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Multiple Next Actions

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  • Multiple Next Actions

    During the course of a project, I am often waiting on information from somebody which doesn't hold up the project but is still required. I track this in @waiting For but as I can continue with the project, I then create another next action.
    This second action could then stop when I'm waiting for more information. And so on....
    The end result is at any given point I may well have 4-5 @Waiting Fors + an @Office next action. I then avoid doing this last action to prevent having yet another @Waiting For !!

    I considered splitting each potential @Waiting For action into its own project but then I'd spend more time creating projects then anything else !

    Any advice ?

    TIA

  • #2
    Documenting Project Planning

    Richard

    I would split the Project down into a number of Sub-Projects as part of the planning process.

    How you document this is down to complexity of the master Project, the tool you use and your own personal preference. Ways of organising, from simplest to most complex, are as follows:-

    1.List the Sub-Projects as Projects in their own right. Disadvantage is that you lose the project to sub-project relationship and can't easily show dependancies between sub-projects.

    2.As an outline in a text document using tabs to indent. You can show the project to sub-project relationship but still can't show dependancies easily.

    3.In an Outliner Tool. Similar to 2. but much easier to manipulate the outline and most Outliners allow you to attach notes, due dates, icons, priorities and various other attributes to each outline node. Still can't easily show dependancies although some Outline tools (Life Balance and next release of Bonsai) have a simple "do these items in order" rule.

    4.A full blown Project Management tool a la MS Project. Can do all the above and allows extremely power maniplation of dependancies.

    For most personal projects I would go for 2. or 3. depending on your tool and preferenc. Some people even take these Outlines a stage further and include the Next Actions under the Sub-Projects.

    If it is complex, collaborative project (ie 2 or more people) then option 4. really comes into its own.

    In terms of your example - I would not worry if all the sub-projects were in a Waiting For state. However, if you've got a deadline to meet then you might need to start making some calls to get things moving!

    Hope this helps,
    jac

    Comment


    • #3
      Richard

      Just to clarify. If you choose to document the projects and sub-projects as an outline you would just have the master project on your Projects list.

      However, you would have some Project Plans associated with the Project. These would either be hand-written on a sheet of paper or stored as a text document in a software tool or as an outline in an outliner tool. The plans would look something like this:-

      Project
      Sub-Project 1
      Sub-Project 2
      Sub-Project 3
      ...
      Your Sub-Projects themselves coudl have further sub-sub-projects. Some of the sub-projects can only be started when a previous sub-project completes - known as a dependancy.

      Sorry if you know all this - I was just aware that my previous post assumed you alrady knew the terminology I used. Let me know if you have any questions.

      Cheers,
      jac

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by RichardGEmes
        The end result is at any given point I may well have 4-5 @Waiting Fors + an @Office next action. I then avoid doing this last action to prevent having yet another @Waiting For !!
        I'm not sure I see the problem. It sounds like your work often involves waits for information. That's just the nature of the work, and would be true no matter what organizing system you use. GTD just gives you a way to keep track of it all.

        If it makes you feel better, you might replace @Waiting For items with @Phone or @Email followup tasks. That's what I do, and I just change the task due date after each followup. You could treat the @Waiting For items as subprojects if you want, but that seems like too much complexity for me.

        Katherine

        Comment


        • #5
          5 NAs or WFs are OK.

          There is nothing wrong in having 5 independent NAs or WFs for one project.

          Let's assume that at some stage of the project you have to send somewhere a document with 5 attachments. But you must obtain these attachments from 5 different institutions by mail. So first you have 5 independent NAs (send request to institution A, send request to institution B, ... send request to institution E). And then you have 5 independent WFs (WF A's answer, WF B's answer, ... WF E's answer).

          Comment


          • #6
            Avoidance

            Originally posted by RichardGEmes
            The end result is at any given point I may well have 4-5 @Waiting Fors + an @Office next action. I then avoid doing this last action to prevent having yet another @Waiting For !!
            Richard,

            why are you avoiding having another @Waiting For ? Don't you trust the persons who have to deliver what you are waiting for?

            Rainer
            Last edited by Rainer Burmeister; 11-29-2005, 12:10 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Personally I'm quite happy with collecting items in my WF list -- this simply means that I'm ahead of things, and waiting for others to complete their responsibilities!

              Of course, if the project is urgent you'll have to create followup actions on those WFs when appropriate in order to move forward.

              Comment


              • #8
                Next actions, Waiting for -- the more the better!

                I don't see the problem either, but given the topic title of "Multiple Next Actions" I suspect this is another example of the idea that a project should have one and ONLY one next action. Where does this idea come from?

                For active projects I like to list or track as many NAs and Waiting Fors as possble -- absolutely anything that does not require another action or Waiting For to be fulfilled first. That way I have plenty of options, and taking any one of those actions or receiving any one of those Waiting Fors can move the project forward.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Define at least one next action for each active project.

                  Originally posted by Tetsujin
                  I suspect this is another example of the idea that a project should have one and ONLY one next action. Where does this idea come from?
                  I think it comes from the wrong interpretation of the GTD workflow diagram and David Allen's writings. In GTD you have to define the successful outcome and the next action for each chunk of incoming stuff that you define to be a project. David wrote "define the next action" but in my opinion he meant:

                  define at least one next action for each active project

                  (to make it more likely that you will make progress in these projects as soon as possible)

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    ....at least one next action.....

                    Many thanks to everybody who replied. I'm amazed at how the two words 'At least' have totally altered my viewpoint when it comes to working from my actions lists. I've been mis-interpreting the workflow and accompanying text and it needed this forum to point it out to me.

                    Thanks also for the detailed posts on planning out projects; all very useful information.

                    Comment

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