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Redefining Next Actions

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  • Redefining Next Actions

    I am getting better at making my next actions very 'doable' -- nice, concrete, initial steps that in turn lead to a whole sequence of actions.

    Trouble is, I often initiate that next step, do a lot of work on it, and finally decide that it is not 'right' -- so when I stop for the day, I haven't completed it, and it is no longer an appropriate next action.

    I can't check it off, and I can't use it for tomorrow. Doesn't take long and I have a lot of pruning to do on my next action list.

    Does this happen to you? Have you found a way to work around or, better yet, to leverage this phenomenon?

    Thanks,
    Rob

  • #2
    Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
    I am getting better at making my next actions very 'doable' -- nice, concrete, initial steps that in turn lead to a whole sequence of actions.

    Trouble is, I often initiate that next step, do a lot of work on it, and finally decide that it is not 'right' -- so when I stop for the day, I haven't completed it, and it is no longer an appropriate next action.
    Then what is? Write *that* action down, and delete the old one.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Originally posted by kewms View Post
      Then what is? Write *that* action down, and delete the old one.

      Katherine
      ...and if you still aren't sure what the correct next action really is, then write down "@planning/brainstorm: Figure out the real next action for Project XYZ"

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jknecht View Post
        ...and if you still aren't sure what the correct next action really is, then write down "@planning/brainstorm: Figure out the real next action for Project XYZ"
        ...and if this cycle continues for more than a day or so on the same project, consider a a next action that reads something like "Mind dump - get clarity about Project XYZ". When I run into this situation, it's usually an indication that I haven't really gotten a handle on what the project is. It's hard to decide the next action when you're not clear on the outcome.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ArcCaster View Post
          I am getting better at making my next actions very 'doable' -- nice, concrete, initial steps that in turn lead to a whole sequence of actions.

          Trouble is, I often initiate that next step, do a lot of work on it, and finally decide that it is not 'right' -- so when I stop for the day, I haven't completed it, and it is no longer an appropriate next action.
          Rob, judging by the second sentence, I'm not sure that your NAs are as atomic as they could be: that is, it sounds like your NAs might be mini-projects or collections of NAs rather than actual NAs.

          I'll second (or third or fourth or fifth) the suggestion that your first NA on a project might need to be Brain Dump, so you get an idea of what's the best way to start.

          For me, anything that takes up most of a day isn't a real NA. It's something that I've struggled with, this defining of the absolute Next Action, and I've discovered that many things that I thought were NAs were actually mini-projects. The trick is to check for specific verbs: "Google widget factory in Vermont" is a good NA, whereas "Research widgets" is not, because you can't know when you've done it. Similarly, anything that contains verbs like complete, write, find out, etc is not a real NA. Anything that describes a goal rather than an action is not a real NA.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by kewms View Post
            Then what is? Write *that* action down, and delete the old one.

            Katherine
            Hey yeah! That's what I need to identify more often. The two-fold process of re-defining what a certain NA has morphed into AND (usually I forget this part) deleting the old version "what is it?" answer about the na.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by unstuffed View Post
              For me, anything that takes up most of a day isn't a real NA.
              I agree. Doing "a lot of work" on something sounds like a multiaction task rather than a discrete next action. It's hard to tell, since no specific NAs were given, but it does seem as though the OP was writing down what needed to get done (a project) instead of what to do at that moment (a next action).

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