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  • Time frame of "current projects"?

    What is the timeframe of "current projects"?

    In otherwords if I'm committed to doing a project, but I can only do the next action in 2 weeks or 2 months, is it still in my "current projects" list, or does it move to my "waiting for" list? or "some day, maybe" list? etc.

    Or if I have too many projects in my current projects, and some of them are moving too slowly, do I have to consider moving them to a different list? etc.

    Sonja

  • #2
    Something that is not immediately doable is, by definition, not a next action. Whether it goes in your tickler, your calendar, or your Someday/Maybe list is really up to you, but it shouldn't go on your Next Action list.

    Likewise for projects, a project that does not have an immediately doable next action is, by definition, not an active project. You'll want to review it at regular intervals, but may not want it cluttering your main project list.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      For me, once I make the commitment that this is a project I want to do, then I make it an active project on my list - in this way I keep track of my commitments project wise. I also identify the next action. I am comfortable with not moving on that action and have it remain on my list, but it is there for when I am ready to pull the trigger so to speak. In some instances if I know that I don't want to see that action every week because I know I won't move on it for two months, I actually remove the action from my context list but keep it as a next action in outlook and put it into my tickler category - I have a category for each month in the form 08-09 (for Sep), 08-10 (for Oct), 08-11 (for Nov) etc. Then when the month comes along I just change the category and put it to the appropriate context.

      You could put it on your someday-maybe list, but how often do you review that list? If you review it every week, then personally I don't see the difference between that and having it on the projects list because you will still see it once a week during your review.

      Paul

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by kewms View Post
        Something that is not immediately doable is, by definition, not a next action. Whether it goes in your tickler, your calendar, or your Someday/Maybe list is really up to you, but it shouldn't go on your Next Action list.
        Strictly I disagree with this. Surely the next action is the next action no matter when it is to be performed? I agree that sometimes you may not want to see that action everyday or be reminded of it if you know you don't need to worry about it for a while, but you could tickle a note to yourself to CALL Joe on a certain date - that would still be a next action right?

        Question: Do all next actions have to be on a context list, or can you have next actions as a calendar or tickler item and not on a context list? E.g. you want to call Joe on Sep 3rd. You can tickle Call Joe on Sep 3. But do you really need to move Call Joe to your calls list on Sep 3rd, or can you just call Joe off your calendar/tickler? I know I would do the latter and that would still be my next action, no matter if it was on my calls list or not.

        Paul

        Comment


        • #5
          Hard edge!

          Agreed with Paul. A project is something committed, while a Someday/Maybe is not (yet). And when something is committed, it may have an action which can be done ASAP, or it may need to be calendared.

          It is not a unmoving project on projects list that is a trouble. The trouble is when we have not decided at all how (and perhaps when) to move it, i.e. there is nothing corresponding to that project either in the NA list, or calendar, or Waiting for.

          Perhaps the new habit to be acquired is to be relaxed even in presence of a huge project list as far as the moving decisions have been taken, and not to be relaxed even if there is only a single project for which a decision has not been taken. (I don't mean to say overcommitting is all right, though.)

          Regards,
          Abhay

          Comment


          • #6
            *shrug* I think we're arguing over terminology. I don't think of calendar and tickler items as next actions. They're really future inbox items: when the activation date comes, I may still have further processing to do.

            Similarly, if the next action for a project can't be done for two months, that means I can ignore the project until then and don't need to review it with my active projects. I use my Someday/Maybe list for projects with this status, but some people like to keep a future projects list of hard commitments that can't be addressed yet.

            Whatever works.

            Katherine

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            • #7
              Agreed with Katherine.

              A Next Action list contains things you can work on now. Literally, this minute. Once something goes on the tickler, it becomes what you think will be the Next Action. But when that tickler item comes up, your situation may have changed. That may not be your Next Action.

              Getting back to the topic: I believe David Allen defines "current" as "within the next month or two." My projects are all limited to the next week, because that focuses me better.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Sonja Elen Kisa View Post
                What is the timeframe of "current projects"?
                I've been working on that very issue. I have projects whose next actions are well defined but may not be done for years and I have active projects that take decades to do and some that will extend past my lifetime. Some of my next actions are very weather dependent and will get done when conditions are right no matter what month or year that happens.

                I was going back and forth with a large someday/maybe list and a shorter active this month list but it was getting frustrating for me to move stuff in and out of the 2 files. I'm about to go back to a single big long project list that has everything in it organized by my areas of focus and just review it regularly.

                What actually seems to be working this week is each project has a written definition of done (still trying to finish those but working on it) and the various next actions. If I think of a series of actions that have to be done such as first x, then y, then z I write them all down when I think of them so I won't forget them.

                Daily I am reviewing my list and planning what I'll try to get done on that day from the projects or putting reminders in my calendar or tickler for things that have a range of dates to get finished. Within the areas of focus they are loosely organized with the ones I want to get done first on top and others further down the list but that's not totally organized. Since days can change based on what we see when we get up I find that I have to do a review daily as soon as any emergencies are handled and morning chores completed.

                To me the next action is a specific identifiable thing you can actually do that is the very next thing that has to happen for the project to move forward. It cannot be waiting for any other doable action but may be waiting for some external forces to be right.

                Edited: It may be that my waiting for is not well defined, in fact I'm sure it isn't. How do you track a waiting for that is dependent on something growing and going through a certain range of weather conditions before you can do the next action about it? I don't have a good clean waiting for system that I trust so for me a lot of my long term projects that are in hold are really waiting for something to happen that I cannot control.
                Last edited by Oogiem; 07-28-2008, 08:45 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Brent View Post
                  Getting back to the topic: I believe David Allen defines "current" as "within the next month or two." My projects are all limited to the next week, because that focuses me better.
                  I think Brent has hit the nail on the head here. The key in deciding if something is a context specific next action or someday/maybe depends on how we define the time frame for next action.

                  Some of my lists are repelling me because they have too many items on them... more than I could reasonably do this week, or even this month. I think the key to getting moving on them will be to clear the desk and get many of thrm on to some sort of a someday maybe list.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I too have to agree that tickler items are not next actions. Next actions are actions I believe I will do in the next 2 weeks. The list is long enough as is. Neither do I consider a project active if there is a tickler action on it; it has to have a next action on it. The project remains someday/maybe until the tickler date or the date I consider it to be active. My reasoning for this is that I have an active project list, which I do not want to muddle up with projects that I'm not working on right now. That list is long enough as is as well.

                    Re waiting-fors, most wfs are actions I can follow up on. If there is something that has no response for a while, I will either delete it or create a next action to address the wf. To deal with a wf that is externally conditioned, such as the weather or a breeding program, I would probably have a checklist to go through, that prompts me for those types of wfs. That checklist would go back in my tickler daily or weekly. If a condition is met, then I would make the respective project active.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If I have a project on my Projects list, and I make no progress on it for a couple of weeks, it's not active. It belongs on Someday/Maybe, or in my tickler.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by kewms View Post
                        *shrug* I think we're arguing over terminology.
                        I didn't really think we were arguing at all. Are we? I see this as an interesting discussion started by the OP and shows how adaptable GTD can be to people's personal situations.

                        I use my someday-maybe list more as a placeholder for things that I would like to do at some point in the future but have not committed to doing. Committment to me is the key distinction here. By nature of work, I may be committed to things by customers, bosses, stakeholders or myself to things I have to do, whether I am ready to do them or not. GTD for me provides a framework in which I can manage these committments and workload and I choose how I prioritorize those tasks. So some tasks may get done in a week, others in a month, but they are all committments nonethleless. The way my system is set up I would sooner not mix these committments with things that are not committments on my someday-maybe list. Hence I am comfortable with longer project and actions lists than I can handle in one or two weeks and now accept I will never finish out my list. For me it's a hard edge between project list and someday-maybe that is defined in committment. Others define that hard edge in a different way - based it seems on committment and a timescale of what they can do in a certain period of time. For me the latter feels arbitrary since you can decide that and in a phone call your world can change - and yes, you can modify your lists accordingly, but this is just like the criticism levelled at the oldstyle to-do lists but instead of a day its for a week or two weeks.

                        So in essence, if it works for you, great. I see the beauty of GTD in being adaptable.

                        Paul

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brent View Post
                          If I have a project on my Projects list, and I make no progress on it for a couple of weeks, it's not active. It belongs on Someday/Maybe, or in my tickler.
                          But when do you decide that Brent. There seems to be a difference between saying, I won't work on this for two weeks so I am putting it into my tickler and taking it off my action list, and having it on my action list for two weeks but not being able to tackle it due to priority and other workloads and then saying at the end of two weeks, oh I didn't make progress and therefore this isn't active.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            How about a 'committed to but later' category?

                            That seems like it could give a different feeling during the weekly review. Like in DIT one could pick one of these at a time to move into activity.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Paul@Pittsburgh View Post
                              But when do you decide that Brent. There seems to be a difference between saying, I won't work on this for two weeks so I am putting it into my tickler and taking it off my action list, and having it on my action list for two weeks but not being able to tackle it due to priority and other workloads and then saying at the end of two weeks, oh I didn't make progress and therefore this isn't active.
                              That's a determination one makes during the weekly review. If you know you won't work on it in 2 weeks or whatever trimeframe, then tickle it. Just because one is committed to a project, doesn't make it active.

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