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Question: When there are a number of next actions and the project is due soon ...

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  • Question: When there are a number of next actions and the project is due soon ...

    Hello all,

    I am new to GTD and to this forum. I have a question. - I've probably missed something somewhere. Please forgive me if the answer is obvious.

    When I process all my projects and list my next actions, how do I manage the projects that have a number of next actions that will need to be completed before the next review? - i.e. I think I read the example of buying a new lawnmower somewhere. I put that on my projects list and I might put 'research possible models online' on my @computer list. I do that and can cross it off. However, there are many more next actions that I need to complete before I have actually gone to the shop and bought the lawnmower. What if I need the lawnmower in two days time and my next major review of my projects list isn't due until five days. I can't wait until then to put the next 'next action' on one of my lists. - But maybe I've misunderstood something.

    I hope you'll be gentle with me if the answer is obvious! - I look forward to receiving your expertise and hope you don't feel like I'm wasting your time.

    Thanks everyone!
    EO

  • #2
    Good question!

    Originally posted by Eternal Optimist View Post
    Hello all,

    I am new to GTD and to this forum. I have a question. - I've probably missed something somewhere. Please forgive me if the answer is obvious.

    When I process all my projects and list my next actions, how do I manage the projects that have a number of next actions that will need to be completed before the next review? - i.e. I think I read the example of buying a new lawnmower somewhere. I put that on my projects list and I might put 'research possible models online' on my @computer list. I do that and can cross it off. However, there are many more next actions that I need to complete before I have actually gone to the shop and bought the lawnmower. What if I need the lawnmower in two days time and my next major review of my projects list isn't due until five days. I can't wait until then to put the next 'next action' on one of my lists. - But maybe I've misunderstood something.

    I hope you'll be gentle with me if the answer is obvious! - I look forward to receiving your expertise and hope you don't feel like I'm wasting your time.

    Thanks everyone!
    EO
    Your question is a very good one and I was confused on the same issues when I first started (over 10 years ago). I hope my answer is simple enough to help you.

    A "next action" really is nothing more than a placeholder for a project. Ideally, when you finish one action in a project, you add the next one....you don't wait until the weekly review to do that because it will really slow you down.

    You can also have multiple "next actions" going at the same time, as long as they are completely independent of each other. Using an example from my personal projects list: I'm working toward remodeling my kitchen. My successful outcome is defined as "Kitchen Remodel Completed". Three next actions, all independent of each other that I can take right now are:
    • Make a list of all the items I know I want to include in the remodel
    • Surf Pinterest for design ideas
    • Check Consumer Reports to vet appliance brands

    This might be a project with dozens and dozens of next actions before it's over, so I'll create a mind map (or a list) of all the next actions I can think of before the project will be complete. But I won't load those future "next actions" into my system yet, because I will blow a fuse! Those future next actions are called "project support". During my Weekly Review, I'll take a look at that list or mindmap and see if I'm ready to add any more next actions to my contexts lists at that time. But I ALWAYS make sure I keep at least one action step loaded and ready to go.

    Does that make more sense to you?

    Comment


    • #3
      Don't forget your nagging wife!

      While we are at it: make sure you use the Tickler correctly. If you want to use some digital tools to emulate Tickler functionality, that's fine, but get it going.

      You want your Tickler OR/AND Calendar to remind you of due dates and urgencies. The Tickler can be a good substitute for a nagging wife "honey, don't forget you wanted to do the lawn this week", it differs from the Calendar because you don't see what she's coming up with tomorrow.

      Comment


      • #4
        Keeping track of deadlines

        Thank you both for your very helpful replies. That makes perfect sense Barb.

        Can anyone give some practical advice on how to keep track of deadlines within the system so that you know what's coming up, know how many next steps need to be taken (I guess Barb's mind map in project support is key to that), know that you're moving through the next actions quickly enough and that you're prioritizing your entire list of next actions appropriately given the relative deadlines and ensure you meet the deadline?

        Cpu_Modern, could you explain further how you use the tickler for this?

        Does anyone else have other ideas?

        Thanks again for your advice!

        Comment


        • #5
          Hard deadlines

          Originally posted by Eternal Optimist View Post
          Thank you both for your very helpful replies. That makes perfect sense Barb.

          Can anyone give some practical advice on how to keep track of deadlines within the system so that you know what's coming up, know how many next steps need to be taken (I guess Barb's mind map in project support is key to that), know that you're moving through the next actions quickly enough and that you're prioritizing your entire list of next actions appropriately given the relative deadlines and ensure you meet the deadline?

          Cpu_Modern, could you explain further how you use the tickler for this?

          Does anyone else have other ideas?

          Thanks again for your advice!
          Hard deadlines should be on your calendar and making sure they aren't creeping up on you is one of the main reasons for doing a weekly review.

          Comment


          • #6
            Cpu_Modern, could you explain further how you use the tickler for this?
            I agree with Barb: Hard Deadlines, for projects, for milestones etc belong in the calendar. Of course it is vital to use the system once it is set up! Check the Calendar in the morning.

            The Tickler is good to manage the softer urgencies, so to speak.

            Let's say for example I want to get the lawn mown very, very soon, preferably the next day the weather is appropriate to do it. I will then put a note in the Tickler "Lawn? Weather?" for the next day. The next morning when I process the Tickler I get that note look out of the window and see: nope, the weather is bad and put the note back into the Tickler for the next day. I do so until I catch a day with good weather on that day I'll mow the lawn.

            This way the "Lawn? Weather?" - note doesn't clutter up neither my NA lists nor my Calendar. It makes sense to put it in the Tickler, since the best way is to look only once per day on that item.

            Comment

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