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  • Put next actions in location, on master list, or both?

    I've had lots of success with GTD, but the one thing I haven't figured out whether to use one master list of categories (action steps, waiting for, etc.), keep a list of categories in multiple locations (e-mail, project plan), or both?

    For example, say my boss sends me an e-mail requesting some information, and I need to call someone for a report, then type up a summary and reply to my boss. My next action steps are call Bob, read report, summarize report, reply to boss.
    I could:
    A) Change the title of the e-mail to "Call Bob re xx" and put the e-mail in a Next Actions folder,
    B) Write "Call Bob re: xx" in the Next Actions category on a master list,
    C) Do both A & B.

    C seems to be the most thorough, but it also requires me to keep multiple locations organized and synchronized.

    What's your advice

  • #2
    The least work or you will stop wanting to do it

    So, B) Write "Call Bob re: xx" in the @Calls section of your Next Actions list.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't care for the idea of multiple lists all over the place. Too much work. Too much time spent tracking stuff. Come up with a list manager that is portable, goes with you - either digital or paper - and you don't need to do double entry.
      That's my opinion.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by tis-himself View Post
        I've had lots of success with GTD, but the one thing I haven't figured out whether to use one master list of categories (action steps, waiting for, etc.), keep a list of categories in multiple locations (e-mail, project plan), or both?
        Not sure I understand the question.

        But if the action is call Bob that goes on the @phone list. The rest of the notes and e-mail may go into a project file, or might just go in a catch-all Action Support file either paper or electronic.

        Personally what I'm doing with e-mails (only partially successfully, I might add ) is when I process them I decide if it's part of a project. If it is I put it into my Omnifocus system, if there are multiple actions in the e-mail I go ahead and enter them in if I am confident of them but if they are dependent I set OF to only let me see one at a time in sequence. The e-mail gets filed in a single reference folder.

        OF is 1 list/ place to look and I can adjust my view of my data to be what I need to see next.

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        • #5
          B) is definitely the choice for me.

          I use Outlook for e-mail as well as for tasks (next actions), so what I do is: I create a task out of the e-mail so I get the content of the e-mail in the tasks notes-section. That way, I can delete the e-mail and still keep the vital information that was the origin of the task in the first place. If I think the info is needed even after the task is completed, I save it in the project's wiki for reference material (I use TiddlyWiki for that). Finally, I set the appropriate context and save (I use the category field for contexts).

          I think the equivalent procedure is possible in most systems that contains both e-mail and task functions.

          David

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Stiernholm View Post
            B) I save it in the project's wiki for reference material (I use TiddlyWiki for that). Finally, I set the appropriate context and save (I use the category field for contexts).
            David could you please explain me something more how you set TiddyWiki for reference materials? It seems really interesting to me

            Thanks in advance

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            • #7
              I don't really understand what you mean when you say "master list of categories" or "categories in multiple locations"?

              GTD simply calls for a list of one-step "next actions" by context. If something calls for more than one step, start a project and list each next action under the project so you can keep on top of the project.

              So, in your example, you have more than one next action to accomplish what you need to, therefore I would start a project titled "Report for Boss" or whatever. Then, under your project support would be the steps that you listed. You would move each step under a next action context after you finish the previous step.

              First would be "@Calls: call Bob for report". After you completed that you would remove it from your next actions and add "@Waiting For: WF report from Bob". After Bob gave you the report, you would remove that action and then add "@Work: read report", etc., until you finished the project.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by graphicdetails View Post
                I don't really understand what you mean when you say "master list of categories" or "categories in multiple locations"?

                GTD simply calls for a list of one-step "next actions" by context. If something calls for more than one step, start a project and list each next action under the project so you can keep on top of the project.

                So, in your example, you have more than one next action to accomplish what you need to, therefore I would start a project titled "Report for Boss" or whatever. Then, under your project support would be the steps that you listed. You would move each step under a next action context after you finish the previous step.

                First would be "@Calls: call Bob for report". After you completed that you would remove it from your next actions and add "@Waiting For: WF report from Bob". After Bob gave you the report, you would remove that action and then add "@Work: read report", etc., until you finished the project.
                Yup, this makes sense - exactly what I do in fact.
                I have a Projects list, with the next action for each one, and the context lists, with those next actions in the appropriate place.
                (I'll just mention too - in those lists I label an NA to indicate what project it's part of)

                If you're anxious about seeing ALL your next actions, and then also seeing them context specific, it's probably worth using some electronic GTDing. I use a Palm, and can view NAs by category(@home, @computer etc) and then click "view all" to check everything.

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                • #9
                  I also use a Palm. I run it plain vanilla with the exception of Datebook6. Datebook handles appts more effeciently. But for the tasks (NA's), I use the built-in app.

                  And I also put the project in parenthesis after the NA. For example...

                  @Errands
                  Buy container to file info (P1-taxes)
                  Buy stain (P2-deck)

                  Then under my projects list I have each project with every NA listed. I know there has been much discussion regarding linking NA's with projects, but I need to because I have a small business and I list each order as a project, so I may have several orders in the same phase, such as "WF Order Approval", etc. Looking at a bunch of tasks with the same next action with no idea of what customer it goes with would be useless for me.

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                  • #10
                    I think I've muddied up my question by using a project as an example. Here's the main thrust of my question.

                    In GTD's "Organizing" chapter, David has a section called "Using the Original Item as Its Own Action Reminder". In it, he says that some items function as their own reminder, like physical baskets for "Read/Review", "Bills to Pay", Receipts to Process" or e-mail folders for "@action", "@waiting for". With this method, he says "It would obviously be overkill to write 'Review Fortune magazine' on some action list" and I think he would also say the same about putting 'write e-mail reply to x' on an action list.

                    Creating multiple locations (physical, e-mail, paper list) for next actions seems to go against what I see as a key benefit of GTD - having all next actions on a single list with subcategories (read/review, calls, boss, etc.) for easy scanning at all times. Therefore, why would it be overkill to write the action "Read Fortune magazine" on my next actions list? Otherwise, I'll need to scan every physical location for action steps each time I'm there, which sounds like a recipe for missing something at some point.

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                    • #11
                      You don't need to write the next action on more than one list. You're right, that's not necessary. I think some people do that to help them as they're learning to trust their system. Like training wheels. But ultimately it gets in the way and takes too much time.

                      However, it also doesn't make sense to write ALL next actions on one master list. Each context should have it's own list. You write the next action on the appropriate context list. Otherwise, you would be scanning the master list looking for the right context and that would be a huge hassle and take too much time. One of the best things about GTD is the separate context lists so that you only see what you can actually do in that context.

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