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NA's: How Many is Too Many?

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  • NA's: How Many is Too Many?

    On another thread I asked this question and didnt really get a clear answer. How many NA's is too many? If you have too many, which ones do you get rid of? Where do you put them?

    I have 164 right now and would have many more if I really wrote everything down...

  • #2
    It's hard to give a clear answer because NAs are so personal. A few thoughts, though...

    Not writing them down doesn't make them go away. Write *everything* down.

    Yes, 164 is probably too many, unless they are all very tiny. How long would it take you to actually do all of them, assuming no interruptions and no new tasks? If the answer is more than a week or two, you might need to rethink your commitments: you're probably not going to be able to meet all of them. FWIW, I currently have 78 NAs, not including recurring tasks, and I'm feeling completely swamped.

    Getting rid of NAs is likewise a very personal question. My optional "might be nice if" might be your absolutely critical priority. When I prune my lists, though, I usually start with the tasks that seem to be hanging around week after week. Are they projects in disguise that need to be broken down further? (Add to project list, replace with better NA.) Are they really *next* actions, or does something else need to happen first? (Move to project support, replace with better NA.) Are they things that have been overtaken by events and are no longer relevant? (Delete.) Or are they stuff that would be nice, but I'm not willing to dedicate the resources to get them done? (Move to Someday/Maybe.)

    Hope this helps,

    Katherine

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    • #3
      My current list

      @Agendas 58
      @Anywhere 7
      @Calls 23
      @Computer 50
      @Errands 3
      @Home 18
      @Networked 23
      @Office 35
      --------------
      Total I own: 217
      @Waiting Fors 106
      Total Next Actions: 323

      Projects 129 (73 of which are delegated projects)
      Someday 81

      I've been pretty slammed lately so this is probably too many. The key to GTD is that once you get everything written down then you start to make real choices about what is really a next action that you are going to do and what is on your list that you are going to have the courage to at least renegotiate with yourself and move to someday/mabye or perhaps better yet boldly decide not to do.

      Personally I prefer to keep as many of my Next Actions as possible to be waiting fors. Those take almost no time. I review them during my weekly review and send notes to people who owe me stuff reminding them if the item is close to due or overdue. I probably need to do some delegation of some of my @Computer stuff this afternoon...

      How many is too many is so personal. How much discretionary time do you have? If you're booked 60-90% of your day you'd better have a pretty short next action list. If you don't have anything on your calendar for the next two weeks, well then you should have plenty of time to work on a longer list.

      It also matters how long your standard next action takes. My @Computer list tends to get long because many of the tasks there are reviewing documents for publication. Many of these are fairly long and can take an hour or more. Hard to get an hour on my calendar. Easier to knock out a few 5-10 minute next actions on the @Office list...

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      • #4
        Here's my NA's in Entourage as of tonight:

        @Agenda 26 people
        @Calls 17
        @Creative Writing 0
        @Daily Reminders 9
        @Email 19
        @Errands 20
        @Home 9
        @MacBook Pro 25
        @Office 32
        @Online 5 (I may merge this with MacBook Pro)
        @Waiting for 8
        Projects: 55
        Projects: A (A Major Project Requiring it's own Context): 18

        I will work many of these off once I'm back in the office. Depending on the week, I may have more or less. I get uncomfortable, though, if my NA's lists are not below 10-15 in each context going into the weekend.

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        • #5
          I agree with Kewms. Everything depends but it's more or less possible to calculate. For example you work 5 days a week, from 10 to 18. So we have 5*8=40 hours per week. You have 168 Next Actions. Let's say each of them is appoximatelly 15 minutes. So we get 168*15=2520 minutes or 42 hours of work to do. And that's only predefined work. You also have to define work and get input. Do you think you can do all of that next week?

          I assume 1 project has 1 NA which is equal to 15 minutes. Plus you have 1 hour per day for defining and 20% of time for doing not-predefined work. So we have:

          - 60*5=350 min per week for defining
          - 2400*20%=480 min per week for doing not-predefined work
          - 2400-350-480=1570 min for predefined work
          - 1570/15=104 Next Actions per week

          That's equial to 90-100 projects per week. But having in mind you touch each only once for 15 minutes

          What do you think about my assumptions?

          Regards,
          Eugene.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by kewms View Post
            It's hard to give a clear answer because NAs are so personal. A few thoughts, though...

            Not writing them down doesn't make them go away. Write *everything* down.

            Yes, 164 is probably too many, unless they are all very tiny. How long would it take you to actually do all of them, assuming no interruptions and no new tasks? If the answer is more than a week or two, you might need to rethink your commitments: you're probably not going to be able to meet all of them. FWIW, I currently have 78 NAs, not including recurring tasks, and I'm feeling completely swamped.
            I would like to agree with Katherine, here. Every week I ask myself, "Am I really going to do this is any reasonable period of time? Truthfully, can I do it in any reasonable period of time?" "Reasonable period of time" is a personal thing that in my case can actually vary from action to action but for me its never more than a week. If the answer is, "No" it goes on the someday/maybe or in the ticklers. I don't need things in front of my that I'm simply not going to do right now and I certainly don't need to be constantly reminded of all the junk I'd like to do but can't. Its useless and, in fact, it can be destructive on the psych.

            My advice would be to get tough and cut that list down to something more reasonable. Plan your week and decide what needs to be done and what doesn't, what can get done and what can't. You don't have to get it all done but you have to at least cut it down to only the reasonable options. IMO you really have to be honest with yourself and, truthfully, you just have to be brutal. There's no other word for it.

            Good luck,
            Tom S.

            Comment


            • #7
              I've been using this simple rule lately:

              If I'm going to do the action in the next week, then it's a Next Action.

              If not, then it's a Someday.

              I review all of my Somdays during my weekly review, and move any to next actions that I will do in the coming week.
              Last edited by Chad; 04-07-2007, 01:24 PM. Reason: I see that I just basically repeated what Tom said above me. So, I agree with Tom!

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