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

  • Next Next-Action

    Hi All,

    I've not been using GTD for very long, but have already found it very useful. My to-do lists are now a lot more do-able!

    Sorry if the following is a bit vague/long. I'll try to clarify if necessary.

    I've found that I have a bottleneck in my system:

    I have a huge number of Next Actions split across my various contexts (@PC, @Home, @Calls, etc). I find that after completing an action, I get stuck when it comes to the next action from that same project.

    If I may give an example, say I have two projects with the planned steps as follows:
    1: Get Car Fixed.
    -1A: Call John on [phone number] to get the name of the mechanic. @Calls.
    -1B: Phone Mechanic on [number] to book car in for service. @Calls.
    -1C: Take car to garage. @Errands.

    2: Book Holiday.
    -2A: Google accommodation in New York. @PC
    -2B: Contact hotel asking about availability of room. @Calls.
    - etc.

    Ideally my @Calls list would just have the first call (ie 1A) on it. I'd like 1B and 2B to 'appear' on the list when the preceding project action is completed. The problem is that I like to get through my list of calls before moving onto a review - so I might forget to call the garage after asking John for their number (it is just an example!).

    Using a paper system, is it simply a matter of tracking back to the project list and re-writing the next action on the to-do list? This seems like there's a lot of repetition if every Next Action is written in both a Project and a Context list.

    Is there any software/website which has this function (to avoid repetition)?

    EDIT: I've realised there was another thread about a similar problem last week. Sorry.
    Last edited by stopped_clock; 03-02-2010, 07:28 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by stopped_clock View Post
    Is there any software/website which has this function (to avoid repetition)?
    Yes, there is, but what platform do you use or are willing to use? The most GTD-ish one that comes to mind is OmniFocus (mac and iphone).

    Comment


    • #3
      I'd investigated Omnifocus and it sounded good, but I'm on Windows unfortunately.

      I was hoping for something web-based (with a mobile interface) or for Windows. I've tried both RTM and Toodledo and they're both nearly right for me!

      Comment


      • #4
        You can try Nozbe too.

        Originally posted by stopped_clock View Post
        I was hoping for something web-based (with a mobile interface) or for Windows. I've tried both RTM and Toodledo and they're both nearly right for me!
        You can try Nozbe too: http://www.nozbe.com.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hello and welcome to our little corner of GTD.

          There's a lot more going on with these sorts of scenarios than may first meet the eye. So let's consider a few things:

          Say I have two projects with the planned steps as follows:
          1: Get Car Fixed.
          -1A: Call John on [phone number] to get the name of the mechanic. @Calls.
          -1B: Phone Mechanic on [number] to book car in for service. @Calls.
          -1C: Take car to garage. @Errands.



          Ideally my @Calls list would just have the first call (ie 1A) on it. I'd like 1B and 2B to 'appear' on the list when the preceding project action is completed.

          The main risk, in general, with that sort of approach is that it presupposes that nothing will occur during 1A that would make 1B less than ideal. Every one and every project has a different level of tolerance for that risk.

          Using a paper system, is it simply a matter of tracking back to the project list and re-writing the next action on the to-do list? This seems like there's a lot of repetition if every Next Action is written in both a Project and a Context list.

          Keeping every action on its own piece of paper reduces this repetition. It's just a matter of moving the sheet from one folder to another.

          I think a productive way to analyze that particular example is by considering: after calling John for the mechanic's name, where does that information go?


          On a slightly-more general topic, it's worthwhile taking a look at the Workflow Diagram while asking: Is it ever possible, by following the diagram, to have something on a Next Action list that would take less than 2 minutes to complete?



          Cheers,
          Roger

          Comment


          • #6
            Thanks for the replies everyone.

            I think the easiest thing for me is to move to a paper-only system. Although I'm very tech-focussed, I seem to be conentrating more on the system than the contents. I think I need to do it all manually for a bit first!

            Comment


            • #7
              Projects & Next Actions

              I find it helpful to limit next actions to only the literal next physical, visible action. With other sequential or future actions there is a risk they could change and it would be a pain to rework my next actions lists.

              In most cases projects are simple enough to not have to worry about "forgetting" the sequential items. But another alternative is creating Action Support materials to manage that data separate from projects & actions lists.

              How I would organize:

              Projects list
              "Car is fixed"

              Next action
              "Call (Friend) to get name of mechanic, ###-###-####

              I'd probably start a page so that when I call my friend I could note the name and number of the mechanic. That page becomes Action Support. And when I get done with the call to my friend I either put "Call mechanic ..." on my Calls list right away or make the call if the situation warrants.

              I do this in a paper-based system (Time/Design) and it works a lot more smoothly than I probably make it sound.

              Mark

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks Mark.

                What do you mean by time/design.

                Things actually seem easier dealing just with paper (YMMV etc!). I've got a system coming together now which is similar to what you suggest, where each project gets a page of notes (unless it's trivial). This give a suggestion for the next action rather than a prescription.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Time/Design

                  Apologize for not making that clear.

                  Time/Design is a company (changing name to Time/System) that sells paper-based tools that fit nicely with GTD Organizing.

                  Time/System
                  http://www.timesystem.us/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by stopped_clock View Post
                    If I may give an example, say I have two projects with the planned steps as follows:
                    1: Get Car Fixed.
                    -1A: Call John on [phone number] to get the name of the mechanic. @Calls.
                    -1B: Phone Mechanic on [number] to book car in for service. @Calls.
                    -1C: Take car to garage. @Errands.
                    Only plan one next action for this. Who knows? Maybe John knows how you can fix it yourself without paying $$$ to the mechanic.

                    Whatever your system, have paper and pen ready when calling John (in fact have paper and pen available always whenever physically possible). Write down whatever John and you come up with and:

                    1. If it takes less than 2 minutes just do it (eg call mechanic)
                    2. If it's urgent then do it or plan to do it today (eg mechanic is going on vacation next week)
                    3. If it's neither 1 nor 2 and you can't deal with it right then, put the piece of paper into your inbox and deal with it when you're in processing mode.

                    There's no such thing as a next-next action, there's only next possibilities/ probabilities. If they're obvious then there's no point documenting them. Only record what you're likely to forget.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      @stopped_clock I generally use Mark Jantzen's approach:

                      "[...] limit next actions to only the literal next physical, visible action."

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        So yea... To echo the previous comments, I'm disinclined to plan out multiple, ordered steps for a project. I seem to recall that David's first book points out that your brain can do quite a good job at doing that when the time comes. What it's not so good at is reminding you when you need to do it. So that's what the lists/reminders are for.

                        I think a few major points should be brought to light to bring a little simplicity into your system. First, the system should always have a "least-resistance" main flow. This is another way of saying that it shouldn't get in the way of offloading your stuff into itself. Because of the vast amount of electronic, supposed, gtd-systems out there, many people tend to think that it's about the manifestation of the system that shouldn't get in your way. While this is true, many times it's ignored that the conceptual system that you attempt to implement is entirely more important than the implementation itself. Trying to find the most efficient user experience for a flawed workflow isn't going to solve the root issue.

                        So, consider letting go of the need to control the order of hypothetical next actions. Instead, put your project on a simple list, and write a single next action to move that project forward. When you've finished that action, you'll be in a very good place to decide what the very next physical action should be to again move the project forward. Doesn't that sound like a more organic and natural way of maintaining your small to medium projects?

                        After all, if you're always going to enter the order of hypothetical next-actions into your system, you'll always have the nagging sensation that they'll need to be constantly maintained if the nature of the project changes. If the project dictates that certain actions no longer apply, some actions get re-ordered, and new ones appear, you'll need to go in and maintain that reflection of the project. But ask yourself, "What am I gaining out of doing this? How does this reduce the amount of psychic chaos in my head?" I'd wager that maintaining hypothetical next actions on most of your projects gives you no net positive effect.
                        Last edited by JoshuaRamirez; 03-16-2010, 11:18 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I put in all possible next actions

                          I'm very different in my project planning. If I've taken the time to think out a project I put into my system every next action whether independent or dependent even if I won't get to that action for several months or years.

                          The reason is once I've thought of something I hate to lose that effort and it's easier to put it into my system than develop a different project support system for most of my projects. It's easy to hide all but the true next action and I don't mind going back and re-visiting my plan when I work on that project at all.

                          I have much more chaos inside my head if I try to ignore those thoughts about "oh yeah and when X is done I really need to do Y next" so I just put them all in and sort them out at review if the project has changed.

                          Plus in my world very few projects actually change once I've thought of them, even ones that take 10-12 years to complete.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                            I'm very different in my project planning. If I've taken the time to think out a project I put into my system every next action whether independent or dependent even if I won't get to that action for several months or years.
                            Right on... Do you normally do that with the larger projects?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by JoshuaRamirez View Post
                              Do you normally do that with the larger projects?
                              Generally. If I've thought of it and it's an action it goes into my Omnifocus system.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X