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  • Project's Next actions

    Hi to all.
    I'm a newbie. Today was my first implementation day. I started putting tasks in my lists. I decided to use Remember the milk site to mantain my lists.

    PROBLEM: Project's next actions
    I'm a web designer, so I juggle about 10-15 project at the same time. Each of them has dozens of tasks I want to list when they appear in my mind. Should I use a separate list for every project? In that way I'm scared about managing 10-15 (and probably more in future) project lists at the same time.
    Is that the correct way?
    Thanks

  • #2
    You will want to keep tasks specific to each project on a separate list for each project.

    However, you also want to keep *every* task you can do right now, from all projects, on a single Next Actions list. This is how mine might look:

    Read pages 25-40 (Book Club)
    Email invoice to Cindy (Cindy's Project)
    Update Twitter profile (Personal Branding)

    (I put the project name in parentheses after the action so I tie everything together.)

    You'll also want to keep sub-lists for Next Actions that can only be completed in a particular context (@Home, @Phone). Remember the Milk should do this automatically, I thought.

    Then, once a week, go through each project list and make sure you've identified all possible Next Actions.

    Comment


    • #3
      you might want to read this

      http://blog.rememberthemilk.com/2008...-remember.html

      Comment


      • #4
        For many projects, particularly for those that require certain steps, I like to identify as many actions as possible. One by one these become next actions. I like to keep my actions - both next actions and inactive actions - with my projects in my GTD system. I don't use RTM, but I see that you can tag next actions - those tasks you will do next within a project - as "na" (see Senol's link). All those you don't tag as "na" are then inactive actions or future next actions. RTM seems to let you list all under a project.

        You will also find that quite a few projects will repeat themselves in one way or another. Keep a record of those, so that you can customize them for future similar projects. You don't always have to fully reinvent the wheel.

        I have more than 15 projects and prefer to have my actions listed per project, although my Next Action list is a straight list of all na's.
        Last edited by sdann; 01-07-2009, 05:48 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks to all.
          Some comments:
          I don't find the tagging system of RTM so useful as some people says. Creating smart lists is dangerous because if you fail tagging some task, you have the risk to loose some of them. Another problem is that using tags and smart lists the same task can reside in different smart lists at the same time. I see it as an additional complication instead of an advantage. It confuse me.
          I think I'll try that way: a list for every project. When checking a project list I'll move NA from that list to my to do list.
          Every task name includes the name of the project.

          A final comment: ok, I'm just at the beginning... but at the moment I'm feeling stressed by the juggling of the framework...

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by TheDarkMist View Post
            A final comment: ok, I'm just at the beginning... but at the moment I'm feeling stressed by the juggling of the framework...
            A few possibilities:

            The software you use might be a little too complicated for your purposes. Can you simplify? Can you use paper? Can you use just plain text files (or your favorite word processor)?

            For many here, explicit and systematic linking of projects and actions (either through software or by including project related phrases systematically in next actions) is not really necessary, and constructing such phrases can create a resistance to creating a small project as soon as you see a desirable outcome consisting of more than one action steps. By including a little more (informal) information in a next action you can figure out what the underlying project is. The whole point is that (to exaggerate) your system is not like a computer program which anybody should be able to pick up and start working in your place. It is just a set of personalized connectors (aka reminders) to all the things relevant to you. So make sure it can remind you of everything, but nothing more. Try to be as informal as possible while maintaining completeness and correctness. In other words, loosen up!

            Many times, next actions are just kick-starters, that is, when you pick up a next action and complete it, you can continue working on the same project as long as you have time and context. In that case, the actions from the project materials need not come into next actions list, but directly completed. Only when it is time to stop working on that project, note the next action which you would have started in the next actions list.

            Ideally, a GTD system reflects all the things relevant to you, but in practice, it keeps falling behind. Weekly review is very crucial in order to catch up, no matter how smart is your software. Read more at
            http://www.davidco.com/blogs/michael...between_d.html

            Regards,
            Abhay

            Comment


            • #7
              Thank you Abhay. I'm going to reflect on your tips. But at the same time I think it's not so asy to mantain... easy. I have a to do list of about 50 NA at the moment, and other will arrive. All there are to made in my office, so I cannot split them in context lists so easily. And it's confusing having to scroll the whole list every half hour to catch the NA related to the project I'm focusing on. I need to be more focused on the project I'm working on at the moment.

              Comment


              • #8
                Keeping it simple

                Originally posted by abhay View Post
                A few possibilities:

                The software you use might be a little too complicated for your purposes. Can you simplify? Can you use paper? Can you use just plain text files (or your favorite word processor)?
                Abhay
                I agree with Abhay about using a simple system and making sure you do a weekly review. When I first started GTD, I introduced a lot of unneccessary complexity into my system and which made me stop using it. Currently I use text lists (notepad) of projects and next actions. I do not try to link projects to next actions because the linkage is obvious without writing it down.

                Weekly review is so important - it can make up for a lot of deficiencies in other areas.

                Kevin

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TheDarkMist View Post
                  I have a to do list of about 50 NA at the moment, and other will arrive. All there are to made in my office, so I cannot split them in context lists so easily.
                  You may be over-committed, then. Do you have anything that can wait a week, which you can push off to Someday/Maybe for the time being?



                  And it's confusing having to scroll the whole list every half hour to catch the NA related to the project I'm focusing on. I need to be more focused on the project I'm working on at the moment.
                  Well, I'm confused. Your list should have one Next Action per Project (roughly). If you start working on a Project, you'll pick up the Next Action that's written down for it. Why would you return to the list half an hour later if you're still working on that same Project? There won't be any other Actions on the list for that Project.

                  Okay, yes, you may have identified more than one Next Action for a Project. But if you're maintaining a large list of Next Actions for the same Project, I humbly suggest you're mis-using the Actions list. Those other Actions should go in project support materials, so you can look at them only when you're working on that Project.

                  Does that make sense?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by TheDarkMist View Post
                    Thank you Abhay. I'm going to reflect on your tips. But at the same time I think it's not so asy to mantain... easy. I have a to do list of about 50 NA at the moment, and other will arrive. All there are to made in my office, so I cannot split them in context lists so easily. And it's confusing having to scroll the whole list every half hour to catch the NA related to the project I'm focusing on. I need to be more focused on the project I'm working on at the moment.
                    You probably need a place for support material for each project. Project support is information, ideas, outlines and lists, meeting notes, et cetera. Many people put project support in a note attached to the project, but I have recently been keeping a separate text document for each project. Your project list has your inventory of projects. Your next action lists have bookmarks that tell you what the next do-able things for each project are. Your project support material is what you refer to when your bookmark leads you to work on a project, and will help you with focus. At the same time, keeping project plans separate from next actions will help keep you moving on all your projects.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I'm a software tester, so I know exactly what you mean about juggling tons of projects.

                      What I do is use my Circa notebook (any notebook would work, but I just love my Circa) and use two kinds of pages: To-Do and regular ruled. The To-Do (which I call Have-To-Get-Done's) are small things that are either an action unto themselves or can be done in only a few minutes. Bigger projects I put on the ruled paper. I give the project name as the title of the page and start writing actions down. I then check them off when done and write down further actions as I continue through the project. Once I sign off on something, I take the page out.

                      As with everything, some, all, or none of this may work for you. Find what works best for you and you'll never miss an open loop again.

                      Jeff

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by TheDarkMist View Post
                        Thank you Abhay. I'm going to reflect on your tips. But at the same time I think it's not so asy to mantain... easy. I have a to do list of about 50 NA at the moment, and other will arrive. All there are to made in my office, so I cannot split them in context lists so easily. And it's confusing having to scroll the whole list every half hour to catch the NA related to the project I'm focusing on. I need to be more focused on the project I'm working on at the moment.
                        I agree with Brent's comment: you may be overcommitted. And I think if you have 50 next actions, I would think it is more difficult to complete them rather than maintaining a list of merely 50 items! It's not perhaps maintaining the system that is difficult, it's the set of commitments This is a usual experience for starters: They are overwhelmed with the lists that they generate. But the commitments were already there; GTD is just making you aware of them all in one place. Congratulations! You will have an objective view point now onwards to negotiate your commitments with the world.

                        As mcogilvie says, you need support material for each nontrivial project. Once you choose a next action related to project, you can also open up the support material, and never look back into the action lists as long as you decide to keep working on the project. The actions will make themselves obvious in the flow of the project. Only when you decide to stop, enter the next action into the appropriate action list.

                        Just because you have a lot of next actions does not mean you should have more contexts. My office actions list keeps fluctuating between 50 to 100. I have heard of people having about 300 to 400 items. Many times a further division of these is artificial. Make contexts only as many as make sense and no more. Typical symptoms of too many contexts is flipping through too many context lists in one place, or missing important actions. So either negotiate the number of commitments, or just be comfortable with big lists.

                        One tip to maintain a live set of action lists: when you are about to mark an action done, you should do so only when either the corresponding project is complete, or after you write down the further next action in an NA list. I find that this is a crucial and easy-to-learn habit which keeps projects going, and reduces the time required for the weekly reviews.

                        Regards,
                        Abhay

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Maybe it's time to hire someone to work for you. IMO, 15 projects is a lot (not to mention you're doing both the work and the Project Management), regardless of the industry. I don't think there is any software in the world that can help you there, you just need someone to work for you (and once you do that, you will quickly realize that it was mistake not to hire someone when you first needed it).

                          Then again, this is my opinion.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Hi Dark
                            I tend to disagree with others who suggested having a separate action list for each project.

                            One of the most powerful (for me) learnings I got from GTD, is to categorize actions BY CONTEXT/MOOD (rather than by project/goal).

                            I guess it somewhat depends on your workstyle/type of projects. However speaking of myself I find far more efficient (after extensive experimenting), to have a rather radical separation between action list and overall project tracking.

                            I also find helpful to avoid any overcategorization. Right now, in my Action Items list I only have the following categories:
                            - A default category (which is my @Desk)
                            - @OnTheGo (things I can/should do when I'm not I my desk)
                            - @ZSomeday/Maybe (Catch-all for things I may never care about, but I don't feel like pressing the "Delete" button just for now)
                            - @Agenda (Things to care about during my routine meetings - I gave up having separate categories for each different routine)
                            - @Fun/Tired (Things I take care when I am tired and I feel like rewarding myself with something I enjoy: for me, an example is "Download Beta-software X", or "Log to Amazon to update my book order list").

                            For project tracking/planning, I use MindManager (which in the latest version allows to create Outlook tasks directly from each project - however I don't do this for the time being, I may experiment with this solution at some point).

                            my 2c
                            a.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by pmhut View Post
                              Maybe it's time to hire someone to work for you.
                              Yep. I'm beginning to think that actually I'm simply overloaded. I'm a freelance and thinking to hire someone is not so easy. So maybe I have to reflect on my commercial and working strategies. Thank you for your opinion.

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