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  • next-actions-list vs projectactionlist/projectlist vs projectportfo/review after task

    Hi

    I've recently read the book about GTD (in dutch).

    I've implemented the method and I've got 3 questions about it:


    Organize: put actions/tasks on next-actions-list or a projectactionslist.

    Sometimes when I process an item from my inbox, I think about serveral actions that have to be done.

    If I have understood correctly, I only need to write down the action that has to be done first on my next-actions-list. This avoids that the next-actions-list becomes too long.

    Where do you register the other actions?
    I think it's a good idea to create a seperate actionslist for each project that is mentioned on the projectlist. This is what I call a projectactionslist.

    When you do this for instance in Outlook, you can easily drag a task from that seperate actionslist and drop it in the next-actions-list during the weekly review.

    Is this a good way of working?


    Organize: projectlist vs projectportfolio

    Before I've started to use GTD, I've already had a projectlist which I call my projectportfolio.
    The problem is that my original definition of a project is not the same as the one that David Allan uses. I would call his project a multi-action.

    (Project: new website for the organisation I work for <=> multi-action: restructure a specific page of the existing website)

    When I'm putting all those multi-actions and projects on one list, I get a really long list.
    That's why I still want to make a difference between a project/multi-actionlist and a projectportfolio.

    Any advice? Is this a good idea?


    Do: when I've finished a task from my next-actions-list, I start to review the list

    I've got 10, 20, 30 or even more tasks on my next-actions-list.
    These are tasks that have to be done preferably within the week.

    I can order the tasks on priority (exclamation mark) and creation date.

    My problem:
    When I've finished a task from my next-actions-list, I'm confronted with all the other next-actions. I start to review the list. This takes time and is not efficient.

    I feel the need to make another shortlist with next-actions.

    Do you have the same problem?
    Any advice?


    Thx for helping me out.

    Best regards

    Tom

  • #2
    Originally posted by tom.depoorter View Post
    Do: when I've finished a task from my next-actions-list, I start to review the list

    I've got 10, 20, 30 or even more tasks on my next-actions-list.
    These are tasks that have to be done preferably within the week.

    I can order the tasks on priority (exclamation mark) and creation date.

    My problem:
    When I've finished a task from my next-actions-list, I'm confronted with all the other next-actions. I start to review the list. This takes time and is not efficient.

    I feel the need to make another shortlist with next-actions.
    Learning to trust your gut feeling about what is the next appropriate action on the list takes time, so expect to get better at this as you get more experince of doing GTD.

    Also, trying to frame a question that helps you focus on choosing what is the most important and not just the easiest thing on the list can be useful. For me, I often ask myself: what on this list would I be most happy about having completed (which is most of the time not the same thing as what I feel most like doing).

    And, there is nothing wrong with having a shortlist with just the most important things to help you focus, but if you constantly feel that your lists are too long, then maybe they are and you need to put some things on a backlog or on a someday/maybe list and take them off your active project and action lists.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thx for your reply mthar1

      Originally posted by mthar1 View Post
      Also, trying to frame a question that helps you focus on choosing what is the most important and not just the easiest thing on the list can be useful. For me, I often ask myself: what on this list would I be most happy about having completed (which is most of the time not the same thing as what I feel most like doing).
      I do agree it's not the easiest or smallest task you've got to choose. I don't choose that way

      But as you describe, I ask myself that question ("what on this list would I be most happy about having completed") every time I've finished a task and then check the complete list.

      You should ask yourself this question only 1 or 2 times a day and then isolate the tasks.

      Working with a shortlist is what I want to do.
      But I wonder why this list is not a part of the GTD-method?

      Best regards

      Tom

      Comment


      • #4
        working on a theme

        Hi, Tom!

        I like how you've differentiated projects and the multi-actions within those projects.

        I used to try to list out all of the actions of a project so I could just check things off as I went, but I discovered they never happened in the order I'd written down. And there were always things that came up later that I somehow needed to work into that vertical list.

        Now, for larger, multi-action projects (the ones my mind needs to work through early), I create a mind map (a sheet of unlined paper) with the name of the project in the center. Then I just fill the surrounding areas with the actions I need to do, roughly grouped, with room to add as necessary. This gets the actions out of my head while keeping my project and next action lists clean. And I keep the mind maps with the projects list. (paper-based system)

        I feel like my answer to everyone's posts is "mind map", "mind map", "mind map", but it's my secret weapon against the psychic clutter!

        Hope that helps! Glad to have you on Connect!

        Dena

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Dena, thx for your answer!

          So you're using a mindmap as a projectactionslist and only put the next action for each project on your next-actions-list.

          This confirms that it's a good idea to seperate those actions (next action <=> later actions).

          I've used mindmaps before, but they've never really worked for me.
          I need a hierarchical system, eventhough I do understand my brain doesn't work like that.
          I think the need for the hierarchical system is only a thought and that I just need to train the use of mindmaps.



          For the difference between projects and multi-actions:

          My example was maybe a bit confusing, since I gave 2 examples about a website.

          But in fact I don't mean that a multi-action is a subset of a project, but just something else.

          In GTD multi-actions are called projects.
          What I call a project is something big (e.g. replacing servers, construction of a new building, organizing a stock-exchange, ...)
          Normally this are things of which you know they will have to be implemented months or even years before you start to work on it.

          My question is: is it better to have to a seperate list for the big projects and a seperate list for the multi-actions (GTD-projects, which can be very small), or is that a bad idea?


          Best regards

          Tom

          Comment


          • #6
            Think of your next actions as bookmarks

            Looking at a next action as a project bookmark radically changed the way I view my lists. As long as you have on your action lists at one action per project that you can do whenever context, time and energy are available then your projects won't languish for lack of a definable action.

            If other action items for a project keep slamming around in your head the best thing to do is draft a loose list of them and store that list with your project support materials. When you feel that one of those actions is the best thing to be doing on that project then move it to an active action list.

            Sometimes I have 10+ actions that I could take now on a programming project (i.e. there are 10 parts of a system where I might have to make coding changes) but putting all of those on my action lists create a mess; I can't think about all of those moving parts at one time. I have to divide and conquer so I put them on a project backlog list in my project support materials. During weekly reviews (or other regular reviews) I bring at least one action to my active action list.

            Make sense?

            Comment


            • #7
              Yes, and yes.

              Hi, Tom,

              I think you're spot-on that many smaller projects (plumbing, electrical, permits) make up the larger ones (new building construction) and what you call them and how you divide them up in your system is totally up to you.

              It only gets confusing to us because GTD uses a different vocabulary for the same thing. A GTD project is a Tom multi-action.

              Does anyone know if there's a GTD term for the larger projects, like a construction project, that get broken down in to "projects"? What am I missing?

              Dena

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by tom.depoorter View Post
                What I call a project is something big (e.g. replacing servers, construction of a new building, organizing a stock-exchange, ...)
                Normally this are things of which you know they will have to be implemented months or even years before you start to work on it.

                My question is: is it better to have to a seperate list for the big projects and a seperate list for the multi-actions (GTD-projects, which can be very small), or is that a bad idea?
                What you call projects, the big multi-project items, I'd call Areas of Focus. So I might have an area of focus of Build the new Shop Building and within it would be all the projects to manage the concrete guy, the electrical, insulation, painting etc.

                In fact that is exactly how I did manage that specific project.

                I handle those things by having separate folders for my areas of focus and then all their projects under them. So I have AOFs for Sheep, Poultry, horses, orchard, general farm, house, personal development, each building we own in town etc.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Bingo!

                  Oogie, you have just helped me more than you know!

                  I've been looking for a way to deal with the difference between what my employer calls a project, etc. and GTD terminology. Areas of focus! of course! From there down, I can make everything line up!

                  Thank you, thank you!

                  The best thing about these forums is this - the joy of finding just the piece of information that makes a problem cascade into a solution!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PatinSC View Post
                    Oogie, you have just helped me more than you know!
                    Glad to have helped.

                    Now for the downside. You'll end up with more AOFs than the average person if you manage a lot of large projects but IMO that is ok. It just makes sense that way to me.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      But as you describe, I ask myself that question ("what on this list would I be most happy about having completed") every time I've finished a task and then check the complete list.

                      You should ask yourself this question only 1 or 2 times a day and then isolate the tasks.

                      Working with a shortlist is what I want to do.
                      But I wonder why this list is not a part of the GTD-method?
                      As I understand it, shortlists are not part of the GTD-method because for many people, things change too quickly to rely on a shortlist. The concept is to use your intuition and knowledge of what you have on your plate to make in-the-moment decisions. For many, the shortlist gets tossed out the window by coffee and everything on it gets rewritten to the next day.

                      Try using a shortlist and see how it works for you. My advice would be to not take the items off your NA list though. That way, if a phone call at 9:30 changes your entire day, you can toss that shortlist without worrying that you are losing something.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Thx for your many answers!
                        I'm also glad that my thread is giving some answers to other people.

                        @ellobogrande:
                        yes this makes a lot of sense. I'm also working with what I call seperate projectactionslist. During weekly review I'm moving some of those actions to my next-actions-list.
                        Again, I was surprised that in the book projectactionslists (or whatever they can be called) aren't mentioned.


                        @artsinaction, @Oogiem, @PatinSC:
                        so there's clearly a difference between what are called projects in GTD and something bigger. so I keep in mind that it's a good idea to have two lists for these two kind of things.

                        @SiobhanBR:
                        I'm not taking of any actions of my next-actions-list.
                        What I do is making a view on it. I've added a checkbox to my outlook-task-list.
                        During daily review of my next-actions-list, I check the actions I want to do that day.
                        In-the-moment decisions are difficult to me. I will read another book for that.


                        Best regards

                        Tom

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          No real difference for me, I only have 7 areas of focus for both work and home, and a work project that takes 5 years is still a GTD project. All the subprojects/active open loops are listed in my project plan, so I have a long list of next actions and that works fine. There doesn't seem to be any need to have differentiation between them, as all the NA end up on the context lists irrespective of how you define a project.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tom.depoorter View Post
                            yes this makes a lot of sense. I'm also working with what I call seperate projectactionslist. During weekly review I'm moving some of those actions to my next-actions-list.
                            Again, I was surprised that in the book projectactionslists (or whatever they can be called) aren't mentioned.
                            In the book, this is called project support material which can contain not only well defined next actions, but any information related to the project.

                            @artsinaction, @Oogiem, @PatinSC:
                            so there's clearly a difference between what are called projects in GTD and something bigger. so I keep in mind that it's a good idea to have two lists for these two kind of things.
                            Yes, and the rest of the horizons of focus extend higher, and having separate lists for that too is also very helpful.

                            But I would also add that there isn't, as I understand it, anything wrong with having projects containing other (sub)projects. After all, there is a difference in the definitions of project and area of focus that is not simply that of time frame or scope.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Hi

                              I've read the e-book "Zen-to-Done" written by Leo Babauta.
                              His method is a light version of GTD, mixed with some of the "7 habits of Succesful People" of Stephen Covey.

                              In his book he explains that long next-actions-lists are a problem: the focus disappears.

                              Stephen Covey one of methods proposes that you select, during the weekly review, the most important nextactions that you want to do next week (for instance one for each day). He calls this big rocks.
                              He also proposes that you plan which big rock will be done on which day.

                              Every day you've got to plan your big rocks (the big rock you've selected during the weekly review + some others you didn't plan), which he calls Most Important Tasks (MIT) and some small actions, which he call small rocks.
                              This big en small rocks could be written down and a small to-do-list. This can help you to focus.
                              He also proposes that you start your day by doing the big rocks and end with the small rocks.

                              Best regards

                              Tom

                              Comment

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