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next action vs. someday maybe

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  • next action vs. someday maybe

    I still struggle with the definition of "next action".
    There are so much of them on my list that it would take weeks to do them all (same observation is found in the GTD book).

    So, if I am not committed to do them REALLY as NEXT action, the major part of them appeals as "someday maybe" to me.

  • #2
    So honestly move them to the Someday/Maybe list.

    Originally posted by Tom.9 View Post
    I still struggle with the definition of "next action".
    There are so much of them on my list that it would take weeks to do them all (same observation is found in the GTD book).

    So, if I am not committed to do them REALLY as NEXT action, the major part of them appeals as "someday maybe" to me.
    So honestly move them to the Someday/Maybe list.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Tom.9 View Post
      I still struggle with the definition of "next action".
      There are so much of them on my list that it would take weeks to do them all (same observation is found in the GTD book).

      So, if I am not committed to do them REALLY as NEXT action, the major part of them appeals as "someday maybe" to me.
      Take a step back. You have a goal. This is a "Project", but I like to think of them in very goal oriented terms. "Deliver Manhattan Project to General Zod". There are a number of actions needed to complete that project. Most can't be completed right away. There are only a couple (maybe just one) that can really be accomplished now. If they are independent they are your Next Actions. If one depends on the other, only the one with no dependencies is really your next action. If you don't want to loose those other actions you can add them to your project support "folder/text file/section in GTD tool", so you don't have to think of them again.

      They are only someday maybe if you haven't committed to actually delivering them. "Documenting Manahattan Project" might not really be necessary for the "Goal", but if you want to park it in a place to give it some more thought later, then park in someday maybe. If it just can't be done as your next action, but you know it needs to get done, it should go in your project support.

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      • #4
        500 next actions?

        I'm super confused about the next-action vs someday/maybe aswell.

        What is the criteria that decides wether I'm putting it on the someday/maybe list or next-action??

        For everything I have in my inbox, there is a next action that can be done now - how do I know what to put in someday/maybe vs next action?

        If i put everything in next-action, that'll just move the problem from inbox to next-action and I'll be confused and overloaded again...

        Comment


        • #5
          For each action is it a MUST or a WANT?
          Having a project list helps discuss priorities with your boss, so you know which projects you must focus on now, and which are lower priorities that can be delayed. So the next actions of any projects that can be delayed can be put on someday maybe as the whole project is on the someday maybe list.

          For projects that must be done, look at whether the individual actions must be done or want to do, in terms of meeting the project plan. For example, I know that for my strategy project, I must organise a meeting with my stakeholders (because my boss told me I had to), but reviewing a journal article that a coworker told me would be useful for my project, that's on the someday/maybe list. It's not a must as the project can be achieved without it. If you aren't sure then discuss priorities with your boss.

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          • #6
            If you follow the GTD protocol then a n/a is something you are betting you can and will do within the week and if you are more specifically committed it actually goes on your calendar for the time frame that you are committed to, really and truly, not just wishful thinking, like you must prepare your agenda o 11/8 or sooner for a meeting on 11/10 The idea is that on a weekly basis you review everything you have on your lists and preview your calendar as well. So when you're considering a project the first question is :Is this project active now?" Meaning n the next seven days and if o t, then is ti something that I know I will start at a certain time. If none of those, then it is SDMB. So SDMB has a bunch of stuff you are not doing in the next 7 days and is not on the calendar and may or may not be defined. Here are the problems: the things you think you want to do or feel obliged to do but you have not the structured for yourself, the dreams, the wishes are all together in one list that gets bigger and bigger. Eventually you have to develop a working relationship with that list. Then there is the obverse...all the n/as that you listed that just did not get done. It is these that get confused with the SDMB for me. There are such tough decisions, can I really do this, is this motivation or technology problems that are in the way, did I just forget, or ignore my list and get pulled into other activities. And, why, of course.

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            • #7
              I find it really helpful to have sections within Someday/Maybe so that I am not ploughing through huge numbers of ideas and "wouldn't that be nice" items to find the "not now but soon" items. I have a Short term Someday/Maybe and a longer term Someday/Maybe. The short term I review every week at the review without fail - this allows me to trust the list and park items there that I want to get to, say, within a month, but cannot do this week.

              Hope this is helpful.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
                If you follow the GTD protocol then a n/a is something you are betting you can and will do within the week
                I don't remember this - what page of the book was this mentioned?

                Comment


                • #9
                  what works for me

                  Hi.
                  My approach is a little different
                  Every mini project is an item on my todo list
                  but my Next Action (NA) items for each mini project is written Directly on the same line.
                  So for example:

                  Todo list
                  1.install Microsoft word. NA: find the cd key
                  2.make event poster: NA: set meeting with event mgr
                  3. Etc...

                  every time I complete a next action, I update it with the next next action item.
                  Eventually the mini project gets done and it gets crossed off the list.

                  I hope this helps!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    n/a and time farme-I could be wrong

                    Sorry, I cannot give a citation but this is what I have conclude, rightly or wrongly. Please let me know if I have missed an element or misconstrued something...

                    I have concluded after thinking about what I was doing that resulted in n/a lists that were too long to review and execute in my daily life that I had missed something--time frame. I had noticed, in contrast, that when up against a deadline, such as a trip, people coming for dinner, etc, I could create a manageable n/a list--I knew what I could and could not do within the time frame. So I hypothesized that my n/a lists worked better for me if there was a time frame around them, and it was also suggested in the forum that I (and others whose lists were unmanageable) that we were not using the SDMB list enough. So, rightly or wrongly, my extraction of the working principle is that if a project is active you have an n/a that is planned to be completed sometime before the next review, unless it is on your calendar because it is truly tied to a date , or is on the SDMB list, either as a deferred but defined action or a project awaiting to be put into action. The other alternative might be to put it on a checklist that would be activated by an event like "first day back, check on a,b.c, ...." or "wines to try: )" (when in a wine shop/restaurant) or an equivalent parked in project support materials for when you activate the project or start planning it.

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                    • #11
                      I don't want to limit my next action list to stuff I'm committed to doing this week; e.g. what if I get it all done, then I'd need to know what to do next! Or what if I happen to find myself at the hardware store and want to know what I'd been thinking of buying there? I want to be flexible and spontaneous, and GTD works well for that.

                      However, I try to limit the next action list to stuff I don't mind seeing on my list this week. If I don't like re-reading all those items I can move many to someday/maybe to leave a nice lean list.

                      I think someday/maybe can be things you definitely plan to do but maybe not this week, and other things you might never do.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        As I understand it, a NA is something that I am committed to moving forward between now and my next weekly review, given the chance of doing so. Most errands that I could run is on my NA lists; and that's fine because I will only be looking at them when I'm in that specific part of town. I have a long list of phone calls, because they're all calls I would make, if I have the time and energy and nothing else is more important. If I'm not committed to moving on it now, even if I got the chance, then it is really not a NA but a SDMB.

                        In practice, however, I do stray a little from this principle, as I do (for some of my contexts, like @Office, @Home) keep things away from my NAs and on my SDMB list in order to keep the lists shorter. I do this for things that I would have liked to move on, but cannot foresee any possible situation in which that thing would be the proper thing to do. This is simply trading a small chance of not having the right thing in front of me for the clear benefit of having NA lists that are short enough to be workable.

                        I guess ideally, this trade off wouldn't be necessary, but after every other way of keeping the NA lists workable by breaking them up into several lists, grouping actions, and sorting actions, some actual decision making (in advance) of what will be given priority is probably unavoidable. The conclusion then seems to be that in the end committing to doing stuff inescapably is something that you need to do in advance. GTD will help you go more with the flow, but if going with the flow is all you do, then you're back to latest and loudest again.

                        Hope that makes sense...

                        Oh, and if I ever were to end up with empty (or even close to empty) NA lists, I will most certainly simply do an early weekly review and get my lists filled up again. To me that isn't even close to being a problem.
                        Last edited by mthar1; 12-05-2011, 12:19 PM. Reason: orthography

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                        • #13
                          I listened to a GTD Connect podcast this morning and was reminded of David Allen often saying that everything that you are not working on right at this moment is really some kind of someday/maybe. I would infer from that that he would also agree the line between someday/maybe and next action lists is inherently arbitrary. After all mastering workflow is an art, not science.

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                          • #14
                            absolutely arbitrary...

                            Originally posted by mthar1 View Post
                            I listened to a GTD Connect podcast this morning and was reminded of David Allen often saying that everything that you are not working on right at this moment is really some kind of someday/maybe. I would infer from that that he would also agree the line between someday/maybe and next action lists is inherently arbitrary. After all mastering workflow is an art, not science.
                            I agree... "at this moment" is indeed a very arbitrary concept. Does it mean "right now"? "Today"? "This week"? "This month"???? Eveybody can (and must) fill this in as he/she feels it works for him/her. That's difficult at times, but then again...that's also what makes GTD so strong. If DA would say "anything you don't work on this week should go to SDMB, then for some people it would work, but for others it wouldn't.

                            Myriam

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by mthar1 View Post
                              As I understand it, a NA is something that I am committed to moving forward between now and my next weekly review, given the chance of doing so.

                              ....

                              Hope that makes sense...

                              Oh, and if I ever were to end up with empty (or even close to empty) NA lists, I will most certainly simply do an early weekly review and get my lists filled up again. To me that isn't even close to being a problem.
                              Thanks, mthar1. I re-read your post a number of times, and at first I thought you
                              were contradicting yourself, but finally I "got" it and it helped me clarify the
                              distinction between next-action and someday/maybe.

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