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  • weekly review ?n/a to project

    I know we have discussed this topic ad nauseum, but here it is again from another angle-associating completed n/as with projects.

    When I do the weekly review, I can't remember what I have done thus far, unless I pull out all my files and lists.

    And, in work mode, when I complete an action, cross it off, and then want to put the next action on one of my lists I have to go back to previous lists to see what I have done or not done.

    And if I am in a context where I can do several kinds of tasks (calling, writing, etc) and I want to stick with one project rather than hoping around, I have to keep switching from one list to another or delve into the project support materilas to extract what I need to do and not re-do.
    Last edited by Jamie Elis; 05-27-2008, 09:33 PM. Reason: typos

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
    When I do the weekly review, I can't remember what I have done thus far, unless I pull out all my files and lists.
    It seems to me like this is the purpose of the weekly review

    Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
    And, in work mode, when I complete an action, cross it off, and then want to put the next action on one of my lists I have to go back to previous lists to see what I have done or not done.
    The only time I put a next action on a list is when I can't do it right then. I make sure to record it somewhere (Jott, pen and paper, etc.) and then process it the next time I'm doing processing.

    Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
    And if I am in a context where I can do several kinds of tasks (calling, writing, etc) and I want to stick with one project rather than hoping around, I have to keep switching from one list to another or delve into the project support materilas to extract what I need to do and not re-do.
    It's usually obvious to me what the next action is on a project, and as above, I don't record a next action unless I can't move on it right then. And if it's a complex project, then yes, I have a lot of support material at hand to help in doing the project.

    It sounds to me like you are a bit over-structured in your implementation and that is where you are getting into trouble.

    - Don

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    • #3
      Thanks for the topic! You have an interesting dilemma.

      Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
      When I do the weekly review, I can't remember what I have done thus far, unless I pull out all my files and lists.
      As Don wrote, that's part of the purpose of the weekly review. That said, I'm confused. Perhaps it's a matter of terminology; you don't need to remember everything you've accomplished. You just need to know what to do next.

      If you have a Project "Clean kitchen," how can you not know how clean the kitchen is?

      And, in work mode, when I complete an action, cross it off, and then want to put the next action on one of my lists I have to go back to previous lists to see what I have done or not done.
      As Don wrote, you don't need to write a new Next Action as soon as you complete one; only when you're done working on that particular Project. I go further than that: you only need to write new Next Actions when you switch contexts. I've even been known to wait a day or two before updating my context lists without a noticeable loss in productivity.

      And if I am in a context where I can do several kinds of tasks (calling, writing, etc) and I want to stick with one project rather than hopping around, I have to keep switching from one list to another or delve into the project support materials to extract what I need to do and not re-do.
      Yes, and I think this is normal and good. Isn't this like saying, "I'm assembling several of my childrens' toys according to the instructions. But I keep having to refer to the instructions!"

      If the Project's complex enough, you'll need project support material when you work on it. Perhaps you would benefit from less context switching? Just work on one Project at a time, for extended periods?

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
        When I do the weekly review, I can't remember what I have done thus far, unless I pull out all my files and lists.

        And, in work mode, when I complete an action, cross it off, and then want to put the next action on one of my lists I have to go back to previous lists to see what I have done or not done.

        And if I am in a context where I can do several kinds of tasks (calling, writing, etc) and I want to stick with one project rather than hoping around, I have to keep switching from one list to another or delve into the project support materilas to extract what I need to do and not re-do.
        Your dilemma was my dilemma. 3 ways I have gotten around this:

        1. Once I finish a NA (or more) for a project, I immediately write down the next NA as a bookmark. I don't wait for the weekly review, since I don't want to spend that time going through all the intricacies of my projects. When I am working on a project, I will switch from one context to another depending on the task. I don't really notice it, since I am working from the project support material or a worksheet or my mind etc. I very rarely list more than one NA bookmark for a project.

        2. I use an electronic task manager, called Thinking Rock, that highlights a project in red when there is no NA defined. I think other task programs will do that as well.

        3. I will also continuously update my context lists daily, so that by the time the weekly review rolls around, there is very little to do in that regard.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
          And, in work mode, when I complete an action, cross it off, and then want to put the next action on one of my lists I have to go back to previous lists to see what I have done or not done.
          This part of your post caught my attention. I wonder if you're having trouble because you don't have a good handle on what your commitments are. If you have a solid handle on what your projects entail, the next action shouldn't really depend on a review of previous lists. Consider it this way: If you're trying to drive from Santa Barbara, CA to Boise, ID and you know you're on I-90 in Winnemucca, NV, the route you took to get to Winnemucca isn't so relevant to where you go from there.

          The question you're trying to answer is "where do I go from here?", not "where have I been?" If you're having to constantly review your old lists, maybe the problem is that you're stuck answering the question "where am I?" instead. In that case, your next action might be to sit down with a pen and paper and get clarity on where you are in the project and what the goals are.

          Tammy

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
            And, in work mode, when I complete an action, cross it off, and then want to put the next action on one of my lists I have to go back to previous lists to see what I have done or not done.
            If it will take me less than 2 minutes to identify and record the Next Action on my NA list, then I do it.

            If it will take me more than 2 minutes to identify and record the Next Action, then I defer it. The Next Action becomes "Identify Next Action". This will go on the proper @Context NA list, and, if applicable, in the project support file.

            If I am so frazzled that I cannot even enter that on my NA list, then I scribble a note to myself on the nearest piece of paper and throw the paper in my inbox. Then, next time I process my inbox I can get it on my NA list in one form or another.

            David

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            • #7
              Endless loop or stack overflow danger?

              Originally posted by dhlesq View Post
              The Next Action becomes "Identify Next Action".
              Isn't there a endless loop or stack overflow danger?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                Isn't there a endless loop or stack overflow danger?
                No, I don't think so. If one cannot determine the next action in two minutes, perhaps the project requires focused thinking, or a brainstorming session. When one actually pick up the 'figure out the NA' item from one's list to execute, that is not limited by the two-minute thumb rule; that may go on as some focused work on that project to clarify it.

                But perhaps, the wording of the NA can be changed to 'brainstorm' or 'get some clarity' or 'run this project through the natural planning process'. But 'figure out the next action' may also be enough provided one knows what this means.

                Regards,
                Abhay

                Comment


                • #9
                  abhay views it the same way that i do.

                  Sometimes it takes some focued time to figure out the next actionable step that will move a project towards completion. If I can spend that time immediately then that is the best solution. If I cannot spend that time immediately, then the project will stagnate until I do, at least until the next Weekly Review.

                  During the Weekly Review we are scanning our Projects List for any projects that do not have an assoicated NA. My preference is to never have an open project without an NA, even if that NA is to spend some time determining what exactly I want to do to move the project forward.

                  I should say that I use a digital system (Outlook), and so my solution may not be practical for those that are physically writing out their NAs.

                  Also, as to the using the term "Brainstorm", I used to do this. I found that "Determine Next Action" was more specific as that is exctly what I need to do, rather than generally contemplate the project.

                  On a side note, most of my "Determine Next Action" items go on my @Anywhere list, because they are usually more of a strategic nature, rather than dependant on Project Support Material.

                  I understand this may not be for everybody. It just seemed natural to me that if I don't know what to do next on a project, and if I don't have time to figure it out right now, then my next action is to determine what to do next.

                  David

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                    Isn't there a endless loop or stack overflow danger?
                    I'm not exactly sure what "stack overflow" means but I think I get the idea.

                    At my Weekly Review, Projects with "Determine Next Action" as their NA are candidates to be closed, or to be moved to my Someday/Maybe list if there is nothing else that I want to do with them at this time.

                    Too many "Determine Next Action" entries can also be a sign I am over-committed, or that I am working on too many things that are urgent. The only reason I would have one of these on my list, is if something else that is urgent prevents me from taking the time to determine the NA immediately.

                    David

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