priority projects

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  • How do you priortize na tasks relative to your priority projects

    I have 30 projects and 10 projects that are hi priority. I have 30 na tasks in my next action list spreadsheet. Thus I am constantly thru the day crossing off 10 complete na tasks in my na spreadsheet and then moving 10 new na from my 10 my high priority project plans next action spreadsheet into the master na spreadsheet

    Is this how it is suppose to work ? I just read the gtd book by david but he does not cover the flow from a project next action spreadsheet into the master next action spreadsheet. My understanding is that if I have 30 projects I should find 30 next action steps in my master na spreadsheet. For my high priority projects why am I not putting in the next 5 or 6 next action steps as opposed to 1 into the master. It just seems like I spend daily time moving next action tasks from my project na spreadsheet into the master na spreadsheet.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Lmalnati View Post
    Thus I am constantly thru the day crossing off 10 complete na tasks in my na spreadsheet and then moving 10 new na from my 10 my high priority project plans next action spreadsheet into the master na spreadsheet

    Is this how it is suppose to work ?
    This is how it could work, but not how it must work. NA's are there to remind you where you stopped working on a project. You might also start on one NA within one project, and continu working on that project for example all day long. Then, when you stop, you write down the NA for that project in your list and your list is up to date. The other 29 NA on your list remain then untouched for that day.

    Originally posted by Lmalnati View Post
    My understanding is that if I have 30 projects I should find 30 next action steps in my master na spreadsheet. :
    More or less... some projects might be in the phase where you wait for something, so you will have some note on your @waiting for list. Some projects might have more than one NA (as long as they are independant and can be done at any given time when in the right context)

    Originally posted by Lmalnati View Post
    For my high priority projects why am I not putting in the next 5 or 6 next action steps as opposed to 1 into the master. It just seems like I spend daily time moving next action tasks from my project na spreadsheet into the master na spreadsheet.
    Because your na list is supposed to be a list of all next actions, things you can do right now..; if you write down na's that follow other ones, you will be scanning your list saying "mm, this one I can't do, because I need to finish the other one first", and your na list will become useless. The only time you might have more NA's for the same project is when they are independant and can be done now. For example if I'm preparing a training (= a project), I might have a NA concerning the content (brainstorm content training x) and one concerning organization (mail company to find out how many participants there will be).

    Good luck!
    Myriam

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Lmalnati View Post
      It just seems like I spend daily time moving next action tasks from my project na spreadsheet into the master na spreadsheet.
      It seems the system you are using is not so GTD friendly. The software I use (mSGD, it is free and can be found here: http://tiddlywiki.org/wiki/MonkeyGTD) allows you to create series of depending actions in your project's actions list, so that when you mark one NA as done, the following one in the series moves automatically to your NAs list.

      I guess there are many other GTD softwares with this feature.

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      • #4
        It sounds like you're making zero progress on the other twenty projects. Is that OK? Or, if not OK, is that unavoidable, because you're so busy that there is really no way that you can make even slow progress on those projects?

        If so, then I'd say that those projects are "someday/maybe" and you should put them wherever you put someday/maybe, until you have time for them.

        On the other hand, if you really do want to make some progress on those twenty projects and it seems as if that should be possible, then could it be that your next actions for those projects are too large, given that they are low priority projects? For example, if your next action is "write user docs" or even the more modest "outline user docs", perhaps that's too big and your next action should be "spend ten minutes working on topic list for user docs".

        Edited to add: I also agree that it sounds like your software is requiring more work than it should. Perhaps a dedicated GTD package would serve you better?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Gardener View Post
          I also agree that it sounds like your software is requiring more work than it should. Perhaps a dedicated GTD package would serve you better?
          That's a very real possibility. Your GTD lists should be simple reminders of your commitments. You might even consider keeping your project, next action and someday/maybe lists on paper until you learn the habits. Too often GTD users get seduced by software and forget the fundamental habits that drive the system. The lack of features on paper forces you to keep things simple and focus on the habits.

          Your GTD system is not a project management system that tracks milestones and dependencies; there are other methodologies for that. Many GTD software solutions I've seen add too much project management features into the mix and make the system too complex. It has to be simple or you'll abandon it at some point.

          One key life-altering paradigm that I learned on this forum is to look upon your next actions as bookmarks for your projects. During your weekly review ask yourself this question: If you had nothing else to do in your entire life but finish this project, what's the very next simple action required to move towards closure? Once you've clarified that for yourself you have a bookmark that you add to the appropriate context list.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
            That's a very real possibility. Your GTD lists should be simple reminders of your commitments. You might even consider keeping your project, next action and someday/maybe lists on paper until you learn the habits. Too often GTD users get seduced by software and forget the fundamental habits that drive the system. The lack of features on paper forces you to keep things simple and focus on the habits.
            I agree that until you internalize the habits keeping things simple and doing the steps by yourself is key. Paper or non-brain software are more suitable for that than a program that imposes its own structure to your work. However, in cases like the one here, where you have only one context (learned from another question by Lmalnati) and you can foresee with ease what are the successive steps for your different projects, the GTD flow "by the book" is rather cumbersome and repetitive. Lmalnati could as well work directly from the actions list in his projects reference material; he does not need NAs lists. Yes, it seems that Lmalnati includes only his work and not other aspects of his life in his organization, but that's legitimate too.

            Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
            Your GTD system is not a project management system that tracks milestones and dependencies; there are other methodologies for that. Many GTD software solutions I've seen add too much project management features into the mix and make the system too complex. It has to be simple or you'll abandon it at some point.
            In my experience, rather than simple the program has to be flexible so that it does not impose you a given flow which is already an interpretation of GTD. Each GTDer has her own unique needs and will adapt GTD accordingly. However, having the possibility (though not compelling you to do so) of using different features, like establishing depending actions for example, for me has proven to be very useful. Many projects I plan in planning mode whenever I have the inspiration and don't need to ask myself after completing an action what is the next one to advance that project. I know, because I already thought about it.

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            • #7
              One thing I do when I have deadlines coming up is to make timeslots in my day. I get a fixed amount of work done on my 'key' projects, during my prime time. Then I fill from the less urgent projects.

              Since I am always forced to do my day job within my clients' computer systems, I find different ways to identify their key projects. Perhaps a naming convention, or putting due dates on all the key projects but not on the rest, or using a special context for key projects versus the rest.

              Since someone mentioned that you only need a single context at the office, splitting into contexts based on priority or prime time might be interesting.

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