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  • Weekly Review = Weekly Next Actions?

    Hi,

    I've come to the conclusion recently that I need to reorganise my GTD system, since some of my current Projects are probably actually 'Areas of Responsibility' That way I should be able to get more of a focused project list with two main benefits; reducing the amount of time my weekly review takes, and also getting some more satisfaction from achieving more goals. Both of which will hopefully give me more incentive to actually do my weekly review every week!

    However, I do have a niggling question about NA's and how they relate to the weekly review. Others have suggested in recent posts that NA's should only be those actions which you intend to complete before the next weekly review. That isn't really practical for me, purely because of the number and size of projects I have, and seems contrary to the 'capture everything' ethos of GTD. If I have an action on a project, I need to capture it - right? It may well not be appropriate to do that action within the next week, but it still needs to go on the relevant NA list - right? If not, where else does it go so I don't lose it? Also, how do people handle actions which are dependent on each other ie.

    1. Call Bob re: proposal
    2. If Bob says yes, draw up contract documents
    3. If Bob says yes, negotiate terms and re-draft proposal

    ...actions 2 and 3 are dependent on the outcome of 1, yet they still need to be captured.

    Sorry this is a bit rambling but I'd appreciate your thoughts on this, and particularly on your interpretation of NA's in the context of the weekly review.

    Thanks
    Apop

  • #2
    Originally posted by Apop View Post
    Others have suggested in recent posts that NA's should only be those actions which you intend to complete before the next weekly review. That isn't really practical for me, purely because of the number and size of projects I have, and seems contrary to the 'capture everything' ethos of GTD.
    If I'm not mistaken, David Allen never actually says that you should only track NA's for the upcoming week. What he says is (something to the effect of), "Your 'projects' list should contain all of your active projects" (since NA's generally flow from projects, I will focus on projects for now). For some people, "active" means "I will do something this week"; for others, it means "I will do something in the next 3 months". You have define your own horizon for what is an active project.


    Originally posted by Apop View Post
    If I have an action on a project, I need to capture it - right? It may well not be appropriate to do that action within the next week, but it still needs to go on the relevant NA list - right? If not, where else does it go so I don't lose it? Also, how do people handle actions which are dependent on each other ie.

    1. Call Bob re: proposal
    2. If Bob says yes, draw up contract documents
    3. If Bob says yes, negotiate terms and re-draft proposal

    ...actions 2 and 3 are dependent on the outcome of 1, yet they still need to be captured.
    This is what a project support folder is for.

    You don't want all of your "if this happens, then do that" items in your NA list. Only things that you can take action on "right now" should be recorded on an NA list. The rest of it should be recorded as part of a project plan or a checklist.

    A good way to think of it is: if I had absolutely nothing else to do besides this project, what would be the very next thing I could accomplish? That one thing should be on your NA list (or your calendar, if that thing can only be done on a certain day/time); everything else that you *might* need to do should be captured in project support.

    So, yes, if you know of an action for a project you should record it. But you don't necessarily have to record it in your NA list.

    Comment


    • #3
      However, I do have a niggling question about NA's and how they relate to the weekly review. Others have suggested in recent posts that NA's should only be those actions which you intend to complete before the next weekly review. That isn't really practical for me, purely because of the number and size of projects I have, and seems contrary to the 'capture everything' ethos of GTD. If I have an action on a project, I need to capture it - right? It may well not be appropriate to do that action within the next week, but it still needs to go on the relevant NA list - right?

      APOP:

      You are correct in your assumption that everything needs to be captured and placed on your Project and/or NA lists. This is pure GTD at it's best. I just spent the last 2.5 days (vacation) doing a thorough mind sweep and system update and captured 10 pages of "stuff" locked into my psychic RAM that needed to be captured and processed into my trusted system. Much of what I captured was a lot of new (more-than-one action step) Projects. Now I did not add each one of those Projects into my Projects list as they are not actionable until spring-summer or later. They went on my Someday/maybe list for review during my Weekly Review. At the appropriate time, I will move them to my Projects list, add a Next Action, and get to work on the Project. All the one-action steps go on the appropriate Next Action lists (@calls, @computer, etc.) and will be processed as I work through my week. I rarely put Next Actions into my Someday/maybe list because they are usually tied to Projects that are either active or nestled in Someday/maybe for the time being.


      If not, where else does it go so I don't lose it? Also, how do people handle actions which are dependent on each other ie.

      1. Call Bob re: proposal
      2. If Bob says yes, draw up contract documents
      3. If Bob says yes, negotiate terms and re-draft proposal

      ...actions 2 and 3 are dependent on the outcome of 1, yet they still need to be captured.


      If I have dependent items, I'll sometimes capture the dependencies in the Notes section of the Project to remind me what I need to do "If Bob says yes". But most of the time, I guess, I am aware enough of the nature of the Project that it's obvious to me that "If Bob says yes" then the Project will be "draw up contract decuments".

      Sorry this is a bit rambling but I'd appreciate your thoughts on this, and particularly on your interpretation of NA's in the context of the weekly review.

      APOP, you are not rambling at all. This is why this community is here: to share what we all are learning as we continue to peel the onion we call GTD.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks

        Thanks! I'm much clearer on this now.

        GTDWorks - I'm impressed with your dedication. I'm not sure I would spend 2.5 days of my vacation processing

        Comment


        • #5
          Well...I was visiting my mother-in-law in Canada and it SNOWED big time. I was "forced" inside because I didn't have the outisde wear I needed to get out into the white stuff. So, GTD won over TV!

          Comment


          • #6
            We don't get two and a half day snow storms in the UK. Perhaps I need to book a vacation over there to get my GTD system working again!!!

            Comment


            • #7
              This is one of those recurring themes.

              A. NAs to do in next week vs all NAs.

              If you write down all NAs, including things that you know that in no way will you ever possibly get to the next 7 days, then your NA list can get bloated and so long that reviewing it may be overwhelming. Also you risk losing track of the higher priority items as they may get lost in the larger number of NAs. Depends on your life and number of projects. On the other hand, perhaps you will unexpectedly find that something you did not expect to do this week fits in perfectly. Personally I need help keeping my priorities straight, and do not want to risk overlooking something, so I only list things I expect to get to in the next week.

              B

              "1. Call Bob re: proposal
              2. If Bob says yes, draw up contract documents
              3. If Bob says yes, negotiate terms and re-draft proposal

              ...actions 2 and 3 are dependent on the outcome of 1, yet they still need to be captured."

              Items 2 and 3 are not NEXT actions. I think David's opinion is to not keep track of items such as 2 and 3 since they will be obvious once you do 1. OTOH many people do keep track of such things and this is why many people use various outliners, and not just the simple palm set-up David advocates. Of course once you start keeping track of things like 2 and 3, then you have another frequently asked question "OK I have a list of projects and each project has planned future actions i.e. 2 and 3, how do I keep the next actions associated with the projects? There is no easy answer I know of. A number of outliners can be helpful, and I have used lifebalance in a very simplified way to do this, though I'm not sure I can recommend this approach.

              Comment


              • #8
                I tracked this for a couple months, and you all might want to try it some time. My goal was to see how many of my 50-100 Projects required more than a single Next Action in order to get it of my mind. The other possibility I counted was Projects that only had one Next Action standing in the way of all the rest. In other words, I couldn't do anything else on the Project until that single Next Action was complete. A lot of these are Projects where the Next Action is a Waiting For.

                Anyway, what I found was that week after week, 80% of my Projects only needed one Next Action. So, that meant that only 10-20 of my Projects actually had multiple things I could do, in any order. An additional 15% only need a little brain dump of about 3-10 next Next Actions to get them off my mind. I just kept these in a little note attached to the Project. Only 5%, or 2-5 Projects required anything more involved in terms of capturing future tasks.

                What I realized from this was that I had been adding a lot of Next Actions to my lists that I couldn't actually do until I finished the Next Actions before them. My lists got a lot cleaner, and my Weekly Reviews a lot shorter. Most of my Projects now only have a single Next Action.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thank you, Scott! Very valuable post.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have realized quite a few of my projects are similar in nature. Therefore, past projects can act as templates and are then resurrected. Also, as I "repeat" projects, I become more familiar with their respective future tasks. I only have to assign future tasks to projects that are new or perhaps a more complex variation. This was only visible once I was using GTD fully for quite a while. Not only have I pared down my NA list, but I am becoming quicker and more efficient at things I have to do and I am able to branch out more easily into different areas.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Beware of over-planning

                      I suggest you just call Bob and then determine your next action based on the result. Trying to plan possible future next actions beyond a next action is considered over-planning.

                      Of course, if these thoughts are banging around in your mind, either call Bob so your mind can let go of them or add them to your project support materials (notes, mindmaps, etc), but don't do anything with your actual lists until you call Bob and see what shows up.

                      Comment

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