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  • Projects to Next Actions ratio? Not enough Projects?

    I'm a bit overdue for my weekly review (smile if you are too!) and something I've realised is that I think I've either not got enough projects or I've got too many actions. And as "too many" actions is difficult to achieve, it's probably not enough projects.

    I did a rough count and currently have approx 35 projects and 99 actions in my lists (excluding >20K altitude and someday maybe)

    So given that each project should have at least one next action, it could be that for each project I typically have 3 actions in my lists. I know that this isn't true. In fact prior to my review, experience tells me that I will find at least some projects will have no current next actions!

    Some of the extra actions I can account for - I have a lot of one-off actions to "read" documents I've been sent. But not too many. I think I'll have to dig into and analyze the problem. So after this post I guess I'll create a project "Analyse actions not associated with a project"

    What state are your lists in? Are there any key signs you spot which tell you when more processing and review is needed or laziness is creeping in? Any suggestions for me?

    Thanks,

    Jon.

  • #2
    That actually doesn't look like a wildly out-of-control difference in lists.

    I often have NAs that aren't attached to a specific Project, because it'll only take a few minutes. For example, I have a Tickler reminder to update all the clocks in my house every 2 months. When that Tickler shows up, I add that to my NA list but not my Projects list, because the entire process takes at most 5 minutes.

    It does seem like an unusually large number of NAs to Projects, though. My gut tells me I'm out-of-whack if I have 50% more NAs than Projects. If I have 20 Projects, I should only have at most 30 NAs, roughly.

    You probably don't want to read this, but this problem is managed with the Weekly Review. That's when you'll find orphan Projects and NAs.

    The Weekly Review really isn't painful, once you get used to it. In fact, I enjoy it now.

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    • #3
      I have 102 projects and 94 Next Actions. Hmm.

      Comment


      • #4
        I have 76 Projects, 119 Next Actions, and 167 Someday/maybe. I have more NA's because I have a lot of one-step actions independent of any of my Projects. That's okay!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Brent View Post
          It does seem like an unusually large number of NAs to Projects, though. My gut tells me I'm out-of-whack if I have 50% more NAs than Projects. If I have 20 Projects, I should only have at most 30 NAs, roughly.

          You probably don't want to read this, but this problem is managed with the Weekly Review. That's when you'll find orphan Projects and NAs.

          The Weekly Review really isn't painful, once you get used to it. In fact, I enjoy it now.
          More than happy to read that... am well aware that I'm behind on my weekly review. Actually I look forward to reviewing. Life just sometimes contrives to interrupt your best plans, and the couple of quality hours I need to schedule may not then be available for a few more days.

          Thanks for all the posts so far about projects and actions

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          • #6
            Don't worry about your ratio of next actions to projects. It depends on the nature of your work.

            A customer service rep will probably have many more next actions than projects if their job involves resolving customer questions quickly and with as little fuss as possible. A marketing manager will probably have almost as many actions as projects - fewer plates to spin, but with more items on them.

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            • #7
              Should be fixed during Weekly Review.

              Originally posted by 13internet View Post
              I have 102 projects and 94 Next Actions. Hmm.
              This imbalance should be fixed during Weekly Review.

              #NA (including WaitingFors) >= #Projects

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              • #8
                Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                This imbalance should be fixed during Weekly Review.

                #NA (including WaitingFors) >= #Projects
                How so? See my "synchronizing home clocks" example above.

                As I see it, my system contains immediate work that doesn't have a larger goal (and much that does, of course). Why is that immediately a warning sign?

                If I run out of blank CDs, can't I just add "Buy blank CDs" to my @Errands context? Do I really have to create a "Re-stock blank CDs" Project?

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Brent View Post
                  How so? See my "synchronizing home clocks" example above.

                  As I see it, my system contains immediate work that doesn't have a larger goal (and much that does, of course). Why is that immediately a warning sign?

                  If I run out of blank CDs, can't I just add "Buy blank CDs" to my @Errands context? Do I really have to create a "Re-stock blank CDs" Project?
                  I think you misunderstand TesTeq's post. He's saying that the number of NAs must be greater than or equal to the number of Projects.

                  If you have more NAs than Projects, then you could have one-off NAs, which is fine. But if you have more Projects than NAs, you have Projects for which no action has been identified. That's not fine.

                  Katherine

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                  • #10
                    More Next Actions (including WaitingFors) than active Projects.

                    Originally posted by kewms View Post
                    If you have more NAs than Projects, then you could have one-off NAs, which is fine. But if you have more Projects than NAs, you have Projects for which no action has been identified.
                    This formula also includes the case of active Projects with more than one independent Next Action. In any case you should have more Next Actions (including WaitingFors) than active Projects in your GTD system.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kewms View Post
                      I think you misunderstand TesTeq's post. He's saying that the number of NAs must be greater than or equal to the number of Projects.
                      Ah-ha! Thanks, Katherine; that makes sense.

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                      • #12
                        Currently, 54 next actions, 20 waiting fors, 31 projects.

                        I would like to mention it IS possible to have fewer next actions/waiting fors than projects if you have something related to the project your calendar or tickler file and have no other next actions or waiting fors. I've had plenty of projects where I've had attending a kickoff meeting written down - and nothing else.

                        This has happened to me. As long as something is on your calendar, tickler file, next actions, OR waiting fors for each project, you're fine.

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                        • #13
                          Items parked in the future!

                          Originally posted by cojo View Post
                          I would like to mention it IS possible to have fewer next actions/waiting fors than projects if you have something related to the project your calendar or tickler file and have no other next actions or waiting fors.
                          Yes, I fully agree. I forgot to take into account items parked in the future.

                          #NAs + #WaitingFors + #CalendarItems + #TicklerFileItems >= #ActiveProjects

                          You should never have active Project without Next Action OR Waiting For OR Calendar item OR Tickler File item.

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