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  • Scattered Actions

    So I have no problem with the whole lack of a distinct connection between projects and actions on separate lists. But these items make it confusing:

    -Some projects have "project plans" and "support material" where you are supposed to go for new "next actions", others don't. This creates confusion.
    -Some projects don't have actions but rather "waiting for" items (and in my case some of them are noted in my email where I can't see them next to the list)
    -Some actions are orphans and don't belong to projects at all

    If it were a one-for-one relationship. where every project had one next action and vice-versa, it would be no problem to keep track of. But because the relationship isn't one-for-one then I spend a lot of time figuring out connections and if, indeed, each project has the correct next action.

    AND...only when you're confident that you have next actions for everything can you work solely off of NA lists. Otherwise you might be working on something low priority and missing the higher priority NA.

    There has to be a simpler way. The next action concept is brilliant for moving things forward but it creates an organizational nightmare.

    (BTW, I use paper to manage Projects and NA)

    EO

  • #2
    I see things that I'm waiting for as next actions, just ones to be dome by someone else. I keep the Waiting For list next to my context lists so I can see them at the same time.

    I agree with you that having some stuff on email fragments things too much so all my next actions and waiting fors generated by email get transferred into my standard system. If my volume of email increases then that could become impractical but it's fine for me just now.

    Comment


    • #3
      Weekly Review is a critical success factor in GTD.

      Originally posted by ero213 View Post
      But because the relationship isn't one-for-one then I spend a lot of time figuring out connections and if, indeed, each project has the correct next action.

      AND...only when you're confident that you have next actions for everything can you work solely off of NA lists. Otherwise you might be working on something low priority and missing the higher priority NA.

      There has to be a simpler way. The next action concept is brilliant for moving things forward but it creates an organizational nightmare.
      That's the reason why the Weekly Review is a critical success factor in GTD. Its main purpose is to check if the dots are connected.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ero213 View Post
        -Some projects have "project plans" and "support material" where you are supposed to go for new "next actions", others don't. This creates confusion. EO
        When GTD talks about going to project support material to determine new next actions, it doesn't literally mean that you have a list of actual, doable next actions in that support material. It means - and TesTeq made the point in his post - you regularly review the landscape of your project, using the plans, support materials, etc. and then determine the next action(s).

        If a project has just a Waiting For associated with it, then through this same review you'll be able to determine whether you need to take any action to move it forward, or whether you're OK leaving the item on Waiting For. If you're managing Next Actions and Projects on paper, as you suggest, I would definitely keep a separate Waiting For list.

        HTH!!

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi EO,

          I also work almost exclusively from paper lists. Although I have a large volume of work that relates to emails, I keep all next actions, whether from email or elsewhere, on paper. I put a note next to the action where to look for the information related to it. Eg.
          - Arrange meeting for X on 14th April (Email A/S)
          - Research flights to Bangkok for XY (A/S)
          - Update schedule for XY scheme (File: XY Scheme)

          I keep my paper files in a "hot file" on my desk so that they are easily accessible.

          For Waiting For actions, I keep a separate paper list and, again, I use this list for all of my Waiting Fors, whether email or otherwise.

          As TesTeq says, the way to keep everything together is definitely to use a weekly review. I cannot speak highly enough of this part of the system. It makes such a difference when managed relatively consistently and really allows you to keep control and perspective on all the moving parts of your system.

          I hope this is helpful.
          Sarah

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ero213 View Post
            -Some projects have "project plans" and "support material" where you are supposed to go for new "next actions", others don't. This creates confusion.
            -Some projects don't have actions but rather "waiting for" items (and in my case some of them are noted in my email where I can't see them next to the list)
            -Some actions are orphans and don't belong to projects at all
            Project plans and supporting materials are not where next actions are located but are instead places you go for information to help you to make the decisions about what is the actual next action.

            Waiting for is a next action. I am waiting for an event from someone else. I just review them on a weekly basis in case I need to do something else, like call and ask for the info or send and e-mail or something else to move the project on.

            Single actions I track as actions in the context where they belong. So for example I have a single next action on my lists right now to write down water meter data in the water log book. It's in the inside by myself context.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
              Project plans and supporting materials are not where next actions are located but are instead places you go for information to help you to make the decisions about what is the actual next action.
              Yep, I never said all your next actions were supposed to be written in your project plans, it's where you GO for next actions.


              Waiting for is a next action. I am waiting for an event from someone else. I just review them on a weekly basis in case I need to do something else, like call and ask for the info or send and e-mail or something else to move the project on.
              Here's my point: When you have actions scattered across context lists, how do you know if each project has a next action. That means you constantly have to keep making sure there is concordance between project and action lists. And updating this once a week isn't nearly enough in the environment I work in (journalism/film production).

              This is probably not a problem if you're in an electronic system, or if you have very few projects/actions.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by ero213 View Post
                When you have actions scattered across context lists, how do you know if each project has a next action. That means you constantly have to keep making sure there is concordance between project and action lists. .....This is probably not a problem if you're in an electronic system, or if you have very few projects/actions.
                Well I use an electronic system so it's obvious what project any given next action belongs to. I do run a lot of projects, right now I'm working on 208 active ones. That is one reason I went to an electronic system. Paper was driving me nuts trying to keep it updated.

                However, for paper folks I've heard of some using abbreviations to indicate the project int eh action so it's obvious.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                  Well I use an electronic system so it's obvious what project any given next action belongs to. I do run a lot of projects, right now I'm working on 208 active ones. That is one reason I went to an electronic system. Paper was driving me nuts trying to keep it updated.

                  However, for paper folks I've heard of some using abbreviations to indicate the project int eh action so it's obvious.
                  Good lord, 208 projects! I suddenly feel lazy

                  Yeah, I'm thinking now that it would make sense to annotate my project list with the information like if the project has a "project plan", it's due date, if it has a waiting for, etc. I don't think I need to label each action with its corresponding project.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I suddenly feel happy...

                    Originally posted by ero213 View Post
                    Good lord, 208 projects! I suddenly feel lazy
                    I suddenly feel happy... but impressed.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hi, ero213.

                      I use paper lists. I have a lot of projects and a lot of orphan actions. Still, I have
                      a feeling of confidence that I have everything (or close enough to everything)
                      recorded in my system(s).

                      When I finish an action and erase it from my lists, then I think about whether
                      there are any next actions to do now that that's done. It's similar to the Pigpog
                      method, where you write the purpose or name of the project next to each action
                      to help do this.

                      I don't rely on Weekly Review to get actions onto my lists. I write them in when
                      I think of them.

                      Ah. If you're writing lists of actions in your project support material, then maybe
                      that's giving you the feeling that you've written that action somewhere, so you
                      wouldn't tend to also write it in your next-action lists.

                      A project can have more than one action in the next-action list. The only ones
                      to leave out are ones that can't be done yet because another action has to be
                      done first. These can then be added as soon as that action is done.
                      (Maybe put an asterisk next to the action to show that you need to
                      add some other actions when you complete it, if you wouldn't just remember?)

                      If it helps, in the project support material if you have
                      lists of actions there you could put symbols next to them to show that they've
                      already been recorded in your next-actions lists. I put a slash beside an action
                      in any of my systems if I mean that I don't need to worry about it there
                      because it's been copied to another system, such as a more appropriate
                      context list. This is similar to a checkmark for when it's completed and means
                      I can quickly glance at a list and ignore those items.

                      I think in GTD the weekly review is supposed to catch projects that "fall through
                      the cracks" where you forgot to write in a possible next action. You could find
                      a way to do this kind of review quickly and do it more often than once a week
                      if that's what you need. Sometimes I use a one-page-per-project method
                      and can quickly look over them to get an overview and a feel for where I am
                      and what the next steps are in each project.

                      Comment

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