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Defining Next Actions

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  • Defining Next Actions

    Hello!

    I'm trying to implement GTD.
    I know that after defining the projects we should define only the next action for that project, but I get the feeling that after I do that next action, I will loose time in deciding the next action for that project. It's stress-free deciding only the next action, but what happens after you finish that next action and you have time to do more actions of that project in the context you are?

    Any tips?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Originally posted by yabune
    I know that after defining the projects we should define only the next action for that project
    GTD does not actually say this. If you believe planning more than just the next action is helpful, go ahead and do it.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      I think you misunderstand a little: not all projects need only a next action, but many do. Consider a very small project, where you have perhaps four steps to take:

      1) Write half a page of text, perhaps email
      2) Send it to other people for comments
      3) Incorporate comments
      4) Send to recipient

      Each of these steps is clear, but none of them are necessarily next actions. For example, you may be about to send the email out for comment, find out you don't have an email address you need, and have no time to get it right now. THAT is a next action- a bookmark telling you what the next physical action is: get Sam's email address from Sue. This could be a call, an agenda item with Sue, something to do at work because Sue is always there, et cetera.

      Now suppose you are in the middle of step 1) when the recipient sends unexpected email that completely changes what you need to do, and the next steps are to quit working on 1) and call a meeting. Steps 2)-4) are just not relevant anymore.

      Most people don't really need a complicated project plan for such simple projects. Perhaps the essence of the project can be captured in the desired outcome, or it is simply routine. Most projects are like that. But some percentage of projects are more complicated, with several simultaneously moving parts. For those, you need more support. That could be a document, a timeline, an outline, a mindmap, a folder full of support material- any or all of these. But these project plans don't have next actions like "Get Sam's email address from Sue" on them- it's too small.

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      • #4
        What Katherine said.

        If you know 5 actions with no prerequisites, but write down only one, then you're keeping the rest in your head and will have to re-think them again later.

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        • #5
          [quote}If you know 5 actions with no prerequisites, but write down only one, then you're keeping the rest in your head and will have to re-think them again later[/quote]It was helpful to me to identify the tasks as a non actionalble note - planning vehicle and then take each task and see if there was a next action that I felt comfortable identifying.

          It was interesting to me and not necessarily related to projects that when I was not willing to define a next action, sometimes the item should be moved to Someday / Maybe, because I was not sure I wanted to do it.
          Last edited by Denver Dave; 11-02-2005, 07:23 AM.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by yabune
            I know that after defining the projects we should define only the next action for that project...
            Your use of the word "only" is incorrect. The book stresses defining the very "next action" that you need to do to get a project moving, but it also talks about writing down every single "action item" required to bring a project to a successful completion. As you complete a "next action" you should review your list of "action items" to determine your new "next action".

            David and others have found over the years that the very things that keep people from moving forward on their projects is the wording of their "todo" lists and not having defined a required very "next action". Defining your "next action" and using action wording to express something that you can actually do are important, but also important is getting everything out of your brain and into your system. Getting all of your "action items" out of your head and into your system is vital.

            tim99.

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