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Confussion over Yes or No stage of workflow...

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  • Confussion over Yes or No stage of workflow...

    Okay this seems kind of silly but how do you decide what is REALLY actionable? I find myself putting lots of items on my projects or next actions lists because they ARE actionable but then weeks later I haven't done anything with them. I assume at this stage they should be moved to a someday/maybe list, but I feel as though I probably should be doing this at the processing stage. Sometimes I want to get something done, but I know for the next week or so I am going to be too busy... should I leave it there bothering me on the next actions list or should I just put it straight on the someday/maybe list to be reviewed when I have more time? Does anyone else do this and how do you deal with it? I know I have a problem with procrastination, but I also work and study full time and much of the time am just way too tired to do much of what's on my context lists.

  • #2
    When I have something that's "actionable", but that I know I'm not going to get to before weekend-after-next, I'll stick it in my tickler-file, and re-process it then.

    Also, during my weekly review I re-evaluate projects that I haven't made any action on. Are they really active? Or can they be deferred? Contrarywise, do I need to defer some lower-priority projects so that I'll get to this one?

    (Additionally, very often when I find an NA is just not getting done, I realize that it's actually a mini-project in disguise and not really an NA...)


    • #3
      It sounds like placing a copy of my next actions list in my tickler file would be really useful. At the moment I have a couple of projects that seem to be taking lots of my time (not all of it), but definitely all of my energy. I just don't have the energy resources for tackling any of my next actions. I know in a few weeks time I will be more ready for them, so putting them in the tickler file should stop me from worrying about them every time I see them on the next actions list but make sure they are there to be looked at when I am feeling more up to them.

      Also I guess if something comes up at the processing stage that you know is actionable and it needs to be done but you don't really want to do, then it could be made into a project "work out strategy for being more motivated for X" for example.

      Does all this seem like a better way of approaching my problem?


      • #4
        Actionability is not related to time.

        Actionability is not a time-related feature of an item. Something is actionable or not. When you decide that it is actionable then you ask a question if it should be done as soon as possible, on a given day or Someday/Maybe.


        • #5
          Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
          Actionability is not a time-related feature of an item. Something is actionable or not. When you decide that it is actionable then you ask a question if it should be done as soon as possible, on a given day or Someday/Maybe.
          Aren't someday/maybe items non-actionable by definition? Don't you ask straight up is this a next action or a someday/maybe? This is exactly what I was confused about.

          My understanding was (according to the GTD workflow diagram) that if something is actionable then it is either a project or a next action (2 minute item, calendar item, context list item or waiting for). If something is not actionable it is either trash, someday/maybe or reference.

          Looking back on the GTD workflow diagram now I think I understand where the confusion lies. According to the diagram, context list items are "for me to do as soon as I can" (a point I had totally overlooked). Going by this there should be no stress in postponing next actions into the tickler file, because I will still be doing them as soon as I can, knowing that "as soon as I can" will be after I have finished my assessment for uni. They are not someday/maybe because they are actionable at a given time and are important for me to do as soon as I can. The diagram sort of points to this anyway, because sometimes you will have next actions that go on the calendar or other review tools.

          I think actionability can be time related, because what if your next action falls onto a @work context list but you have the next 3 weeks off work... in that case they are actionable, but only when you are at work, so context, and in this case time (3 weeks) do relate to the actionability of the next action. They are still "for me to do as soon as I can" and in that case "as soon as I can" would be in 3 weeks time unless some other arrangements are made. Or what if your next action is to "meet Glenda at 3pm on Tuesday"?

          What do you think?


          • #6
            "Dynamic" and "static" stuff.

            Yes, you are right. According to David Allen's Workflow Diagram Someday/Maybe items are in the "not-actionable" category. But I prefer to divide stuff into two categories: "dynamic" (actionable according to David and Someday/Maybe) and "static" (reference).

            The most important thing is to decide upfront what you are going to do with each incoming item. If you cannot decide - define Next Action "Brainstorm XYZ" or "Get more information about ABC".


            • #7
              I alway thought the "maybe" in Someday/Maybe means "maybe" I get around it, after I finished all the more urgent, the current tasks. So, I would put this into the Someday/Maybe file. However, if you want to play catch all impossible possibilities, you can divide your @next actions lists into 2 parts: do it asap and do it maybe. Or so.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Shiny View Post
                What do you think?
                1. Cool discussion overall.
                2. Your posting made me clear the real use of the tickler file (never used one for too long).
                3. Yes, offcourse, some next actions are timebound. Yes, sometimes the next action is an appointment and belongs into the calendar.


                • #9
                  SDMB+weekly review = 7-day tickler

                  The tickler, in practice, puts a piece of paper or a some other cue that stands for an action or thought into a 3-D ( mechanical )and perpetual calendar so that you can find it on a certain date and then do something with it (take it with you, act on it, move it further along, etc). The tickler as we usually speak of it has a "look at" interval equal to one day. The weekly review is basically putting all your projects, both the active ones and SDMB ones, into a tickler with a seven-day "look at" interval. The question is do you have SDMB projects that you want to be cued to examine at a shorter interval, or perhaps a longer interval?

                  Why would you? GTD as we know it basically says that a project is ACTIVE if you are commited to doing something specific within a known time span (usually 1 week,--please correct me if I am wrong), or at a specific time in the future of which you are cognizant and you have a way of cueing yourself to remember (appointment on calendar). It is SDMB if it does not meet one of these requirements and it should be reviewed every 7 days to decide if you will do an action related to it within the next 7 days, or if not, at a specific time in the future. If it is not either of these, it remains SDMB. However, these time intervals may not suit everything that crosses into our thoughts.

                  Practical issues: There can be a lot of time involved at looking at dozens of SDMBs and they may vary in when they are even useful to think about. A medical student might want to review most of the SDMBs after the semester is over for example. So sometimes certain things are better handled on a list, but with a SDMB for looking at the list, with or without a proposed date range. Most of us would rather put books of interest on a list rather than as individual SDMBs.

                  Comfort level: Sometimes it is uncomfortable to lump together things we know we have to do or should do with wishes, hopes, and intentions. "Mom's ashes are cast into the Pacific" does not feel like it should sit with "Toured Paris Night Spots".

                  Level of Life Control: Sometimes life actions that could and should be routine are not routine (for any of a host of reasons) and thus we are always making ACTIVE PROJECTS and SDMBS for putting out fires. You might not be comfortable with "Electric Bill is paid on time" and Master the Tango in the same category.

                  Given all of the above, note the possible benefits of having one big SDMB list:

                  1. I think that DA comes out of some of "new age" thinking that holds as a basic truth that if you keep thinking about things or conditions as being so that are not yet so, that they will come to be. You need to decide if philosophy fits you or not.

                  2. If SDMB gets too big and cumbersome you may see some patterns or ways of handling things that work better for you, for example as lists or perhaps you discover that some SDMB items are part of a set of guiding values so you will move them up in your system as higher altitude stuff. Or, you may decide you want to let them go because they don't really reflect who you are or want to be.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
                    I think that DA comes out of some of "new age" thinking that holds as a basic truth that if you keep thinking about things or conditions as being so that are not yet so, that they will come to be.
                    Interesting interpretation. I have not gotten the impression that DA believes that thinking makes it so. My impression has always been that he intends the regular reviews to keep all the areas of one's life in the foreground or background, depending on where they belong, and for regular reviews of the NA lists and other lists to activate one's intuition about what can/should be done next.

                    There's a difference between the "law of attraction," as it is popularly expressed, and the exercise of one's intuition about what is already real or can be created or changed by one's own efforts.


                    • #11
                      I guess the issue was that when I was coming to my weekly review I was finding that a lot of the things on my next action context lists just weren't getting done, even thought they were very simple things and needed to be done (not urgently, but as I was saying "as soon as possible"). I was uncomfortable about having them sitting there on the context lists making me feel guilty while I knew I was not prepared to act on them yet. So, I was putting them onto a single SDMB list. Again I didn't feel comfortable having them on there because althought I was reviewing it weekly I still felt guilty about having them there when I knew they needed to be done "as soon as possible" rather than SDMB.

                      Putting a list of these things into a tickler file seems like a good option, but I am thinking now perhaps I could put them into a context list of their own such as context "when I have energy". In that way I should be able to look at them and think okay I don't have energy now, so no need to feel bad about not doing them (in the same way that you wouldn't feel bad about not doing an @home task when you are @work). It would also mean that if for some reason I feel I do have energy within the next few weeks before my uni assessments are finished I could look at it and think "okay I could do one of those now".