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  • NA: does it really need to be "physical"?

    Let's say I need to compare prices for product X on some internet sites I already defined. I've written in my NA list "compare price X". That's not really a physical activity description in itself. The physical action would be "open browser and surf to site a,b and c" and look up the price for the product. So how physical does the NA need to be? Is there any reason "compare price X" isn't good enough as a NA?

  • #2
    I think physical means your body or part of it should move (fingers, legs, etc). So it's better to put draft (put on paper with your fingers instead of compare. And so on.

    Regards,

    Eugene.

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    • #3
      Yes. "Next physical action" means the next thing you physically have to do, as I understand it.

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      • #4
        Instead of "compare price X" how about "get prices from sites a, b and c"? That sounds more like an NA. It is concrete and measurable and you can check it off when it is done.

        By the way, if you know the exact product you are shopping for and it only takes you a minute or two to get the price from sites a, b and c, then I would keep this as one NA. However, if you have to surf sites a, b, and c for a while in order to find the correct matching product or if you need to do any other research on each site, then you might want to consider breaking this up in to three NAs.

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        • #5
          Then it all comes down on the way I formulate it. Maybe the biggest reason to be careful to formulate these things as a physical next action is not necessarily for a simple NA like this (where you actually know what you will do and there isn' any doubt about it), but to avoid vagueness about what to do in bigger projects. With the habit of being careful about the small ones, you learn to be careful about the bigger ones.

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          • #6
            The problem with "Compare price X" is that it isn't a next action. Now if X is a CD, and you buy all your CDs on line, then it may be obvious to you what to do. What if X is a car, and the price depends on many things? What if you don't know how to get a price for X, but you have this "next action" on your list? Writing good next actions is a skill, and you have to work at it until it becomes a habit. A good next action is one that you look at, and say to yourself "I can do that." The simpler and easier the next action "bookmarks" you write for your projects, the more elegant your work will be, and the quicker your projects will get done. Wierd but true.

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            • #7
              David addressed this very issue in a Q&A audio in GTD Connect. The question can be rephrased as "how granular do you go with the Next Action?".

              His answer is simple-ish. If at the time of writing you really, truly plan and believe to do this "thing" in one big swoop ... it is a (one) next action.

              Taking your example of comparing prices.... If you estimate that this will take you 3 hours and you most probably won't be able to complete it (or don't even plan to complete it) in one sitting... then you need multiple NA's:

              Project: compare widget prices
              • check widgets-r-us.com
              • check widhets-r-them.com
              • search ebay for widgets
              • search Amazon for widgets
              • call Ted 123-123-1234 re his widget recommendation

              As your project progresses and you get interrupted you have your actions checked off and thus your project is bookmarked at the very next action.

              If on the other hand you really plan to do this in one sitting... then it's just one NA:

              @online compare widget prices

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