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  • Project tasks beyond the next action

    Apologies in advance for what feels like a stupid question, but:

    Say I'm processing/organising a task, and realise that once I've done that, there'll be an action straight afterwards (say, 'review notes', followed by 'email summary to my boss'). I'll set up a next action (or put it in the calendar if has to be done at that time) for 'review notes', but I can't figure out what to do with the second of those actions:
    - it's not a next action
    - I can't put it in the calendar - I might not even have to, in terms of it not having a deadline
    - it's not a 'someday/maybe' action
    - waiting for doesn't feel right at all - especially if I'm setting out a project with many actions, it would just become cluttered with tasks I can't do anything about right away
    - it's kind of a natural consequence of completing the first action, but surely GTD finds a way of recording it as a specific task up front?

    I can't recall this being covered in where I'm up to in the book. And apologies again if this keeps coming up.

    Thanks in advance!

  • #2
    project support and other ways...

    there are several ways to treat this "next" next action and all actions coming after that, that you might want to record all ready because you thought of them and you don't want to lose the idea (or because there is a commitment):
    - you might define "e-mail summary to boss" as a project and "review notes" would be the first action for that project
    - you might define your next action as "review notes (for e-mailing boss)"
    - you might define a waiting for: "WF: review notes (to mail boss)
    - you might start reviewing the notes and in that same flow send the mail to your boss, and not need to record that next action at all
    - you might store thos next next actions in project support material (and store it as "rough planning for the project")
    - ...

    Just try something (maybe one of these or something completely different): give it a chance, see if it works for you. If it does: do it again. If it doesn't: try something different until you find some approach that works for you...

    greetings,
    Myriam

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    • #3
      Project Support

      In the tool I use for keeping my context lists and projects, Omnifocus, I just put it next after the real next action, set the project to sequential and leave it. Then as soon as I am done with the first one the second becomes available with no more intervention from me. I go ahead and give it the appropriate context right then. No sense wasting any valuable thinking time by re-doing something you've already thought out.

      More generally that is what is called Project Support in the GTD system. YOu can just put it with other project support materials.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jduk View Post
        Apologies in advance for what feels like a stupid question, but:

        Say I'm processing/organising a task, and realise that once I've done that, there'll be an action straight afterwards (say, 'review notes', followed by 'email summary to my boss'). I'll set up a next action (or put it in the calendar if has to be done at that time) for 'review notes', but I can't figure out what to do with the second of those actions:
        - it's not a next action
        - I can't put it in the calendar - I might not even have to, in terms of it not having a deadline
        - it's not a 'someday/maybe' action
        - waiting for doesn't feel right at all - especially if I'm setting out a project with many actions, it would just become cluttered with tasks I can't do anything about right away
        - it's kind of a natural consequence of completing the first action, but surely GTD finds a way of recording it as a specific task up front?

        I can't recall this being covered in where I'm up to in the book. And apologies again if this keeps coming up.
        well
        Thanks in advance!
        I generally don't put such things on a list until I do the NEXT action. There is at least some chance that the "next next action" will not be the next action, as well as the possibility that I will write a better new next action right after I finish the previous next action.

        Comment


        • #5
          MNA - Multi Next Action notation.

          Originally posted by jduk View Post
          there'll be an action straight afterwards (say, 'review notes', followed by 'email summary to my boss'). I'll set up a next action (or put it in the calendar if has to be done at that time) for 'review notes', but I can't figure out what to do with the second of those actions:
          For a linear sequence of two or three actions in the same context you can use the following Next Action notation:

          Review notes >> Prepare Summary >> Email summary to boss

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for all the suggestions. Have settled on a method that's partly from me but picks up on a few ideas above:
            - when I start something with more than two steps, it gets an entry in my projects list (and in the notes for that project, I'll set out all steps I can foresee for now)
            - most important bit: any action requiring subsequent action that currently can't be scheduled or listed - and whether it's in my calendar or next actions - gets flagged with a certain character to remind me that it's not done yet, and to therefore schedule/list the next action (probably by reviewing the project notes)

            That helps me overcome my biggest worry: that I finish something, tick it off the list with relief, and then forget that there's more to come.

            Works well in Outlook thanks to automatic formatting. (Which I've found pretty useful in itself.)

            Thanks again!

            Comment


            • #7
              Another vote for the Weekly Review

              Originally posted by jduk View Post
              That helps me overcome my biggest worry: that I finish something, tick it off the list with relief, and then forget that there's more to come.
              I think a lot of people feel the need for "safety nets" in their system, and that's absolutely fine - I do it all the time. But I also reiterate the importance of the Weekly Review, which according to David is really geared towards the 10,000 foot, Project level. You can't "forget that there's more to come" if you are reviewing every project each week for completion or further action needed. I don't think the usefulness of the Weekly Review as THE key to banishing most niggling thoughts can be overstated!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by jduk View Post
                That helps me overcome my biggest worry: that I finish something, tick it off the list with relief, and then forget that there's more to come.

                Well this is what a projects list is for.

                You can tick off actions on your actions list, or calendar, but that Project title on the projects list is there as a stake in the ground to remind you that you have more actions.

                What I do personally is I don't always follow the only the next action rule.

                I use the Things app for Iphone to track my list and I have 2, 5, 15 actions dumped into one project.

                I like it this way because like another poster said you don't want to have to rethink that same action later on.

                Another note. Let's say that your email summary to your boss has to be sent to him by friday.

                Well in order to complete that action, what I would do first is to put that deadline down as a "day specific action" which goes into the "all-day" section of my calendar for Friday.

                So the last action with the deadline is tracked with a reminder.

                And because there are actions that I need to get done before this in order to complete this, I will mark them down also as "day specific actions" and put them into the same "all-day" category on my calendar.

                So "review notes" would be in the all-day section of my calendar on tuesday, "review summary" could be on wednesday, and "email summary to boss" would be on friday.

                For me this works because in my job there are alot of these where I don't feel comfortable putting the first next action onto just a next actions list, and it didn't feel right as an appointment, but it does feel right and fits in the day specific slot. At least for me.

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