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  • Choosing next action in light of everything else???

    My question is similar to that of Prouddad's in the previous thread but either I amjust not getting something or my life is more complex.

    While I can easily work from a context-based next action list when I am "stuck" in a context, for example, I am on an airplane, or waiting at the doctors or when I have collected a small number of actions that can only be done at a certain location and I need to be there because one priority action leads me there(we are having friends over, so I must go to the grocery store) but by many orders of magnitude the greatest number of next actions can only be completed either at home or at work. How do I choose my next action from these really large lists?

    I have done the Weekly Review on Friday, but by Saturday morning, I am in a state of utter confusion choosing between @ home, @ errands, or @family.

    I look at my lists and Ijust cannot tell from it what is the priority-

    Which project do I most need to move forward on?

    What action will open the way to the other ones that then become problems that have a time factor? Like, if I remove the lock to fix it will I need to go to the hardware store before it closes at 3:00?

    What do I have to reserve my energy level/state of mind for?

    Where am I on the project anyway?

    Is it more important/valuable/suitable for me to be executing routine-type activities today? And, if not today, when would I do them anyway?

    Help?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Jamie Elis View Post
    by many orders of magnitude the greatest number of next actions can only be completed either at home or at work. How do I choose my next action from these really large lists? .....Help?
    If the long lists are repelling you then make more contexts so that the lists are shorter and you can see them and work with them more easily.

    If nothing jumps out at you then just pick a context and start working.

    I live and work in the same place and I can usually change contexts by just moving outside or inside willy nilly. When I can't figure out what to do I just pick the context with the most actions on it and start and try to stay there until a natural break point (bathroom break or lunch or something like that)

    At least I am getting something done and progress is being made and I usually find that after a few of those episodes things get a lot more sorted out.

    If you need to do a weekly review every 2-3 days, at least at first, until you get better at it and can see where you need to go based on your lists.

    I tend to end up doing a mini review every morning, a medium review about mid week and a full review on Sunday.

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    • #3
      Had the same problem. There's always going to be overlapping priorities until you divide your time into time zones (your areas of focus). Answer that: 'what's more important - your family or your work?'. The answer is both. So botg should have it's time. Try to use a simple time schedule, ie:

      9 am work time
      6 pm family time
      9 pm self time

      you can also make schedule inside of each area of focus.

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      • #4
        Im reminded of something David Allen says in his GTD Fast seminar - GTD will not do your thinking for you. Ultimately all GTD can do is help you make decisions by showing you very clearly what work you have in the whole of your life.

        In terms of making priorities, that has to be a gut feeling about whats right.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by bishblaize View Post
          Im reminded of something David Allen says in his GTD Fast seminar - GTD will not do your thinking for you. Ultimately all GTD can do is help you make decisions by showing you very clearly what work you have in the whole of your life.

          In terms of making priorities, that has to be a gut feeling about whats right.
          I agree, you usually resort to gut feeling on what priorities you need to do first. Maybe you're just making everything, even the slightest task, become something big. Weigh things out if they're really essential for that particular time and choose those which matters to you the most, you cannot always do all the things on your list (especially if there's a lot on it). But always make sure to render time for the family, even during dinner or bedtime. Goodluck!

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          • #6
            Just to expand on how you can split further Work time:

            - 9 am Processing
            - 10 am High priority project doing
            - 11 am Doing
            - 12 am Doing work as it shows up (meetings, etc)

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            • #7
              Well, it seems to work best for me if I have a monthly list (i.e. 'needs to be done this month/fixed time/wish to do it this month'), weekly and daily lists (basically lists of priorities, everything else is a bonus). Of course these sometimes don't get done, or stuff gets transferred.. it's just easier to do things this way, for me. (Don't confuse these with Calendar, Calendar is for fixed things only, and I now realized I need to put on it Maybe Events too - i.e. things with fixed dates that I maybe want to go to!! Orelse I have found myself double-booked or with 3 things I maybe wanted to go to on one day!! And was then disappointed for not being able to go to!)

              It's especially frustrating if things change, or other people's stuff or priorities change.. Sometimes it's to mutual satisfaction, and sometimes they've messed my plans up and just made me more confused..

              Seems your weekdays are okay and Saturdays are confusing?
              Can you set aside some times for prioritizing and/or journalling on things or making decision trees? Do you have family members that also get a say in prioritizing? (If you don't ask them in advance and take in account and into your plans their opinions and priorities, they will mess up your life and priorities later!)
              I find it most helpful to do 'decision trees' - basically you write down options and likely (or unlikely) possible consequences. Then the consequences can guide you. (You can also do stuff to prevent the consequences, or something different to what you thought initially.)

              You can also 'go up' and go for reasons why you want to do something, if you can't decide. And go from those reasons. Also, 'what happens if I don't do this (at this time)?' Or, 'what happens if I do this (at this time)?'

              These things have been really helpful to me, google 'decision tree' if you want to learn more or see what they look like..

              @family - things you need to do with your family, things to talk to them about (if it's about a sweater to knit for your daughter, it's not @family, unless you want to teach her to knit) hope this clarifies things a bit?
              You can talk to them about their preferences for certain things - are they happier with activities at 8am or 10am or...?

              @ home - you can only do them at home, either on your own or with family, you may want to divide into @home alone/journalling (for me, it means I need peace and time alone for this), depending on your activities.. may include home repair (but NOT shopping for supplies in real shops, that would be @errands)

              @ errands - in town, shopping or such - factors: when do shops close, when do other family members/friends go to town so you can car share or meet up for coffee or..?


              What action will open the way to the other ones that then become problems that have a time factor? Like, if I remove the lock to fix it will I need to go to the hardware store before it closes at 3:00?
              Do you need the lock to be locked and fixed by 3:00 or can it remain unlocked for the weekend? (= Where is the lock?)

              I've struggled with this sometimes too, sometimes it helped to write stuff on little pieces of paper and move them about to create a 'preferred timeline' (which can still be fixed/changed if needed).

              You may also need to learn more about project management, there's lots of info online. (I'm still learning myself.) There are even university courses on project management, so know you are not the only one who struggles with these!!
              There may be tips in booklets for non-profits or such too. Depends on your projects too.
              For example, for novel-writing, there are some cool tools for tracking progress online...

              As for routine-types of activities, depends on brainpower and peace in the surroundings. When Dad takes a power tool in his hands, I can say goodbye to peace for focused mental work. So it depends how much (uninterrupted) time you have, and what you can do in that time. (If you don't know, you can track your Saturdays and see what you come up with.)

              Oh, I also recommend writing local events of interest on the Calendar right away (even if they are 'maybe' events only - more likely you and the family will get to go there if they're on the Calendar!) And they may make it easier to decide what to do.. Also, get informed about specifics, I just learnt a trip we thought was on Sunday was to be tomorrow... /sigh/
              Last edited by Layla; 05-21-2010, 12:21 PM.

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