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  • The Next Action Item---I don't get it

    Ok...when I do one action item, sometimes I'm lost...because I want to go on and do the next logical thing for that project.

    Is GTD saying that I need to go on and do the next NA on my list for that context?? What if I knock all of the NA's off?

    Do I do my weekly early so I can figure out what my next next actions are?

    Or should I plan my projects out during the weekly--make a NEW list after I've done everything from ALL my projects?

    I get lost frequently. It seems like I should right out all the steps and then add them instead of figuring them out only after I finish one.

    What am I missing?

  • #2
    Me again.

    I guess the question I'm asking (after reading that ramble) is WHERE do the next actions come from?

    Only during the weekly?

    Do you update your lists without the weekly?


    I didn't really get this from the reading of the book.

    Comment


    • #3
      There are many ways to approach this. Some keep a list of projects and write down only the single next action for each project. When you finish a next action you can then and there write down in your next action list what the very next action is (you do not need to do that action at that moment unless it seems appropriate). Some of us use outliners of one sort or another and keep a more detailed approach to projects with several next actions outlined in advance. Part of the problem with discussing this in the abstract is that the approach is probably different for the project "paint garage" then the project "engineer corporate takeover of GE".

      Your next question will be to ask how people keep the projects and next actions associated. I don't know if this is in DAs FAQ list yet, but you can search old posts as this comes up frequently. It boils down to:

      A. various PDA software which is complicated but effective (I use lifebalance but I gather shadow, an outliner would work well also. This might work with just datetbk 5).

      B. titling next actions to connect them e.g. for the painting project:

      paint: decide on colors
      piant: buy paint
      paint: mask off windows.....

      and the standard DA answer which alas eludes me now (search and you'lll find it. Probably in one of Jason's posts).

      Scott

      Comment


      • #4
        I'm sure lots of people will take a run at this one

        When you work on a NA you should have the Outcome/Project in mind. You can work linearly through a Project until you hit an impasse:

        A. absolute impasse: you can't do the next action, period (e.g., you need to talk to Bill and Bill is not available, you called Bill and left a voice mail). You have to leave off the project.

        B. relative impasse: you could continue with the project but you would have to change context (e.g., go to store to buy supplies, boot up laptop to write memo, go to filing room to retrieve file). You then have a choice whether to change contexts to do the next action or to stay in the current context, check your context list to see what else you could do right now and do something. It's your choice - I generally go by priority and momentum.

        When to write up next actions:

        1. at the moment that you leave off a project (e.g., in A. above - @wf Bill to return my LM 5/14 8:30am). Pro - you are up-to-date, Con - you think you are up-to-date so you short-change the weekly review.

        2. when you do your weekly review and update all of your projects for completed steps and write the next actions. Pro - you have to do this part of the weekly review thoroughly, Con - you are not up-to-date for several days.

        I go with 1.

        Linking next actions with projects. The theory is that if you do the weekly review properly, the linking is in your head and you don't need complex systems. In practice, it's all a matter of what you define as "active". Some people have a huge number of active items and need more complex software. My take is that there are only so many projects I can handle in a week, I can keep the associations in my head, and I sluff all inactives into someday/maybe to await the next weekly review.

        Hope this helps. Caveat: it is not unheard of for people to have a totally opposite point of view from mine

        Andrew

        Comment


        • #5
          Weekly Vs Next Action

          What is Next Action? Let us say that there is a project at hand. Further you want to do something about it. The question is what is the next action to do with respect to this project.

          Answer: Assume that you have nothing else to do in this world now. You have time at your disposal and you can use it for this project. What is it that you would be doing to move this project forward. Write that down - for that is your next action.

          Weekly review is a different ball game. During the course of any week we sometimes are overwhelmed by things and there are a few papers that kind of accumulate on your desk, some loose papers in your pockets, etc., etc. The weekly review closely resembles the action that you did for the first time - when you started implementing the GTD - of collecting the stuff and processing it. The weekly review includes mindsweep, going thru your projects (determing NAs - this is just a part of WRs), higher altitude reviews, etc.

          Ashok
          www.zentechnologies.com

          Comment


          • #6
            NA's

            I think its pretty simple. If there is something on your mind that you cannot do at the moment because of time, location, access to tools, etc. its a next action.

            Just do what you think is most important at the moment, and if you're not sure what to do, you have a list of NA's staged to help you decide.

            Simple-minded Mark

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the help folks.

              I went back and re-read six chapters last night. Something jumped out that helped me.

              David said:

              "My Context list is like a cublicle that you work in. It's littered with scribbles and post it notes to keep me on track."

              And

              "Most people begin to distrust their context list when it becomes a daily to-do list, instead of a list of discrete actionable items needed to push projects forward"

              Those aren't exact, but they are close enough. Now I'm focusing on settling daily habits that predict those to-dos and that let me capture, grab and do them before they turn into things that disrupt my daily flow.

              A bit easier now...but still difficult. I'm swinging at it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by andmor
                When you work on a NA you should have the Outcome/Project in mind. You can work linearly through a Project until you hit an impasse:

                A. absolute impasse: you can't do the next action, period (e.g., you need to talk to Bill and Bill is not available, you called Bill and left a voice mail). You have to leave off the project.

                B. relative impasse: you could continue with the project but you would have to change context (e.g., go to store to buy supplies, boot up laptop to write memo, go to filing room to retrieve file). You then have a choice whether to change contexts to do the next action or to stay in the current context, check your context list to see what else you could do right now and do something. It's your choice - I generally go by priority and momentum.
                Thanks, andmor - seeing this written out was very helpful to me. I've found myself deciding what to work on solely because of my context, and then ignoring key things to do in other contexts (@Anywhere being a key example). When I have downtime to do those @Anywhere actions, the list is great, but if I don't really have that downtime, those actions get lost.

                Also, there are times that I've been overwhelmed by a project and knew that it had to be a priority for the day, and felt that I was stepping outside GTD to work on it. But I'm really not, I'm doing exactly what you described: working through a project until I hit an impasse.

                Thanks!

                Comment

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