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  • Where to put Next Actions for a project

    I'm just getting started with GTD. I've done some brainstorming for two projects I'm working on, and I've got about 5 Next Actions for each. Do I simply put all of these NA's onto the right context list (in this case, @Computer), or do I pick just one and leave the rest with my project material? If there are Next Actions that depend on other Next Actions, should I only track the gatekeeper actions and leave the rest with my project information?

  • #2
    My two cents --

    First part of the question: put them all on the list, unless that just makes your list unmanageably big, in which case move a few more over later when you've done the ones on the list. This is a classic example of how you don't need to worry about following orthodox rules in GTD too much.

    Second part of the question: as I understand your use of the term, "gatekeeper" actions are the only next actions. Despite what I just said, this is one of the very few bits of GTD where I think it *is* worth being orthodox: a next action is an action you could do right now, or at least as soon as you're in the right context. Other non-next-action actions should go with the project information, yes.

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    • #3
      An Answer of sorts

      Originally posted by batkins
      Do I simply put all of these NA's onto the right context list (in this case, @Computer), or do I pick just one and leave the rest with my project material?
      As far as I can tell, the answer to this question is "whatever you are comfortable with". In truth, that seems to me to be the ultimate answer to nearly all of the questions here.

      FWIW, I keep a classic task list with the current "Next Action" on it. I leave everything but the active task with the project list. When the current task is completed, I tick it off and ask "What is the next action?". At which point I add the Next Action from my project action list which is where the answer to that question lies.

      Tom S.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by batkins
        Do I simply put all of these NA's onto the right context list (in this case, @Computer), or do I pick just one and leave the rest with my project material? If there are Next Actions that depend on other Next Actions, should I only track the gatekeeper actions and leave the rest with my project information?
        Anything that really is a Next Action -- an action that does not depend on something else happening first, something you could do right now with the appropriate contect/time/energy -- should go right on your next action list for that context. Each active project should have at least one next action, but can certainly have more than one.

        An action that depends on another Next Action happening first isn't really a Next Action. Keep your planning for that kind of action in your project notes, and move it to a next Action list when it becomes a Next Action you can really take.

        (I make this a little easier on myself by using the "notes" area that my Zaurus to-do list software gives me for each Next Action on my list. If a current Next Action will naturally lead to another Next Action, I add a note:

        THEN: [follow-up action]

        When the first action is completed, I can just cut-and-paste to create an entry for the new NA.)

        The goal with Next Action lists is to minimize how much re-thinking you have to do when you're ready for action and you look at the lists. If you look at your NA list and have to decide "Can I really do this now, or does something have to happen first?" you're forcing yourself to re-think things you've already thought.

        -T.

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