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  • Keeping Track of Actions Completed?

    I've found that keeping around a daily list of tasks I've finished (and chucking it at the end of the day) can provide a sense of completion and accomplishment. The effort required to track this (usually just a list in Notepad or Excel) does require some overhead, though, and I wonder if it's really just a false sense of reward. After all, number of tasks accomplished doesn't prove that they were the most important or right tasks to be working on.

    I'm curious, how do others who are finding success with GTD handle their completed tasks? Just deleting them right out of the context lists? Or keeping them around for awhile as a lingering record of activity completed?

    Jeff

  • #2
    I prefer to just get rid of them immediately. This gives me the immediate gratification of a task completed. I also immediately get to see a shorter task list and that makes me happy.

    The time it would take to keep track of it and to have to go back and delete them would allow me to accomplish another small task.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by blaster151
      I'm curious, how do others who are finding success with GTD handle their completed tasks? Just deleting them right out of the context lists? Or keeping them around for awhile as a lingering record of activity completed?
      I like having a record of completed tasks that I can review at the end of the day. I would not be willing to create such a record manually, though. When I complete an action, I check it off in the context-based NA list, and it disappears immediately. It automatically gets logged in a daily journal, and it also appears in a separate completed tasks view. Both completed and uncompleted tasks appear in the project outline view; I can either purge completed tasks all at once, or manually delete one at a time. I mostly do the latter, because I find it helpful to see the steps I have already completed for some projects. I keep the helpful ones and delete the non-helpful ones.

      The daily journal that logs all my completed tasks is especially handy when I need to follow up. For example, I mailed a form to the Accounting Office requesting some financial information but then didn't receive the information. After a couple weeks, I called the office and told them I had mailed the form on the 9th. I find that when I know all the specifics about what I did, including the date, people take it seriously and I get far better service or response.

      I never get a false sense of reward when reviewing completed tasks. If I cherry-picked a bunch of easy, low-priority tasks while avoiding the harder, high-priority ones, I know it.

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      • #4
        I often find that I forget I've completed Next Actions and they get ticked off at the weekly review.

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        • #5
          Depends on the situation, but many times others may wish to know what we accomplished and when.

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          • #6
            Keeping a basic work log

            Originally posted by blaster151
            I'm curious, how do others who are finding success with GTD handle their completed tasks? Just deleting them right out of the context lists? Or keeping them around for awhile as a lingering record of activity completed?
            I've had some of this same issue -- my next-action lists are, by definition, things not yet done. Sometimes we can feel like we're not making any progress, because those lists don't get smaller.

            I use a paper planner, and I try to keep notes during the day of what I'm working on. This gives me a way to go back and see what I was working on a couple of days ago, or see when something was done.

            The notes go away (into an archive binder) after a week or two, but it's nice to see when I've had a busy enough day to fill a few pages.

            What works for you (or anyone else) may depend on what work you do and how you do it.

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            • #7
              When I tick an action as compelte, it disappears, but is still in the list. Everynow and again I archive the lot, and clean out completed tasks.

              Even though I very seldom go back and review completed actions, just knowing that I have that list of completed actions there gives a sense of accomplishment.

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              • #8
                I check off my completed next actions, without archiving them, and turn my attention to the uncompleted actions on my lists, or to defining still-undefined ones. For me, the pupose of a system is to get things done, not to maintain it for its own sake. Getting things done and off my mind keeps me focused on the present.

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                • #9
                  I keep them at work

                  At work, I need to provide a status report at the end of every week. Before GTD, this was a stressful event. Now, during the week, every time I finish a NA, I move it to a Word file (copy and paste). Then at 4 PM on Friday, I take this list of NAs, edit it slightly for public consumption and status report done! 5 minutes and no stress.

                  This is one of the small things that makes me glad I started using GTD.

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                  • #10
                    I generally complete N/A's and move on to the next one without giving too much thought to what I've alreayd done. My measure of progress tends tb focus on completed projects, rather than completed N/A's. Mine is a hybrid system, and my positive feedback comes partly in hearing the paper shredder grinding up the N/A sheets as I finish them.

                    About the only time I would even have a chance to review N/A's would be for those projects for which I keep a detailed historical record for reference if a future problem pops up. Those N/A's are usually listed chronologically on a progress sheet, with checkoffs beside them as they are finished.

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