Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.
Managing a paper Next Action list: how to? Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Managing a paper Next Action list: how to?

    I just completed reading GTD and spent two weekends at work to implement GTD. I purchased David Allen Co's Implementation Guide and the System Guides to support the implementation and my understanding. This week, 7/15/13, was my first week of daily reviews with the lists that I created. I'm using a combination of my Covey organizer binder - paper lists - and Outlook for e-mail captured next actions. I notice feeling "unstuck" which is a reason I implemented GTD at work.

    My question: I have a paper Next Action list in the context of Office. There are 16 items. I've completed 4. When the page is full, I'll have a combination of completed and not completed next actions. Any recommendations of what to do with the actions not completed when I go to the next page? I can keep two (and more as I go) pages. I could move these actions not completed to a someday/maybe list to clean up the Office context list. I could rewrite these next actions to the new Office context list.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts and recommendations.
    Gratefully, Mark

  • #2
    Hi!
    Congratulations on the start of your GTD practice – it sounds like you have really devoted your energy to setting yourself up for success!

    I use a paper based planner to manage my next actions list also so I can relate to the shortcomings of paper! I have some options that may work for you and some questions you may what to consider. If there are things on your Office List that can be broken down even further by context that could help minimize the volume on that list. For example, are some of your next actions actually calls that you need to make? If so, a list titled Calls, might be helpful. If you would rather not sort by context, it may be helpful to start the habit during your weekly review to “clean up” that list by creating a list of all current Next Actions. A clean, crisp list can help you with clarity and focus. You also mentioned moving things to a Someday/Maybe list. So another question for you is: are all the Next Actions things that you are committed to doing and you have the bandwidth and resources to move forward on them? If not, but you still want to track them, then it would be more appropriate for you to move them to a Someday/Maybe list to be energized later.

    Good luck and let me know how it goes!

    Nancy

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Nancy.Locascio View Post
      Hi!
      I use a paper based planner to manage my next actions list also so I can relate to the shortcomings of paper! I have some options that may work for you and some questions you may what to consider. If there are things on your Office List that can be broken down even further by context that could help minimize the volume on that list. For example, are some of your next actions actually calls that you need to make? If so, a list titled Calls, might be helpful. If you would rather not sort by context, it may be helpful to start the habit during your weekly review to “clean up” that list by creating a list of all current Next Actions. A clean, crisp list can help you with clarity and focus. You also mentioned moving things to a Someday/Maybe list. So another question for you is: are all the Next Actions things that you are committed to doing and you have the bandwidth and resources to move forward on them? If not, but you still want to track them, then it would be more appropriate for you to move them to a Someday/Maybe list to be energized later.
      Nancy, thanks for the quick response. Breaking down the office list is a good idea. Many of the tasks are organizational as a result of implementing GTD. For instance, I did not have time to go through a couple file sections to purge and label. I created next actions for each distinct file section (each section can be purge/organized in a reasonable amount of time). Those tasks are an Office context. I also have next actions that are to be done in Outlook (e-mail context) but are currently on the Office n.a. list as a result of the GTD implementation. This week I added mid-year reviews to the Office next action list as they are due by the end of July. The mid-year reviews action seems like an Office context.

      Your suggestion to "clean up" that list by ccreating a current list of Next Actions sounds like rewriting the actions not completed onto the new clean, crisp list.

      Comment


      • #4
        I limited to two pages when I was on paper lists

        I also used my Franklin-Covey planner with tabs for each type of list (projects, next actions, waiting for, someday/maybe etc). For each context, I limited my active list to two pages, crossing off completed actions as they were done. When I filled the second page, I rewrote anything still undone from the first page onto a third page. This gave me an opportunity to renegotiate that action (delete, delegate, someday/maybe) or rewrite it or recommit to it. When I got to the end of the third page, I rewrote any incomplete actions from the second page onto the fourth page and removed the paper with pages 1/2 from my planner.

        It worked for me but I have a lot of action items (each page would hold 35-40 entries) - your threshold may be lower and you may want to keep it on one page.

        Or perhaps you are better able to get everything done than me and you can just do everything that is not yet done and not need to rewrite!

        Good luck - paper is a great way to get started with GTD.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would echo the comments here. "Granularizing" (is that a verb?!) next actions and having (perhaps) more discrete categories is helpful, and I find 2 (3 at the most) pages of next actions before I re-write my lists is the norm. I find a couple of things: I'll know when it's just too distracting to look at all the highlighted (completed) items, because I'll start to become numb or resistant. It's subtle but noticeable. Also, until I get to that numb point, I really like seeing that I've accomplished a bunch of things - makes me feel like I'm on a roll!

          I just re-did my contexts recently and it's made a big difference. I tend to always go by how the system FEELS. Do I feel that great sense of relief, energy, focus & control? Or is something "off"? You'll find your sensitivity to that feeling gets more acute as you work with the system - in fact, that's one of the benefits!

          Comment


          • #6
            I use soft pencil and erase things that are done, moved to another list or no longer relevant. If I don't have time to erase, I put a check (done!) or an X (no longer needed) or a slash (moved elsewhere) next to them so I'll know I can ignore them for now and erase them later. Eventually the paper will get worn out from too many erasures but the notebook I'm using seems to have really good paper that can be erased many times; and I try not to press too hard when writing. Thick, soft paper is good, I think.

            I used to have a system that each week I would re-write one context list onto a new page, applying the two-minute rule and deleting or removing anything I didn't want to keep on the list. That way I didn't have to keep working with two pages at once, which didn't work well for me.

            I write the more important or urgent things further to the left, and the things that will require more time and/or energy closer to the top of the page, similarly to what I describe here: http://woodgold.wordpress.com/2011/0...-required-etc/

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by markbreen View Post
              Nancy, thanks for the quick response. Breaking down the office list is a good idea. Many of the tasks are organizational as a result of implementing GTD. For instance, I did not have time to go through a couple file sections to purge and label. I created next actions for each distinct file section (each section can be purge/organized in a reasonable amount of time). Those tasks are an Office context. I also have next actions that are to be done in Outlook (e-mail context) but are currently on the Office n.a. list as a result of the GTD implementation. This week I added mid-year reviews to the Office next action list as they are due by the end of July. The mid-year reviews action seems like an Office context.

              Your suggestion to "clean up" that list by ccreating a current list of Next Actions sounds like rewriting the actions not completed onto the new clean, crisp list.
              Hi again!

              One of the great things about GTD is that you have options. Do you have an @Action folder in Outlook? This can be place to put all emails that require a next action. When you move the email to that file, you can change the subject line to indicate the next action on that email. The caution is that you now would have another place to look for next actions. The value is that you have the email still there with a next action already determined. Open that file up and you are ready to work!

              Nancy

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by SiobhanBR View Post
                I also used my Franklin-Covey planner with tabs for each type of list (projects, next actions, waiting for, someday/maybe etc). For each context, I limited my active list to two pages, crossing off completed actions as they were done. When I filled the second page, I rewrote anything still undone from the first page onto a third page. This gave me an opportunity to renegotiate that action (delete, delegate, someday/maybe) or rewrite it or recommit to it. When I got to the end of the third page, I rewrote any incomplete actions from the second page onto the fourth page and removed the paper with pages 1/2 from my planner.

                It worked for me but I have a lot of action items (each page would hold 35-40 entries) - your threshold may be lower and you may want to keep it on one page.

                Or perhaps you are better able to get everything done than me and you can just do everything that is not yet done and not need to rewrite!

                Good luck - paper is a great way to get started with GTD.
                I appreciate the practical suggestion of rotating pages.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nancy.Locascio View Post
                  Hi again!

                  One of the great things about GTD is that you have options. Do you have an @Action folder in Outlook? This can be place to put all emails that require a next action. When you move the email to that file, you can change the subject line to indicate the next action on that email. The caution is that you now would have another place to look for next actions. The value is that you have the email still there with a next action already determined. Open that file up and you are ready to work!

                  Nancy
                  Nancy, I do have the Action folder in Outlook. I have not implemented the idea of changing the subject line to the next physical action. I like it. Very helpful. Mark

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hi Mark,

                    I use paper for my lists and would agree with Siobhan and Carolyn - I find that 2 pages is enough for me to need to rewrite the items not yet completed and start a fresh list. I often use this opportunity to check whether the actions are still relevant and are defined enough for me to complete them. If I have rewritten an action a few times, then it's a good pointer to take a closer look at why I haven't done it yet!

                    I also tried changing the title of the email to give me an action and using my @Action Support folder in my email but it just didn't work for me. I found that I needed to see the items on my paper list otherwise I would forget to look often enough. I know quite a few people that work with no trouble at all using the email folder contents as the trigger, so very much a personal preference thing.

                    Good luck with your implementation!

                    Sarah

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Nancy.Locascio View Post
                      Hi again!

                      One of the great things about GTD is that you have options. Do you have an @Action folder in Outlook? This can be place to put all emails that require a next action. When you move the email to that file, you can change the subject line to indicate the next action on that email. The caution is that you now would have another place to look for next actions. The value is that you have the email still there with a next action already determined. Open that file up and you are ready to work!

                      Nancy
                      Thanks for this. I hadn't known that it's possible to edit subject lines in Outlook. I did a web search and found that it's very simple, as described here: http://www.timeatlas.com/email/outlo...k#.UfIW0azfJ8U
                      This will come in handy occasionally when I move things to an action folder, though in most cases I'll probably just continue leaving the subject lines as-is. I can also leave the original subject line -- I'll probably come up with a convention for that, such as using square brackets or the word "was".

                      I have reminders that come up periodically in my paper system to look at my action email folders. For more urgent emails, I also put a note in my paper system for each email.

                      Comment

                      Working...
                      X