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  • Next actions that take a long time

    Hi everyone,
    I was wondering if anyone had some thoughts on how to track or organize next actions that are ongoing. For example, Write report. You have all the information, you've outlined the report, you've done all the ground work. Now you have to sit down and write the thing. This will take you at least a week of 3-4 hours a day of writing. Further, you cannot break it up into drafts (ie NAs: Write draft #1. Review draft #1. Write draft #2. etc) This often true for me when it comes to writing, but is also true with many of my other projects or next actions. Now, I just let the action sit on my list until it is completely done. However, this gives me no "reward" or "win" for my interim projects.

    Any ideas?

  • #2
    Also repeating items

    Sorry I didn't mention this before, but I am also having trouble with repeating items. I find I have 2 kinds of repeating items in my NAs:

    One is practice. In other words, do it. Then do it again. Then do it again. Then do it again ad nauseum until I can do it right/well. Then the NA of Do it remains on my next action list until I acheive proficiency, which can be a very long time. Again, no "win" here, or record of the progress I have made.

    The other is regular repeating tasks. For example, go to costco, pick up dry cleaning, etc. This tasks are not projects by themselves and therefore have no placeholder on the project list. And they do not necessarily occur at regular intervals (which makes it difficult to put them on a weekly checklist) but may be time specific. ie Go to costco before I run out of toilet paper.

    All suggestions are appreciated!!!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Neuroist,

      I think "Write draft #1" as an NA is probably too big and needs to be broken down into smaller chunks. You might consider
      -Identify major themes for each section
      -Identify own position on topic
      -Draft headings draft & break into sections
      -organise research for each section
      -identify gaps in research
      -Write Opening section
      -Write Body Section
      -Write Closing
      -Write recommendations

      It will depend on what type of report you are writing as to how much detail you have to go into and how many steps you will need to take
      but I think you get the drift.

      Do you go to CostCo on the same day each week? If you do then drop it on your calendar as its a NA that has to happen on a certain day.
      If you want to remind yourself to get something the next time you are at Costco then create an @Costco list and add items to it as you think of them then grab the list before you go out.

      The adhoc ones like pickup dry cleaning you can add directly to your calendar on the day the dry cleaner says your clothes will be ready, or to an @Jobs - Out & About list.

      The practice one is a little trickier. Do you have goals short and long term for whatever it is you are practising? Are you practising for enjoyment? or is your practice 'mediation'? The rason you practice will really dictate how you handle the regular calendaring of what you need to do. If you'd like to post a bit more detail in this thread I'm sure someone will have some good advice for you!

      Cheers.

      Comment


      • #4
        For the on-going and time-intensive next actions, like writing or reading large amounts, I've found it helpful to think of time as a context.

        I try to spend at least xxx minutes a day on the project. I find I'm more productive if I set a modest time goal--then I can both feel good when I put in even more work and also not feel like I've failed to "do my time" very often.

        I find that I get more done in 2 intense 45 minute sessions than I do working more haphazardly and distractedly for much longer.

        I also tend to underestimate how long things take, so as I focus on putting in the quality hours of work I am getting a better sense of how long things really take. Somehow, I can both do more in 15 minutes than I tend to think, but also the total project still tends to take longer than I thought it would when I started.

        Is writing reports something you have to do on a regular basis? If so, you might just resign yourself to spending a dedicated hour or two, daily or on certain days, in perpetuum. It may sound depressing, but it's really just a context list where you put yourself in your "writing" context on a regular basis and work on whatever actions are on the "to write" list.

        Comment


        • #5
          I was wondering if anyone had some thoughts on how to track or organize next actions that are ongoing. For example, Write report. You have all the information, you've outlined the report, you've done all the ground work. Now you have to sit down and write the thing. This will take you at least a week of 3-4 hours a day of writing. Further, you cannot break it up into drafts (ie NAs: Write draft #1. Review draft #1. Write draft #2. etc)

          The resistant part of your brain implicitly understands that you're conflating next actions with projects, and you can't "do" a project. In the above example a next action would be something like "Start first draft" if you haven't started page 1, or "Continue page x of report" if that's where you left off yesterday. "Write draft" is just overwhelming; "continue page 24" is actionable.

          This often true for me when it comes to writing, but is also true with many of my other projects or next actions. Now, I just let the action sit on my list until it is completely done.

          The trick is to narrow the scope of the action to something authentic. Anything that answers "No" to the question "Is this actionable?" is by definition not a Next Action. So make it actionable.

          One [problem with recurring NAs] is practice. In other words, do it. Then do it again. Then do it again. Then do it again ad nauseum until I can do it right/well. Then the NA of Do it remains on my next action list until I acheive proficiency, which can be a very long time. Again, no "win" here, or record of the progress I have made.

          The only way I've found out of this rut is to turn rote practice into a learning project: find a book or a class on the thing you're practicing to work through so that your perpective on the practice is being stimulated with new information or a new environment. It sometimes helps to add the practice to your weekly review so that you explicitly spend time analyzing the current state of your practice, what blocks you're experiencing, and what next actions to take.

          And then, there's always what DA wrote in Ready for Anything about times when he didn't feel he was making any progress in his karate classes: his instructor told him to take some time off from practice. Allen wrote that when he would come back to his practice after a break, it always gave him a renewed perspective.

          Comment


          • #6
            Thank you everyone. Your comments were very helpful, and I appreciate them very much. I will try to implement them and get back to you after a couple of weeks.
            Cheers!

            Comment

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