Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.

Announcement

Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.

Confused about Next Action list

Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Confused about Next Action list

    Hi all!


    I'm starting down the road of adopting GTD. After listening to the audio book and doing the initial collection two weeks ago, I'm confused about the following regular scenario for me:

    1. I get a thought about a project whilst I'm working on it, for other steps I need to do later. Should all these steps go on the particular project list or does part of it go on the next action list?

    2. I take it I dont need to list absolutely every single step to achieve a project. I find the project list and the next action list really good to get started and then blitz through a number of action points without even realising it. I havent found the granularity that suits yet i think

    3. I thought I understood the next action list - is it was a way of recording what next to do in a project when moving away from the project to do something else - is that correct?



    Any help or pointers would be most appreciated! thanks!

  • #2
    Originally posted by trican View Post
    1. I get a thought about a project whilst I'm working on it, for other steps I need to do later. Should all these steps go on the particular project list or does part of it go on the next action list?
    Let's break this one down a bit:

    1. You get a thought. Good! Write it down, throw it in the Inbox.

    2. While processing your Inbox, it comes up. Now you need to decide what it is and what to do about it. In this sort of case it might be "Update project plan" or "Brainstorm about project alternatives" or something else.

    3. If there is one or more actions that come out of it, they'll need to end up on a next action list at some point, or they'll never actually get done.

    2. I take it I dont need to list absolutely every single step to achieve a project. I find the project list and the next action list really good to get started and then blitz through a number of action points without even realising it. I havent found the granularity that suits yet i think
    It's a personal thing, yeah. It takes some tweaking.

    3. I thought I understood the next action list - is it was a way of recording what next to do in a project when moving away from the project to do something else - is that correct?
    That's not all it is, but as a first approximation it's a pretty good way to look at it.

    Comment


    • #3
      Thanks for the fast response Roger, much appreciated.

      I think I'm a bit clearer now, though I suspect I missed much subtlety in the book, but I guess (or at least hope) it probably take quite a bit of time before everyone feel the GTD guidelines are natural and instinctive

      Comment


      • #4
        I've personally found it to be one of those iterative processes: read the book, try it out, learn some things, read the book again... repeat until forever. Parts of it didn't make sense until I had tried it out a bit.

        Comment


        • #5
          Any thoughts on a project - tasks, milestones, what-have-yous - that arise while working on a project, could also go in your project support material if you've processed it. Anything you deem a next action should be put on your context lists. Some only put one next action, others several, on their context lists. That depends on your preference and maybe the size and complexity of the project.

          Comment


          • #6
            Next Action definition.

            Originally posted by trican View Post
            1. I get a thought about a project whilst I'm working on it, for other steps I need to do later. Should all these steps go on the particular project list or does part of it go on the next action list?
            The "next action" is the next physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality toward completion. - GTD book (paperback), page 34

            Next Action lists contain Next Actions only. No project steps, no next next actions, no project plans.

            I think the Next Action definition should be printed on each page of the next edition of the GTD book.

            Comment


            • #7
              Hi TesTeq,

              What confuses me is that the current way I'm thinking about this, there seems to be redundancy between the next action list and the project lists? Going back to my scenario:

              I get a couple of thoughts about a project (lets call them t1,t2,t3 for proj1, and t4,t5 for proj2) whilst I'm working on proj1. So it seems clear these thoughts/tasks should be added to the inbox for later processing. After reaching a natural point to take a break in proj1 I process my inbox. So I put t1 and t4 in the next action list for the appropriate project and put the remaining tasks on the appriopriate project list. Moments later I continue working on proj1 with task t1.

              So here are my issues with the above workflow: Firstly it almost seems a waste of effort to place t1 on the next action list when I know I'm going to do that next anyway? That point aside, as I appreciate it might clarify thinking about the project and/or task, the greater problem I have is that the tasks required for proj2 are split on two lists - is there not redundancy here? for example when I complete t4, I still need to refer to the proj2 list anyway to figure out what next to do (i.e. t5).

              Am I missing something here?

              thanks again!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                The "next action" is the next physical, visible activity that needs to be engaged in, in order to move the current reality toward completion. - GTD book (paperback), page 34
                But then this comes to mind: the next physical action.
                In my line of work this could be: check all accounts wether (spelling) they correspond to what is entered in the accounting program.

                but the very next physical action is: get customer folder 234423 from archive

                I am still having difficulty with the next physical action.
                Could one say the next physical action that is needed to move current reality for 1 hour at least?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by trican View Post
                  So here are my issues with the above workflow: Firstly it almost seems a waste of effort to place t1 on the next action list when I know I'm going to do that next anyway?
                  It depends. Just how sure are you? If you're really sure that you won't be interrupted, or feel like doing something else, or otherwise experience anything unexpected, then sure.

                  the greater problem I have is that the tasks required for proj2 are split on two lists - is there not redundancy here? for example when I complete t4, I still need to refer to the proj2 list anyway to figure out what next to do (i.e. t5).
                  Again I think it's sort of related to stability and rate-of-change. If nothing ever changes between whenever you wrote your project plan and the time you finish t4, then yeah, you don't gain a lot of benefit from looking up t5. If things may have changed, then it might be worthwhile to give it a bit more thought at that time.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    GTD is for non-trivial applications.

                    Originally posted by trican View Post
                    I get a couple of thoughts about a project (lets call them t1,t2,t3 for proj1, and t4,t5 for proj2) whilst I'm working on proj1. So it seems clear these thoughts/tasks should be added to the inbox for later processing. After reaching a natural point to take a break in proj1 I process my inbox. So I put t1 and t4 in the next action list for the appropriate project and put the remaining tasks on the appriopriate project list. Moments later I continue working on proj1 with task t1.
                    GTD is for non-trivial applications. If you have 2 projects and 5 actions in your life you don't need any system. Your brain can handle them. But if you have 40 projects you need an external trusted system to support your brain.

                    If you prepared project plan with actions (in project folder) - you put one or more of the immediately doable actions on @context lists. So there can be some redundancy in the system. But you don't have to do it with each action - sometimes you can do subsequent actions without rewriting them to the @context lists.

                    One more thought: the t1,t2,t3,t4,t5 thoughts that you put in your inbox are only thoughts about projects - not actions or Next Actions. You will determine their meaning during the processing phase of GTD workflow.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Significance

                      Originally posted by Senol View Post
                      But then this comes to mind: the next physical action.
                      In my line of work this could be: check all accounts wether (spelling) they correspond to what is entered in the accounting program.

                      but the very next physical action is: get customer folder 234423 from archive

                      I am still having difficulty with the next physical action.
                      Could one say the next physical action that is needed to move current reality for 1 hour at least?
                      Senol,

                      I use the "rule of ones" to define next actions. Next actions are:
                      - One meaningful unit of work that is done in
                      - One context on
                      - One occasion by
                      - One person (i.e., me)

                      The "meaningful unit of work" part may need some explanation. It means doing a set of physical acts that realizes or significantly advances a desired outcome. The "significantly advances" part of the definition is what makes "Verify all accounts against the accounting program" a next action while "Get out folder 234423" is not.

                      This is a useful way of keeping yourself out of a kind of "Xeno's paradox" of being overly granular with defining next actions. Otherwise, every next action you have for every project will be "Blink my eyes."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Next Actions should be as granular as you need.

                        Originally posted by Senol View Post
                        but the very next physical action is: get customer folder 234423 from archive
                        Next Actions should be as granular as you need. There is no general rule. Some people can successfully use "Write chapter 4 of the book" Next Action while other people in the same situation need "Open chapter 4 file in word processor and write first sentence" Next Action.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks both of you for explaining this as most of my na's were becoming to blink my eyes indeed.

                          I need to take a step back and begin collecting again I think.
                          Maybe after that I can check where the project is and what needs to be done to get it passed a point.

                          thanks again

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                            while other people in the same situation need "Open chapter 4 file in word processor and write first sentence"
                            I think that is a little too granular. The two minute rule needs to be applied for GTD to really work, (the above action could be done in less than two minutes - so writing it down and tracking it on your list is actually wasting time). For next actions to work effectively, you need to be able to match the time/energy you have with what is on your list. Next Actions should be 5,10,30,60 etc minutes long so you can slot them in around down/opportunity time when it turns up. That is when your are really being most effective in your life - when you can make the most of every minute with purposeful guided action.

                            I think.....!
                            Last edited by Foxman; 07-04-2009, 06:05 AM.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Foxman View Post
                              I think that is a little too granular. The two minute rule needs to be applied for GTD to really work, (the above action could be done in less than two minutes - so writing it down and tracking it on your list is actually wasting time).
                              I think there can be substantial value in writing out steps at this level of granularity, depending on the project and environment. Any project where success depends on doing the right thing at the right time, without any steps skipped, duplicated, or done out of sequence is an example of this, especially if you work in an environment with lots of interrupts. In a paper-based environment, it may make more sense to have the action be "execute items on XYZ checklist" than to enumerate them by hand on your next action list.

                              My take is that the two minute rule applies to processing your inbox, NOT that you shouldn't ever have actions that take less than two minutes to complete.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X