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Working On A Single Project vs. Next Actions

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  • #16
    A couple of points to add

    Most of the important stuff has already been covered, but I have to add my $0.02.

    Firstly, ruthlessly trim your Project list so that it only holds stuff that you'll work on within the next week or so: everything else goes on your Someday/Maybe list. In your weekly review, you can swap projects between the two lists, but I find I work better with a restricted field of focus.

    Secondly, try using an idea covered here by Leo of Zen Habits: the Most Important Tasks. Last thing in the evening, before you leave work, pick the three most important tasks (not projects, not Next Actions, but tasks) to work on the next day. Start them first thing when you get in, and don't get distracted by anything else (such as email). Do them one at a time until they're done. If you finish before the end of the day, pick 3 more, or use Merlin Mann's clever (10 + 2) * 5 procrastination hack to knock out a few small tasks.

    If you do this now and again, you get big chunks of work done on large projects, which sounds like what you're missing. Then use your NA lists for those small windows of time that you would otherwise waste.

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    • #17
      I would agree with much that has been said here. Don't worry too much about being "orthodox." You have to trim and tweak your work methods so they make sense to you.

      I've come to keep my master action lists on the back burner. They're for times when I don't have the energy for big projects. At the beginning of each day I review them for anything urgent and/or important, but I don't try to act from them all the time.

      In fact, I've departed pretty heavily from standard GTD methods. I've found that I need the discipline of daily todo lists and work schedules. For me (but obviously not for others), I kept compiling huge lists of actions that only led to greater overwhelm---more than when I was off GTD altogether. No matter how many times I'd reviewed all my projects and actions and made sure actions were actionable, I'd still end up staring blankly at a big long list. There was no sense of down time; I felt like I always had a mountain of todos to get through; the longer things stayed on my lists, the more a sense of failure I felt.

      I've come to realize that I need a multitiered system (similar to ZTD). I keep a master list of projects and actions (with "tags" for contexts and target dates for completion and deadlines to give me a sense of my work load). I review this each morning; from it I create a manageable todo list of commitments for the day (and map out my time). These are the things I'm going to get done TODAY. It feels great to make this agreement with myself and to meet it.

      Periodically, I work through my master list and try to take care of the little tasks that have been accumulating. During the weekly review, I try to be ruthless in trimming my master list of things that don't belong there, deleting them or moving them to someday/maybe.

      At the end of the day, I save 30 minutes to get done new things that have come across my radar (emails, forms, etc.). If I don't get them done, they go on my master list.

      I view the master list as my "safety net." It's there to make sure that nothing that I have to do falls through the cracks. But I'd go crazy if I tried to work from it all the time. That's where the standard GTD method didn't work for me.

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      • #18
        I agree, I use a very similar method where the daily task plan is very important in order to avoid procrastination.


        Originally posted by madalu View Post
        I would agree with much that has been said here. Don't worry too much about being "orthodox." You have to trim and tweak your work methods so they make sense to you.

        I've come to keep my master action lists on the back burner. They're for times when I don't have the energy for big projects. At the beginning of each day I review them for anything urgent and/or important, but I don't try to act from them all the time.

        In fact, I've departed pretty heavily from standard GTD methods. I've found that I need the discipline of daily todo lists and work schedules. For me (but obviously not for others), I kept compiling huge lists of actions that only led to greater overwhelm---more than when I was off GTD altogether. No matter how many times I'd reviewed all my projects and actions and made sure actions were actionable, I'd still end up staring blankly at a big long list. There was no sense of down time; I felt like I always had a mountain of todos to get through; the longer things stayed on my lists, the more a sense of failure I felt.

        I've come to realize that I need a multitiered system (similar to ZTD). I keep a master list of projects and actions (with "tags" for contexts and target dates for completion and deadlines to give me a sense of my work load). I review this each morning; from it I create a manageable todo list of commitments for the day (and map out my time). These are the things I'm going to get done TODAY. It feels great to make this agreement with myself and to meet it.

        Periodically, I work through my master list and try to take care of the little tasks that have been accumulating. During the weekly review, I try to be ruthless in trimming my master list of things that don't belong there, deleting them or moving them to someday/maybe.

        At the end of the day, I save 30 minutes to get done new things that have come across my radar (emails, forms, etc.). If I don't get them done, they go on my master list.

        I view the master list as my "safety net." It's there to make sure that nothing that I have to do falls through the cracks. But I'd go crazy if I tried to work from it all the time. That's where the standard GTD method didn't work for me.

        Comment

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