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how much to divide an activity or action? and how much to relate them?

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  • how much to divide an activity or action? and how much to relate them?

    hello

    I'm having problems deciding how much to divide a task, is a not trivial decision because every single thing can be divided.

    for example even a phone call can be (stupid but is just to explain what I mean)
    -look for the phone number
    -take the phone
    -dial
    -etc.

    again, I know this is an exaggeration.

    but for example, something real:

    -look for a new apartment, would you write it as a task? or a project like:

    #look for a new apartment
    -check how many square meters do I need
    -check the news paper
    -check real-estate webpages
    -call real-estate companies
    -etc

    on other hand I don't know yet how much to relate them, for example:

    I'm searching for new products to sell to the mining industry (I have an import export company)

    then I can write several tasks related like

    -call XXXX from the XXX mining and ask him what are the main products they need
    -quote this products in China
    -ask for samples

    or

    #look for products for the mining industry
    -call XXXX from the XXX mining and ask him what are the main products they need
    -quote this products in China
    -ask for samples
    -etc etc

    or even create a folder named Mining? and then write everything in side that folder?

    Well I'm having a lot of problem this this decisions I hope you have some advices

    thanks in advance!!

  • #2
    Let's look at one of your examples. Are you looking for a new apartment, or do you need/want to find a new apartment? These may seem about the same, but "Find a new apartment" is a clear outcome but is not itself a next action. It is a project.
    Originally posted by sirrick View Post

    #look for a new apartment
    -check how many square meters do I need
    -check the news paper
    -check real-estate webpages
    -call real-estate companies
    -etc
    Now you have a list of possible next actions, but in no particular order. Some next actions may not be there, such as "determine max monthly rental." You might decide that your next action is to determine your current apartment area. I would probably start by browsing ads, either paper or web. But all you need is one good next action. For a relatively simple project, you can just move from one next action to another, perhaps writing down ideas for things to do for inspiration. Write next actions down at the level of detail that it is clear to you what the next physical action is. "Call real estate companies" is not a next action if you don't know which ones you are going to call, for example. Does that help?

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    • #3
      It all relates to memory. GTD is about taking stuff out of your mind and onto paper. But some things in our mind don't cause clutter because they're on autopilot. We don't think about how to take a shower. We automatically grab our towels, clothes, soap, shampoo, start the water etc without thinking. Often the same goes for making a phone call. We look up our address book, get the number, make the call, etc without thinking much about it.
      If the next action is something that's on 'autopilot' for you, don't break it down. If you place an order with customer X so often you don't have to think about it, don't break the action down.
      But if it's new, or not done often enough that your'e likely to forget some steps, break it down. Do the mental thinking once, write down the steps you think you might need into project support, and just put the next one on your next action list. That way nothing is ever forgotten, it's always a conscious choice to do or not do.

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      • #4
        thanks both!!!!

        and you are right about the autopilot, that is a good parameter to divide activities

        cheers!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by sirrick View Post
          you are right about the autopilot, that is a good parameter to divide activities
          Another reason to break things down is if you are procrastinating. I've had a task on my next actions list for months to "move sock machine sample to waste yarn" It was never getting done for months so I changed it to "locate curved needle to remove sock machine sample with"

          That got me off the ball and I got the sample off, the sock machine cleaned and moved over to the shop for major reconstruction. That part is not mine, my husband will do it so I got the project well on it's way by more carefully defining the minimum next action I could take.

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          • #6
            Agree with Oogie

            I agree with Oogie. I break down tasks into smaller bits when I feel resistance to starting on the Next Action. I was going to say "when a project is not progressing as quickly as I would like", but this could also include other reasons.

            For what it's worth, it may be helpful to list several of those Next Actions in your Project Support for a given project... but is often not needed if the steps that follow the Next Action are self-evident. For example, in "Project: car washed" the NA may be "@Home: find car wash supplies". Once I complete that, I may just head out and wash the car instead of storing them and writing the Next Action.

            I recommend listing them if they are on your mind. As you gain confidence in your system and your processes become more dependable, you will likely list fewer of those details... because you trust your system.

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