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  • Figuring at NAs

    Since I'm new to this, I really appreciate you guys' help in my quest for Stress Free Productivity!

    What is the criteria you use to separate a next action and a project? Do you just use the fact that if it takes longer than 10-15 minutes, it's a project or do you use something else?

    For example, tomorrow I have to drive somewhere which will take about 30 minutes, I then have to hunt down to see what port 2 computers are plugged into in a network closet, I then have to figure out (don't know how) how to configure the network switch ports for trunk mode, hook up and test an IP phone to this port and make sure it works in both locations. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm a network administrator.

    How would you separate out a task like that? Do I put in a next action to drive, to research how to configure the port, to configure the port, to test the IP phone in 1 location and then again in a second location and then another action to drive back?

    Some aspects of GTD are pretty hard for me to grasp, but I'm getting there!

    Thanks so much for the help!

  • #2
    it is up to you

    The gold standard is to set up a list of activities that is so clear and specific that each one is comprable to cranking out a widget. The when, where and how of each widget's prduction will depend on your talents, experience, resources, and the expectations you 're delivering to. The way you break this down into separately actionable steps (widgets to be cranked out) will depend on your preferred work style, the overall demands you are working under and the requirements of the tasks. If you do this set of tasks often, you will be more familar with how to do it and some steps might be done together. If you are new to this or tryng to look at how you work, or trying to fit this into a lot of other projects, you may need to prepare for and really analyze each task as a separate widget. To start I would draw a time line so that you don't get on the road without the items you need.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Jamie Elis
      The gold standard is to set up a list of activities that is so clear and specific that each one is comprable to cranking out a widget. The when, where and how of each widget's prduction will depend on your talents, experience, resources, and the expectations you 're delivering to. The way you break this down into separately actionable steps (widgets to be cranked out) will depend on your preferred work style, the overall demands you are working under and the requirements of the tasks. If you do this set of tasks often, you will be more familar with how to do it and some steps might be done together. If you are new to this or tryng to look at how you work, or trying to fit this into a lot of other projects, you may need to prepare for and really analyze each task as a separate widget. To start I would draw a time line so that you don't get on the road without the items you need.
      Thanks for the reply, but I was looking for a more tactical answer. However, I understand that may not be the best answer.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by AdamB
        For example, tomorrow I have to drive somewhere which will take about 30 minutes, I then have to hunt down to see what port 2 computers are plugged into in a network closet, I then have to figure out (don't know how) how to configure the network switch ports for trunk mode, hook up and test an IP phone to this port and make sure it works in both locations. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm a network administrator.
        If I had to do all that tomorrow, it would go on my calendar. It might go on as an untimed event, or with a specific time to start if I had to/wanted to. For example, if it had to get done that day first thing, it goes in the AM. If I decide that I have flexibility and the afternoon is better, it goes then. I would give a generous time estimate for doing it. I would put all the key steps/ideas in a note for the event on my digital calendar. On the other hand, if I had to do the task next week, I would probably make it a project, put all my key info/ideas in the note field of the project, and decide the next action. The next action goes on the appropriate list. If I have to finish the job next week, I put a reminder on my calendar for next Thurday: started/finished with project x yet? This is my safety net for not dropping the ball on the project.

        Comment


        • #5
          DA's definition of a project is "any desired result that requires more than one action step". The amount of time is not a factor. Your network activities to get an IP phone hooked up at a remote location qualify as a project.

          If this is the type of thing you do routinely, you may just need to put "hook up IP phone at xyz location" on your project list and since you need to do it tomorrow, the NA is "drive to location".

          If you don't do it routinely, you may want to list out the steps, much as you've already done. You may also want to list resources you'll need to have with you since your office is not convenient, tools, phone numbers of co-workers or vendors who may have experience in configuring port switches, manuals, the IP phones, security card for access, cables, etc. (quarters for the coke machine) So for this project, the first step is to plan out the steps and materials you need to take. This may go on your @office list highlighted appropriately as must be done today OR once you put the project on your list of projects, you may automatically start the planning step and stop after you've pulled your list together or even after you've collected the items on the list and have them ready to grab. So we'll start as above where the first NA is "drive to xyz location".

          OK - what list is best for that. Perhaps you want to put it on your errands list. Or perhaps not. I wouldn't because I look at my errands list at the end of the day - perhaps at lunchtime but usually not. That would be too late. Since it involves being out of the office for a large chunk of time, I would put it on the calendar. I would map out a block of time large enough to drive both ways, find the equipment, figure it out and do the work. Use your best guess plus a half hour or more, since this sounds like something you are going to be doing by trial and error.

          Do you have a block of time tomorrow large enough? Do you need to move other meetings to make a large block? Will it be better to have all the materials in your car and go straight to the other location in the morning? Or the opposite, to do it at the end of the day and drive straight home? Put it on your calendar where you've decided it fits.

          Then at the appointed time, pick up the project at the NA - the calendar item for the project that says Drive to XYZ location for IP Phone installation project.

          Comment


          • #6
            A Contrarian View

            Assuming that this is all going to happen in one (continuous) fell swoop, I would treat this as a single task. If I can go whenever I want, it's simply an NA in my @Errands context. If it has to happen on a certain day but at a time of my choosing, then it's a @Calendar task. If I have to coordinate a specific date/time with other resources, then I suspect that my NA is to schedule the event and then put it into my calendar as an appointment.

            If I get interrupted part-way through, I'd update the NA to "complete the installation ...." with a short note about what is left to do or where to pick up. If my intent is not to do this in one go but to break it up, then I would do as others have suggested and set up the project - project support would include the list of steps, and NA list would show the first step.

            In all of the above scenarios, I would check my @Errands list to see if there is anything else I could get accomplished at that location while I'm there.

            Claudia

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by AdamB
              Since I'm new to this, I really appreciate you guys' help in my quest for Stress Free Productivity!

              What is the criteria you use to separate a next action and a project? Do you just use the fact that if it takes longer than 10-15 minutes, it's a project or do you use something else?

              For example, tomorrow I have to drive somewhere which will take about 30 minutes, I then have to hunt down to see what port 2 computers are plugged into in a network closet, I then have to figure out (don't know how) how to configure the network switch ports for trunk mode, hook up and test an IP phone to this port and make sure it works in both locations. In case you haven't figured out yet, I'm a network administrator.

              How would you separate out a task like that? Do I put in a next action to drive, to research how to configure the port, to configure the port, to test the IP phone in 1 location and then again in a second location and then another action to drive back?

              Some aspects of GTD are pretty hard for me to grasp, but I'm getting there!

              Thanks so much for the help!
              OK. This is a no brainer and has nothing to do with GTD. Your post is already a project plan complete with everything you have to do! GTD is about closing all open loops and getting back all the energy to move your life forward. You already know what you have to do tomorrow, so your 'widget is cranked', get on with it get it done!!

              Then Collect and process all the nagging things in your head and do the same!!

              Comment


              • #8
                It differs. For me if that's a customer site or a company branch I'm not often to then it could go to @Errands or to the Calendar if to be done on a specific date as one time NA. If that's a place I usually visit (like my office) then I would split it into NAs.

                Actually you should say how you want to do it and "programm" your GTD system with that wish to close the loop.

                Regards,

                Eugene.

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