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  • Next Actions Questions

    Hi

    I'm driving myself mad trying to ensure that I always have at least one next action on my actions lists for any given project. I know that this should be done at the weekly review but I'm afriad that if I'm not constantly checking that I have at least one next action for a project that only a small part of the project will be completed until the next weekly review when I find out I that I didn't have an action for a particular project.

    My lists are so long that I'm spending more time going to and from my Project list to actions lists and up and down searching for an action related to a project, as a result I'm not getting anything done.

    Does anyone have any tips on how to make this easier?

    Also, I'm wondering if I should determine all the project next actions in advance. I tend to do this for large work related projects, but should I be doing this for small home projects?

    Thanks

  • #2
    Next Actions in Projects

    Originally posted by leanda
    . . . Also, I'm wondering if I should determine all the project next actions in advance. I tend to do this for large work related projects, but should I be doing this for small home projects?

    Thanks
    Do what works best for you. If listing all steps in a project works, do it. You can have more than one Next Action on your list -- they need to be actions that can be done independently of each other, not dependent on something else being completed before that action can be done. Alternatively, you can make an outline Next Action list, like some do, listing all Next Actions in the necessary order.

    This isn't about one perfect way. It's about using the processes in a way that is most effective for you.

    Carolyn

    Comment


    • #3
      Try project codes

      I had the same problem. Now I assign a project code or number to each project and each NA associated with that project has the project code as well. I use the numbers 1 – 99 as my project code numbers and recycle them.

      For example:

      This is one of my projects

      23 Roof on house replaced

      Under my @phone list, I have the following NA

      Call XYZ roofing to come out and provide estimate – 23

      On dependent NAs, as soon as I complete one, I’ll edit the text of that NA completed and move it to the appropriate context. For example, the NA above might now become…

      Call wife and inform her of time roofers coming out for estimate – 23

      The project codes help me ensure I have at least one NA for each project and all associated NAs for each project can be quickly found by simply doing a search on the project code.

      Some people achieve this by using cascading NAs or adding the actual project title to their NAs. I use the codes instead of replicating the project title every time. I find the codes help me better focus at the runway level instead of the brain switching between runway and 10K. Seeing the full project name listed out on every NA, I found was very distracting for me and inhibited me from cranking right through a list of NAs.

      The weekly review is when I focus at the 10K level. Sometimes I find I’m missing an NA for a particular project, but this happens far less since I’ve adopted the project codes / number scheme.
      Last edited by DoubleDippin; 07-15-2005, 06:40 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by leanda
        I'm afriad that if I'm not constantly checking that I have at least one next action for a project that only a small part of the project will be completed until the next weekly review when I find out I that I didn't have an action for a particular project.
        Why are you so afraid of this happening?

        What would your life be like if this happened?

        How many projects do you have?

        Comment


        • #5
          When I complete an action for a project, I make sure I write the next action somewhere on my action lists. Then at my weekly review, I double check to make sure all projects I want to be working actively on have next actions.

          Comment


          • #6
            Next Actions Questions

            Originally posted by leanda
            I know that this should be done at the weekly review but I'm afriad that if I'm not constantly checking that I have at least one next action for a project that only a small part of the project will be completed until the next weekly review when I find out I that I didn't have an action for a particular project.
            If you keep your lists on a PDA:

            For ones that had an N/A that's been completed: how about setting up a routine to check nightly your completed n/a's to see if there's a next step to be taken?

            For new projects that don't have an N/A: when I don't want to or can't decide on an N/A I add ?? to the name of the Project and I scan daily for ??'s to catch ones I know don't have one.

            Janice

            Comment


            • #7
              Fire Fighting

              Originally posted by Brent
              Why are you so afraid of this happening?

              What would your life be like if this happened?

              How many projects do you have?
              I'm afraid that things will slip through the net and that projects will not move on at a steady pace. If I'm working from my action lists and a project has no action listed then it may be a week before I pick up on it in the next weekly review. Or worse still, last week I found two projects without actions that I'd missed. I ended up fighting fire to put those projects back on course.

              I have around 80 projects.

              I like the idea of project codes, but would rather find a way of doing it without because I think that by using codes data input may be slower. I've actually just ditched my Palm and moved to paper to speed the process up. It was taking far to long to input data and find things on the tiny screen.

              Leanda

              Comment


              • #8
                I know that this should be done at the weekly review but I'm afriad that if I'm not constantly checking that I have at least one next action for a project that only a small part of the project will be completed until the next weekly review when I find out I that I didn't have an action for a particular project.
                You're right: it should be done at the weekly review. So don't look at your project list during the week except to add new projects to it (I don't recommend this as a general practice; only if compulsive list management has become a problem). Rigorously define your next actions on all your projects during the weekly review, then spend the rest of the week doing things off your action lists. You can only do actions, not projects, so make what you can actually do your primary focus during the week.

                Comment


                • #9
                  You know, half the time, I don't "complete" my next action so I just clarify it. For instance, I work on re-sorting the file drawer and have 1/3 of it left: I just add "finish" to the next action and I know that I don't need to think about it anymore until I have time to get back to it. Other projects can work the same way - my next action may have been to outline what I need to do for the project, and I have a rough outline down - so now I just need to let it set and then review that outline. That way I always have a next step, and even if I end up starting to work on one of those items in the outline instead of working on the outline some more, that's fine because the key is I am making progress on the project.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If the following are true:

                    1: Your weekly review produces a n/a for each project, and
                    2: whenever you complete one of the project n/a's, you "check it off" your list and sumultaneously replace it with the next task on that project,

                    then you will always have an active n/a for every project.

                    If you don't know what the subsequent action should be without consulting the project file, and the file is not handy, then the n/a is to consult the project file.

                    Good luck!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Another avenue

                      Originally posted by leanda
                      I have around 80 projects.

                      I like the idea of project codes, but would rather find a way of doing it without because I think that by using codes data input may be slower. I've actually just ditched my Palm and moved to paper to speed the process up. It was taking far to long to input data and find things on the tiny screen.
                      Maybe the issue is the number of projects. Are your really working on 80 active projects, or only hoping to? With 80 current projects, you might be trying to do too much. I've had the experience that it's more effective to move a bunch of these to the Someday/Maybe list, focus on the truly active ones, and get them done. That way you don't have to scan such a huge project list and can identify NAs on a more freuquent cycle (possibly as soon as each NA is completed.)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I agree with jdstanton. If you have 80 projects, it is very likely that many of them *won't* move forward in any given week. That's okay, as long as you consciously decide which ones to push back.

                        What I do, is in my weekly review I decide which projects must be acted on, then which ones I am reasonably likely to be able to move forward. For these, I do at least enough planning to identify the next action or possibly the next few actions. All the rest either get pushed back to the next weekly review or deferred to the Someday/Maybe list with an appropriate review date.

                        My system is implemented in a way that lets me quickly see all projects, someday/maybe projects, projects without next actions, etc.

                        Katherine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          NAs for Hot projects

                          If there are projects that need to be moved to completion so quickly that weekly project previews seem insufficient, there are alternatives to the weekly review of projects.

                          1. You could put ALL the NAs for the project in your NA list. If 1. there are enough of them, if 2. there is no long critical path chain in your project plan, and if 3. the project plan is not altered by events and the information gained from completing the earlier NAs, then weekly reviews should work.

                          2. You could use the Pigpog method of putting sequences of actions into a single task and deleting the elements completed. This would keep things going with just weekly reviews, if the project consists basically of several independent chains of tasks.

                          3. You could have some kind of more frequent review of your Hot projects. This is esssential if the project is urgent and it is not really possible to lay out the project plan in advance because information gained in the early steps changes the later tasks. This would mean that you were doing extra project reviews not after every NA but only periodically for the projects where it was worthwhile.

                          You could do ALL of these, I suppose, but I would expect that doing the one of these that was the best fit with your kind of projects would probably be the most efficient.

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