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  • I'm really numb to my Next Action lists! Looking for helpful solutions... :)

    Hi all,

    What do you guys do when you get numb to your next action lists?

    I find I look at my lists but don't want to deal with them. One of the things I've noticed is that I have a lot of "done" items that I like to keep on my lists -- so I can see what I've crossed out already. But also written on these lists are next actions that I never get around to doing it seems!

    I think my problem may be that I have too many next actions written down instead of the very-very next actions.

    But here's the thing: I know I have NA's that I won't necessarily get around to doing in the very near future. How do you treat these less important items? Do you keep them off your main NA lists to avoid getting numb to them? I still want to keep track of all these items, yet I don't want to get repelled by my everyday lists.

    So what would you do?

    One idea I have is maybe to move these items to a "holding area" in a digital system that I can keep out of my daily sight. So that ONLY when I've completed all of the next actions on a given list, I can then turn to this digital list to add just a few NA's to my paper-based lists?

    My system is paper-based, as this works best for me. I don't use Outlook (and don't plan to), but at times I do use OneNote, which I like.

    The bottom line is that I want to keep track of all my next actions, but only want to deal with those that I can honestly see myself doing in the very near future, so that I can finally put an end to this stressful problem of resisting my lists. Those NA's I'm not ready to commit to (in the very near future) will stay off my lists for now.

    Any thoughts? I really appreciate your feedback!

  • #2
    do you use a tickler? sounds like that might be a good solution for you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Someday/Maybe

      Sounds like you need to really revisit your projects and put a bunch into someday maybe. Or get used to long lists of actions that haven't been done yet.

      Also verify that only the real actual next action is on your lists.

      Most electronic tools can be set up that way so even if you define more than one next action or a sequence of actions they don't show up until they are really next. Paper means you have to do it by hand.

      Comment


      • #4
        ...up to now it was not possible.

        In one of the last podcasts David Allen said that there are items on his action lists that sit there several months. And he doesn't feel it is inappropriate. These actions should be done as soon as possible but up to now it was not possible.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by mhm802 View Post
          do you use a tickler? sounds like that might be a good solution for you.
          Thanks, but I don't use a Tickler as this doesn't work well for me.


          Originally posted by Oogiem
          Sounds like you need to really revisit your projects and put a bunch into someday maybe.
          Many of my NAs are not tied to a project since they are standalone items. Yet these standalone actions are still things I want to get done... "someday" yes, but not "maybe" -- as I'm sure I want them done. Maybe transfer these items not to a Someday/Maybe list, but instead to something like a "Future Actions To Do" list?


          Originally posted by Oogiem
          Or get used to long lists of actions that haven't been done yet.
          Looking at such lists creates a sense of resistance and avoidance to them, leading to procrastination.

          How do you suggest getting used to long lists of undone next actions?


          Originally posted by TesTeq
          In one of the last podcasts David Allen said that there are items on his action lists that sit there several months. And he doesn't feel it is inappropriate. These actions should be done as soon as possible but up to now it was not possible.
          If this is the case, I wonder if Mr. David Allen, the man himself, ever gets numb to his lists, like so many of us do. And if so, what strategies does he employ to get himself unstuck?

          Now THAT would make for a great podcast!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by WebMarketer View Post
            Yet these standalone actions are still things I want to get done... "someday" yes, but not "maybe" -- as I'm sure I want them done. Maybe transfer these items not to a Someday/Maybe list, but instead to something like a "Future Actions To Do" list?....

            How do you suggest getting used to long lists of undone next actions?
            I don't think I have more than 10-15 things on my someday maybe list that are really Maybe. Of the 600 or so projects and 100+ individual next actions I have on Someday/Maybe Almost all of them are things I really truly want or need to do. But they still go there if I can't get to them for a while. Or if I want to limit how much of one thing I am doing.

            Practice helps with the long lists. At first I got very frustrated with long lists of stuff I hadn't finished. But a regular review of them and why they didn't get done and verifying they were really next actions and not mini-projects and really things I wanted to work on as soon as possible helped train my mind to not worry about it.

            I'd really review them and make sure they are not actually hidden projects but otherwise give yourself time to work with it and it will get easier to deal with longer and longer lists.

            I have a next action on my lists that I've been diligently working on for over a month now. I typically work on it 6 nights a week for about an hour or 2 yet I probably won't finish it for another month. I have some others that have been there for over a year.

            Comment


            • #7
              Advice from someone trying to get back on the wagon

              Originally posted by WebMarketer View Post
              Many of my NAs are not tied to a project since they are standalone items. Yet these standalone actions are still things I want to get done... "someday" yes, but not "maybe" -- as I'm sure I want them done. Maybe transfer these items not to a Someday/Maybe list, but instead to something like a "Future Actions To Do" list?

              Looking at such lists creates a sense of resistance and avoidance to them, leading to procrastination.

              How do you suggest getting used to long lists of undone next actions?
              I'm currently fallen off the wagon trying to get back on, but this is how I am trying to do it:

              1. Every active project gets ONE next action. I manage my projects, not my tasks. So when I determine what action I will take next, I pick the project that gets to move forward (constrained by the context I am in).

              2. If a project is not active, meaning I want to do it but I just do not have the time or energy to start it, it lives on Someday/Maybe. Like Oogiem said, emphasize Someday not Maybe. If it still bothers you, rename it to a word that feels better for you like Not Now, or Later. As long as it works for you.

              3. Weekly review. This is what pulls the lists together so that you can put it on Someday, Later, Not Now, whatever and not feel that you will ignore it. Once a week so you can feel safe putting things on that list, but not every day so that your eyes glaze over.

              Comment


              • #8
                In Omni Focus I have a folder called On-Hold Projects. I've got projects in there that I am confident enough that I'll do "Someday" that I've started a project and written a Successful Outcome for it. I think of maybes more as 'list' ideas. Places I'd like to go, books I'd like to read, etc. I have several "Reseach X" projects in my On-Hold folder.

                I have about an equal number of active and on-hold projects. In OF, I can look at one action per project or all, only available actions or all remaining (oversimplifying here).

                Before I converted back to digital I had two sections in a three ring binder, one for active projects and one for on-hold, but still a separate section for someday/maybe (which again, means lists for me). But only actions for active projects went onto my NA lists.

                Comment


                • #9
                  i have a Not Yet list - I definitely want to do them, I just don't have the time, money or some other thing (season, location, etc) is stopping me.

                  When i started my current job, taking over a failing charity, I realised there's a backlog of work to keep me busy literally for years, assuming nothing new came my way, which of course it does. So I have a list of things that I want to do, but I couldn't possibly put them all as projects right now, we'd literally be talking about 300+ projects, and maybe thousands of Next Actions.

                  So rather than go insane I put things on the Not Yet list and just review them every week. I dont create NAs for them (why bother if im not doing them) I just put the project there.

                  I also keep a project called Odds and Sods - which is just for those stray Next Actions that aren't associated with a real project, so maybe thats a useful tip too.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mwkoehler View Post
                    2. If a project is not active, meaning I want to do it but I just do not have the time or energy to start it, it lives on Someday/Maybe. Like Oogiem said, emphasize Someday not Maybe. If it still bothers you, rename it to a word that feels better for you like Not Now, or Later. As long as it works for you.
                    Interesting. I think the label "Someday/Maybe" creates some resistance in some people, maybe in my case. There's a sense of ambivalence connected with this label.

                    Renaming this category to something I'm more comfortable with might be part of my solution. Your suggestion of a label such as "Not Now" is a good one. It is a way to assertively state "I'm choosing not to commit myself to any of these things right now" -- implying I've made clear decision about what not to do for the time being.

                    I may even call this part of my system "Not Now, But Later", and would make it a point to set appointments with myself to revisit this category of "on-hold" actions and projects on an ongoing basis.

                    I think I like that.


                    Originally posted by malisa
                    In Omni Focus I have a folder called On-Hold Projects. I've got projects in there that I am confident enough that I'll do "Someday" that I've started a project and written a Successful Outcome for it. I think of maybes more as 'list' ideas. Places I'd like to go, books I'd like to read, etc. I have several "Reseach X" projects in my On-Hold folder.
                    I really like the concept of having a "On-Hold" category. I think this is a great label for things I'm sure I want to do but am not ready to tackle yet for whatever reason.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The ones that are on hold indefinitely are just that. Then the ones that I have a vague idea of when I might like to/might have to deal with it get a month number at the start of the title (and an OF start date, so they're really not technically on-hold OF wise).

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