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.

Difficulty with logistics - Projects vs. actions and scheduling a day

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

  • Difficulty with logistics - Projects vs. actions and scheduling a day

    So if I have this right:

    Project list:
    Just a list of the projects, no detail

    Next Actions list:
    Per project, literal and granular next steps

    Here's my issue. I have ongoing and episodic projects and on any given day I could work on a variety of different things (horizontally and vertically different). How to make the best choices based on the information I have? Failing this, I have floundered to create optimal day plans or make them much too granular because it seems I'm always switching around or picked the 'wrong' thing.

    It's the literal planning of a single day that somehow eludes me.

  • #2
    re: Trusting yourself In-the-Moment

    The key habit is the Weekly Review. You will hear this over and over again. It is the hardest habit to get because it is not just doing a successful, full-scale review of every element in your inventory but the consistent frequency that is hard to master.

    If you are doing a full-scale weekly review consistently every week—and continuing to keep your inbox(es) processed and empty regularly—you will rarely be in a situation where you don't trust what you are doing in the moment.

    Comment


    • #3
      Try not planning

      Originally posted by Gravity View Post
      It's the literal planning of a single day that somehow eludes me.
      Try not planning the day for once.

      Look at the action lists when you begin the day, decide whether there are any time-critical actions that must be done today, and the hard landscape (calendar). Make sure you get those done. In the remaining time, make choices which are good enough, and let go the temptation of choosing "the best". Not worth the stress it creates, and all of them have to be done anyway.

      In short, loosen the grip!

      And yes, weekly review is important, as Todd says.

      Regards,
      Abhay

      Comment


      • #4
        How can you pick a wrong NA?

        Originally posted by Gravity View Post
        How to make the best choices based on the information I have? Failing this, I have floundered to create optimal day plans or make them much too granular because it seems I'm always switching around or picked the 'wrong' thing.
        How can you pick a wrong NA? All items on your @context Next Actions lists are supposed to be done as soon as possible. Anything you choose is a right thing!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Gravity View Post
          I have ongoing and episodic projects and on any given day I could work on a variety of different things (horizontally and vertically different). How to make the best choices based on the information I have? Failing this, I have floundered to create optimal day plans or make them much too granular because it seems I'm always switching around or picked the 'wrong' thing.
          It's not wrong if it's on your list and needs to be done.

          I too can switch contexts a lot because my work and home are the same place. As long as I don't ignore a context completely it's never wrong to do an action on my list.

          You catch the ones that are sticking points at weekly review time.

          Weather plays a big part in what I can work on on any given day or at any given time. Also what emergencies show up as I'm working my lists. They cause on-the-fly changes in everything I do for the rest of the day.

          Yesterday we started working outside in the morning when it was cool. By 11 or so the wasps had woken up and because I am allergic it became dangerous to continue working outside so I came in and did inside tasks. If it had stayed cool all day we might have worked on that project all day.

          After lunch I headed out to get some materials I needed for a project that are stored in the wool shop. Any time I go past the sheep pastures or pens I check the sheep, and sadly I found a dead sheep this time. Everything went out the window while I did a necropsy on the sheep and dealt with calling all the state and federal folks that need to be alerted to the death and taking appropriate tissue samples.

          When I got in and got cleaned up I added several new quick projects to my system and a bunch of actions that will have to be done over the next few days. I had to stop everything and add them then. I haven't figured out a way to add or capture anything when my hands are not clean enough to work a pen or press a button for a voice note.

          Last night we had a thunderstorm, started a fire on the mountain across from us so today top priority was making sure we have no fires on our place. But it's cool now from the rain so we'll get a lot of yesterday's outside work done, I hope. Barring another sheep emergency

          A lot of what I had thought I was going to work on yesterday got changed, first by weather then by emergency.

          No matter. I still have all the thinking done on those projects and I'll start fresh today. Except now I have a few hard landscape things in my calendar today that weren't there yesterday. That's just how it goes and dealing with that kind of flexibility is where GTD methodology really shines.
          Last edited by Oogiem; 07-20-2009, 07:20 AM. Reason: correct my terrible spelling

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
            When I got in and got cleaned up I added several new quick projects to my system and a bunch of actions that will have to be done over the next few days. I had to stop everything and add them then. I haven't figured out a way to add or capture anything when my hands are not clean enough to work a pen or press a button for a voice note.
            How about a voice-activated recorder with a headset? You can mimic this with a Bluetooth cell phone headset and voice dialing, but I think there are purpose-built systems for people who need to keep their hands free.

            Katherine

            Comment


            • #7
              Next-actions: wrong versus best

              Thanks for the interesting discussion. Thinking to what TesTeq said here
              How can you pick a wrong NA?
              Reminds me of when students are taking an exam and pick a "right" answer that is not the correct answer. The distinction is that there is a best answer. The same goes for next-actions.

              By definition, if it's on your list as a next-action, it's something you've committed (to yourself and possibly another) to do. However, there are times when a particular next-action is the "wrong" one to take. If you've got a deadline looming on a big project, but are thinking of sorting laundry instead, then sorting laundry as a next-action might be the wrong one to choose.

              One way I've gotten around my own tendency to get lost in the list is to keep a dashboard as a mindmap with the big rocks clearly visible. Anytime I find myself wandering off into the list without a clear sense of direction, I refer back to the dashboard and make my way to the "best" next-action accordingly.

              Hope this helps.

              Best wishes,
              Tara
              Last edited by Tara; 07-20-2009, 12:09 PM. Reason: punctuation

              Comment


              • #8
                Fantastic answers!!!!!

                All:
                Thanks! These are practical, hands on answers and fascinating nuances to consider. This is the best response I've ever had to a posted question on any forum.


                @Todd V
                Thank you!

                It's a bit of a quantum step for me and my current thinking to do this, but when I get my head around it, it kind of feels like it's good. I've set some reminders for myself for times to do this

                @ abhay
                Thank you!

                This is another quantum for me, but also seems like I could feel very liberated after 30 continuous days of faith in the system.

                @ TesTeq
                Thank you!

                I've mentally filed this as a qualifier for whether an action truly is a next action. If there is much room for it to be wrong (excepting a fire or hard event like @Tara mentions) - then it doesn't belong on the NA list.

                @ Oogiem
                Thank you!

                You've removed any excuses for my interruptions, which are more typically a simple phone call or email (or fascinatingly distracting web site). Thanks for the real examples. I'll add a note for the dirty hands issue - Have a digital recorder that is dedicated for dirty work. Simple ones without many features are cheap. Try one and see if it survives long enough to be a workable solution. I have one that's been through the ringer and works still.

                @Tara
                Thank you!

                I have used mind maps and like them; I was hoping to have my NA list off the computer. Your post has triggered another question for me that I'm posting - 'How do you keep track of the 'age' of a NA item to make sure you're not just putting it off?'

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re hands free notes

                  So far I haven't found a bluetooth headset that I can wear comfortably under my hat or voice activated note taker that survives in a barnyard. Ditto for anything I have to press a button for. FWIW urine and blood are very corrosive to electronics and both are often in plentiful supply on a farm with animals.

                  My cell phone and camera get grunged regularly but fortunately hubby can clean them with electronics grade alcohol. I still wear out my electronic devices often. I end up with new tools regularly because the old ones get beyond repairability.

                  Yesterday hubby was the cameraman for the detailed pix of the sheep necropsy I had to show the state vet today. We try to have one person with fairly clean hands but it doesn't always work out that way.

                  As long as I can stop after that sort of emergency and add the actions and projects that get generated it works for me. Also gives me a bit of time and space to deal with the emotional issues involved, esp. important with any death even just a sheep.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gravity View Post
                    All:

                    Your post has triggered another question for me that I'm posting - 'How do you keep track of the 'age' of a NA item to make sure you're not just putting it off?'

                    Hey Gravity,

                    I'm an Outlook user, this is where I track my projects. In the notes field of the tasks is where I keep my NAs. When I complete a NA I date stamp it, which allows me to see how long ago I completed that NA.

                    Tip: I copy/paste the completed (dated) NAs so the most recent are on top so that I don't have to scroll down to see the undone NAs.

                    Pablo

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Good one!

                      Hi Gravity,

                      Your post has triggered another question for me that I'm posting - 'How do you keep track of the 'age' of a NA item to make sure you're not just putting it off?'
                      Good point! Made me realize I've been keeping that *gasp* in my head! Another tweak to the system is on the way.

                      Best wishes,
                      Tara

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That was exactly my intention!

                        Originally posted by Gravity View Post
                        @ TesTeq
                        Thank you!

                        I've mentally filed this as a qualifier for whether an action truly is a next action. If there is much room for it to be wrong (excepting a fire or hard event like @Tara mentions) - then it doesn't belong on the NA list.
                        That was exactly my intention!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Tara View Post
                          Hi Gravity,



                          Good point! Made me realize I've been keeping that *gasp* in my head! Another tweak to the system is on the way.

                          Best wishes,
                          Tara
                          I think this is an easy fix, just add in the date the NA is created at the end of each NA. example: "Put clothes in closet in alphabetical order - 20090721"

                          What do you guys think?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Gravity View Post
                            'How do you keep track of the 'age' of a NA item to make sure you're not just putting it off?'
                            Interesting, Omnifocus automatically adds date added and date modified fields to every action and project. I've never really looked at them though, perhaps I should....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Gravity View Post
                              All:
                              How do you keep track of the 'age' of a NA item to make sure you're not just putting it off?
                              You don't need to track exact dates that you've instantiated next actions. Everyone has their own internal barometer about whether or not something is hung up; if you think it is then it's probably true. The most important question is "why?"

                              It could be for a number of reasons and it's usually one of these:
                              • The action you defined is not the true next action. Perhaps you've defined a project in disguise ("gather data for presentation" instead of "talk to Bob about presentation") or you don't have everything that you need to complete the action ("paint bedroom" instead of "gather materials for painting bedroom", which could lead to "draft shopping list for painting bedroom" if you don't have what you need). Make absolutely certain that every action on your lists is an atomic action that you can see yourself doing successfully. If it's too big or complex, chunk it and define a simpler next action.

                              • You're overcommitted--too many active projects and too many actions from which to choose. Time to move some of them over to Someday/Maybe (with the emphasis on "Someday") and delete the associated actions from your action lists.

                              • There's a high "yuck" factor on some level about the action or the project and you're truly avoiding it because getting engaged with it is more painful to you then avoiding it. It's up to you to figure out how to make it more painful to put it off any longer than it is to just bite the bullet and do it. 9 times out of 10 the thing you fear never even materializes.

                              • It really is the next action but you've not had the right mix of context, time and energy to get it done since you've defined it. In a training seminar David Allen mentioned that he had an important action that was on his lists for several weeks but he knew that he would require at least six hours of uninterrupted time in a given context to handle it and his hard landscape didn't afford him that window since he put the action on the list. He didn't feel bad at all about not doing it because he was true to himself about why it still there.

                              The weekly review is the usual time where I identify, clean up, clarify or renegotiating my stuck actions. The other time I do this is if something starts yanking my internal chain (i.e. something's on my mind and it won't let go).

                              As stated before, if you don't do the weekly review your lists are going to become stale and polluted. Your brain won't trust the system and you'll fall off the wagon (at least in the context of GTD).

                              Best of luck,

                              Luke

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X