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Can a project have multiple Next Action items?

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  • Can a project have multiple Next Action items?

    For a project, can you have more than one next action items? For example: I have a project called: "Hawaii trip". There are 3 next actions at the moment: 1.) book airfare, 2.) book hotel, and 3.) book car. These next action items can be done in any order at anytime. In other words, they do not have to be done in any sequence. So all three to-dos can potentially be consider next action items for this project depending on which to-do I feel like tackling at the moment.

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

  • #2
    I have several projects with concurrent Next Actions. I usually choose just a couple to move to my NA lists, though, to avoid being overwhelmed.

    Comment


    • #3
      multiple next actions?

      In my world, if I have a project with multiple next actions, it is either a freestanding project or a part of an overall bigger project. If it is a freestanding project I just put all the todos out in the categories- they have to be done and they are not dependent or "waiting for" the others. I don't want to miss a chance to do one of them. If the project is a subproject of something bigger, I do mostly the same, but I like to sit down, go through the Natural Planning Model, then put together a big project outline to look back at from time to time during review. It helps me keep my bearings and not get lost in the "tyranny of the urgent". After all, we do this stuff for the sake of something other than it self. I like to keep the end in mind. You can thank Aristotle for that one.

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      • #4
        Hi Jonathan:

        Well, you either have one major project with 3 sub-projects, or you have 3 projects. My question is: "is book xxxxx" a next action? Can you go online or call a travel agent and spell out exactly what you want? If not, what do you have to do first? - choose dates, fix budget, research flight availability / prices? The book has some very good examples of working backwards until you have something concrete that you can actually do now.

        Recently, I had to take an emergency business trip. The first thing to do was to call the airline and make a reservation. I decided that the next thing was to pack, then dash to the airport and on to the plane. Once I was in my seat, knowing what plane I was on and my arrival time, I whipped out my cellphone and made car and hotel reservations. That was the most logical order for that little project - unless I knew what plane I was on, other arrangements would still be up in the air (even if I was not).

        My experience is that once you start on a next action (something fairly mechanical - a gimme, or easy win), it becomes easier to figure out what should come next - so do it right away or bookmark it for later as the next next action. Micro planning does not necessarily all pan out - the big picture and the next action are all you really need - and sub-projects if the big picture is too big.

        Andrew

        Comment


        • #5
          Tracking Projects and Next Actions

          For a project, can you have more than one next action items?

          ...

          In other words, they do not have to be done in any sequence. So all three to-dos can potentially be consider next action items for this project depending on which to-do I feel like tackling at the moment.
          For what it's worth:

          Each "seminar" I deliver, is a Project on my list.
          http://www.davidco.com/pdfs/gtd_inhouse.pdf

          complete seminar for XYZ Corp. July 7, 2004

          Each time I "confirm" a seminar, I have a minimum of 4, concurrent, next actions, distributed into my system:

          e-mail client re: setting up phone conference (@computer)
          call Marriott re: [dates I'm staying for client] in [city I'm staying in] (@calls)
          call Hertz re: [dates I need a car for client] in [city I'm landing at] (@calls)
          www.UAL.com re: check prices for air travel [for client/dates] (@Internet)



          I'm booking out pretty far in advance (Oct/Nov) so, the calls to Marriott/Hertz are ok to make asap 'cause I can cancel with no penalty. I do the research on the web re: air, 'cause I may want to look around once every few days to see if the fare comes down (as it often does).



          There are probably dozens of other examples I can give; let me bottom-line my thinking:

          I need to identify next actions as soon as I recognize them. Once identified, I need to track them (on a Next Action list OR on a calendar as a "tickled" or "remind me in a couple of weeks" note). In my weekly review, I look over each project with three main focus areas:
          • - What did I say I would manage with excellence?
            - What have I done so far to prove this to myself?
            - What is still outstanding - and what's next - to make progress on that project?

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you very much for all the great responses. So it sounds like it is okay to have concurrent, next action items for a project.

            andmor,

            You are probably right that is would be better to create 3 sub-projects for booking the flight, hotel and car. I just did not think of it that way.

            For example for booking a flight: I can see a few next action items: 1.) determine flight dates and times, 2.) search major travel and airline websites for best rates, 3.) make a decision on which airfare deals to book, 4.) book tickets, 5.) confirm booking.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Tracking Projects and Next Actions

              Originally posted by Jason Womack
              In my weekly review, I look over each project with three main focus areas:
              • - What did I say I would manage with excellence?
                - What have I done so far to prove this to myself?
                - What is still outstanding - and what's next - to make progress on that project?
              Jason,

              Could you expand on your review list? I especially find item #2 to be intriquing (#1 and#3 are standard "outcome" and "next action" determination). How do you recognize or judge your performance on a significant project? Even from a technical perspective, if you don't have a historical list of completed actions to browse, are you just judging emotionally on how you currently "feel" about your performance on a project?

              C

              Comment


              • #8
                "objective" review of projects

                Hi,

                Thanks...

                I actually will scan my "project planning" as I go through the project list. For each project, I'll quickly review (of what I have collected/processed/organized):

                -Project plan in the NOTES section of my Palm Desktop organizer; and/or
                -Project plan in the manila file folder; and/or
                -Calendar-ed meetings/appointements/due dates ("How am I doing?" "Anything outstanding?"); and/or
                -E-mail communications helping complete/work on a project.

                Yes there is a "feeling" component to this, but only after I've objectively seen what's done and what's left to do.


                Jason

                Comment


                • #9
                  This was on the test (see thread "Exam time"):

                  A project is sufficiently planned for implementation when every next-action step has been decided on every front that can actually be moved on without some other component’s having to be completed first. (Chapter 3)

                  Should I give away the answer? Hint: I said it was false and I was wrong.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Taking multiples a step further

                    The problem I keep running into is my difficulty to organize/visualize multiple projects with multiple actions (next or pending to be next). I have a feeling I am overcomplicating, but so far it is a big stumbling block for me. I end up feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.

                    For example, I have about 60 projects on my list. At least 75% of them have reference materials, next actions, actions that require followup and belong in waiting for, actions that got calendared, etc.

                    I just started (again) on setting myself up for GTD and found that as in the past I am really stuck on how to relate my next actions and reference materials back to the parent project. I wind up with a structure like this:

                    + Projects
                    - Project1
                    - Project2
                    + Next Actions
                    - Project1: Call so and so
                    - Project1: Draw network diagram
                    - Project2: E-mail procedure to group
                    + Reference Materials
                    - Project1: Network components
                    - Project1: Staffing plan
                    - Project2: Software manual
                    + Waiting For
                    - Project1: Boss's decision on budget for hiring

                    and I wind up doing all this redundant data entry because I need the "key" of the project name to know what the heck I am working on for which project.

                    It seems more sensible to have a structure like this:

                    + Project1
                    + Reference Materials
                    - Network components
                    - Staffing plan
                    + Next Actions
                    - Call so and so
                    - Draw network diagram
                    + Waiting For
                    - Boss's decision on budget for hiring

                    for each project but that gets unweildly very fast because now you can not easily get at a list of all your next actions for all your projects.

                    Ugh. I am starting to think about doing up a relational database and building my own application but I KNOW that is crazy and contrary to the GTD mentality.

                    Please help stop me from shooting myself in the foot.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      trandell,

                      You might want to consider using outliner.

                      I'm using Trenotes.

                      It has multiple vieww, which allows me to enter data once and than review it:

                      1. by project

                      2. by category (e.g. - NA, WF, etc)

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