Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Feeding Through Actions from Projects to NA Lists

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Feeding Through Actions from Projects to NA Lists

    Hello,

    I have spent a great deal of time scouring the various GTD forums and re-reading David Allen's book over this last weekend and into today. I have even managed to setup a Tickler files system in manual format. I have a natural tendency to the digital solution having been a longtime MindManager user, although ResultManager seems a little pricey. I am also looking at My Life Organised due to its Windows Mobile capabilities. At the risk of seeming dumb, I'd be grateful if somebody could confirm the correct methodology for feeding through actions onto my Next Action list. Projects can hold many, many tasks and it is my understanding that each action only gets released to the NA lists once the preceding action for a particular project is completed.
    I'd be grateful for a steer on this please.

    Cheers

    Ritchie

  • #2
    Originally posted by banjoplucker View Post
    Projects can hold many, many tasks and it is my understanding that each action only gets released to the NA lists once the preceding action for a particular project is completed.
    This is fundamentally correct. The only thing on your NA list should be the very next thing you could possibly do to move the project forward. Think to yourself, "If I had nothing else in the world to do other than work on this project, what is the next thing I would/could do?"

    That said, project "tasks" are not always equivalent to the "next action". For example, the next task for a project might be "call Joe about scheduling widget delivery". If you don't have Joe's number handy, then the next action needs to be "look up Joe's phone number" -- this is not something you'd usually put in a project plan, but it may be a very real and important part of completing the task.

    Comment


    • #3
      Penny Dropping!

      Thanks for getting back, jk. It would appear that projects still retain their own in-basket, but the difference is that the items have been processed and assessed to generate pending next actions. They are out of the mental RAM!

      Regards

      Ritchie

      Comment


      • #4
        “…my understanding is that each action only gets released to the NA lists once the preceding action for a particular project is completed…”

        @Ritchie, you’re on the right track! You kind of drip-feed project actions into your next action list.

        Imagine the project is “Repair Car”. You’d think through what you need to do to complete the project. In your project notes you might come up with:

        Repair Car:
        1) Order new gasket from www.GTD-Autos.com
        2) Call Fred to borrow his wrench set
        3) Check Service Manual to get gasket part number
        4) Fit new gasket

        Now at this time, none of these are in your next actions list, they’re simply the steps you thought you’d need to take to either mark a start on or complete the project.

        Looking at them, you can’t do 4 right now as it depends upon all the rest.

        You could do 2 and 3.

        But you can’t do 1 as you don’t know the part number yet!

        So at this stage, what’s the very next action(s) that would get this moving towards completion?

        Steps 2 and 3 can be done right now, so you add them to your next action lists.

        For example:

        @Calls: Call Fred to borrow his wrench set
        @Home: Check Service Manual to get gasket part number

        These are clearly defined steps that you can do right now without having to complete preceding actions first.

        So @Home you check the service manual and find the part number.

        Now, you can write the part number in your “Repair Car” project notes and at the same time, mini-review the project to see what the new next action will be.

        This is a key point – at each time you complete a next action for a project, consider what you have just completed and think of the new next action the completion triggers.

        It may be an action you noted before in the project notes or it may be a completely new next action. But basically, when you complete a next action, think then what the “new” next action should be.

        As you now know the part number, you could now add step 1 to the next actions list:

        @Online: Order new gasket from www.GTD-Autos.com

        So you order the gasket online and as you tick it off as completed what does this trigger?

        Add it to the @Waiting For list so you can track the order.

        In the meantime you @Calls: Call Fred and arrange to pickup the wrench sometime that week.

        This in turn then triggers @Town: Visit Fred and borrow wrench or you may put it on your calendar instead: Wed 12-Sept – Visit Fred and Borrow Wrench etc.

        Next, the gasket arrives, so it’s ticked off the @Waiting For list and you review you project list again.

        Only thing stopping you now is Fred’s Wrench! So you visit Fred and borrow his wrench. This triggers a tickler item/calendar reminder for say 7 days time: “Remember to return Fred’s wrench!”

        So now you’re set and the next time you are @Home and you feel up for it and have the time, you decide to fit the gasket as it’s pretty important. (Based on the “Context, Time, Energy, Priority” method of choosing what to do and when).

        You fit the gasket, tick it off the list and it appears the project is complete. You’re glad it’s done and out of the way – but you forget all about returning Fred’s wrench!

        But 5 days later either your tickler file or your calendar reminder saves the day and reminds you to return Fred’s Wrench!

        But, say you broke the wrench? Then it’s back to @Online: Order new wrench from www.GTD-Autos.com, when that’s done it’s on the @Waiting For list. When it arrives, it’s ticked off the @Waiting For list and this triggers @Town: Visit Fred and give him the new wrench.

        The absolute key is picking up on the new next actions once a next action is completed! Reviewing your next action and projects lists whenever an action is completed is a good start. Sometimes it’s pretty obvious what a completion will trigger; sometimes it’s not!

        Also, you don’t have to note all the exact actions in the project notes before you start – sometimes the actions change from what you initially planned.

        In the above example, when you try to order the part from www.GTD-Autos.com say you find they’ve gone out of business! Then the next action is @Online: Google for supplier of XYZ wrenches!

        The key is that your next actions lists are specific do-able actions right now (at the right context). There should be nothing there can’t be done until other next actions are completed.

        It means you simply look at the actions lists and can go and do the actions.

        You’re not thinking “Well, I can’t do that until I’ve ordered that. But I can't order that till I’ve checked the part number! And I can't check the service manual until I'm back at home!”

        In this way, the project is broken down into smaller, do-able actions that lead you to the successful completion of the project.

        Hope this helps, let me know if not! Sorry if I’ve over simplified it too much – please don’t be offended!

        Good luck, best regards,

        Andy.
        Last edited by AndyD; 09-10-2007, 04:07 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Same Project, paralell NAs in different Contexts!

          AndyD - great example, thanks!

          I'm getting a bit carried away now...but can you have 2 independent, parallel tasks from the same project on the NA list but assigned to different Contexts?

          Regards

          Ritchie

          Comment


          • #6
            It's down to personal preference!

            @Ritchie, "...can you have 2 independent, parallel tasks from the same project on the NA list but assigned to different Contexts...?"

            It's down to personal preference, some people will limit their next action lists so they only contain one or two actions from each project - so they're not swamped with potentially dozens of next actions and become numbed to their lists.

            Others, myself included will add as many non-dependent tasks to the lists as the project requires.

            Classic example would be:

            Repair Car (Project)
            1) Buy Oil
            2) Buy XL Gasket
            3) Buy filters
            4) Change oil
            5) Fit gasket
            6) Fit Filters

            Now, you can't do 4, 5 or 6 until you do 1, 2 or 3.

            But you could put 1, 2 and 3 on your next action list as they're not dependent on any previous tasks.

            For example:

            @Town: @GTD-Autos, buy oil
            @Town: @GTD-Autos, buy XL Gasket
            @Town: @GTD-Autos, buy filters

            So you pop into GTD-Autos, go though your list and buy the items you need.

            The alternative is where only one of these items would make it to the next action list. You'd complete it, check your project notes and add the next action.

            For example:

            @Town: @GTD-Autos, buy oil

            "Done that, what's next in the project notes?"

            "Oh yes, @Town: @GTD-Autos, buy XL Gasket... Will do that next..."

            And so on... But in practice, this would mean a lot of list checking between project and action lists while you're stood in the middle of GTD-Autos!

            It's perhaps an over simplified and unfair comparison as it's almost just a shopping list rather than specific next actions but it gives you an idea.

            Also, bare in mind that the actions you originally thought you'd need to take may change throughout the course of a project.

            So you might end up removing some next actions that become irrelevant due to a change in the project plan!

            If you only have a single next action per project on your lists means you're having to review the lists more often.

            Having several parallel non-dependent next actions on your lists means you can rattle through the actions with less list reviewing, but you might find you have to add, remove or change the next actions as the project progresses.

            Hope this helps, let me know if not!

            Good luck, best regards,

            Andy.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by AndyD View Post
              Repair Car:
              1) Order new gasket from www.GTD-Autos.com
              2) Call Fred to borrow his wrench set
              3) Check Service Manual to get gasket part number
              4) Fit new gasket
              Then there is the sequence (real life) of events

              Teenager hits wife's car.
              Ask for estimate from dealer AND contact kid's insurance
              Won't know if fixable until repairs started
              Wait for parts
              Repairs started
              Car is totalled
              Negotiate with insurance AND Shop for new car

              Note the parallel sequences, and the fact that I am NOT showing next actions. The next actions are too fine-grained. I have not shown several detours and loops that occurred, either. A detailed project plan is sometimes just a straightjacket. 85% or so of the time, I only need a project and one or more next actions. Try it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Even in the same context.

                Originally posted by banjoplucker View Post
                but can you have 2 independent, parallel tasks from the same project on the NA list but assigned to different Contexts?
                Even in the same context. There is no limit on the number of Next Actions defined for a Project. The only requirement is that each Next Action must be physical and immediately doable.

                Comment

                Working...
                X