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  • Date or time specific actions: in both my agenda and my actions list?

    Hi, I'm a newbie on this forum. Let's hit the ground running with a question I have. Some year ago I read 'Getting Things Done' and it rocked my way of going about my various responsibilities. Mindblowing! However, there is one 'thing' I can't quite get hold of.

    It's about putting actions on my action list or in my calendar. Somehow I feel this makes me loose control of the big picture of the project. Let me explain.

    Suppose I have a project with a couple of actions. Some of them can be executed ASAP, some of the actions are to be executed on a specific date or time. So I put the first ones on my action list, the latter in my agenda. Now the very first thing that comes up in this project is a time-based action, so it's in my agenda. All progress of the project depends on it.

    My question: how do I keep track of the project if some of the actions are on the action list and some of them in my agenda? I used Toodledo as my GTD tool and in it are all of my actions. Shouldn't I at least record this particular time-based action in Toodledo? So when I look at the project and it's progress, I can find the status (in this case: very first thing to do, my time-based action). I like the idea of using one single GTD tool (Toodledo) to keep track of my projects. The entire projects. Everytime I put time-based actions in my agenda, I feel like I'm losing a bit of control.

    It bothers me and I can't figure it out. Any thoughts anyone? I would really appreciate some help with this.

  • #2
    Welcome!

    Welcome to the forums!

    It seems to me like you are mixing up Project Support with your Next Action Lists. Three things to consider:

    1. Any project that requires it should have dedicated Project Support. This may be a paper folder, a binder, an electronic folder or whatever you need to hold everything you need to know about the project. This is where you would record milestones, project plans etc. And this is where any action that you cannot yet do should be.

    2. Your Next Action lists should only include actions you can do now, if you are in the correct context. You referred to a project where a scheduled meeting (appropriately on your calendar) was the very next thing to do and everything else depended on it. If that is the case you would not have any actions related to this project on your Next Actions list. If you had prevously thought about potential next actions, you may have recorded those and they belong in Project Support as noted above.

    3. The project should be listed on your Projects list. This is vital for not losing sight of the project. Let's say you go to your meeting and then you are busy with all kinds of other work. You might be concerned that you now have nothing in your system (nothing in calendar; nothing on your Next Actions list). That is why it is on your Projects list. The next time you review your Projects list you will catch that and add the Next Action. It may be obvious to you what the Next Action is or you may need to review your Project Support material at that time.

    Hope this helps - any more questions, ask away!

    Comment


    • #3
      Wow, you lay it out in about 3 minutes and it makes perfect sense to me. Thank you very much!

      I guess it's all those fancy tools like Toodledo that get me confused. I really have a more clear understanding of GTD now. Thanks again!

      Originally posted by SiobhanBR View Post
      Welcome to the forums!

      It seems to me like you are mixing up Project Support with your Next Action Lists. Three things to consider:

      1. Any project that requires it should have dedicated Project Support. This may be a paper folder, a binder, an electronic folder or whatever you need to hold everything you need to know about the project. This is where you would record milestones, project plans etc. And this is where any action that you cannot yet do should be.

      2. Your Next Action lists should only include actions you can do now, if you are in the correct context. You referred to a project where a scheduled meeting (appropriately on your calendar) was the very next thing to do and everything else depended on it. If that is the case you would not have any actions related to this project on your Next Actions list. If you had prevously thought about potential next actions, you may have recorded those and they belong in Project Support as noted above.

      3. The project should be listed on your Projects list. This is vital for not losing sight of the project. Let's say you go to your meeting and then you are busy with all kinds of other work. You might be concerned that you now have nothing in your system (nothing in calendar; nothing on your Next Actions list). That is why it is on your Projects list. The next time you review your Projects list you will catch that and add the Next Action. It may be obvious to you what the Next Action is or you may need to review your Project Support material at that time.

      Hope this helps - any more questions, ask away!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by SiobhanBR View Post
        You referred to a project where a scheduled meeting (appropriately on your calendar) was the very next thing to do and everything else depended on it. If that is the case you would not have any actions related to this project on your Next Actions list.
        I would definitely have meetings like this (i.e. important project-related meetings) on my action list and put a copy on the calendar for scheduling purposes.

        Some calendar items (e.g. appt with the doctor, attend a school function for one of my kids, etc) would not go on any of my action lists.

        Anything that forms part of a project should be on my project list. That way my GTD list is not missing anything.

        Comment


        • #5
          Yeah, I've been experimenting with it this week. To me it proves essential to be able to track all project-related items (actions, appointments etcetera) in one place. So keeping project-related appointments out of the loop makes this one place less reliable.

          I now configured Toodledo to show me my next actions via a saved search (horizontal). For every project I have a dedicated folder, which is where I look for an in-depth view of each project (vertical). This is where I find all actionables and appointments related to that particular project.

          Originally posted by PeterW View Post
          I would definitely have meetings like this (i.e. important project-related meetings) on my action list and put a copy on the calendar for scheduling purposes.

          Some calendar items (e.g. appt with the doctor, attend a school function for one of my kids, etc) would not go on any of my action lists.

          Anything that forms part of a project should be on my project list. That way my GTD list is not missing anything.

          Comment


          • #6
            You certainly can do that but it runs the risk of confusing you...

            Your Next Action lists should ideally contain ONLY things that you can do right now, if you are in the correct context.

            There is no action to take with something like:
            - Attend forestry meeting on January 23 at 2:00.
            That belongs on your calendar.

            If you have to do something relative to the meeting (prepare agenda, review a documents, draft some ideas, etc.) absolutely put that on your Next Action lists. If there is something else you can do to move the project forward absolutely put that on your Next Action lists.

            You keep tabs on this by putting the note on your Projects List. This is where you would note that you've got a meeting to go to so when your review your Projects List you know you've got a plan to move that project forward.

            You don't want to dilute your Next Action lists to the point where as you scan them to see what you're going to do you find yourself thinking "That'll wait until after the meeting.", "Can't do that until Joy gets back to me." etc.

            The only factors that should derail your doing a well-defined Next Action if you are in the appropriate context are time and energy. That is, it's perfectly valid to say to yourself "That's going to take an hour and I'm still reeling from that last meeting, I'm going to do this easy thing instead."

            Comment


            • #7
              I don't know how familiar you are with Toodledo, but you can record any project-related items without cluttering the Next Action lists. That's just how I set it up. My Next Action lists (one for each context) do contain only those things that are actionable. I do this by means of saved searches. It is only when I have my Weekly Review that I look into the project lists with all items, both actionable and non-actionable.

              Originally posted by SiobhanBR View Post
              Your Next Action lists should ideally contain ONLY things that you can do right now, if you are in the correct context.

              There is no action to take with something like:
              - Attend forestry meeting on January 23 at 2:00.
              That belongs on your calendar.

              If you have to do something relative to the meeting (prepare agenda, review a documents, draft some ideas, etc.) absolutely put that on your Next Action lists. If there is something else you can do to move the project forward absolutely put that on your Next Action lists.

              You keep tabs on this by putting the note on your Projects List. This is where you would note that you've got a meeting to go to so when your review your Projects List you know you've got a plan to move that project forward.

              You don't want to dilute your Next Action lists to the point where as you scan them to see what you're going to do you find yourself thinking "That'll wait until after the meeting.", "Can't do that until Joy gets back to me." etc.

              The only factors that should derail your doing a well-defined Next Action if you are in the appropriate context are time and energy. That is, it's perfectly valid to say to yourself "That's going to take an hour and I'm still reeling from that last meeting, I'm going to do this easy thing instead."

              Comment

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