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What verbs do you use for your Next Actions?

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  • What verbs do you use for your Next Actions?

    I think there're not to many types of Next Actions that we put on our Contexts. All of them start with a verb that represents the smallest phisical next action. I now can draft the following:

    - Print
    - Type
    - Draft
    - Review (could it be a next action or read is the right verb?)
    - Call (or Dial
    - Read
    - Meet (is it the smallest?)
    - Email

    What other Next Actions verbs or corrections can you suggest for this list?

    Regards,

    Eugene.

  • #2
    Project verbs

    The following is my edit of a list from David Allen. I think the list used to be on the davidco site among the occasional writings that David used to post. I remember that David had some other verbs that I didn't include in my list, because I didn't find them helpful. If someone has the complete list that David posted, it would be useful to see it.

    VERB EXAMPLES
    finalized
    clarified
    researched
    designed
    looked into
    organized
    reorganized
    handled
    submitted
    implemented
    resolved

    Like I said in the other thread, I like to start with the noun and end with the verb. This makes it easier for me to find my project in a list.

    Let's say I want to buy a new PDA. My key word is PDA and I am most likely to remember that word. So I want to look for the word PDA in my list. So I will name my project PDA Researched. If I made my project Research PDA, I might not remember if it was under Research or under Look Into.
    Last edited by moises; 09-05-2006, 10:09 AM.

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    • #3
      Select Verbs on the fly

      I don't have a list of verbs - I select them as I note the item. Here are some real ones from my current Next Actions Lists.

      Edit
      Talk about (could be discuss)
      Set up (meeting, folder. Folder must have been jotted down when I was not in my office, otherwise it's under 2 minutes.)
      Create
      Do (probably could be better choices. In both cases this referred to writing something. Maybe this choice is motivational as in - Just do It!)
      Close out (Go into an application and change settings and values.)
      Go through (could use review, but this fit better)
      Identify (team members)
      Find (notes - sad that this is on the list. It really was the next step though.)
      Read
      Start (charter - includes filling in the boilerplate blanks, which involves tracking down information, thinking and writing. Tracking, thinking and writing happen iteratively so it wouldn't make sense to choose a single one of these.)
      Research
      Continue (reviewing)
      Send

      I think if I had to stop and pick from a list of verbs, it would be a barrier for me to get something on a next action list. However, a review of the next actions, with an eye to verbs, may result in better defined next actions.

      Comment


      • #4
        Verb in present or past tense

        Hi,

        I think that there is a difference if you put the verb in present or past tense:
        present tense: call X to discuss fees
        past tense: clarified with X fees (@phone)

        I think the big advantage of using past tense is you VISUALIZE the successful outcome and make the NAs much more powerful.

        Thoughts?

        Sjaak

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        • #5
          I understand the point you are making about visualizing the outcome. However, by putting it in present tense it makes it easier for me to visualize doing it. It defines what I have to do to get it done. In past tense, I have to pause and think about "clarified". Oh that means call and clarify. For me it's not the next action, it's the result of the next action. It's not necessarily the desired outcome unless it's a standalone next action. But for anyone that the past tense helps, go for it.

          Karen

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          • #6
            I have to say that present tense next actions work better for me. I can look at my context lists and see what I still have to do, not what looks like it is already done.

            However, one of my "verbs" is Cut (i.e. cut fabric and threads for a certain kit in someone's order - I manufacture embroidery kits) which could be both tenses, I guess.

            Regards,

            Carol

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            • #7
              Originally posted by webrover
              I understand the point you are making about visualizing the outcome. However, by putting it in present tense it makes it easier for me to visualize doing it. It defines what I have to do to get it done. In past tense, I have to pause and think about "clarified". Oh that means call and clarify. For me it's not the next action, it's the result of the next action. It's not necessarily the desired outcome unless it's a standalone next action. But for anyone that the past tense helps, go for it.

              Karen
              I didn't mean to hijack Borisoff's thread. He asked about NAs and I answered about Projects.

              I choose to use the past tense to visualize outcomes. Hence, I use past tense for Projects.

              I then figure out what I would like to do to make that Outcome a reality. I use the present tense to describe my Next Actions.

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              • #8
                Present v Past

                I used to use all present tense for projects and next actions. I then went through, per a suggestion here, and changed my Projects to Noun first + Past tense verb (for example, Publicist Hired instead of Hire a Publicist). This has worked great for me. It not only helps to visualize the outcome as others have mentioned. It also helps me differentiate between a Project and a Next Action, so I don't have to re-think it when I see the item in my software.

                Also, I had a lot of "Project Plan x", "Project Plan Y", "Mindmap x" "mindmap y", etc. etc. (I would see a lot of the same verbs so my mind would begin to group those items rather than see them as distinct projects.) Now, I tend to differentiate between the various projects much better.

                Darla

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