View Full Version : how to track blocked next actions
10-19-2009, 09:39 AM
I noticed that I happen to have many of my next actions can't be done until a different next action is completed. Some next actions are essentially 'blocked' from others. This is sort of like @waiting_for, except that you're not waiting for something from someone else, you're waiting for yourself to complete a particular item.
I'm considering using an @blocked context, but I'm wondering if there is anyone who might have a better way of managing tasks that can't yet be done. For example, you might envision a project with 10 items to get the project to completion, but you can't do items 2-10 until task #1 is complete; where do you park the other 9 tasks? Do you even park them anywhere at all? They have my attention, I want them out of my head, because I can't do them yet.
Also, I'm thinking that if you track how many things are blocked by one specific task, that one task all of a sudden becomes a higher priority. I think that knowing which tasks are blocking you from completing many other tasks is very useful, but I am strugging to figure out how to track this info. Hopefully there isn't too muich overhead in tracking this type of data.
10-19-2009, 09:51 AM
Future actions go in project support materials.
Project progress should be checked during the weekly review, at which time you can see which actions are blocking you and should get special attention.
10-19-2009, 10:07 AM
For actions within a Project that makes perfect sense, thank you!
Sometimes I have some next actions from one project that rely on next actions from another project - or one project can't be worked on until another project is completed - but this is uncommon. When it does happen though, maybe I should just specify in the title of the project or task that it is blocked, and write down what is blocking it.
10-19-2009, 10:26 AM
I was thinking about something like this the other day too! :)
There are several actions that I noticed are not 'next', cause something else has to be done first, and certainly those suddenly get higher priority!
I was considering just writing WF _action in question_ or maybe putting an arrow with name of the project next to something I had to do first, or putting the WF on my WF list (?)
Maybe there could be a special list like 'priority actions' (I wouldn't say 'blocked' or 'blocking' cause to me it sounds kinda negative, and I'm trying to go learn to enjoy my NA lists and weekly reviews etc! :))
Do tell if you manage to figure out anything else!
10-19-2009, 12:17 PM
Katherine's is the "right" answer as far as GTD is concerned.
I use the Waiting For list for those, although in orthodox GTD this list is reserved for follow ups when the ball is at other people's hands. I do that because of several reasons: 1. This is a way to nag myself about the action that I need to do to be able to advance with the following actions. As I look at my WF list -and I do that every day, as opposed to my projects' reference material- I am reminded that I must do that action. 2. I don't have so many "classical" WFs, that is follow ups, so the list is outstanding. 3. I don't carry with me the reference material for all my projects, and I want to be able, in case I did that action, if I am at the appropiate context, to be reminded of the following ones.
As for highlighting the actions that other actions are dependant on, I really don't need that: after looking at my WF list those get stuck right between my eyes :cool:
10-19-2009, 12:59 PM
I'm wondering if there is anyone who might have a better way of managing tasks that can't yet be done. For example, you might envision a project with 10 items to get the project to completion, but you can't do items 2-10 until task #1 is complete; where do you park the other 9 tasks? Do you even park them anywhere at all? They have my attention, I want them out of my head, because I can't do them yet.
I do 2 things depending on the nature of the project. For some the further actions are written on paper and filed in my main paper filing system as part of project support documents. But for a lot of projects like that I go ahead and enter in all the actions I have thought about, even though I know they will likely change as I complete the earlier ones, into my tool and set the project itself to be sequential.
I'm using Omnifocus and you can set the items to not show up until the one before is done.
I found I had to go ahead and get them out of my head or they kept coming back in and being collected so this works for me.
10-19-2009, 06:38 PM
I had this problem before. but it is solved with a simple method.
Although project steps/next actions (both can be the same or separated depends on how your plan your project) can be written/track in project support file/folders (depends on what media/tools you used. for me it's the notes field in my digital list). Then, you can mark the previous action as done and copy and paste the next action into your system.
The thing I dislike about this is I have to copy and paste the next action from the project support to my list. I find this to be troublesome and takes times to switch between views, copy and paste and switch view again.
so, my solution is simple:
- I added 1 additional field/category/tags in my system, which is the "ACTIVE" field/category/tags in my next action.
- Using this method, i can brainstorm or create multiple steps/next action related to my project. Then i put "ACTIVE" field/category/tags on the next action i want to act on.
- After i have done my "ACTIVE" next action, i can see my project steps/next action and mark the rest of the "INACTIVE" steps/next action "ACTIVE"
here's a picture to help you understand.
the STAR icon is my "ACTIVE" next action. the RED CIRCLE icon is my waiting for, indicates the project/next action is waiting for. Of course, i can filter my list so i see my list based on context. :)
You can use this method in whichever media.
hope this helps!:D