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Deciding which Next Action to do

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  • Deciding which Next Action to do


    I've just read GTD over the last month and have been trying to implement the system. I identify and capture my desired outcomes (projects), and capture my Next Actions.

    When I'm in the middle of doing one of my Next Actions, a part of my mind is worrying if I'm doing the right next action. Obviously this is not the 'mind like water' state I'm aiming for!

    I was just wondering if any of you have experienced and/or resolved this problem?

    Best regards,


  • #2

    David says that selection of the Next Action should be based on intuition. But intuition works if you did your homework and decided what in life is important for you (50000 down to 10000-feet levels).


    • #3
      Re: Intuition.

      Originally posted by TesTeq
      But intuition works if you did your homework and decided what in life is important for you.
      Yes, and that means that you have to set your priorities before you start to work.


      • #4
        I have come to the conclusion that provided you are confident that you have lined up your " incompletions", then after completing your chosen next action , you can take a birds-eye view and choose intuitively what your next action is or could be.You can change direction at any moment and still feel satisfied or reassured that your chosen action is the right one for you to take at that moment in time .



        • #5
          "How-to" prioritize next actions?

          The Important Things

          Last week a client asked how they could more accurately prioritize their work "ahead of time." After a short conversation, I understood she wanted to have a very short list that would stay current through the day, "no matter what interruptions" showed up.

          In order to work on "the most important thing," I specifically address three topics:


          Priotization takes place moment to moment. At ten thirty on Tuesday my attention might be on one of dozens of things. My energy may be low because I traveled all day on Monday. My intention could be to work that thing I "think" I should complete.

          In the GTD seminar, participants practice a methodolgy to identify, define and capture all the things they have attention on (eg: their priorities). When this inventory is complete - and it usually takes 1-3 days to get it ALL - it's much easier to manage the flow of work via your energy and intentions.

          Create your entire list of open loops, next actions, and projects and next Tuesday at 10:30 pick the one that:

          You have attention on; and
          You have energy to work on; and
          You have an intention to complete.


          • #6
            Re: Deciding which Next Action to do

            Originally posted by rangi500
            in the middle of doing one of my Next Actions
            a part of my mind
            You're an acrobat on the first ladder of GTD: not only your action is cut in halves, but your mind is cut in parts too
            Originally posted by rangi500
            When I'm doing this I'm worrying if that
            When this sort of thought occurs to me, I take it as a symptom of some still unveiled open loop : if I worry it means .
            • • I haven't so well processed,
              • or even, some important stuff was still not collected
            So I take a note of what is worrying me at the moment. To be sure to process the problem at my next review : middle or end of day. This already brings a bit of relief: I pinned my worry or paper, and I have a soon to come meeting with myself about it. Less than 2 minutes. It frees me for the last half of what I'm doing.

            If ideas come meanwhile (worries come often again like wasps); I append it in my note but not try to solve now. I have a review planned. Focus on what I'm doing (unless that worry is stressing to a real anxiety, in which case stop and breathe!)

            Now, some questions that help (well, they happen to help me):

            The task you are doing :
            Have you already completed the First Action you started with ?
            • You may switch to where your intuition is now calling you.
            Can your task be split in two halves, or more ?
            • Then next review, scrutinize your lists for real physical next actions (and not global tasks) : alike in ancient plays the five units rule (time unit, place unit, focus unit, ressource unit, physical action unit).
            Is the current task not inspiring and your worry born from some hidden strategy to procastinate the other half ?
            • Then the previous, plus some public comitment for the step you wnat to achieve, plus some reward in term of pleasure to follow in your schedule.
            Maybe you're right to feel you're wrong : is what you're doing really of your level ?
            • Then you have to better process and organise what really belongs to your role, what should be delegated to others.
            Or there is no urgency at all ?
            • Then your process you should have differed it behind more demanding commitments.
            Are you now really out of condition for any productivity on the task ?
            • Then, like for anxiety, stop. But know you have a serious problem with yourself, and your child must have a stiff negociation with your parent tonite to settle a better adult behaviour (as they spoke in TA)
            Isn't rather that your body is simply asking for a bit of relax ?
            • Then grant it a pause, or muse for a while with other short actions you have on your plate that will be as a physical breack.

            Your worry :
            Would you say it is rather a feeling that is stressing you ?
            • Then refocus on the (intermediate) outcome and visualise how you'll feel in some minutes when you'll have completed your step.
            Is your worry ...

            Well, I'm not writing a book, and lend the pen to others
            And, half this post, I'm worrying if I'm right to write so long and so late,


            • #7
              When I'm in the middle of doing one of my Next Actions, a part of my mind is worrying if I'm doing the right next action. Obviously this is not the 'mind like water' state I'm aiming for!

              Context. Where you are, the time of day, and what resources are available to you at any give moment will help narrow your NAs to what to can do, and not worry about what you can't do, or "should" do.

              If you're flying on a plane, it makes more sense to outline a proposal or read a book than worrying about email you can't get to until you're back on the ground.

              If you're at a computer, it helps to have and action list for everything you need to do that can only be done at the computer: email, document editing, web research, burning and ripping CDs, etc. So create context lists for @home, @car, @computer, @anywhere, @ChuckECheese, or what-have-you.

              I respectfully disagree with focusing only on the Important Things. The need to write your first novel doesn't eliminate your need to feed your cat, so the couple of minutes you spend feeding your cat will eliminate an open loop that got between you and your novel.

              By the way, there's no such thing as the "right" action except what you decide. Making a decision work is more important than making the right decision.


              • #8
                Honesty is the key.

                In my opinion "honesty is the key". GTD requires keeping promises and not cheating yourself. Procrastination is the effect of lack of honesty and inability to face the truth.