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Newbie: Create all next actions, or just THE next action?

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  • Newbie: Create all next actions, or just THE next action?

    I was wondering, for a given project that requires multiple actions, is the preferred method to come up with all the actions for that project at once, and shuffle in each "next action" into your NA list as you finish the previous action? Or is it better to just come up with the next action, and then wait until you've finished that next action before determining the action after that?

  • #2
    I think that depends on the project. For something that requires a lot of planning it's best to write out at least the major actions required for the project. For smaller projects though, most people intuitively do the next actions without having to stop and look at a list. For those, writing out all the actions required would be a waste of time.

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    • #3
      I would put all the next actions that you can actually do now on your list.

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      • #4
        I'm a newbie too, so adjust my authoritativeness accordingly.

        The impression I'm starting to get is that if you have a project, and you have a bunch of ideas about actions for that project floating around in your psychic RAM, then you should off load those actions on to your project support material. Some of them you can probably do at the earliest convenient time, and here I would agree with jennifergeorge and say put ALL those on your NA list even if it is more than one. The ones you can't can go on your project plan (which could just be a scrap of paper with stuff to do scribbled on it).

        And I also agree with Gilli that it depends on the size of the project. However, I think if you have ideas about things you're supposed to do for a project, and have not captured them out of your mind, then is not some part of your brain being used to keep tabs on those actions? And are these not open loops?

        David Allen says (Getting Things Done, pg. 77):
        "How much of this planning model do you really need to flesh out, and to what degree of detail? The simple answer is, as much as you need to get the project off your mind."
        (my emphasis.)

        Actually I think you'll find that the bottom of page 77 and the next page 78 apply pretty well to your question.

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        • #5
          Yes.

          Write down as many Actions as you have to, and no more.

          It's often surprising how many projects only need one Next Action. And there's a lot of power in having just one Action to concentrate on.

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          • #6
            I would add this: add as many next actions as needed to move the project along. Ideas for more actions can be put in the project support materials to get them off your mind. Give yourself permission to adjust, erase or add next actions as the project evolves and things "come up". Some people get stuck being too rigid, i think, about next actions. I know i have in the past. Good luck!

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