Live Blogging the Mastering Workflow Seminar: Are there any b…y actions on your current lists?

Kelly just gave an interesting illustration of thinking about projects from a…z.
Here’s how this works:
represents the successful outcome – what your project will look like when done.

represents the next single physical action to take to move forward.

b…y represents any additional action steps (but not the next action) along the way.

Now, here’s the secret: Z (the project) goes on your project list. A (the next action) goes on the appropriate action list. Everything else (b…y) needs to be parked somewhere, but if they are not next actions they do not belong on your current working list.

Perhaps this is support information, it may even be a list of next next actions. A great place to park this is information is with the project. If you use Outlook, park it in the Notes field. If you use Lotus Notes, the comments field. The key is to keep it accessible in the proper context – when you are looking at the project – but not on your current list.

Got it? If you do, then your action lists will only have “A” items on them and your project lists will only have “Z” items on them.

Take a look at your lists….

How are you doing? Any opportunities for improvement?

What I like about this approach is that it keeps my lists clean and simple. As a result, they are less full, less intimidating, and less repelling.

So, if your lists seem too full, ask yourself: “Is that an A or a b…-y action?”

I’ve been aware of this concept for many years, but I think this is a great illustration. The day has been full of these kinds of illustrations and practical examples. I’m glad I attended.

(Slide used with permission)

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  1. This has been a serious GTD stumbling block for me. Where do the “b…-y” actions go? I use both a paper planner and Remember the Milk. Would love to hear how others are managing this dilemma.

  2. The B…Y steps can be stored nearly anywhere–electronic or hard copy–as long as you can easily retrieve them. They don’t even need to be in the same system where you are tracking your actions.

    For example, here are some typical places to store B…Y:
    Email folders
    Hard copy folders
    Microsoft Project
    Word doc
    Lotus Notes databases
    Scratch paper
    The “note” field attached to the project name (RTM does this)
    A whiteboard in your office

    The B…Y steps move forward onto your Action lists in your weekly review, if not sooner.

    Hope this helps,

  3. So can departments, e.g. Finance, you are responsible for be projects. With monthly meetings being a b..y, and a next action being,”develop agenda for monthly meeting with Finance”?
    I dont know where to capture my “stuff” for each department I am responsible for.

  4. Hi Ken,

    I’d call those more like your 20,000 foot Area of Responsibilities. You could try creating a Checklist for each of those areas to track the recurring action steps.

    Checklists can be stored/organized in the same types of places that you are storing project support.


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