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Rebuilding Next Action list every week?

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  • Rebuilding Next Action list every week?

    A sudden thought: Has anyone tried rebuilding their Next Action list every week during their Weekly Review?

    I've noticed a common concern with NAs that get "stuck" -- we want to work on them, but we never get around to them. Even in a properly managed GTD system, our minds can whisper to us to avoid certain NAs.

    So I thought, what if you rebuilt your NA list every week? The previous NA list could be used as a reference, but this would certainly force you to rethink what needs to be done. (Note: I'm not suggesting this as a regular practice; primarily as a temporary or occasional measure to clean out dusty NA's and/or increase a person's confidence in the system.)

    Has anyone tried this?

  • #2
    I use a paper system and I completely re-write all of my next action lists every week. I would say it does help motivate me to either complete items or question of they are really something I intend to do. I re-do all of my lists on the weekend, so toward the end of the week, I'm looking at my lists and thinking about which items I don't want to have to re-write for the next week.

    On a side note, I used to keep to-do lists in my planner. The difference with doing GTD is that they are more organized and I have specific next actions. Well, I happen to be a perfectionist and in times past, I would re-write my lists every time I completed an item because I wanted them to be perfect all of the time. Now I am only allowed to re-write them once a week.

    Re-writing my lists also helps me manage the length of the lists - generally I don't like any of them to be more than a half-page at the beginning of the week because once I start completing and adding items, they can quickly get much longer and at some point, I start to ignore long lists even if they only contain a few items that are incomplete.

    Re-writing my lists also brings everything back through my brain so I remember many of the things on the list even though I'm not trying to remember to do them and thus I think the items get completed and I have to refer to my lists less than I might if they were electronic (I have tried electronic systems in the past but missed crossing things off).

    I also think it's much easier to do a "braindump" because I just have to write things down and my mind doesn't forget them in the process of bringing up the right program, opening a task, setting the category, and all that other stuff.

    Just some thoughts...

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    • #3
      What do you mean by "rebuild" if you're keeping your lists electronically?

      Would adding a date to the NAs accomplish pretty much the same thing?

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      • #4
        I think this is an area where card-based systems (one NA per card) shine. No need to rewrite (unless you want to create a new one or revise an existing one) - typically may just need to reorder.

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        • #5
          For electronic lists, "rebuild" would mean creating a new NA file every week. No copying-and-pasting from the previous file, either.

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          • #6
            [Monthly Review] Bought me a new pair of shoes

            Originally posted by Brent
            So I thought, what if you rebuilt your NA list every week?
            "Rebuilding" my NA lists is something I do monthly, not weekly.

            When I do my monthly review, I frequently find reminders that I had forgotten. During my monthly review for August on last weekend I noticed that I had "buy new shoes" on my shopping list for about eight weeks.
            Oh, boy! Had to write it in my calendar. And yesterday I bought that new pair of shoes.

            Hey, sometimes remembering what you have to do can be fun!

            Rainer
            Last edited by Rainer Burmeister; 08-24-2005, 12:36 PM. Reason: Correct Typos!

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            • #7
              Reworking/rewording projects lists...

              A sudden thought: Has anyone tried rebuilding their Next Action list every week during their Weekly Review?

              I've noticed a common concern with NAs that get "stuck" -- we want to work on them, but we never get around to them.

              On the first run, creating a projects list can be an exhilarating/frustrating activity.

              After seminars and coaching, I often follow up with the folks who say they "get it." Often, on that phone call, we find that certain items on their projects lists need to be reworked, or reworded.

              I don't know if I would say that's a weekly practice, but it does warrent some attention. Are those projects attracting? Or, do you look at them and tense up? Sometimes, a mere change of a woard, a re-verb, will go a long way in creating the space for motivation to continue moving...

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              • #8
                I certainly agree that one should not do this every week, <em>ad infinitum</em>. However, those who have trouble with tasks getting "stuck" might find it useful useful to do this every week for a month, say.

                In my opinion, a successful GTD adherent must understand what a Next Action really is. It seems to take many people a while to get used to thinking up a concrete, physical next action for each project. Weekly NA list rebuilding strikes me as a useful way to practice NA definition intensively for a while.

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