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Look at this and give me some advice please

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  • Look at this and give me some advice please

    I'm still trying to master the Next Action concept. The following is a portion of the projects I currently have going and a description of the next actions associated with them. I'd like some comments on whether or not I'm getting the Next Action concept down (I am using the GTD Outlook Add-in):

    "Add ability to print house account notes" is a project. Underneath it I have a Next Action "20040528 - Create query for collecting notes". In the notes section of this Next Action task entry I have "Create Crystal Report for printing the house account notes" and "Create user interface for printing house account notes"

    I then have a project "Business names on the web use existing PowerFlash business names" and under this I have a Next Action "20040529 - Write function to check for existence of a name entered via the web site" and in the notes section of this Next Action task entry I have "Create UI for the web to handle results of business name check" and "Create error handling to deal with invalid business names" and "Create error handling to deal with duplicate business names".

    You get the idea. I try to come up with some additional Next Action items and I include those in the notes section of the Outlook task. Then, when the Next Action is finished I can go ahead and move one of the others to the description line and save it with a new date as the Next Action in line for completion for that project. Does this seem reasonable? Is there a way I can improve on this concept?



  • #2

    I think there are many people (including myself) who use the notes section of a task to list other actions that they know are going to be part of the project. Rather than complete a task and check it off, we simply replace the action in the subject line with a new action. The task does not get checked off until the project is completed.

    I add the name of the project in the subject line and preceed it with a "+" sign. I phrase the name of the project as a statement that answers the question, "I can check this project off as DONE when WHAT is TRUE?" For example if I realize my piano is out of tune and the first step towards geeting it tuned is to consult the yellow pages for the name of a piano tuner, the task would look like this: Look up piano tuners in yellow pages+Piano has been tuned.

    In addition to other actions that I know are going to be part of the project, I also use the notes section for info related to that project, such phone numbers of the piano tuners I find and notes from conversations with them regarding price, availability, etc.

    Throughout the life of the project, I keep changing the action that is in front of the "+." Here's one of the advantages: If I can complete an action and don't have time or energy right now to determine the next action, I erase the completed action, which leaves a "+" at the very beginning of the subject line. (In Outlook, that will even make that task sort to the top of the list of whatever context category it is in.) As I review the context lists (daily), any line that starts with a "+" indicates a project that has no next action defined.

    I have found that I can function without a projects list now, but that's a decision you would have to make for yourself after lots of thought.

    Hope this helps.



    • #3
      Next, Next Actions in the @Projects task

      I do something similar, with one significant difference. I have an @Project names "Install Swing set" The current NA task in @Home is "Clear & level space".
      In the notes section of "Install Swing set" @Project task is where I keep my further actions.

      'Clear & level space'
      'Order pea stone'
      + 'Spread & level pea stone'
      + 'Hose down the pea stone (remove dust)'
      'Build swing set'
      'Relax in hammock while kids swing'

      Actions dependent on predecessor actions are indented with a "+" below the predecessor.

      I prefer to keep these notes on the project since the project does not get checked off until the whole thing is complete. I like checking off NA's and getting the small victory of watching the list shrink and see which projects have not been moved on. I tend to review a couple time a week, so nothing goes too long with out an NA.