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  • Tips for scanning next actions quicker?

    I've been using GTD for a couple of weeks now. The biggest frustration I'm running into is it take too long to scan through my nest actions. Say it takes me 5 minutes to scan, I then complete my next action(which might take 10 minutes) then I start the whole process again. It seems like I'm spending way too much time on just deciding what to do next! Any tips?

  • #2
    Are they grouped according to context? Usually I scan quickly say which calls I can make, or which emails I need to send etc. In other words I decide on what context I am going to work in first and then review just the next actions for that context.

    Paul

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    • #3
      Paul's right SloJoe

      Paul is spot on here. The whole notion of context is one of the biggest ideas I've taken away from GTD. When you're switching contexts, simply filter your list and the scope of possibilities for what you can/should do next is immediate;ly narrowed down.

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      • #4
        You could try scanning them once at the beginning of the day and pulling out a few that would be good to get done that day and sorting or marking them differently. Or, just start at the top (or bottom) of the list. I'm sure there are other methods others use.
        Taxgeek

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        • #5
          Thanks for your responses, sounds logical enough. I guess the problem I'm facing is, I have a home office. So in theory, I could we working off basically any one of my context lists. Maybe I could approach it like: 7:00-9:00 office work (using the office context) 9:00-10:00 phone calls Etc. I would appreciate any input on this. Thanks

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          • #6
            You're running into the same problem many of us have -- if you're sitting at a desk that has a phone and a computer up and running and connected to the internet, the various contexts are all equally easy to reach for.

            There was a thread awhile back that Siva started about this -- people customize their contexts depending on personal factors sometimes. I.e., if you have x hours of quiet in the morning before the kids come home from school, then @quiettime might be a context for you. Also, if you have times of day you are doing the laundry, handling the kids, etc., in between your work, you might classify those actions as @interruptable or something like that. Or, if the people you must call are on the east coast, and you're in California, you might have a context for @MorningCalls.

            Personally, I don't break things down at all. I have @Work, @Today and @Waiting For. I have been trying to use @Calls, but to tell the truth, I never look at it. Things tend to stagnate there.

            You could have a category for @HighMentalEnergy and @FillingStaplerTypeStuff, or whatever you think works for you. You just have to think about what sorts of contexts drive your day.

            HTH
            Taxgeek

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            • #7
              I generally group my next actions by context, even if several contexts co-exist in one place. For example, when I am in my office, I can make telephone calls, work on my computer or do other office items. Nevertheless, I still separate by context. If I'm in phone call mode or have a short block of free time, I can quickly scan my @calls list for a quick phone call. Also, at the beginning of the day, I try to review my next action lists to pick out a bunch I want to do that day. If a context list gets too long to be workable, sometimes I'll move some next actions to the Someday/Maybe list and tickle them on my calendar to activate the next actions at a later date. If you are going to put these next actions out of sight though, you have to make sure that you have some reminder to move them back into sight (that is where the tickler and the weekly review come in). Sometimes I'll even send an e-mail to myself to be delivered at a later date (e.g., to remind me to move a Someday/Maybe back onto my next actions lists). I also find it useful to set up a block of time to work in a particular context (e.g., read e-mails, place calls, etc.).

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              • #8
                I like taxgeek's context, @FillingStaplerTypeStuff. I actually have an item listed under my @Office and @Home context lists, each called "Productive Procrastination," under which I have just a plain old list (as an attached note on the Palm) of what David refers to as a "list of numb-nut activities" when I need a break. The lists are different, depending on the context, but they're the kind of valuable but routine, low priority stuff (filling the stapler, watering the plants, etc.). I just have the Productive Procrastination entry sitting at the bottom of those context lists, and when I need a break or just don't feel up to doing anything but "insect-like" things, I can go to the list and knock off a few things. Helps regain energy AND I'm getting necessary things done at the same time.

                Randy

                Randy Stokes
                randystokes@cox.net

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