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Feeling Dense and Not Getting It.

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  • Feeling Dense and Not Getting It.

    I have another post outlining my floundering around with processing. I'm going to go curl up with a cup of coffee and try to beat my inbox into into some sense of order But I wanted to post some questions so hopefully I could get some responses and feedback before I desperately need it instead of Staring wide eyed and confused when I get to that part.

    If you need the reference and project support material to do work on the project can that become the project folder or at least part of it until the project is completed or are you expected to keep these things seperate?

    Next action list- with starting a business there are many projects and many next actions for each project. The NA list though is suppose to contain only the NA not the next 30 actions for a project. This doesn't make sense to me to be bouncing from project to project knocking off only the NA for each one.
    Is it antithetical to GTD to visibly link projects to actions, I really feel like I need that focus. Would it make me a pariah to write an action list with the next 5-15 actions and stick it in the physical folder for that project? So that when I wanted to sit down and work on one project I could open it up, and work through the list?

    My whole mind rebels at not having my action linked to an outcome, what the reward or result long term for doing it is, and I'm flat out confused at only having one NA for each project, finishing it and not having another NA til I update my NA list and having to hop from project to project as I complete NAs.

    If only deadlined actions are suppose to go on your calender what do you do with things that will happen on a date but that you don't need to do anything about? someone's visitting in town, it's good to know when they arrive and leave, and I have things planned with them while they're here but the arrival and departure don't require an action on my part but I'd like to see them on my calender, is it anti GTD to pencil it in so I can see it at a glance? or am I trying to shirk doing daily and weekly reviews? if I have to go over the lists so meticulously daily I'm afraid it's just going to become another nagging worry in my head "do I need to go through the list again?" "what did I miss reading on my lists?" "did I review thoroughly?!?!"

    Also, in an ongoing schedule with very few if any hard deadlines is it antiGTD to schedule in blocks of time to work on specific projects or groups of NAs to give structure to the day? I'm floundering through borderless unlandmarked days. My entire life feels like highway hypnosis anymore.

    I thank anyone who has the patience to walk me through these basic questions and appreciate any responses.

  • #2
    Re: Feeling Dense and Not Getting It.

    Originally posted by Erin
    Next action list- with starting a business there are many projects and many next actions for each project. The NA list though is suppose to contain only the NA not the next 30 actions for a project. This doesn't make sense to me to be bouncing from project to project knocking off only the NA for each one.
    I do not think that GTD requires turning off thinking and switching to "dumb execution of @context list" mode. David stresses that you should use your mind and intuition to choose what to do next. Often switching from project to project in a given context is most productive. But sometimes projects do require focus and switching from context to context. So there is nothing wrong with that. GTD is not meant to force you to do things in an unreasonable way.

    Originally posted by Erin
    Is it antithetical to GTD to visibly link projects to actions, I really feel like I need that focus. Would it make me a pariah to write an action list with the next 5-15 actions and stick it in the physical folder for that project? So that when I wanted to sit down and work on one project I could open it up, and work through the list?
    Nothing unethical. I think many people do it this way.

    Originally posted by Erin
    Also, in an ongoing schedule with very few if any hard deadlines is it antiGTD to schedule in blocks of time to work on specific projects or groups of NAs to give structure to the day? I'm floundering through borderless unlandmarked days. My entire life feels like highway hypnosis anymore.
    I like to assign dates to EVERYTHING. I do not think it is antiGTD but results in cluttered calendar and your hard landscape is hardly visible. Besides you have to move undone items from day to day. It can stress you but I am motivated to do such action as soon as possible and not to have to move it again.

    TesTeq

    Comment


    • #3
      Hi Erin,

      If you need the reference and project support material to do work on the project can that become the project folder or at least part of it until the project is completed or are you expected to keep these things seperate?
      If it is project related material, it should be part of the project folder. When the project is finished, you decide what to with the contents of the folder: what you want to keep for future reference becomes reference material, the rest you toss out.

      Next action list- with starting a business there are many projects and many next actions for each project. The NA list though is suppose to contain only the NA not the next 30 actions for a project. This doesn't make sense to me to be bouncing from project to project knocking off only the NA for each one.
      A next action is a reminder of where you left off with a certain project. For me, they have a double purpose. (1) When I want to work on a project, I know immediately where to start. I do not have to look up mails, browse through my notes, ... . After this action, it is usually pretty clear what needs to be done next so I can continue working on the project; (2) During the day, you can have 'lost' time: you are 10 minutes early for a meeting, a meeting ended early, waiting for an airplane, ... . Those 10-15 minute windows that pop up during the day. It is not sufficient time to focus on a project and to make good progress. But it is sufficient to call the garage to schedule maintenance, review a the draft of a 2 page document, ... .
      For most of my projects, I have a page with notes/brainstorming results/next actions, ... when i want to work on a project, I refer to this page. When I only have time for 1 phone call, I look at my @phone list.

      If only deadlined actions are suppose to go on your calender what do you do with things that will happen on a date but that you don't need to do anything about?
      How I understand this concept is that it does not make sense to put all your next actions on a to do list for the day. You only enter in your calendar what is relevant for that day. The arrival time of your friend is relevant for that day, so you can put it on your calendar.
      By having only date-specific things on your calendar, you can easily see hwo much time you have that you decide on.
      (You don't have to be afraid: there is no GTD-police. GTD is a concept and it is allowed -eve necessary- to tweak it it your situation, preferences, ...)

      Also, in an ongoing schedule with very few if any hard deadlines is it antiGTD to schedule in blocks of time to work on specific projects or groups of NAs to give structure to the day? I'm floundering through borderless unlandmarked days. My entire life feels like highway hypnosis anymore.
      If you have no hard deadlines on a given day, there is nothing wrong with blocking 2 hours to work on project X and 3 hours for project Y. (I do this to keep me focussed, because otherwise I keep hopping from one project to another). If you have only date specific items on your calendar, at least you will be able to tell how much time you have left to structure. On Monday for example, I will be in Germany. I will arrive in the office there around 09:00 - 09:30; I have a meeting from 10:00 till 12:00, a lunch meeting and a meeting from 14:00 till 18:30. That tells me that I will have no time to really focus on a project. processing my mails, maybe a phone call, that will be it.
      On Tuesday I will be back in Brussels: no meetings, no deadlines. During my weekly review later today, I will probably pencil in that I will be working on project X on Tuesday.

      Hope this helps;
      br,
      beyerst

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Feeling Dense and Not Getting It.

        Originally posted by Erin
        Next action list- with starting a business there are many projects and many next actions for each project. The NA list though is suppose to contain only the NA not the next 30 actions for a project. This doesn't make sense to me to be bouncing from project to project knocking off only the NA for each one.
        ....

        Is it antithetical to GTD to visibly link projects to actions, I really feel like I need that focus. Would it make me a pariah to write an action list with the next 5-15 actions and stick it in the physical folder for that project? So that when I wanted to sit down and work on one project I could open it up, and work through the list?
        I think there are a number of people who struggle with this. It's one piece of GTD that I think misses the mark. As I understand it you should actually have a project list in your project folder (or if you use the GTD add-in for outlook in your "Master Project Task" item.) That list could be the next 10-15 Next Actions for the project. However, only the next action should go on your next action list. From a practical standpoint however, I typically like to have several next actions on my next actions list for each project. For example if I have an @call, an @palm (which I use for time with my Palm Tungsten T3), an @errand type next action for a project, I'll put all three on the next action list for that project... as long as none of the actions have pre-requisites. I never know when I might find myself waiting in line where I can make a call, or if my cell is dead or left in the car I can work on the palm...

        One of David's key points for me on project management is that you can't set future next actions in stone. Projects are much too fluid. There is no sense planning to the last detail the next 150 actions on a project when you might decide to kill or severely modify the project after action #3... Best to figure out the next 3-5 actions for the project and estimate key outcomes (sub-projects) for things further in the future.

        My whole mind rebels at not having my action linked to an outcome, what the reward or result long term for doing it is, and I'm flat out confused at only having one NA for each project, finishing it and not having another NA til I update my NA list and having to hop from project to project as I complete NAs.
        That should go on your project plan list or in outlook GTD add-in on the Master Project Item.

        Also, in an ongoing schedule with very few if any hard deadlines is it antiGTD to schedule in blocks of time to work on specific projects or groups of NAs to give structure to the day? I'm floundering through borderless unlandmarked days. My entire life feels like highway hypnosis anymore.
        I schedule blocks to work on things by project and or by context. It seems to work for me...

        Hope this helps...

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Feeling Dense and Not Getting It.

          As others have noted, there is no GTD Police. If something works for you, then it doesn't matter whether it would work for David Allen or not.

          Originally posted by Erin
          If you need the reference and project support material to do work on the project can that become the project folder or at least part of it until the project is completed or are you expected to keep these things seperate?
          I'd keep everything with the project. Otherwise, I'd spend my life looking for things.

          Originally posted by Erin
          Next action list- with starting a business there are many projects and many next actions for each project. The NA list though is suppose to contain only the NA not the next 30 actions for a project. This doesn't make sense to me to be bouncing from project to project knocking off only the NA for each one.
          Is it antithetical to GTD to visibly link projects to actions, I really feel like I need that focus. Would it make me a pariah to write an action list with the next 5-15 actions and stick it in the physical folder for that project? So that when I wanted to sit down and work on one project I could open it up, and work through the list?
          David Allen recommends sorting actions by context rather than project because it's more efficient to batch things like phone calls.

          But I don't think he ever says that you shouldn't keep a list of project-specific tasks. If you know what else you'll need to do, I think he would tell you to write it down instead of keeping it in your head. He would just warn you that having something on your main action list that you can't actually do yet is distracting.

          In my system, I can create both context-oriented and project-oriented views of my action items, whichever is more convenient at the time.

          Originally posted by Erin
          If only deadlined actions are suppose to go on your calender what do you do with things that will happen on a date but that you don't need to do anything about? someone's visitting in town, it's good to know when they arrive and leave, and I have things planned with them while they're here but the arrival and departure don't require an action on my part but I'd like to see them on my calender, is it anti GTD to pencil it in so I can see it at a glance? or am I trying to shirk doing daily and weekly reviews? if I have to go over the lists so meticulously daily I'm afraid it's just going to become another nagging worry in my head "do I need to go through the list again?" "what did I miss reading on my lists?" "did I review thoroughly?!?!"
          Again, there is no GTD police. Do what works for you.

          I would definitely put my friend's visit on the calendar. It's a date specific item that matters to you. You can't arrange an impromptu brunch with them if you don't know when to have it.

          The risk is in cluttering up your calendar with more tasks than you can possibly do, most of which don't have to be done on that particular day.

          Originally posted by Erin
          Also, in an ongoing schedule with very few if any hard deadlines is it antiGTD to schedule in blocks of time to work on specific projects or groups of NAs to give structure to the day? I'm floundering through borderless unlandmarked days. My entire life feels like highway hypnosis anymore.
          Nope, nothing wrong with that at all. I've got plenty of deadlines, but I'm self-employed with very little day-to-day scheduling. If I didn't have that kind of structure I'd never get anything done.

          Good luck!

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Feeling Dense and Not Getting It.

            You've gotten lots of great ideas already, so I'll try to add my comments without duplicating information.

            Originally posted by Erin
            Next action list- with starting a business there are many projects and many next actions for each project. The NA list though is suppose to contain only the NA not the next 30 actions for a project. This doesn't make sense to me to be bouncing from project to project knocking off only the NA for each one.
            Like jpm, I have more than one NA on my list for several projects. The key is that these actions aren't dependent on any other task being completed first. Also, you might find you need to limit your NAs, so as not to be overwhelmed.

            My work day, like yours, is highly unstructured, and very project oriented (much more so than my home life). I often work through NAs for a specific project. I can do this because most of my work projects consist of next actions in a single context, all of which can be accomplished at my desk. The benefit to working off my NA lists, in addition to taking advantage to unexpected blocks of time, is that when I reach a point in a project where I need to switch contexts to continue, I have lists available for things to do in my existing context.

            Originally posted by Erin
            Is it antithetical to GTD to visibly link projects to actions, I really feel like I need that focus. Would it make me a pariah to write an action list with the next 5-15 actions and stick it in the physical folder for that project? So that when I wanted to sit down and work on one project I could open it up, and work through the list?
            Like I said, I do this. All of my project-based NAs start with a word that identifies the project. If you are working off a project list, though, just make sure your NA list stays properly updated. Depending on your implementation (PDA vs. paper, software used), this may or may not be difficult.

            Originally posted by Erin
            If only deadlined actions are suppose to go on your calender what do you do with things that will happen on a date but that you don't need to do anything about? someone's visitting in town, it's good to know when they arrive and leave, and I have things planned with them while they're here but the arrival and departure don't require an action on my part but I'd like to see them on my calender, is it anti GTD to pencil it in so I can see it at a glance?
            I put items like this on my calendar. I think that's fine, as long as you're still able to see the things that require action on your part.

            Comment


            • #7
              TesTeq- I guess part of my problem is I donít trust my intuition at this point. I donít think I actually have intuition about this stuff. I think intuition comes from past experience and knowledge which I donít have a base of. Your answer was helpful as a reminder that it should be reasonable for me. Amazing that I can forget thatís important.

              Beyerst- Thank you for being the first to remind me there are no GTD police. I am hesistent because what Iíve done in the past has not worked and I donít want to lose the spirit of GTD with excessive misguided tweaking then look back two months from now, blame GTD and waddle off to another misguided system. At this point though anything would be an improvement which isnít necessarily a bad thing, things can only get better I guess!

              JPM- good point on over planning. Thank you for the reminder that stuff happens, things change and flexibilityís important. Does having the NA in two places a context based NA list and a ďMajor Project TaskĒ list ever lead to confusion with having info in multiple places or does it keep straight by doing regular reviews and updating of Project and NA lists? Or am I easily muddled/overthinking this all together?

              Kewms- Thanks for the perspective calendars and time blocking. Iím doing everything on paper so I think at my big desk calendar Iíll seperat each day with actions and notes and on my lil calendar I carry in my purse Iíll just put actions so Iíll know for scheduling when Iím not home. Iím starting a homebased business so personal, domestic stuff and business stuff get all intermingled and make a mess not just with physical objects but with allocating time for each and I find itís easier to shampoo a carpet than work on a project that Iím not familiar and safe feeling with. Howís that for a reason for business failure, I was busy shampooing a carpet! Hopefully blocking time will help with thisÖ

              KO- thank you for the reminder that working off multiple NA lists, context and project based will require review and updating of both of them regularly. Iím having issues with most of what I need to do right now doesnít involve calls, errands, agendas and so on itís almost all at the computer so my @computer list is nearly a hundred items and my @calls list is only 1 or 2 items. I think right now separating by context for the most part just adds a level of complexity I donít need until I get farther along. Does this make sense?

              Thank you everyone for your time. I know now I need to develop more skills so that I can actually trust my intuition, that my action lists will most likely be separated rather than context at this point. My personal whatís going on calendar will have everything date specific whether itís an action or not but my portable planner will only have actionable items so I can schedule things without getting muddled about things I donít have to do but look like Iím suppose to be doing.

              I have so many projects right now that arenít maybe/somedays but they canít all be worked on at once, does it seem like a bad idea to create a bin on my desk for projects that I decide I most want to work on the next week at my Friday weekly review? Or does this seem too much like using the stack of paper as a nagging reminder to do it?
              Again, I donít know how to say thank you enough to the people who have taken the time to read and respond to my questions both with their interpretations and comments on GTD and their own personal experiences.

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes, it's very normal to have many more actions and projects than you can work on this week. How you handle them is up to you.

                For me, a maybe/someday project is something I'd like to do but haven't committed to moving forward. These go in a (paper or electronic) tickler file at the first date when I might want to reconsider them. I don't need to plan a possible July vacation in New York until at least May, so the flier with discount hotel information goes in my May tickler file.

                There are also projects that I'm committed to doing but either can't or won't move forward this week. I can't start an article that's due April 1 until I finish the one due March 1. Until then, everything related to the April 1 article gets thrown in a project support materials folder. I may glance at it during my weekly review to see if there's a simple near-term action (like a phone call or a quick email) connected to it, but mostly it gets ignored, too.

                That leaves the things I do plan to move forward this week. These should have specific actions associated with them, which go on the appropriate action lists. (And if actions don't exist, then I need to put a planning session on the same list.) I'll file the relevant materials somewhere convenient, but I depend on my lists to actually remind me of what I'm doing.

                So if your bin of current materials is just a convenient place to file things you'll need, that's fine. But each item in that bin should have a specific, immediately doable action associated with it and written on the appropriate action list. If not, it's "stuff," which defeats the purpose of GTD.

                Katherine

                Comment


                • #9
                  I've just finished reading the book, am brand new to GTD, and the one thing I've had the most difficulty wrapping my head around is how to manage the multiple actions of a project.

                  For example, I identify a new project and add it to my Projects List. Over time I will identify multiple actions that need to occur in order for that Project to be completed. The actions may occur to me all at once in one thinking session, or they may occur to me over the course of a few days. In order to "get it out of my head RAM", I want to immediately record them.

                  This is where I start to have difficulty. Only the true next action goes onto @nextactions. And so the result is that these various "other" actions are now scattered across multiple lists i.e. @phone, @computer, @errands, @office, @home, @agendas, @waiting, etc.

                  So when I need to determine what the true "next action" is for that project, I need to scan through each and every one of the above lists, locate the actions that apply to the project, and holding them all in my head, decide which one becomes the true next action!?

                  And some actions don't fit on any of my lists, and therefor I don't know where to record them. I guess an @misc? but that's probably too dangerous!

                  My intuition tells me that I'm just not getting this, or I've misunderstood some detail in the book, or the various web articles I've read ... and that's why I chose this topic "Feeling Dense and Not Getting It".

                  Gerry

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    No one ever said you can't keep a project-specific list of actions. Why not just create a system that lets you tag a task as belonging to the appropriate context and the appropriate project? If you're making phone calls, look at the @phone list, and if you're working on a project, look at the project list. Problem solved.

                    Since this is the third time in the last three days that someone has asked a very similar question, I'm starting to worry that maybe I'm the one who's missing something. Does the One True GTD Method really tell people not to do project planning, or what?

                    As for actions not fitting on your lists, that suggests that you've chosen contexts that don't actually match your working conditions. Create new contexts as needed. An @misc context strikes me as a disaster waiting to happen. For my stuff, most of the "misc" items are either errands, household projects, or stuff that I can do anywhere.

                    Katherine

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      gpercy- I'm back to being dense. How can an action not have a context that it occurs in? a tool you need for it or a location it needs to happen in?
                      Your problem sounds like the same as what I was worried about though. Having different project actions scattered around and wanting to get more NAs out of my head before I forget or drive myself crazy with them.

                      Katherine- It's not that the book says "don't project plan" I think the book assumes your coming to the table with some skills and knowledge that I lack like how to make a basic general referene file or how to project plan properly.
                      The great thing about GTD is how open it is, more a concept than a black and white handbook. That very wide open to interpretation that makes it so great also leaves me with allot of questions. Since what I've made up as I went along hasn't worked very well and now I'm putting a fair chunk of time and effort into this I'd like to get input about others experiences and additions they've made that have been successful or unsuccessful and why. I'd rather go to an extreme of "GTD correctness" initially because while the concept of it seems very natural and like it should be intuitive.. to me it isn't. I don't want to go back to where I was.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        OK, well I've just reread chapter 7 and recognized a couple of things that perhaps I didn't understand before.

                        The Basic Categories list on page 140 ... the 4th item down is called "Next Actions lists" ... with the key word being "lists" ... plural. I originally interpreted this as a single list called Next Actions, that was separate from the others ... @phone, @computer, @errands, @office, @home, @agendas, etc. (page 144).

                        I originally thought that actions were placed onto the various lists (@phone through @agendas) ... and then for any given Project ... the true next action would be relocated to the Next Actions list.

                        But now I'm thinking there is no separate Next Actions list ... @phone, @computer, @errands, @office, @home, @agendas ARE the next action LISTS.

                        Does this make sense? Or is my head going in circles?

                        To put it another way ... you either have one single Next Actions list for all your next actions ... OR ... you have multiple next action lists based on the context of tool, place, or person.

                        Is this accurate?

                        Gerry

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Erin,

                          My whole mind rebels at not having my action linked to an outcome
                          I'm new to GTD, but...

                          I think David Allen's mind would also rebel at that!



                          He says that STUFF is anything where you don't know these answers to these questions:
                          What is this?
                          Do I have to take action about it? (If not - if it could perhaps someday involve some action, maybe - put it in Someday/Maybe; if you want to save the info, file in Reference; if you don't want to save the info, put it in the Trash.)
                          What is the outcome I want to have about this... what will it look and feel like when it has become the way I want it?
                          If this was the only thing I had to work on, what is the very next physical step I would need to take?
                          Am I the best person to take this action? (If not, delegate it and file it in Waiting For.)
                          Could I do it RIGHT NOW in less than two minutes? If so, do it!
                          Does that action have to happen at a particular time? (If so it goes on the Calendar for that day.)
                          Does that action have to happen on a particular date, but it doesn't matter what time of day? (If so it goes in the Tickler for that day - more than a month out, in the Tickler for that month.)

                          He says that all your Stuff should go in your In-box. He also says you shouldn't move anything out of your In-box until you can completely answer these questions. Seems to me there is no way to do GTD according to directions, and wind up with anything less than "an action linked to outcome." If you wind up with less, you're doing your own cut-down mini-GTD and not actually following David's instructions.

                          If your outcome would take more than one step, then you have a Project. The Project should have an overall outcome that you want to achieve, along with a list of steps. Any step that has NO prerequisites - nothing has to happen first before you could do it right now - is a Next Action. Move it from that Project's list to your Next Action list.

                          All your Next Actions get listed by context.

                          Right now, you might have two dozen projects.

                          Each project might have some phone calls you could make. All the phone calls to make go in your "@Phone" list. When you are at your phone, make ALL your calls even if they are about more than one project.

                          Each project might also have some books you will read. ALL the reading items go in your "@Library" or "@Bookstore" list. When you are in the context where you can get books, you will be reminded of ALL the books you want to get.. not just the ones for a particular project. When you are not in the context where you can get books, you will have NO thought at all about books... because you trust the system to remind you at the appropriate time.

                          Each project might also have some things you have to look up on the Internet. ALL your online Next Actions go into your "@Online" list. When you are online in web research mode, you will be reminded of ALL your online research. When you are away from the computer, you will have NO distracting thoughts about what you will look up online. If you do think of something to look up online, you'll Capture it for your In-box, confident that when you Process your In-box you'll do it right away (if you can in less than two minutes), or add it to the list for the right context. Same for phone calls when you aren't making calls, or books when you aren't at the bookstore, or groceries when you aren't at the store, etc.

                          You should file all your reference material in alphabetical order. When you work on something, get that one thing out of the file storage, and put it back when you are done. Your mind has the resources that help you do the one thing in front of you. Your mind does not have to be distracted by anything else. Your mind can quit carrying around the reminder because the system does that for you. That makes your mind free to be creative.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Erin
                            JPM- good point on over planning. Thank you for the reminder that stuff happens, things change and flexibilityís important. Does having the NA in two places a context based NA list and a ďMajor Project TaskĒ list ever lead to confusion with having info in multiple places or does it keep straight by doing regular reviews and updating of Project and NA lists? Or am I easily muddled/overthinking this all together?
                            Okay let's look at a project by way of example. Here's a part of a project for some of the tasks you might need to get a business loan.

                            My project list migth look something like this:

                            Project: Business Loan
                            Sub-project: Determine Capital Requirements
                            * Call Keith (board member) re seeking debt vs. equity
                            Call Alan (accountant) to discuss working capital needs
                            Decide how much debt I'm willing to take on (equity)
                            Decide how much of my company I'd be willing to sell (equity)
                            * Review financials

                            Sub-project: Business Plan
                            * Brainstorm Business Plan
                            Research for marketing section on-line
                            Draft company history
                            Collect Management/Board Resumes
                            Schedule board meeting to discuss Business Plan and Loan

                            Sub-project: Secure Financing
                            * Call 2nd National Bank & get contact info.
                            * Call Dave (board member) re: questions to ask lenders.
                            Schedule lunch w/ VP Commercial Loans 1st National Bank.
                            * Call 3rd National Bank & get contact info.

                            My Next Action Lists might look something like this:

                            @Anywhere
                            Brainstorm Business Plan

                            @Calls
                            Call 2nd National Bank & get contact info.
                            Call 3rd National Bank & get contact info.
                            Call Dave (board member) re: questions to ask lenders.
                            Call Keith (board member) re seeking debt vs. equity

                            @Office
                            Review financials

                            Note that the project actions that have been copied onto the next action list. Have been denoted on the project list with an Asterisk... Once those items have been completed, I'd change the asterisk to an X to show their done.

                            Also the project plan is at this point incomplete, but further planning may or may not make sense until I'm farther along with the project. I have however identified most of the activity that I think I'll need to do at this point.

                            Here's an example of what I did to determine which actions were next actions and which weren't yet ripe for a next action. It doesn't make sense to talk to my accountant until I've reviewed my current financials. I'm also not comfortable making a decision about debt and or equity until I've talked to Keith about these issues. etc.

                            Now while I'm working my next action lists, I might call Keith and decide that for my current capital requirements, it looks like debt is the way to go. I'd mark the call to Keith on both lists as completed and review the project lists to see 1. Whether or not my plan needs to change. and 2. what additional actions can be moved to a Next Actions list. In this example, I might move

                            Decide how much debt I'm willing to take on (equity)

                            to my @Anywhere list and delete

                            Decide how much of my company I'd be willing to sell (equity)

                            from my project list.

                            If after my call with Keith, I had decided to seek equity financing instead of debt, I would have droped all the stuff about banks and re-written the plan to focus on venture capital...

                            Iím having issues with most of what I need to do right now doesnít involve calls, errands, agendas and so on itís almost all at the computer so my @computer list is nearly a hundred items and my @calls list is only 1 or 2 items. I think right now separating by context for the most part just adds a level of complexity I donít need until I get farther along. Does this make sense?
                            My guess is that most of the @computer list aren't truely next actions. Go down the list and see which ones have pre-requeisites (i.e. something else needs to be done first), and move them to either someday/maybe or to a project list.

                            I have so many projects right now that arenít maybe/somedays but they canít all be worked on at once, does it seem like a bad idea to create a bin on my desk for projects that I decide I most want to work on the next week at my Friday weekly review? Or does this seem too much like using the stack of paper as a nagging reminder to do it?
                            Do the same with your projects. Are there any projects that have pre-requisites. If so move those projects to someday/maybe. (It doesn't make sense to work on them until you complete their pre-requisites anyway.)

                            You'll still probably be left with a bunch of projects. So now what. Well this is where it gets tough. The more you focus on the less focus you have. It's time to determine what is truely important. Based on the time you have and the resources you have available, pick one project that is the absolute most important. Here's the really hard part. Move every other project to Someday/maybe. Work only on that project this week until it is either done or you feel like you can comfortably add a second project. I know this is a hard thing to do, and you may not be able to cut down to just one project, but I would get it down to the absolute minimum that you can. At least until you get a feel for GTD...

                            Hope this helps...

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Erin
                              gpercy- How can an action not have a context that it occurs in?
                              Originally posted by gpercy
                              Only the true next action goes onto @nextactions. And so the result is that these various "other" actions are now scattered across multiple lists i.e. @phone, @computer, @errands, @office, @home, @agendas, @waiting, etc.
                              Every action has a context. However, for purposes of GTD, it is only the very next action that you plan to do for which you need to identify the context. For gpercy, you are only making a minor mistake. Your various lists of @phone, @computer, etc., ARE your next action lists. In GTD, theoretically you could have ONE list of all @next actions, but most people would then have a list exceeding 100 items that would be very difficult to review. Therefore, DA recommends categorizing next actions by the context in which you would execute them. So in your case, gpercy, you would get rid of your @next actions list and instead scatter your next actions throughout your various context lists. When you want to choose which next action to work on, then you review the context lists for the contexts that are available at that moment.

                              Now for what I refer to as "future" next actions, i.e., those actions that you wish to identify for a project that are not your very next action, generally you do not add these to your context/next action lists. Instead, you put them with project support materials. Where you put your project support materials is up to you. You can have one manila folder for each project and simply have a slip of paper on which you jot down future actions. In my case, I have one task for each project in my Palm, and I put project support materials, including future next actions, in the note section of the project task on my Palm. If you like, you can add some of these next actions to your context lists if they are independent of your other next actions for the same project. For most projects, I list only one next action at a time and then I have a few projects where I might list two or three next actions. The more next actions you list for a project, the longer your context lists are and the more difficult they are review. Therefore, it is usually helpful to park future next actions in the project support materials rather than adding them to your context lists as you think of them.

                              If you are working on one project but think of a new next action for another project, you can jot that new idea on a piece of paper and throw it into your inbox for later processing so as not to interrupt your flow on the current project. When you process the paper in your inbox, then you can decide whether to add it to a next action/context list or note the idea as a "future" next action and put it in the project support materials. Since all actions have a context, even if it is @anywhere, you can identify the context as you jot the item down, or later when you move it from project support materials to your context lists. Since identifying the context is very easy, I generally don't note this when I put it in the project support materials. I just pick the context when I move it from the support materials to the context list.

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