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Projects vs. New Actions

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  • Projects vs. New Actions

    Good morning. I'm a new GTDer (still reading section 1); and am looking forward to impressive changes implementing this strategy.

    I thought I understood the difference between Projects and New Actions. However, a statement in Newsletter No. 40 (Food for Thought: Being Complete with Your Incompletions has me stumped.
    In seminars I often show people all my projects (about sixty at this writing) and next actions to do about them (about 150) . . .
    Unless I've missed something (or just haven't gotten far enough in the book), there would only be one next action per project. Admittedly, I've considered creating a "Subsequent Actions" list just so I don't have to stop and think about a next action every time I complete one. Is this how the number of next actions can exceed the number of projects?

    I hope I won't refer back to this "inaugural" inquiry and feel like an idiot for asking a "not so smart" question

    If it's not too inconvenient, please refer me to page numbers or web pages that will allow me to follow up on your reply. Thanks.

  • #2
    Don't feel silly. There are a lot of things like that in GTD like that. The reason there can be 150 NAs for 60 projects is that a project can have not only multiple "subsequent" NAs, but it can have several NAs that are all actionable at the same time.

    Like if you were planning an office move, NAs that are all actionable might include
    1. Talk to dept heads about seating arrangements in new space;
    2. Call electrical contractor to schedule bid meeting;
    3. Look up phone numbers for movers.

    So each project can (and usually does) have several next actions, as longas those NAs aren't dependent on each other and one doesn't require another to get done before it can move forward. (Those types are subsequent NAs, like you said.)

    Hope that's clear. Feel free to post followup questions.


    • #3
      Also, there are Next Actions that really aren't associated with projects. A task only becomes a project if it is more than one step - lots of the things we do are only one step. For example, "Call X to make lunch plans."


      • #4
        Projects vs. Next Actions

        Thanks for the prompt and helpful replies. Your input is just what I need. Ko, you're right about NA's that are not associated with projects. I forgot about them. Taxgeek, thanks for shedding light on simultaneous NA's. This is going to be great.