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  • NA's and the Weekly Review

    More and more questions....but that's just me!

    Should your Project and NA lists contain only those things that you want (or will) do that week? Averything else goes in the someday/maybe list? Then when you have your weekly review you can reasses those someday/maybe's and if the timing is right - move them into the NA and Projects lists.

    Thoughts on this?

    Ryan

  • #2
    Hi Ryan, there have been a few discussions about this. It seems to be a personal choice. Some people like to only have their projects/NAs for the next week (or 2 or 3) listed in the projects and context lists. For the others, they are all either listed in the S/M list or some people maintain a third category, of pending projects, of things committed to, but not required in the next 1-3 weeks.

    Other people keep everything that's committed to, regardless of timeline in the lists.

    HTH,

    Adam

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    • #3
      Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
      Should your Project and NA lists contain only those things that you want (or will) do that week?
      This is a matter of some debate. I, personally, prefer to keep my lists short and so I limit it to what I call "reasonable possibilities". A lot factors into that but it includes things that I will commit to doing and which I might reasonably expected to have the time for over the next couple weeks. That would be time after every high priority item and items with a deadline is taken care of.

      Tom S.

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      • #4
        You've got the right idea, the only variable being how far out projects have to be before they move from S/M to Projects/NAs. I like the Time/Design approach, which I wrote about here:
        Finally, I really like their focus on a maximum of 60 days for actions. If you're not ready to act in two months, put it on the Someday/Maybe, or capture start/end dates in the annual planning pages. This can lead to having a smaller list of next actions, something I appreciate.
        I'm coming to believe that having too many projects is itself overwhelming. There was a recent study on multitasking that found the optimum workload for executives (recruiters, in this case) was 4-6 projects, taking 2-5 mo. ea. Implications for GTD? Well, first we have many more projects, due to the fine-granularity definition of "project." Also, we track all projects from work and life. Combined with the 60 day idea, this leads me to wonder if it would be reasonable to "cap" the list around 20 or 30? Just playing here!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by cornell View Post
          There was a recent study on multitasking that found the optimum workload for executives (recruiters, in this case) was 4-6 projects, taking 2-5 mo. ea.
          Do you have more information on this study, who conducted it or where you found it?

          Originally posted by cornell View Post
          Combined with the 60 day idea, this leads me to wonder if it would be reasonable to "cap" the list around 20 or 30? Just playing here!
          You may be just playing, but I agree that if someone's lists are overwhelming them, they need to do some kind of reasonableness assessment. Putting a hard number on it may be difficult because 20 Classic Projects would be overwhelming while 30 David Allen, 2-3 small step projects may be trivial.

          I know that when I've had 7-8 projects in the 2-6 month range, the mental overhead of switching from project to project was enormous. When reading an email or having a conversation start in the hall, having to stop and realize "Which project is this? What stage is it? Is this information or something actionable? What is the answer/status this person is requesting?" is taxing.

          Comment


          • #6
            An Optimal Number

            Based on cornell's post, it seems that the "five plus or minus two" rule is still alive and well.

            Part of the problem with determining the optimal number of active projects is the "intermittency" of the work. Furashgf has a thread going right now about "Big Rock" projects, where he seems to go pretty much heads down for a solid week. If you have these kinds of projects, then your optimal number is probably one project of this type with a couple of smaller "pebble" and "sand" projects to fill in odd moments. On the other hand, if your projects tend to have a work-and-wait pattern, you should be able to get away with a lot more active projects (hoping fervently that they don't all hit the work phase at the same time).

            Personally I tend to keep too many projects active. I move active projects back to someday/maybe when I review it (again) and realize that: 1) I haven't worked on it for a couple of weeks, 2) I can't work on it this week, and 3) I probably won't be able to work on it for another couple of weeks.

            Comment


            • #7
              Wasn't it seven?

              Originally posted by Scott_L_Lewis View Post
              Based on cornell's post, it seems that the "five plus or minus two" rule is still alive and well.
              Wasn't it seven?
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mag...s_or_Minus_Two

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                Hmmm, must have been the 10th thing I was trying to remember...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Five Plus or Minus Two

                  Just for giggles I googled "five plus or minus two". Now that I have gotten over a bad case of google giggles, I'm happy to report that there appear to be a lot of "five plus or minus two" rules out there as well. Most seem to be design rules of various types.

                  I'm also happy to report that I haven't totally lost it.
                  Last edited by Scott_L_Lewis; 05-29-2007, 07:52 AM. Reason: Modified last sentence.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by roakleyca View Post
                    More and more questions....but that's just me!

                    Should your Project and NA lists contain only those things that you want (or will) do that week? Averything else goes in the someday/maybe list? Then when you have your weekly review you can reasses those someday/maybe's and if the timing is right - move them into the NA and Projects lists.

                    Thoughts on this?

                    I use TR (Thinking Rock) and fill the details of a project. Some of actions are described in the "Brainstorming" or "Organizing" fields and I may describe many as NAs but not all of them. But if there are too many NAs they can be put as inactive. This way I don't need to move, just to change its status during the review.


                    "Planning
                    To plan the project/sub-project, there are five recommended steps:
                    Enter the purpose: this is the "why" you are doing this project/sub-project.
                    Try to visualise the results: view the project/sub-project beyond the completion date
                    Brainstorming: just write all the ideas that come into your mind about this project/sub-project, you will analyse them and organise them later.
                    Organising: a natural organisation will probably emerge during the brainstorming step. You need to:
                    identify the key steps;sort them out by component, sequences and priorities;
                    detailed them to the right level.
                    Next actions: during this step, you will create the actions or sub-projects required for this project/sub-project. You can either just enter the next subtask to get the project/sub-project starting or continuing, or enter as many next subtasks you can think of at the moment about this project/sub-project and decide which ones are active (i.e. to be done currently).Please note that there are no limits to sub-project nesting."

                    Thinking rock http://www.thinkingrock.com.au/screenshots.php


                    Silvia

                    PS: Ryan, I can only contribute with what I use, that's why I mentioning this software which helps me understand and learn GTD.

                    Let me add an information on how to change an inactive action in TR:

                    "There are also 2 ways in which inactive action will become DoASAP action
                    (or NA) automatically:

                    * set auto-sequencing on the project: when an action is set as done,
                    the next inactive action becomes Do ASAP;
                    * set a start date for the inactive action: when start date reached,
                    the action becomes Do ASAP.""
                    Last edited by silvia225; 06-17-2007, 10:35 PM. Reason: add information

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                    • #11
                      Couple of general thoughts.

                      1) The Project vs. Someday/Maybe distinction is about "working on vs. not working on". It is not intended for "short-term vs. long-term". You are either committed to reaching the outcome as soon as you can, and therefore need a Next Action in place, or you aren't committed yet, and you don't.

                      2) A help will be to keep the Next Actions short and specific. Then, you will have the opportunity to move on many more things (if only a little bit) during the course of the week. Focus is good, but so is the ability to do something small and brainless that keeps a project moving. Keeping the Next Actions Next Actions is a tough thing to do. "Draft proposal" is a tough Next Action for me because I tend to resist starting it until I have enough time to complete it (and finding a solid hour or whatever is tough and leads to the dreaded "I'll just stay late or come in early when no one is here and bugging me" syndrome). "Make outline for proposal" is better for me. I can be more flexible about when I do it because it is a smaller piece, and I can check it off and feel progress instead of the stress of having one more semi-finished action I am mentally juggling.

                      Best,
                      Scott

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