View Full Version : Help with next actions please
03-21-2004, 02:12 AM
I read David's book back in January and have been implementing the GTD system ever since. I've had some success, but I'm still confused about Next Actions. I am using the GTD plugin for Outlook (just so you know). I am a computer programmer. I get alot of emails from users about system problems, etc. Suppose I get an email that says "Mike, the credit card processing doesn't work in the house account receive payments screen." Do I need to create an item in the category @Next Action and place it under a project called "Fix credit card processing" and label the next action "Review code for credit card processing in house account receive payments screen"? Is my category correct? Is my label correct? What if there are many other steps that come to mind at the time that I read this email such as "Write code to fix bug in credit card processing on house account receive payments screen", "test code changes to credit card processing on house account receive payments screen", "roll out build with changes to credit card processing on house account receive payments screen", etc.? Should I put these under the category "@Computer-Internet" and the project "Fix Credit Card processing"?
I guess what confuses me is that some people use a category "@Next Action" while others do not. I was thinking that my project could have a list of steps to complete them and I could (during my review time) move the next action to the Action Code "@Next Action" and that would enable me to use the built in task view by GTD action and I could see the next actions I have on my list. Is there a better way to process these items?
Any help would be appreciated!
03-21-2004, 03:21 AM
I believe the Next Action is the *immediate* Next Action that needs to be taken to get the work going. Once the Next Action is started, the momentum of completing that one action will propel you to think of the next step and keep on going.
"Fix credit card processing" and label the next action "Review code for credit card processing in house account receive payments screen"
Yep, this looks good.
In any case, I'm kind of new to this as well, I'm not sure I have the correct interpretation.
03-21-2004, 03:22 AM
This thing keeps on logging me out.
03-21-2004, 05:58 AM
I think your instincts are good but by grouping all of your next actions under a "@Next Actions" category, you're losing the element of context from your system. For example, if you're at home and the most important thing to do is the next step in fixing your credit card problem, you might not be in the right context (place) to do anything about that.
What I've been doing (also using the GTD add-in, BTW) is to create a new Task item and I enter all of the next actions I can think of in the text area of the Outlook task. I put the very next action in the subject line and code it for Project and Action (context) using the GTD add-in.
Then, when I've completed that next action, I copy and paste the next one from my list to the subject line, change the date started and date due and save it. This is actually pretty flexible because if I miss a step in the process (often), it's easy enough to add another action step in the list.
Using context has been critical to my success with GTD.
03-21-2004, 07:21 AM
This is coming up more and more (or at least I am noticing it...). In fact, a recent blog entry on this is at: http://jason.davidco.com/blogs/jasonwomack.nsf/dx/powerofnextactions
The Next Action, as simple as it may be to actually do, is very important to identify on the front end. In fact, an article on the Davidco website about this showed up because so many people are curious about this principle.
Also, if you have a copy of David's book, Chapter 12 is all about the next action...
03-21-2004, 08:28 AM
Suppose I get an email that says "Mike, the credit card processing doesn't work in the house account receive payments screen." Do I need to create an item in the category @Next Action and place it under a project called "Fix credit card processing" and label the next action "Review code for credit card processing in house account receive payments screen"?
I would probably name the project something like "Credit card processing works correctly in house account recieve payments screen." Why? Because that name more clearly spells out the desired end state of the project. Compare to "fix credit card processing" -- well, I've been a programmer in my time, and I know it might take me more than one iteration of "fix, test" before I achieve "works". :)
You've already got some good advice about context, so I won't repeat that, other than to note that I usually have a laptop handy, but I want to have work-related computer items separate from the personal, so I have three categories of context related to computers:
@office - can only be done on the internal net
@computer - can be done on the laptop
@network - requires an internet connection