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Mini-review of next actions for projects. How frequently?

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  • Mini-review of next actions for projects. How frequently?

    Say I have a single action relating to project X on my NA list. Project X has other actions that need to be performed after that first action but because they are longer than 2 minutes they can't be performed right away.

    Problem is: given that I organize and process only once a day (is that even right?) the trigger to write the next action after that last one, for that project, on the NA list only happens once a day. This means the fastest any project can move forward is a single task per day. Perhaps I should be reviewing my project list several times a day? Also I do remember David talking about how your next actions are tied to your projects "only by your brain" but I don't understand what I should physically do.

    Finally should one prioritize next actions and/or projects? Or am I just looking to "bump as many of these suckers off" given the time and resources available to me at the time. Is the feeling that I need to prioritize next actions an indicator that I have too many next actions? Prioritizing projects makes more sense really.

  • #2
    Originally posted by olliesaunders View Post
    Say I have a single action relating to project X on my NA list. Project X has other actions that need to be performed after that first action but because they are longer than 2 minutes they can't be performed right away.
    Sure they can. You finish the first action, and then keep working on Project X for as long as you like.

    Problem is: given that I organize and process only once a day (is that even right?) the trigger to write the next action after that last one, for that project, on the NA list only happens once a day. This means the fastest any project can move forward is a single task per day.
    Why not write the next NA as soon as you finish the first one? After all, it's fresh in your mind then.

    Nothing in GTD requires you to abandon common sense.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      Sure they can. You finish the first action, and then keep working on Project X for as long as you like.
      Hmm... as you can probably see I've got confused about this. So you're not supposed to do organizing in one big block?

      Why not write the next NA as soon as you finish the first one? After all, it's fresh in your mind then.

      Nothing in GTD requires you to abandon common sense.
      I've already had to abandon some common sense when learning GTD. GTD challeges a lot of things most people live by everyday so it's only natural this would result in a scepticism towards your own common sense and this can manifest itself in an infinite number of ways. That's why this forum is a great idea and I really appreciate anyone willing to answer my questions.

      Final point of consideration here is that I've noticed that dyslexics such as myself can miss crucial points that are perceived to by awesomely trivial to others. This may be a case of me doing that and I would ask for your patience if that is the case. On the other hand we sometimes see things other people do not.

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      • #4
        GTD is just an advanced common sense.

        GTD is just an advanced common sense. It is not meant to slow you down if you know what to do next. Just do it if you can or write the new Next Action on the appropriate context list - treat it as this Project's bookmark.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by olliesaunders View Post
          Hmm... as you can probably see I've got confused about this. So you're not supposed to do organizing in one big block?
          Doing organizing in one (or a few) big blocks is fine. Once you've done that, you'll have a plan for Project X, which you can follow for as long as you like.

          I think the issue is that you are assuming that you should *only* do actions from your NA lists. That is not correct. Sometimes it makes sense to work through a batch of actions from the same context. Sometimes it makes sense to focus on a single project for an extended period. It's your call.

          Katherine

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          • #6
            GTD is just an advanced common sense. It is not meant to slow you down if you know what to do next.
            I'm not sure I understand you here. How do I know if what I want to do next is the best thing to do? How do I know I'm not neglecting some other important task? If I'm just doing things as they come to me I'm not doing GTD, I'm in the busy trap, right? I guess the real question is how do I know when I know what to do next? Please help!

            Just do it if you can
            I don't see the difference between that suggestion and "don't bother GTD". Again; confused.

            or write the new Next Action on the appropriate context list - treat it as this Project's bookmark.
            Ahh so here you're saying that the NA for a project may act as a trigger for the NA after that, unless you can't do it in the current context in which case you write it down. That makes sense to me.

            I think the issue is that you are assuming that you should *only* do actions from your NA lists.
            Yes, you're right. I do think that. I don't recall being told otherwise.

            That is not correct. Sometimes it makes sense to work through a batch of actions from the same context.
            I do already work through a bunch of actions on the same context just not bunches of actions associated with a single project because I've only ever identified one at a time. Somehow your statement also implies that NA lists and context lists are different? Is that the case? I was pretty sure it wasn't until now.

            Sometimes it makes sense to focus on a single project for an extended period. It's your call.
            OK. I think I could do that but what do I make that call based on. Again perhaps this is something that comes naturally to other people that I'm just lacking. For me this whole aspect of the program lacks definition. I don't know what I'm doing here.

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            • #7
              Standard GTD relies heavily on using your "intuition," which, in this thread, is being called "common sense." If, because of dyslexia or anything else, you believe that your intuitive common sense isn't up to the task, you will need to customize your implementation of GTD. From what you've written above, it sounds like you might benefit from doing some serious planning each day where you start each day by reviewing your lists and writing down the actions and projects on which you'd like to work.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by olliesaunders View Post
                I'm not sure I understand you here. How do I know if what I want to do next is the best thing to do? How do I know I'm not neglecting some other important task? If I'm just doing things as they come to me I'm not doing GTD, I'm in the busy trap, right? I guess the real question is how do I know when I know what to do next? Please help!
                What to do next? There are a couple of possible answers, depending on what's on your list.
                * Work on a given project for as long as possible, because you have previously decided that it's the most important thing right now.
                * Work through a given context list for as long as possible, gaining efficiency by not switching contexts.
                * Pick an item at random -- if it doesn't need doing, it shouldn't be on the list in the first place.
                * Handle items as they come in, because being responsive to requests is part of your job responsibilities.
                * See also Chapter 9 of the GTD book.

                Ahh so here you're saying that the NA for a project may act as a trigger for the NA after that, unless you can't do it in the current context in which case you write it down. That makes sense to me.
                Yes, that's correct.

                Yes, you're right. I do think that. I don't recall being told otherwise.
                Everything that's on your mind should be in your system. It may *not* be on a current Next Action context list. The most obvious example is continuing to work on a project after you've completed the immediate Next Action. But other situations can come up, too. For instance, you might have a future project to put together a proposal for a potential client. But then the client calls you instead, wanting to move more quickly than you expected. *poof* Suddenly the Someday/Maybe item becomes a short term priority item.

                I do already work through a bunch of actions on the same context just not bunches of actions associated with a single project because I've only ever identified one at a time. Somehow your statement also implies that NA lists and context lists are different? Is that the case? I was pretty sure it wasn't until now.
                Next Actions and context lists are the same. But *future* actions for a project can become doable once the Next Action is finished. If planned in advance, these items are stored in the project support materials, ready for activation at the appropriate time.

                Hope this helps,

                Katherine

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                • #9
                  The right moment to decide if a given Next Action / Project should be done at all, is not when you look at your context lists to decide what to do next.

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                  • #10
                    Thank you again Katherine and moises. I will try all this.

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                    • #11
                      OK. I think I could do that but what do I make that call based on. Again perhaps this is something that comes naturally to other people that I'm just lacking. For me this whole aspect of the program lacks definition. I don't know what I'm doing here.

                      Hi Ollie, here's my $0.02 worth. I don't think that making that call comes naturally, or that the decision-making part is therefore something you lack. If you'll allow me to wiffle on for a bit, to try to explain:

                      One of the chief benefits of GTD is that it allows you to 'touch' all your current projects often enough that you're subconsciously aware of where you are with them. The weekly review gives you an intensive focus on each project - how it's moving, whether it's going fast enough or in the right direction, and what's next (that's your Next Action). A lot of people do a daily 'mini-review', which involves just casting your eye over your projects list to see if anything sits up and screams at you (metaphorically speaking).

                      Then you can blissfully spend your day working, either focussing on just one project, or knocking off a whole lot of NAs from different projects, secure in the knowledge that nothing is going to break during the day.

                      One factor in making this work is not overloading your current projects list - I like to keep mine down to stuff I think I'll be able to work on during that week, and everything else gets parked in Someday/Maybe for the week. That way I'm fairly sure that I'll get to everything during the course of the week, and so it doesn't matter much what I do first.

                      All of that in shorter form: Sometimes you'll feel like slogging ahead on one project, and sometimes you'll want to knock a whole bunch of things off your NA lists. Go with the flow, because if you're reviewing properly every week, and using your calendar and tickler as necessary, you're keeping it all under control.

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                      • #12
                        User your intuition that you build during Weekly Reviews.

                        Originally posted by olliesaunders View Post
                        How do I know if what I want to do next is the best thing to do? How do I know I'm not neglecting some other important task?
                        Use your intuition that you build during Weekly Reviews. In my opinion you need at least 7 Weekly Reviews done weekly to achieve the basic level of confidence.

                        As someone here said:

                        You are not doing GTD if you are not doing Weekly Reviews weekly.

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