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  • Next Actions and Projects

    I am new to GTD and am trying to implement it in Outlook. I have read the book, GTD and Outlook paper, and several other articles. The concern I have is that when a NA is associated with a project, the NA list does not seem to reflect this (or does it)? Thus when you complete those particular NA's, as opposed to the NA's which are single step and independent of a multitask project, you might not be immediately reminded of the project they are connected to, and that project might be left hanging until a project review is done (or maybe permenently!!).

    I hope you can follow my concern and shed some light on what I might be missing. I remember David's admonission that whatever system you choose, you must thoroughly trust it and this (to me) looks like an area of weakness! Of course, I am just beginning to emply the system, so I might be missing something obvious.

    Thanks!

    Hank

  • #2
    There is no need to write down the NA to Project connections.

    There is no need to write down the NA to Project connections. I cannot imagine the example of NA for which it is not obvious which Project it belongs to.

    Many people think that GTD should be like computer program - set of instructions that can be executed by the dumb piece of silicon (the processor). NO! There is no requirement that you must switch off your brain. But there is a requirement that you should use your intuition.

    During the Weekly Review you refresh the information about your Projects and recharge your intuition.

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    • #3
      Better NA descriptions

      You could try writing more descriptive Next Actions. For example, Call Jeff re: work on XYZ Project. You could also include the name of the project after the Next Action Call Jeff (XYZ Project). Or you could try out the GTD Outlook plugin. I think it has a free 30 day trial. It helps you sort NAs according to Projects.

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      • #4
        Just to add to the above mentioned. I make daily review (15 min) at the end of the day and "convert" completed project NAs into new (or next) NAs. It allows not to wait till the next WR to move the project.

        Regards,

        Eugene.

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        • #5
          I create a custom field in Outlook to hold the relevent project name. This way I have the information easily accessable without cluttering up the names of my next actions.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by TesTeq
            There is no need to write down the NA to Project connections. I cannot imagine the example of NA for which it is not obvious which Project it belongs to.
            TesTeq, during my weekly review first I add new NAs for all of the active projects that don't have them. I use Ctrl+F to find out if a project still has NA in the system or not. If it has I don't have to think twice about it. Do you think I can skip putting project reference in the NAs?

            Regards,

            Eugene.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hank,
              Try fiddling with the names of your tasks. I do this:

              "SMITH: Revocable Trust - call Sally re name of new child to add to trust."

              SMITH is the client name (I'm a lawyer). Need to be able to quickly see everything for one client, since I bill hourly, need to use clients almost as a context (but I don't like having the client name as a category, this works better for me).

              Revocable Trust is the project. There might be lotsa projects for any particular client.

              Call sally is the action needed. There might be lots of actions for any particular project, but usually about 3. Using more verbage in the title of the NA helps remind me exactly why I needed to call her. (I have a very bad memory. "Call Sally" would quickly become indecipherable (sp?) to me.

              As long as the project "Revocable Trust" isn't finished, instead of deleting the Outlook task after I call Sally, I just keep changing the action item in the title, so the task title would become:

              "SMITH: Revocable Trust - input new kid info into trust".

              Sorting tasks alphabetically results in the task list (with all tasks displayed regardless of context) doubling as a project list, and all next actions for each project grouped near each other. I don't use a separate project list, but you might still want to. The only reason things don't get dropped is that I don't delete a task until the project it goes to is finished. I vary the rule very slightly to account for different situations, but this is how I avoid dropped balls and save time on the review. Works for me, but YMMV.

              Taxgeek/Susan

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Borisoff
                Just to add to the above mentioned. I make daily review (15 min) at the end of the day and "convert" completed project NAs into new (or next) NAs. It allows not to wait till the next WR to move the project.
                I don't wait even that long--when the NA is completed, if there is a "next" NA, it goes immediately onto the list. If I don't know the next NA off the top of my head, I put "review XYZ project file for next steps" onto my list as an NA. Waiting for a weekly or even daily review can fatally slow a project.

                This may or may not be obvious, but if you just want to work on your project for an hour or two, there is no GTD god that is going to force you to put each NA on your list before you do it. The NA list is just to remind you of actions you intend to take that you are unable or unwilling to make now. Most of us should avoid the temptation to turn old NA lists into project journals that document each step as it was performed. Creating an audit trail of project steps accomplished is different work from tracking the NA that must be done for a particular commitment, and to mix them up is generally not too conducive to success.

                Everyone has this question (how to associate projects with NAs) when they start GTD, and most of them find they don't need to do it at all, or they only need to do it very informally, as Darla suggests with more descriptive NAs. Try it without for a month or two and see if you really need to do that association.

                Taxgeek's solution is an elegant one for those who *do* need to associate the two.

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                • #9
                  No active projects without NAs.

                  Originally posted by Borisoff
                  TesTeq, during my weekly review first I add new NAs for all of the active projects that don't have them. I use Ctrl+F to find out if a project still has NA in the system or not. If it has I don't have to think twice about it. Do you think I can skip putting project reference in the NAs?
                  In my GTD implementation the active project without NA would be an emergency condition since I have the habit to write down the new NA (a bookmark) for the project when I am switching to another project.

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