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Next action on vague projects?

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  • Next action on vague projects?

    I'm back on the GTD bandwagon and running into an issue I've had in the past. I have a couple projects on my list that involve areas of focus I know I want to work on. For example, I used to have a very serious magic hobby, and still occasionally dabble in it. I think I would like to be more involved in it, but I'm not sure in what way. The only project I can think of is "Clarify magic goals" or "Do something with magic". But what's the next action? The only thing I can come up with is "brainstorm possible next actions for magic area of focus". What do you do with nebulous projects like this?

  • #2
    I wonder if you need to create a project at all. It's OK to go directly from Area of Focus (where your hobby lives) to Next Action.

    So to help you clarify a Next Action--If you were doing something about this hobby you love, what would we physically, visibly see you doing? Something scheduled on your calendar? Buying a new supply you need? Pulling some friends together to practice on?

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    • #3
      You just collect everything when you think everywhere

      When I have an idea, I just put it into omnifocus. When you review in the weekend, you can think the idea if you have time to execute it in next week. I have "hobby" project folder, and "hobby ideas" project, some ideas about my hobby is put there.

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      • #4
        I could see my Next Actions progressing through:

        - Create document for brainstorming about magic goals.
        - Spend fifteen minutes brainstorming about magic goals. (Repeat weekly for four weeks.)
        - Create document for actionable magic tasks.
        - Spend fifteen minutes distilling actionable magic projects from magic brainstorming. (Repeat weekly for two weeks.)
        - Select one actionable magic project from list.

        That task gives you an actionable project, and then you start writing normal next actions.

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        • #5
          I think of project as something that should be done or completed. Do you want to accomplish something in magic? Any new trick? Then put it as learn new trick with a next action of find a book on magic on amazon @Mac.

          What do you want to complete at Magic area of focus?

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          • #6
            You could set a timer, get out your equipment, and fiddle around with it while
            brainstorming other next actions.

            If you mean magic tricks: You could practice by yourself some
            tricks you already know. You could make arrangements to perform,
            ranging from casually bringing a deck of cards when you happen to
            be going to a party, to advertising and getting things scheduled.

            You could invent new tricks while playing around with your equipment.
            You could read books about it or look for others with the same interest
            to meet up with.

            You could write notes about pleasant memories doing stuff with
            magic in the past, and review them occasionally.

            Basically: brainstorming next actions is a good next action, and
            you can think about what would help you brainstorm, e.g. putting
            on a special hat for that purpose (just to remind yourself that that's
            what you're focussing on for the next few minutes), or going for
            a walk if you think better that way, etc. Just "brainstorm" might
            not be that great a next action unless you know how to start
            brainstorming, e.g. "go for a walk especially for this purpose" or
            "sit down with a blank piece of paper" etc.

            Here's an idea: schedule in advance a time when you plan to
            brainstorm on a particular topic. Then, as that time approaches,
            your subconscious mind (or even your conscious mind) may be
            busily thinking up ideas to write down.

            I have a web page with some ideas, based on Edward de Bono's work,
            on how to brainstorm etc.: http://web.ncf.ca/an588/create.html

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            • #7
              Sometimes I decide I want to increase the salience of an area of focus: that is, I want
              to get in the habit of spontaneously thinking about it more often.

              I put reminders in places where I'll see them repeatedly. I might leave objects
              relating to the area lying around where I'll run into them, write the name of
              the area in big letters on my whiteboard, etc.

              I don't expect myself to necessarily do anything specific about the area when I see
              the reminders, but after seeing such reminders over and over again over a number
              of days, the area becomes more active in my subconscious mind and I'll be more
              likely to think up projects and actions related to it, or to decide to actually do such
              actions if they're already on my lists.

              GTD isn't just about getting stuff out of your mind. It's also about getting stuff
              into your mind (e.g. during weekly review). By clearing away other stuff, you make
              more room for the things you do want to spend more time thinking about.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by cybrown View Post
                I'm back on the GTD bandwagon and running into an issue I've had in the past. I have a couple projects on my list that involve areas of focus I know I want to work on. For example, I used to have a very serious magic hobby, and still occasionally dabble in it. I think I would like to be more involved in it, but I'm not sure in what way. The only project I can think of is "Clarify magic goals" or "Do something with magic". But what's the next action? The only thing I can come up with is "brainstorm possible next actions for magic area of focus". What do you do with nebulous projects like this?
                I've started putting stuff like this into SDMB, which gets reviewed weekly. That way I at least can trust that I will get a regular reminder that it's something I want to think about but I can carry on with my daily stuff without worrying about it, until something more concrete happens.

                I also keep a sorta journal which records my thoughts and ideas about these kinds of things so that at least I got them out of my head. In GTD terms I think of the journal as "reference".

                By the way, I've found that the process of journalling this stuff forms a kind of brainstorm in itself. In trying to put the ideas into words it somehow forces me to think the subject through, which on many occasions has actually led me to think of concrete projects and next actions.

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