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  • Lists, Next Actions & More Lists

    Hello

    I've implemented GTD but am having a tough time finding the best way that works for me to organize all the list categories in a way that A) Allows me to quickly find something and B) Allows me to be able to quickly review the lists on a regular basis.

    With "Projects", "Triggers", "Next Actions", "Agendas", "Meeting Agendas", "Errands" etc. - how does one find the time to review them all? And because there are so many lists, do you find it easier to store your lists in an electronic planner, such as a Palm PDA, or paper? I prefer paper because I do so much on the computer that it is a refreshing change; however I'm having trouble with TML ("Too Many Lists").

    Another area I'm having trouble with is the best way to associate/organize the Projects list with the Next Actions list.

    In GTD David says it's critical to run down your Projects list and make sure you have at least one item for each project on your Next Actions list. Other than flipping back and forth between lists, is there a more efficient way to do this? It seems non-productive to flip back and forth item by item between two lists comparing them. I understand the importance of maintaining momentum by having the Next Actions. The problem I'm having is how to associate the two, Projects and Next Actions, in a way that facilitates this comparison process.

    Thanks in advance for any help or ideas.

    MC

  • #2
    I have pretty much the same problem. When i've got my next action lists written down i can knock through them in no time as i know what i have to do. I lose momentum though when i've completed some actions on a certain project, then have to go back to my project planning to find more next actions for me to progress further.

    Whats the solution? A daily review on top of the weekly? an hourly review even????

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm using a Moleskine notebook, graphed as a planner and list organizer, and what I'm thinking of trying is rather than have a separate list for Projects and another separate list for Next Actions, I may try allocating one page per Project (rather than a list of projects), and under the project title would be Next Actions. Then the review would be to page through the six open project pages. This would, however, means keeping Next Actions in more than one place, but it would also mean not having to flip between lists to make sure there is a next action for each project... I don't know...

      Comment


      • #4
        I read an opinion somewhere that project NAs were only truly meaningful when viewed in the context of the entire project (as with the PigPog method, for example).

        Perhaps listing the project name on your NA list is adequate, forcing you to flip to the project to view the next action and subsequent actions, allowing you to determine whether to immediately act on the next listed action(s). I keep my lists electronically, and treat projects as NA items with notes attached that list out all steps in the project. It does not keep project NAs as highly defined/distinct items, but it greatly reduces time dedicated to manipulating my lists (and my tinkering to a minimum).

        Perhaps this or some variant would work for you.

        Best,

        MB

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by MCooper
          With "Projects", "Triggers", "Next Actions", "Agendas", "Meeting Agendas", "Errands" etc. - how does one find the time to review them all?
          Why would you need to review them all? Lets look at the lists you mentioned individually...

          Projects - This is from a GTD standpoint the most important list. I look at it once a week. It can be a fairly long list.

          Triggers - I'm not sure what this list is or why you are keeping it.

          Next Actions - This is not a single list, but a group of lists (or a large list broken up by context). This would include things like your "Calls" list, the "Errands" list and the "Agendas" list. You won't typically review these lists so much as work with them when in context. About to go run errands, look at your errands list to see what else you need to pick up while you are out. About to have a meeting with your boss, check your agendas list for any boss related items so you are sure you discuss those items. Waiting at the doctors office with your cell phone? review your calls list to see if there are any you can crank through while you wait.

          Meeting Agendas - Not sure what this is for. I keep meeting agendas with my calendar and only review them in or just prior to the meeting. I woudn't routinely review this to see whether or not I had an agenda.

          And because there are so many lists, do you find it easier to store your lists in an electronic planner, such as a Palm PDA, or paper? I prefer paper because I do so much on the computer that it is a refreshing change; however I'm having trouble with TML ("Too Many Lists").
          I use outlook synced with my palm PDA it works reasonably well. Paper should work fine if you like that but I'd much rather keep data electronically.

          Another area I'm having trouble with is the best way to associate/organize the Projects list with the Next Actions list.
          If you are having trouble with this it is because you are not doing your weekly review.

          In GTD David says it's critical to run down your Projects list and make sure you have at least one item for each project on your Next Actions list. Other than flipping back and forth between lists, is there a more efficient way to do this? It seems non-productive to flip back and forth item by item between two lists comparing them. I understand the importance of maintaining momentum by having the Next Actions. The problem I'm having is how to associate the two, Projects and Next Actions, in a way that facilitates this comparison process.
          This works a little better electronically because you can put both a context (Category) and project (custom field) in Outlook and group the list by project and display all the next actions (outlook tasks) under each project. In a paper based system yes you have to work back and forth. One way is to keep a 1 page sheet of paper for each project as a project plan in your projects folder. This is where you brainstorm your next actions. Review each project one at a time and mark off any actions you completed during the previous week. Identify at least one next action to move the project forward and then update the project plan and the next action lists.

          Hope that helps.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by MCooper
            With "Projects", "Triggers", "Next Actions", "Agendas", "Meeting Agendas", "Errands" etc. - how does one find the time to review them all?
            After you do your weekly review and you define your next actions you only see the lists when you are in the appropriate context. For example: If the next action is: Get for Mortgage Folder at Home File, that action it is in my @home list and I will only see it when I am @home. I will carry with me the rest of the lists because @home when I got the papers maybe the next action will be Call Bob to discuss refinancing and I will write it down in my @Calls List a soon as I finish the action Get for Mortgage Folder at Home File.

            Originally posted by MCooper
            And because there are so many lists, do you find it easier to store your lists in an electronic planner, such as a Palm PDA, or paper? I prefer paper because I do so much on the computer that it is a refreshing change; however I'm having trouble with TML ("Too Many Lists").
            Again Context list you only work with them in the right context. If your problem it is too many Checklists, I have my Checklists in the palm for simplicity factors, even that my Next Action Lists are in Paper.


            Originally posted by MCooper
            Another area I'm having trouble with is the best way to associate/organize the Projects list with the Next Actions list.

            In GTD David says it's critical to run down your Projects list and make sure you have at least one item for each project on your Next Actions list. Other than flipping back and forth between lists, is there a more efficient way to do this? It seems non-productive to flip back and forth item by item between two lists comparing them. I understand the importance of maintaining momentum by having the Next Actions. The problem I'm having is how to associate the two, Projects and Next Actions, in a way that facilitates this comparison process.
            You will make sure you have at least one next action per project when you do your weekly review, to make sure the things are moving forward, the time to maintain this is when you cross a next action you think in the next one. If for any reason you miss that step, you will caught yourself in the Weekly Review

            Originally posted by Foxman
            I have pretty much the same problem. When I’ve got my next action lists written down i can knock through them in no time as i know what i have to do. I lose momentum though when i've completed some actions on a certain project, then have to go back to my project planning to find more next actions for me to progress further.

            Whats the solution? A daily review on top of the weekly? an hourly review even????
            For our answer it is a little of the same, when you finish the next action thing on the next one, that way your lists are up to date.

            If I found my self toast, I simply write down. Next Action for Project X. Next time I process and Organize I will added. In the worst case escenario you will catch it in the Weekly Review.

            Remember something, the Weekly Review it is a guide, there are weeks that my weekly review takes 30 minutes (was a slow week, too much meetings and things did not need too much horse power), there are weeks that I do 2 weekly reviews...

            The objective as I understand the Weekly review is to get back in control... You do a Weekly review when you are out of control, or once a week whatever happens first, it is like car guarantees 30,000 miles or 60 months....

            I hope this lines helps.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by MCooper
              In GTD David says it's critical to run down your Projects list and make sure you have at least one item for each project on your Next Actions list. Other than flipping back and forth between lists, is there a more efficient way to do this? It seems non-productive to flip back and forth item by item between two lists comparing them.
              If you keep your lists on paper, you don't need to do that. Just look up one project after another, and write down the next action into the apropriate list. For instance, let's say you are seeing the project "empty bottle of whine" and realize, hey, the next action is to call Jeff to ask him if he wants to help you drink your whine. What you do is to write down into your @calls list. "Jeff re drinking whine" or something similiar. That's it. Should it happen, that you write down the sam next action twice, so what? You will know what you've already got done.


              Originally posted by MCooper
              I understand the importance of maintaining momentum by having the Next Actions. The problem I'm having is how to associate the two, Projects and Next Actions, in a way that facilitates this comparison process.
              I do maintain my system with plain textfiles. What I do is writing down as many next actions as I have to under one project's heading, and then copy them over into contextlists. Thta way I always have the action written down twice, but without any trouble 'coz it is easy to have something digitally twice. It works quite nicely.

              Comment


              • #8
                If you are using paper files, where do you record Successful Outcomes? I use Entourage and I record a S/O for each Project in the Notes section for the Project. Then I type NA to indicate that I have a Next Action recorded in my Action Lists.

                Comment

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