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  • projects and na list

    I truly dont get this concept at all.Please help me to understand.Would in not be easier if you jut made a to do list for that day and cross it off.For example if you start a project list such as fax #1paper work -#2 get health physical-#3 start web- site #4 service car.You write all this down on your project page and then turn to your next action list page and start to write down your next step for each one of the things you have listed on the project page.So if your item has more than one step,does this mean you have a project list,next action page,then another next action page .......so one task may have 3 or 4 next action pages?seems kind of absurd,why not just have a piece of paper with all your chores and cross them off as you go?Am I just simply stupid for not getting this gtd thing or what?

  • #2
    Going by the book, you wouldn't write down all the actions of a project. Project planning as such doesn't really have a place in the GTD system. Only the very next action that you can do. For example for Service car, the very next action might be 'ask Bob for number for garage'. This task would be on a next action list, divided by context if it gets long. 'service car' would go on the separate project list. You wouldn't really look at this on a day to day basis (unless you are really busy). The project list is there to remind you to check for next actions on these projects.
    So lets say you got the number from Bob, but forgot all about actually calling the garage for an appointment. You review your projects list, see the project, realize it's not finished yet, and decide the next action is to call the garage. You can either do that right now, or again put it on the next action list.
    You can keep all your next actions on one list, but if you are really serious about capturing everything, one list would be far too long to scan and pick an action quickly, hence the division by contexts.
    I hope that sheds some light on things.

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    • #3
      The question is not whether it would be easier; the question is whether it would be more effective. Yes, you can use to-do lists. But will they work as well as GTD?

      You only need one Next Action per Project. A Next Action is literally just the next thing you have to do on a Project. While you can write down multiple Actions per Project, the ultimate result is that you spend a lot of time writing down Actions, and not doing them. Better to pick one (per Project) and move on.

      GTD works at multiple levels. Next Actions control your current, day-to-day work ("Write opening for chapter 3 of novel"). Projects relate that day-to-day work to your higher-level but still short-term goals ("Finish first draft of novel"). Areas of Focus and Roles relate Projects to your higher plans and aspirations ("Become a Published Author").

      By tracking these multiple levels of commitment, and syncing them up during a Weekly Review, you can ensure that you're not only getting things done, but that you're working effectively across all the areas of your life. With a simple to-do list, you can't manage your commitments as efficiently, since you have no compass for your to-do list.

      Does that make sense?

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      • #4
        I am really trying to absorb this ,I promise.

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        • #5
          What is the "next action page"?

          Originally posted by timco View Post
          So if your item has more than one step,does this mean you have a project list,next action page,then another next action page .......so one task may have 3 or 4 next action pages?
          What is the "next action page"? I've never heard about this term.

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          • #6
            Maybe timco is only part-way through the book and has some questions that might be answered in later chapters.

            Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
            What is the "next action page"? I've never heard about this term.
            I think it's a temporary parking lot for physical next actions that result from the processing of an initial mindsweep. This may have been suggested in the original GTD book in the chapter on processing before organizing action lists by context is discussed. The author may have done this to avoid introducing too many concepts at once.

            I assume that a first-time reader of the GTD book would then take this big list of physical next actions and put them on the appropriate context list once he/she finishes the chapter on organizing. From that point forward, a "next-action page" is no longer needed; the next actions are put on the appropriate list when they are decided upon.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by timco View Post
              Am I just simply stupid for not getting this gtd thing or what?
              No, you're not stupid at all; quite the opposite. You're simply not used to thinking in the terms of the GTD paradigm, which is totally opposite of the traditional time management paradigm.

              Instead of focusing on your priorities, values, vision, and purpose and ignoring those "little rocks", you need to focus on what has your attention right now, regardless of how urgent or important they may or may not be. Get those things out of your head, decide the successful outcome for each item, decide the very next physical action you can take towards each outcome, then park those reminders in the appropriate place in your system. Your mind then has the freedom to let go of these things instead of holding on to them and siphoning your energy and focus. Once you do this habitually, your mind will be able to graduate to these higher horizons and you'll be able to pursue bigger and better game.

              Also, forget about making daily and weekly to-do lists. They don't work. The world changes too rapidly for those things to work. Few have tried as hard as I have to make the "ABC" prioritized daily lists work, and I wasted years trying to make them work. What you need instead is a total-life reminder system or a "whole life to-do list" that's organized in a particular way. The idea of GTD is that you keep this inventory complete and current (with none of it filed in your head), you plan as little as you can get by with, and moment-to-moment you make intuitive choices about what to do.

              By the way, no system can make this decision for you. It can only help you make good choices. The better your system, the more trust you will have in your own decisions.

              So, how do you get there?

              You listed your physical health in your mind sweep. It's been on your mind lately. So, what do you intend to do short-term about it? You might define a project like "Set up exercise program". Now, what's the very next action? Perhaps you need to call your local gym for a consultation. If you know the number, your next action would be "Call gym for consultation". This you would place on your @Calls action list (assuming it would take more than two minutes to make that call).

              During your weekly review (a habit you must set up once you get your GTD system going), you'd see a reminder of your outcome "Set up exercise program" on your projects list. Are you there yet? Not yet. You made the call earlier in the week...what's the next action? It could be on the calendar (your appointment at the gym), or it could be something you haven't decided yet. Decide the next action and put it on the appropriate list.

              Eventually, after you take enough action, you'll find yourself exercising regularly and then you get to mark the project off as "done".

              I hope that helps. Best of luck!

              - Luke

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