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How do you schedule your next actions?

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  • How do you schedule your next actions?

    I always have times where I could not follow what I have planed.
    When the alerts popup, I normally find myself immersed in another activity.
    And it has been painful to force me to leave what I was doing.
    How do you schedule your next actions?

  • #2
    With fiew exceptions, you don't schedule next actions

    When you have discretionary time, you choose a next action based on the four major criteria:
    1. Context
    2. Time available
    3. Energy available
    4. Priority / Biggest Personal Payoff

    The major exception to this rule is actions that have additional constraints like weather conditions. Those you pretty much have to monitor for the right opportunity and jump through that window when it opens.

    You can schedule time on the hard landscape to do a next action, but if it can be done at any time you have available context time and energy then you leave the primary reminder on your action list (copy it instead of moving it to the calendar).

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    • #3
      Scheduling NAs

      I don't schedule NA unless they have to be scheduled, like meetings, trips, movie times, church, etc. other than that everything is discretionary time. I've just built in a habit to check my lists at about once per hour. That way I can always adjust how I am working. Some times I plan to work on something for an hour but find out it only took me 20 min and vice versa. Using lists instead of timers gives more freedom and creativity.

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      • #4
        My Next Action activity generally doesn't get interrupted by my alarms ( calendared activities ) because I check them before starting a next action.

        One of the first things in my day is to check my calendar. Then as I go through the day I choose Next Action activities that fit into the windows available.

        Since task switching is disruptive, I tend to be conservative in my task selection. If it's 11:45 and I have a task I decided to start at 12:00, then I'll choose a 5 minute task and then enjoy a coffee, rather than attempt a 15 minute task.

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        • #5
          I'm just starting with GTD, and I foresee a lot of Next Actions that don't necessarily need to be scheduled, but they do have a specific deadline. For instance, I need to prepare a lesson plan for the Latin class I teach on Wednesday, but it doesn't matter whether I do that Wednesday morning right before the class or several days earlier.

          So how do people handle Next Actions with deadlines? In the example above, the "do it when time/energy/payoff allow" method applies until the deadline is imminent, but then I'm suddenly forced to abandon the system and put everything else aside to finish that one task at the last minute, whether I have the time and energy right then or not.

          In the long run, I can see how GTD will get me to a point where I'm getting things done ahead of time. (That'd be a novel feeling.) But in the meantime, I'm not sure how to handle that.

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          • #6
            If the Next Action has a deadline, most electronic tools include 'due date' to help decide what to do next.

            You could also put a reminder in your 'tickler' for that day or the day before to complete the lesson plan.

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            • #7
              My calendar only has alerts on meetings, the next actions that are on my calendar are date specific but not time specific, so I don't get an alert.
              I have set up a daily work checklist, so I do my meeting preparation first, then calendar next actions, then work off my list. When I get a meeting alert pop up I have already done the preparation for it first thing in the morning.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Mhoram View Post
                So how do people handle Next Actions with deadlines? In the example above, the "do it when time/energy/payoff allow" method applies until the deadline is imminent, but then I'm suddenly forced to abandon the system and put everything else aside to finish that one task at the last minute, whether I have the time and energy right then or not.
                I assign a due date to the task, so it shows up in my calendar. I also apply a priority (top/high/medium/low). For me the priorities roughly align with when I need to do something (top-this week, high- this fortnight, medium - this month, low-this quarter). Then I use the fourfold criteria for doing work, so as long as I am spending enough time in the right context, and have enough meeting-free time, it should get down. However it is a good idea to look at your calendar when putting it on your lists to make sure there is enough discretionary time, if you have a deadline of Friday and you are booked solid for the whole week, you really need to think about how you might get it done.

                Of course I can still be left doing things on the day they are due because other things might arise that i decide are more important, but I always check my calendar first thing in the morning so I am aware of any deadlines for today.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Mhoram View Post
                  I'm just starting with GTD, and I foresee a lot of Next Actions that don't necessarily need to be scheduled, but they do have a specific deadline. For instance, I need to prepare a lesson plan for the Latin class I teach on Wednesday, but it doesn't matter whether I do that Wednesday morning right before the class or several days earlier.

                  So how do people handle Next Actions with deadlines?
                  Don't discount the value of rhythm in these things. I habitually prepare lectures the night before, as I like the material to be fresh and clear, without so much reliance on my notes. Of course, sometimes I don't do this, but that's my default. I do backups of home computers on weekends, even though I could do it any time I'm home. For writing for a deadline, I generally write every weekday morning, early. This is all based on context, time, energy and priority, so I consider it consistent with gtd.

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                  • #10
                    You Don't!

                    As you get closer to a complete GTD system you'll find less and less desire to want to schedule things.

                    A couple key things I've learned over time - make sure your next actions lists contain only (really, only!!) the things you are committed to doing. Use that Someday/Maybe list. And also make sure those next actions are properly defined as the next physical, visible actions.

                    Once your next actions lists are "scrubbed" then you should have very little friction in both reviewing them during the Weekly Review or choosing which one to actually DO.

                    One thing I'll do periodically is carve out an hour and pick one context - e.g. Online. I will "scrub" that list as I mention above then just do the first item. If I reach completion I'll go to the next one and so on.

                    As David mentions in GTD>Live!, "I've got my life down to crank widgets ..."

                    Mark

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                    • #11
                      I'm just starting with GTD, and I foresee a lot of Next Actions that don't necessarily need to be scheduled, but they do have a specific deadline. For instance, I need to prepare a lesson plan for the Latin class I teach on Wednesday, but it doesn't matter whether I do that Wednesday morning right before the class or several days earlier.
                      Last edited by John Forrister; 06-10-2011, 08:41 AM. Reason: advertising links

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