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  • NAs identified while processing??

    I am going to process all the stuff on my desk this afternoon. I have walled off the time and have 2 hours. As I process, I know what to do with papers (trash, shred, complete if 2 mintues or less, file into existing folder or label one if needed) and I know to put an singleton action right on the appropriate context list. But what should I do to remind myself of actions I plan to do but that are not Next Actions. These can be part of exisiting projects (active or SDMB) or for a project needs to be created. I can't always remember if the project has been defined yet, so then I have to look it up on my project list. Do I just write a note and put in my in-basket and then re-connect these to projects at Weekly Review time? Do I put note in the project support file if one exists?

    I may have some examples in an hour or so when I intend to take a break.

  • #2
    I would connect the action to the project immediately, creating the project if necessary. You'll have to do it eventually, and until you do these items will just bog down your inbox.

    Undoable actions are basically project support, so that's where I'd file them.

    Katherine
    Last edited by kewms; 12-06-2006, 09:57 AM.

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    • #3
      As for me I write the action on a sheet of paper and put this in the inbox (under the bottom of the pile that is still unprocessed) and then deal with it later.

      That is, I go the way of the least effort at that moment when the idea of that action pops up in my mind, because I don't want to interrupt the flow of processing at that moment. The manual work of filing (organizing) will be done later.

      Rainer

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      • #4
        You list two examples of stuff you might find:

        1) "part of exisiting projects (active or SDMB)" -- In this case, drop it into the appropriate manila folder. If you don't have one, label a blank one and drop it in. Remember that you'll return to that project within seven days, at your next Weekly Review.

        2) "for [which] a project needs to be created." -- I'd add it to the Projects list, label a new folder, and drop it into your filing cabinet.

        Creating a new folder should take less than two minutes.

        You do have a bunch of blank manila folders and a filing cabinet ready to go, right?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
          But what should I do to remind myself of actions I plan to do but that are not Next Actions.
          If these are things that come to mind as you're processing, then the comments above fit.

          However, if you're going through the stuff on your desk and you come across something that's not a next action, you should deal with it as you get to it. So first question is, what is it? You've already said you could trash it or complete it. It could go on your someday maybe list, in your reference files or become part of a project support file. Do you need to keep the paper/item or does putting it on your someday maybe or project list capture it? If you need to keep it (for someday maybe, reference or a project) and you don't know if you have already set up a project file, check your project file, reference file or someday maybe lists or files to see if it's there. If not, put it on the appropriate list (SD/MB or Project) and either create the file and file it OR if you think it will be more efficient to do all the folders at once, set it in a staggered pile for folders with a sticky on top of each that says its category(SD/MB, Reference or project) and the name. Note on the item that support materials exist in "foldername".
          If the file already exists, it should be easier to go ahead and place it in the file than to create a note to yourself to file it and where to file it.

          Then if you've chosen to create all the files at once, based on how many files you need to create, reserve the last 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half hour, of your two hours to stop, make the folders, file the materials and put them away. Even if you haven't gone through all your stuff, the stuff you have gone through has been completely handled.

          I've covered more than actions that are not next actions. This is really anything that's not a next action.

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          • #6
            Free NAs

            I have an electronic system, but I don't see why this can't work for a paper one. I use the concept of Someday/Maybe for both projects and loose NAs. So a whole project (with any captured NAs and support material) can be listed as S/M, but so can an individual NA.

            If I come across a loose NA that I don't actually want to do yet, I first judge whether it has a future time frame. For example, I remember (in the midst of a review or processing session) that a package is supposed to arrive by Friday. So in my calendar I add a tickler for "Package in?" (which takes less than 2 minutes). Friday comes, I see the tickler... either it did come in, in which case there's no NA or it didn't, in which case I add an NA to track the package down. Lots of my loose NAs are like this and the tickler (in whatever form it takes in your system) works great.

            But some NAs don't have a specific future time frame. For example, I may want to clean out my car (just as soon as I can), but I know it's not going to happen this week because it's a) freezing and b) hectic. So I create it as an NA but on my Someday/Maybe list. These get reviewed weekly just like my other S/Ms to see which might become active. I also have a task during my weekly review to tie any loose NAs to their respective projects. That way, they don't get lost (and I may actually get some of them done in the mean time) but they still eventually get tracked for their project.

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            • #7
              Hmmmm. Great that it's working for you, but to me, "Clean out the car" isn't a Next Action. It's a Project.

              A very small Project, but still.

              Could some of the things labeled as "Next Actions" in your Someday/Maybe list perhaps be small projects?

              Just thinking out loud. Or on keyboard.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Brent View Post
                Hmmmm. Great that it's working for you, but to me, "Clean out the car" isn't a Next Action. It's a Project.

                A very small Project, but still.

                Could some of the things labeled as "Next Actions" in your Someday/Maybe list perhaps be small projects?

                Just thinking out loud. Or on keyboard.
                Brent has a good point. Some actions toward cleaning out the car can probably be done in a few seconds the next time you drive it. Collecting and throwing away the juice boxes the kids left behind, say. Others, like vacuuming or cleaning crushed crayons off the seats, probably require a bit more effort.

                At least for me, this is the kind of project that it really helps to break down. I already know that I can't write a book in one sitting, and break it down into smaller chunks more or less automatically. But I tend to miss that smaller projects *aren't* next actions, and therefore miss small opportunities to chip away at the edges. Worse, the whole project can stall because I'm unconsciously resisting one of the steps.

                Katherine

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by kewms View Post
                  Brent has a good point.
                  Interesting. I'd never thought of it that way, but it makes sense. Still, I don't want every NA in my world to have to be a project just to maintain the system because it seems to add a sometimes unnecessary level of complexity. Even if "Clean out car" is a small project (and I wasn't thinking "Clean Inside of Car" so much as "Do a trash dump") it doesn't need a project folder/item/entry does it? If I change my "Clean Car" NA to "Get trash bag and put in car" once I do that, I know the next action is "fill up the bag" right?

                  Do you guys even have loose NAs? Or is nearly everything a project?

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                  • #10
                    I would say that if you resist adding projects because they bring unnecessary complexity, then your system has too much overhead. (Exactly this realization was what drove my recent radical simplification of my system, FWIW.)

                    I don't think "loose" NAs without a project are necessarily bad. "Put trash bag in car" is a perfectly good NA and may be just the impetus you need to fill it up and clear the trash out of the car. Yay!

                    The problem for me is that my brain doesn't work that way. And so I end up with "clean out car" on my NA list, and it never gets done because when I'm actually in the car I don't have a trash bag, and when I'm not in the car it's too much of an interruption to do it, and so the litter in the car accumulates until I can't stand to drive it and am embarrassed to admit that it's my car, and you don't even want to know what's growing in that old McDonald's wrapper...

                    You see what I mean.

                    It's not a problem to have loose NAs, but it's a potentially huge problem to have NAs that are really projects in disguise. So if the thing in your inbox is "clean out car" you need to push yourself to figure out what the real Next Action would be. Once you've done that, you certainly could add a "clean out car" project, but I don't think it really matters. Finding the true NA was the critical step, IMO.

                    (On the other hand, if you do have a project, you'll know where to put any new actions that you discover along the way. Such as dealing with the crushed crayon you find. Sometimes the most trivial projects are the most prone to mission creep. You also might add the "buy trash barrel for garage" action or other steps to keep the problem from recurring.)


                    Katherine

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kewms View Post
                      I don't think "loose" NAs without a project are necessarily bad. "Put trash bag in car" is a perfectly good NA and may be just the impetus you need to fill it up and clear the trash out of the car. Yay!

                      The problem for me is that my brain doesn't work that way. And so I end up with "clean out car" on my NA list, and it never gets done...
                      Originally posted by kewms View Post
                      It's not a problem to have loose NAs, but it's a potentially huge problem to have NAs that are really projects in disguise. So if the thing in your inbox is "clean out car" you need to push yourself to figure out what the real Next Action would be. Once you've done that, you certainly could add a "clean out car" project, but I don't think it really matters. Finding the true NA was the critical step, IMO.
                      Wise thoughts, as usual from you. This is a problem that I commonly face. The irony of it all is that I do see these hidden projects when I'm doing my weekly review, but I don't have the motivation to find the true Next Action or the courage/honesty to move them to Someday-Maybe.

                      I have a long way to go before I implement the GTD methodology properly.

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                      • #12
                        Car Wash @Errands

                        Originally posted by kewms View Post
                        So if the thing in your inbox is "clean out car" you need to push yourself to figure out what the real Next Action would be. Once you've done that, you certainly could add a "clean out car" project, but I don't think it really matters.
                        When I see that my car needs cleaning I put "Car Wash" on my @Errands and I'm done. The manual car wash is near the shopping center so I can leave my car do the shopping and when I return my car is clean.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by kewms View Post
                          ...so the litter in the car accumulates until I can't stand to drive it and am embarrassed to admit that it's my car, and you don't even want to know what's growing in that old McDonald's wrapper...
                          Oh, do I feel your pain!

                          I totally get the "Project disguised as a NA" issue. I still do it, but I try to fix it when I do the weekly review. The issue of not wanting to make projects is different and one I'm going to have to think about... I obviously have some resistance there and I'm not sure why.

                          Anyway, I think I've hijacked this thread enough.

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                          • #14
                            Clean Car =

                            Interesting. Obviously the Next Action "Clean Car" would means something different on different people's lists. So it's a good thing we each work off our own lists.
                            Clear out my car
                            Clean out the juice boxes the kids left
                            Do a trash dump
                            Get trashbag and put in car
                            Vacuum the car
                            Clean crushed crayons off seat
                            Buy trash barrel for garage
                            Take car to car wash

                            And for me, I see this as a habit rather than a project
                            Everytime I get out of the car, make sure the interior is ready to invite people to ride in (in other words, clear out any trash, loose papers, library books, etc.)
                            Once every (week/2 weeks) take the car to the car wash.
                            None of it goes on my NAs, unless it's a special trip to the car wash for a specific event.

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