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  • Actions that fall between Now and Someday/Maybe

    I'm thinking about all the things I have to do that would be nice if I got them done but they certainly aren't necessary. For instance, I would like to go through my recipe books and get rid of the ones I don't use. The action is specific, it certainly could be done today, but it wouldn't be the end of the world if it didn't get done until next year. If I put it on my someday/maybe list, I'm afraid it will get lost because I will only see it at my weekly review and I won't want to do it then and then it will bother me every time I walk by it. On the other hand, if it goes on my next action list, I'm afraid that things like getting tickets for the rodeo this weekend (which could be done today, tomorrow or Saturday) would get lost among the fifty "nice" next actions I have. It's the B priority things on the list of A, B, and C priorities that I'm having a hard time with.

    Does anyone separate their next actions into nice and necessary?

  • #2
    All "would be nice" actions go on my Someday/Maybe list. However, my Someday/Maybe items carry a review date. For instance, I might decide that it's completely impossible to do anything with my recipe books in the next month, but I have some likely down time in September, so I'll set a review date of September for the project. If something on that list is bothering me, I'll look at it more seriously and decide whether it's really "necessary" after all, or if maybe I at least want to set an earlier review date.

    I've also found that the Someday/Maybe list tends to be a dumping ground for projects disguised as actions. As such, it often pays to think them through and see what the real next action is. "Going through recipe books" is a project, but "stick post-it on recipe book with last date used" is a trivially easy action that will move the project forward. (This trick is derived from the "toss anything you haven't worn in a year" closet cleaning rule.)

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Priorities (there, I said it...)

      Any moderately creative, open-ended type person eventually generates 1000s of Someday/Maybes. My solution was to include a field in my S/M spreadsheet for Somedayness and for Maybeness (Timeframe and Importance if you want to de-whimsey-ify it), add up the combined score and sort on it. So I pay lots more attention to the top of my list than the bottom.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by pageta
        I'm afraid that things like getting tickets for the rodeo this weekend (which could be done today, tomorrow or Saturday) would get lost among the fifty "nice" next actions I have.
        It's probably not useful to have fifty "nice" (i.e. someday/maybe) next actions.

        At your weekly review, decide whether you have time to work on ONE of your someday/maybes during the week ahead, and add the appropriate next action(s).

        If you have success with that, then in subsequent weekly reviews, you might try adding more than one item from your someday/maybe list, but first you have to build confidence in your system. Your system won't help free your mind if you always have more next actions than is reasonable for you to complete during the week.

        otoh, if you don't complete the designated someday/maybe during the week, you should try to figure why you didn't do it.

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        • #5
          "You either need tires or you don't." I love that quote from David Allen. One of the great things about processing things, really processing them, is making that decision that I'm either going to do something in the next week, or I'm not. And if I'm not, I promise myself that next week, I'll have the chance to make that decision again, so I don't need to worry about it between now and then. Knowing that I've promised myself that I'll revisit it allows my mind to let it go.

          I'd put that on your someday/maybe list. If, at some point during the week, you find that you can't move any project forward, peek at the SD/M list and see if you want to move anything to the projects list. Or, just do it. Nothing says you can't do something that isn't on your project list.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by BrianK
            One of the great things about processing things, really processing them, is making that decision that I'm either going to do something in the next week, or I'm not. And if I'm not, I promise myself that next week, I'll have the chance to make that decision again, so I don't need to worry about it between now and then.
            Very well stated!

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            • #7
              Someday/Maybe sorted.

              Originally posted by BrianK
              "You either need tires or you don't." I love that quote from David Allen.
              Yes. In GTD there's a clear division between Someday/Maybe list and NA lists for active projects. But on the other hand it is good idea to sort the Someday/Maybe list according to the importance of the projects on hold.
              Originally posted by stringdad
              Any moderately creative, open-ended type person eventually generates 1000s of Someday/Maybes. My solution was to include a field in my S/M spreadsheet for Somedayness and for Maybeness (Timeframe and Importance if you want to de-whimsey-ify it), add up the combined score and sort on it. So I pay lots more attention to the top of my list than the bottom.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TesTeq
                But on the other hand it is good idea to sort the Someday/Maybe list according to the importance of the projects on hold.
                Agreed. I actually prefer to separate them out into separate lists, rather than try to affix a priority to them. Even though they aren't explicitly labeled as Someday/Maybe, all of these lists are subcategories of it:
                Maybe Buy
                Books to read/buy (and possibly sub-lists like fiction, work-related, history, etc.)
                Gifts for ____ (sig other, kids, etc.)
                Vacation possibilities
                Future House Projects
                Key People
                Charities (new ones to contribute to)
                Movies to see/rent
                Next time in _____ (cities, countries to visit)


                These I don't need to review every week. Maybe once a month, or every couple of months. Sort of the same concept as prioritizing them, but (I think) more effective because it groups them by context rather than priority. I'd have a hard time comparing priorities between a book I want to read and a place I want to visit. When I'm getting low on books, or want to be inspired by it, they're all in one place. When it's time for a vacation, those thoughts are all in one place. When it's time to start another significant home-improvement project, they're all in one place. Plus I've always found that priorities are so fluid that trying to keep them straight is more trouble than it's worth.


                One other thing: Some SD/M projects are pretty unique, so they don't fit neatly onto a list with anything else. Example: I've had something on my SD/M list (the one I review every week) for over a year. I finally got sick of seeing it during every review, so I asked myself when it was realistic to try to decide to take it on. I wrote a note, dropped it in my tickler for 4 months from now, and took it off my list. I'll get to it again, and when I do, I'll either tickle it again, put it on my SD/M list, or decide to take it on as a project.

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                • #9
                  Well, there's someday/maybe's like buy new office furniture. That I could review once every month or less. The someday/maybe's are things that perpetually bug me when I walk by them. If they're on my next action list, there are too many next actions, but if they're on my someday/maybe list, they aren't off my mind. They are the kind of things that are hanging over my head or bugging me but aren't urgent, and when I complete them, I have a huge sense of satisfaction.

                  I think the solution for now is to have them on lists that are behind my Next Action lists. So if I go through the next actions and there isn't anything that must be done right now, I have the option of paging back a little further and doing something that I would get high mileage out of in terms of satisfaction adn peace of mind. Many of them could be done in 15 minutes to an hour, but it would take me a week if I did only those projects and ignored everything else. I think this way they'll get worked in, and if I'm making progress on that list, I won't be so bugged by those things when I walk by them because I know I will get to them soon.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by pageta
                    I'm thinking about all the things I have to do that would be nice if I got them done but they certainly aren't necessary. For instance, I would like to go through my recipe books and get rid of the ones I don't use. [/I]
                    Ha! I have learned that if something is on my Someday/Maybe list and would simply be a nice thing to do, 99% of the time it might as well be called Ain't-Never-Gonna-Happen.

                    I actually have exactly the same idea that it would be "nice" for me to go through my recipe books! For something like the recipe book organization you described, I have a couple strategies.

                    1. I decided that every week I will try to do one small "home improvement" (usually 30-60 minutes) such as this. Most of these improvements involve organizing or cleaning something that doesn't get done in the regular routine but that is a nagging annoyance.

                    2. The second strategy is often better. I realize that the "nice" thing is simply a perfectionistic ideal, not a better reality, and decide to forget about it altogether. The situation may change to the point where it becomes more important later, when I can always add it back to my list.

                    So the thing about these "nice" Someday/Maybes is to decide whether I should do them, at least anytime soon. About things like organizing recipe books, I ask myself, Would doing this improve my quality of life? Or, more specifically, would doing this improve my use and enjoyment of my home? Even better, look at the whole list and ask, What things would make the greatest difference if I were to do them? (borrowed from Covey) These questions really help me define my priorities and avoid wasting time doing perfectionistic tasks with low payoff.

                    Of course, if every day of my life I had to hunt through my recipes, or if I really needed the space occupied by those unused recipe books, I would decide that the task was "necessary," not just "nice," and move it from the S/M list to a context where it actually has a hope of getting done.

                    And finally, there's nothing wrong with subdividing S/M into multiple lists. An obvious start would be a "Someday" list for things you're committed to but don't want to do soon, and a "Maybe" list for the nice/brainstorming kinds of things. Or make a few tickler lists, one to revisit once a month, one to revisit next year, etc. When you have hundreds of S/M items, it's really time to subdivide, in my opinion.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by pageta
                      Does anyone separate their next actions into nice and necessary?
                      I separate my next actions into next actions and someday/maybe. Am I going to do the action at the first opportunity or not? If so, it's a next action, even if it's a low priority item. If not, it's a someday/maybe, even if it's a high-priority item.

                      Are you going to do the action or not?

                      An influential time management book once recommended coding actions into ABC gradients, then recommended only doing the A priorities. But if you're not going to do the B and C actions, why make the distinction between B and C in the first place? "Here's the stuff I'm not going to do, and here's the stuff I'm really not going to do!"

                      You can treat someday/maybe as a neverland, but you lose the practical value of the category in doing so. This is where on the B/C stuff goes until you're ready to commit to doing it.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by pageta
                        The someday/maybe's are things that perpetually bug me when I walk by them. If they're on my next action list, there are too many next actions, but if they're on my someday/maybe list, they aren't off my mind. They are the kind of things that are hanging over my head or bugging me...
                        Could it just be a mental issue and not a logistical filing or categorizing issue that you are having?

                        Let's remind ourselves that the whole point of the GTD system is to get things off our minds so they stop bugging us. If they are still bugging us then we have not fully implemented and trusted in our system. ??

                        By 'mental issue' I mean: I have struggled with wanting to do everything that is in my system, next action or s/m. It's a bizarre perfectionist/do too much phenomenon. So I mentally have to reinforce to myself that my s/m list is just that and I 'put it away' for the week. Plus my priorities are constantly shifting and realigning themselves. If I used an A, B, C list I'd spend more time every week recatergorizing my items than I would actually doing anything. On that note, the context categories work much better for me. The contexts hardly ever change for me.

                        If reviewing your s/m list once a week seems too infrequent, maybe you do it twice a week. Although my routine is once a week, I allow myself the freedom to review my list whenever I want to. Sometimes when I am in a rut I need something new to work on and pluck something out that I want to do. Conversely, I take great pleasure in deleting stuff from the list as well. I use s/m as an incubating tool. I think of a million different projects that would be fun to do, blah, blah, blah. So I put them on the list. Maybe a few weeks I decide that it isn't important for me to do that and I take it off to allow room for other things.

                        I think there are thousands of logistical ways of handling all the bits and pieces that our minds conjure up throughout the day. No matter how we list them, categorize them, reorganize them, etc...we have to come to terms with and be OK with what we are NOT doing.

                        I am writing this as much for myself as anyone else!

                        Originally posted by Gameboy70
                        Are you going to do the action or not?

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Gameboy70
                          Are you going to do the action or not?
                          Maybe. . .

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