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Help with understanding GTD next actions and projects filing

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  • Help with understanding GTD next actions and projects filing

    Hi, I am new to GTD and trying to implement it to my fairly disorganised life I really think that GTD will help me to advance in my life with whatever goals that I may have.

    So I grab the book and read it. Everything seems to be blurry at first, the I scoured the net and helps and refereces are everywhere. But the only thing that I seem to NOT be able to find is the filing system for projects and their respective next actions.

    Realistically speaking, my 'projects' will involve more than 2 actionable items, sometimes 3 or 4 or more.

    Perhaps it would make things a little clearer (for me at least) by providing an example (I have not actually organise any filing system, as I'm trying to understand more about filing and getting track a project and its next actions.)

    1. Say, I have this 'Stuff' in my head to do bank reconciliation. GTD wise, I will put this thought / note into my "In-Box".
    2. When the time comes to clear the "In-Box", I'd pick up the note and process it. I will then determine this item is an actionable item with multiple step to complete. This is then a Project.

    Question:
    1. Where should I put / file this "Project:Complete bank reconciliation". Should I file it, as physically put the note into a manila folder labelled "Projects". Should I write something on the project sheet.

    2. What about the Next Actions. Supposed I determine the next actions to complete the above project is as followed; 1. Download the latest bank statement, 2. reconcile the bank statement with "Accounting Software", 3. Print reconciliation report and file it. Should I list this on a separate manila folder labelled "Next Actions"?

    May be I am over-thinking the whole process, but wouldnt it be easy to list the next actions within the project sheet so we can keep track of what's done? Because if I have 5 projects with a total of 15 next actions, and since the GTD dictates that next actions should not be prioritised, how do I keep track which actions belong to what easily?

    And supposed I finished with all three "Next Actions", what should I do next? Do I take the project list out of the manila folder and file it somewhere else, and the same goes with the next actions (physically pulling out three different sheet of papers / index card off the "Next Actions" folder). In a glance, it seems that GTD will create even more task of sorting hence adding more stress.

    OR have I misunderstood the whole thing. Some enlightenments will be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    Luke

  • #2
    Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
    Hi, I am new to GTD and trying to implement it to my fairly disorganised life I really think that GTD will help me to advance in my life with whatever goals that I may have.
    Welcome!

    Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
    Question:
    1. Where should I put / file this "Project:Complete bank reconciliation". Should I file it, as physically put the note into a manila folder labelled "Projects". Should I write something on the project sheet.
    Wherever you like to collect your projects.Paper? Digital? Cloud? Whatever you like.
    Your projects are what you think to achieve in one year, so the idea is to know where you like to go this year.

    Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
    2. What about the Next Actions. Supposed I determine the next actions to complete the above project is as followed; 1. Download the latest bank statement, 2. reconcile the bank statement with "Accounting Software", 3. Print reconciliation report and file it. Should I list this on a separate manila folder labelled "Next Actions"?
    What if after the first next action you understand the process is no more to download the statement?

    Anyway when you will end the third action you will go for the fourth, and so on on the way of the life...step by step

    Comment


    • #3
      Next Action definition.

      Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
      2. What about the Next Actions. Supposed I determine the next actions to complete the above project is as followed; 1. Download the latest bank statement, 2. reconcile the bank statement with "Accounting Software", 3. Print reconciliation report and file it. Should I list this on a separate manila folder labelled "Next Actions"?
      The only Next Action in your Project is "1. Download the latest bank statement." You park it on the @Computer or @Internet list and do it in this context as soon as possible.

      You cannot "3. Print reconciliation report and file it." if you haven't "2. Reconciled the bank statement with "Accounting Software"".

      You cannot "2. reconcile the bank statement with "Accounting Software" if you haven't "1. Downloaded the latest bank statement."

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
        The only Next Action in your Project is "1. Download the latest bank statement." You park it on the @Computer or @Internet list and do it in this context as soon as possible.

        You cannot "3. Print reconciliation report and file it." if you haven't "2. Reconciled the bank statement with "Accounting Software"".

        You cannot "2. reconcile the bank statement with "Accounting Software" if you haven't "1. Downloaded the latest bank statement."
        Hi TestTeq,

        I am aware of what you just described. The issue is I'm trying to track all the next events that are tied to the projects. Or are you saying that I only file the one NA then the next one after the first one is complete and so on. Wouldn't be redundant? Knowing that there is 3 possible actions that are required to finish my project?

        May be I got it wrong, but perhaps if you could provide me with your way of doing this project according to your system, that might help me a lot to understand this

        Thank you, I really appreciate this

        Luke

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by clango View Post
          Welcome!



          Wherever you like to collect your projects.Paper? Digital? Cloud? Whatever you like.
          Your projects are what you think to achieve in one year, so the idea is to know where you like to go this year.



          What if after the first next action you understand the process is no more to download the statement?

          Anyway when you will end the third action you will go for the fourth, and so on on the way of the life...step by step
          Hi clango,

          Thanks for the prompt reply!

          Anyway, can you please elaborate on this "What if after the first next action you understand the process is no more to download the statement?"

          Thanks

          Luke

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
            Hi TestTeq,

            I am aware of what you just described. The issue is I'm trying to track all the next events that are tied to the projects. Or are you saying that I only file the one NA then the next one after the first one is complete and so on. Wouldn't be redundant? Knowing that there is 3 possible actions that are required to finish my project?

            May be I got it wrong, but perhaps if you could provide me with your way of doing this project according to your system, that might help me a lot to understand this

            Thank you, I really appreciate this

            Luke
            Hi Luke,

            Many on this forum will agree with you for adding all the next clear actions to your project, so you have them all queued up, ready to go, in the order you want to do them.

            One option is to have a next actions list with just the first action on it, then store the other actions in a little file as your Project Support Material. You could do this electronically, or on paper. The downside here is that you would not access the next next action until you review your project ( perhaps in Weekly Review ) and decide you need to grab another action. So it's a bit slow and clunky for the banking example you mentioned, but OK for something that's just pottering along in the background - like checking out birthday presents three months in advance.

            If you had, say, a notepad with the contexts as pages at the front, and projects as pages at the back, then as you complete an action at the front, you could go straight to the back to grab the next action and copy it to the front.

            I think this copying around of actions in projects is what brings the GTD apps into play. The ability to switch from a next action view to a project view is one advantage. Checking off an action and having the next in sequence automatically take its place is another.
            Last edited by pxt; 04-11-2011, 06:01 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
              Hi clango,

              Thanks for the prompt reply!

              Anyway, can you please elaborate on this "What if after the first next action you understand the process is no more to download the statement?"

              Thanks

              Luke
              I think the thing here is that you make a nice list of the next 3 actions and then something changes. So you log into online banking to download a statement and discover a new service where they email your statements as PDFs as they come available. You enable the service and now the next action is a Waiting For: Bank statement arrives in email.

              The efficiency with which you can manoeuvre these changes will inform your decision on which tools to use and you'll switch around a few times until you find the right tricks. The fact that you are asking these questions, though, shows you're on the right track !

              Comment


              • #8
                Obvious Projects.

                Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
                May be I got it wrong, but perhaps if you could provide me with your way of doing this project according to your system, that might help me a lot to understand this
                Most of my Projects are "obvious" - just like your "Project:Complete bank reconciliation".

                In this case I only write down this Project on my Project list and "Download the latest bank statement." Next Action on the @Computer list as a reminder that I should do something. I do not write down posiible next actions since they are obvious. After downloading the statement I do not need any hints what should I do next.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
                  Hi clango,

                  Thanks for the prompt reply!

                  Anyway, can you please elaborate on this "What if after the first next action you understand the process is no more to download the statement?"

                  Thanks

                  Luke
                  The issue we are really discussing is the nature of our work, and our personalities. Most of us are capable of making detailed plans for a simple project. Unfortunately, this in itself may prevent us from taking the next physical action. Furthermore, plans change- suppose something goes wrong: with your computer, with the software, at the bank, an emergency in your life? A lot of people want software for gtd lists that ties projects and next actions, which is fine- as long as it works for them. You can store possible future steps and other project support materials in a lot of different ways, but nothing matters as much as having a clear desired outcome and a next physical action.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                    Furthermore, plans change- suppose something goes wrong: with your computer, with the software, at the bank, an emergency in your life?
                    Thank you mcgilvie, pxt, testeq

                    This is what I meant!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
                      1. Say, I have this 'Stuff' in my head to do bank reconciliation. GTD wise, I will put this thought / note into my "In-Box".
                      2. When the time comes to clear the "In-Box", I'd pick up the note and process it. I will then determine this item is an actionable item with multiple step to complete. This is then a Project.

                      Question:
                      1. Where should I put / file this "Project:Complete bank reconciliation". Should I file it, as physically put the note into a manila folder labelled "Projects". Should I write something on the project sheet.

                      2. What about the Next Actions. Supposed I determine the next actions to complete the above project is as followed; 1. Download the latest bank statement, 2. reconcile the bank statement with "Accounting Software", 3. Print reconciliation report and file it. Should I list this on a separate manila folder labelled "Next Actions"?
                      There are so many ways to do this, and it sounds like you have a paper based system. I started with paper and manila folders, but moved to completely electronic except for vital info due to how frequently I work at different office spaces.

                      My system:
                      Bank reconciliation would be part of my bigger project called 'Financial Security', for which I already have a plan developed using the natural planning model.
                      To process this item I open my Word file called 'Financial Security Project Plan'.
                      Go to the section in my plan called Actions.
                      In the action table (where I track all the open loops and action ideas) I add another open loop called 'bank reconciliation'. In this table I also add all the possible actions that I can imagine being required for this open loop.
                      I choose the next action 'download bank statement' and put that in my next action list manager (an iPhone app called Pocket Informant), and assign a context.

                      When I complete a next action I either add another action straightaway if it is self-evident, or if I have forgotten what to do next I open my project plan and go to the action section and choose a next action. If the actions I have listed don't apply because things didn't turn out as planned, the next action might be 'review project plan'.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pxt View Post
                        I think the thing here is that you make a nice list of the next 3 actions and then something changes. So you log into online banking to download a statement and discover a new service where they email your statements as PDFs as they come available. You enable the service and now the next action is a Waiting For: Bank statement arrives in email.

                        The efficiency with which you can manoeuvre these changes will inform your decision on which tools to use and you'll switch around a few times until you find the right tricks. The fact that you are asking these questions, though, shows you're on the right track !
                        Thanks PXT! Knowing that I am on the right track is the first step to achieving the organised me!

                        Your explanation makes a lot of sense and really jolted my brain. Somehow it decides to understand the GTD better Perhaps this is what happens when you 'emptied' your head Thanks again!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks everyone for the support, I think I now understand how it works, however I'm sure a trial and error will follow to perfect my trusted system

                          Anyway, after burning my eyes with countless site about GTD, I came across evernote, downloaded it and tried it. Guess what? I decided to ditched all my papers and turn my little home office paperless! Evernote will also be my choice of the GTD tools.

                          About Tickler Folder

                          Having 43 folders are just not my choosing, I know I will get lazy if I had to go through the folders every morning (that is when I realised that papers are my worst enemy!)

                          I'd like to share what I do with the "Tickler". This example is using Evernote as the tool.

                          Using Google Calendar to forward my reminder directly to Evernote Inbox
                          Open up google calendar, and set the the reminder to be forwarded. Now here is the tricky part. Google calendar will not allow to forward reminders to external email address, except for the account that you are signed on.

                          So I set up the reminders anyway, and log on to my gmail account, create a filter for this reminder. The filter will forward any incoming reminder to my special evernote email account, which will be delivered straight to my Evernote inbox!

                          So instead of creating folders (physically or virtually), I will simply jot down the items into my google calendar and set to remind me at 0 minutes. When the time comes it will be in my evernote inbox. It will be just another incoming.

                          Let me know what you think!

                          Regards,

                          Luke

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            the two books

                            Originally posted by fiftybar View Post
                            Let me know what you think!
                            Luke,

                            I think here, all we understood, there is not an ideal system. Here you could find people that use paper but also people that use digital support, and of course, each of them is convinced to be right!

                            So whatever works for you is fine.

                            I think we can only help each one to be oriented correctly.

                            And this is the ideal and magic work that David Allen did with his two books. Did you read both?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by clango View Post
                              Luke,

                              I think here, all we understood, there is not an ideal system. Here you could find people that use paper but also people that use digital support, and of course, each of them is convinced to be right!

                              So whatever works for you is fine.

                              I think we can only help each one to be oriented correctly.

                              And this is the ideal and magic work that David Allen did with his two books. Did you read both?
                              I agree, and no I read only the first one. I will see if I can get my hands on it this coming Easter break

                              Comment

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