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What do you think about those next actions...

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  • What do you think about those next actions...

    Project - rnd media consumption
    Next action - brainstorm
    Context - ipad

    Project - written xyz article
    Next action - work from project support
    Context - ipad high energy

    What do you think about next actions such as brainstorm and work from project support?
    Are they real next actions?

    Let's say I got lots of notes in my project support about ideas and thoughts for an article. The next action "work from project support" basically means I have to check project support and then think about stuff and create something. Obviously it's not clear at all what to do. But could it even be clear at all anyway if your project is about creating or solving something?

    Brainstorm. Another tricky one. Basically means open a mind map and start dumping all your thoughts while focusing on the successful outcome.
    Seems fine to me but still would like to know what you think.

  • #2
    I need my actions to be more specific, and I need it to be possible to check them off. When they're inherently vague and open-ended, I still make them as specific as I can, and I make them repeating tasks of a specific time length, so that I can check them off. So I would change these to:

    "Spend half an hour brainstorming ideas for project" (Repeating, at whatever interval seems appropriate)

    and

    "Spend one hour working on article outline, using project support" (Again, repeating)

    When I get to the repeating action and I say, "Eh, I think the outline's good enough," (or "I've done enough brainstorming") then I would probably write another repeating action, like:

    "Spend one hour adding text to article outline."

    Gardener

    Comment


    • #3
      Interesting... Thanks for sharing!
      I personally don't see the point of defining time constraints for those actions. And then checking them off but also keeping them repeating. Sometimes I might work for 30 mins, other times I might work for 3 hours... It doesn't matter how much time I spend, only the result matters and all results are captured in project support anyway. The project itself is not repeating, there is a clear finish line. If the action is still basically the same why keep checking it off and then re-adding?

      (I do see the value in this workflow when you want to make a delay before working on this action again. For example house cleaning project repeats one week after completion. Obviously I don't want to start cleaning the house again right after it got cleaned and I don't want to be cleaning it all the time.)
      Last edited by supergtdman; 12-16-2011, 12:46 PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Here is what you think of these NAs:
        Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
        Brainstorm. Another tricky one. Basically means open a mind map and start dumping all your thoughts while focusing on the successful outcome.
        Seems fine to me but still would like to know what you think.
        The orangered is the real NA, right?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Cpu_Modern View Post
          Here is what you think of these NAs:


          The orangered is the real NA, right?
          Yeah, but it's obvious to me (that's how I brainstorm all the time) so I don't need to write it down all the time. But good point
          I personally think brainstorm is fine.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
            If the action is still basically the same why keep checking it off and then re-adding?
            These are usually projects that are important but not urgent. That means that I want to keep working steadily on them, but I'll rarely sit down and give them a week or even a day.

            If "Work on X" is _always_ on my list, but it's never my top priority, I become numb to it, and I may forget how long it's been since I put any work into it. It also clutters up my list so that I have to repeatedly scan past it when I'm not going to work on it.

            If I do an hour on it, check it off, and it pops up three days or a week later, then its appearance tells me that it's been that long since I worked on it, and that I should pay attention to it.

            Of course, all this is dependent on the fact that I use a piece of software that can delay and hide and show the actions in this way, without any appreciable work on my part. I can create an action "Spend an hour working on X" and set it to "start again" in three days. From then on, until that action is no longer relevant all I have to do to make it reappear in the way I describe is to check it off when I work that hour. It will automatically resurface in that three days.

            Gardener

            Comment


            • #7
              I often use "NPM" as a verb, since I know what it means very specifically with regards to GTD work, i.e. run the natural planning method on this potential project. This will include reviewing materials, brainstorming etc. During this opening part of a project, the timings are quite fuzzy as you say, but I usually put in a time duration that reflects how I'd like to progress. If it's something I'm likely to procrastinate on, then I might give it a quick 30 minute slot to get things moving. Otherwise I might give it 2 hours, to really get focused and clear, knowing from experience that I lose concentration after 2 hours on one topic. After this initial effort, I usually have some idea of what I'd like to do next, but i think it's perfectly reasonable to use expressions such as 'brainstorm X' or even 'do more brainstorming on X', since the latter conveys exactly where you are in a way that is meaningful to you and paints the picture of what doing looks like.

              So I may have an action: Start NPMing the Summer Holiday project. ( 2 hours ).

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                These are usually projects that are important but not urgent. That means that I want to keep working steadily on them, but I'll rarely sit down and give them a week or even a day.

                If "Work on X" is _always_ on my list, but it's never my top priority, I become numb to it, and I may forget how long it's been since I put any work into it. It also clutters up my list so that I have to repeatedly scan past it when I'm not going to work on it.

                If I do an hour on it, check it off, and it pops up three days or a week later, then its appearance tells me that it's been that long since I worked on it, and that I should pay attention to it.

                Of course, all this is dependent on the fact that I use a piece of software that can delay and hide and show the actions in this way, without any appreciable work on my part. I can create an action "Spend an hour working on X" and set it to "start again" in three days. From then on, until that action is no longer relevant all I have to do to make it reappear in the way I describe is to check it off when I work that hour. It will automatically resurface in that three days.

                Gardener
                Thanks. I see your point. This approach could be very useful for long projects.
                In my partical case of "written xyz article" and work from project support next action I want to get it done as soon as possible and in one sitting ideally. But if I can't finish it in one sitting then the action still stays there, only the project support changes. I don't get numb to this because the project is exciting for me.
                I'm really just wondering how other people approach similar things to see if maybe it could be tracked better.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by pxt View Post
                  I often use "NPM" as a verb, since I know what it means very specifically with regards to GTD work, i.e. run the natural planning method on this potential project. This will include reviewing materials, brainstorming etc. During this opening part of a project, the timings are quite fuzzy as you say, but I usually put in a time duration that reflects how I'd like to progress. If it's something I'm likely to procrastinate on, then I might give it a quick 30 minute slot to get things moving. Otherwise I might give it 2 hours, to really get focused and clear, knowing from experience that I lose concentration after 2 hours on one topic. After this initial effort, I usually have some idea of what I'd like to do next, but i think it's perfectly reasonable to use expressions such as 'brainstorm X' or even 'do more brainstorming on X', since the latter conveys exactly where you are in a way that is meaningful to you and paints the picture of what doing looks like.

                  So I may have an action: Start NPMing the Summer Holiday project. ( 2 hours ).
                  Thanks for sharing, this looks pretty similar to what I do too

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Do you use something similar to "work from project support" as a next action?
                    Or do you get really granular and process every thought about a topic into a (sub)project? For example clarified xyz, decided about xyz and etc.
                    I do keep those things in project support because they get outdated really fast and clutter my na lists. But if it's a relatively big decision to make then I use a separate project

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Generally, once I have started the natural planning method, I know how I'd like to continue next session. So I might have an action like: Buy a New Car - Continue reading saved web links. In the action's comment, I would save the name of the last link read in my list as a bookmark.

                      Sometimes it is not possible to pick out a bookmark to return to. Brainstorming is an example, since it may be a mind map and who knows where you'll start thinking when you look at it next. So my action might be: Summer Holiday - Continue brainstorming ideas.

                      I do like to add some words such as "Get started...", "Continue..." or "Finish off..." to give me some idea of what the end result might look like, however undefined in shape.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by supergtdman View Post
                        What do you think about next actions such as brainstorm and work from project support?
                        Are they real next actions?
                        Neither would work for me as next actions.

                        Brainstorm by itself is way too vague for me. I need a goal for brainstorming or it won't work. (side note, I rarely brainstorm I most often do outlines, I don't like or use mind maps and outlines fit my thinking style much better) I don't understand your project of rnd media consumption at all so I can't give you an example for that one. If my project is Able to work sheep through sweep on hot days I'd do something like Identify possible shade options for sheep sweep. I try to write my projects so that they show the outcome I want and the brainstorming or noodling style activities at least point me to a starting point. Now I might decide that after doing the above exercise the proper answer is move sweep under the tractor shed instead but at least I have a spot to start. I also often start a brainstorming style activity by listing all the reasons why the existing condition doesn't work and then try to find as many solutions to each problem area as I can. So in the above my first action would be to list what doesn't work now, no air flow to lambs when pushing ewes & lambs through sweep, mine belt flooring gets hot, no water for sheep in holding pen, no place for sheep to relax in sorting pens and so on. Then I'd move on to possible solutions for each problem and so on.

                        Work from project support is much to vague as well for me. If the project is xyz article written and delivered to B a suitable next action for me would be Review outline for xyz article in Scrivener or Complete 1500 words on xyz article in scrivener - notes in DT folder xyz start at main point 3. In that case my DT notes would have the references and anecdotes and interview notes I need to write that portion.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by pxt View Post
                          I often use "NPM" as a verb, since I know what it means very specifically with regards to GTD work, i.e. run the natural planning method on this potential project.
                          I tend to do the NPM as part of processing the inbox when the idea first showed up. If the idea is just going to be listed in my someday/maybe pile I just put the idea under it's area of focus and move on. But when I decide to make that a real project, i.e. make it active, I try to get past the reason for the project, the purpose, and the successful outcome before I move on. I can't even decide on a suitable next action until I know what I am trying to do. Which is why processing sometimes takes a while.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by pxt View Post

                            I do like to add some words such as "Get started...", "Continue..." or "Finish off..." to give me some idea of what the end result might look like, however undefined in shape.
                            Thanks, this is a useful idea and I'm going to implement it

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Oogiem View Post

                              Work from project support is much to vague as well for me. If the project is xyz article written and delivered to B a suitable next action for me would be Review outline for xyz article in Scrivener or Complete 1500 words on xyz article in scrivener - notes in DT folder xyz start at main point 3. In that case my DT notes would have the references and anecdotes and interview notes I need to write that portion.
                              The problem with "review outline" na for me is that it's too pointlessly granular in my case.
                              I have a project "written article xyz" and my support and reference material for this project is all in a single place and is organized by project name. I don't need to be specific about where and what to look at. I just open project support for this project and it's all there.
                              There are outlines, thoughts, ideas, decisions to make, things to think about, things to organize etc. etc.
                              I need to review it all to decide what's next, not just a specific note. Sure I can get really granular with the next action and write review outline or something else but it's just not going to be helpful.

                              The problem with "Complete 1500 words on xyz" action is that I don't care how many words I end up with. It's all about the meaning.
                              You see it's hard to be exact and give myself instructions like that when what you do is creative work. Creating stuff and finding your way without a map, figuring things out and etc. is not about following clear instructions.

                              I can make a next action "take a pen" but it's pretty much the same thing as "work from project support".
                              Because I don't need a pen with an iPad and it all starts from looking at project support.

                              Btw don't get me wrong, GTD works really well for me, it's just those types of actions and projects that I'm not not sure are organized perfectly. Maybe there is no way to organize them perfectly though...
                              Last edited by supergtdman; 12-18-2011, 05:40 AM.

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