View Full Version : How to read through and make a choice within 33 next actions
04-14-2009, 11:00 AM
I understand that there's no other way but read through all Next Actions in my context list. Just want to confirm I'm not alone here :) I have 91 projects on my list and 33 Next Actions on my @Office list right now (5 Agendas, 16 Calls, and 14 Home). Each of them 3-20 minutes long tasks (i.e. Write down sales plan update from the last sales update meeting) so they are sitting there on the lists. My day usually has lots of meetings so when I have a "free" slot of time I start scannng my list(s). But only reading through them takes quite a time :mrgreen: When I read through 30th Next Action on @Office list I already forget the 1st one :) Note that happens in the office environment where people going around, calls coming etc. and no chance to hide to read and make a choice what NA to do next. Maybe skip reading and just start doing one by one? :rolleyes: Am I alone here?
04-14-2009, 12:27 PM
If my NA's have a deadline (or the project has a deadline) i write that in my NA list aswell. Also if the project is very important (yeah everything you do is important, but some things are REALLY important) i also mark them on my NA list. about 20-25% of my NA list is marked as "very important project" or has a deadline in the very near future. In your case that would mean 5-7 items to consider first. If all of those are done you can start doing the others.
04-14-2009, 10:39 PM
Thanks! Actually I mark my Next Actions related to Sales Project (that's my responsibility at work) with high priority so I can start with them. Anyway there're quite a lot of Next Actions then :)
04-15-2009, 03:39 AM
I scan my next actions list first thing in the morning and write out the top items on a sheet of paper. Then I just work from the paper list throughout the day, so that I don't have to look through all NAs. Every day or two I synchronize the paper with my electronic system. This may or may not indicate my electronic system is broken.
04-15-2009, 07:16 AM
As far as I got GTD coaches prefer to scan the whole list not making a small list to choose. As Kelly Forrister says: "My longest list right now, @Computer, has 34 items, only 7 of which have due dates assigned. I am scanning my lists any chance I get. So whatever goes onto my lists, due date or no due date, is getting my consideration as something to do."
It looks nice and perfect to have full not limited option of Next Actions but when that comes into real world it becomes very tough. As said I start forgeting the Next Actions that were in the begginning of the list while reading it's middle. Does Kelly have better or more brains capacity then me? :)
04-15-2009, 08:42 AM
Does Kelly have better or more brains capacity then me?
nope the brain can only hold 7+/-2 items of data in the short term memory, so that's 7 to do's off your list that you will be able to retain.
I don't think the idea is to remember them all and decide between them, but to assess them as you read the list and decide which fits you energy level/time available. So I have 20 minutes of the working day left right now, & I'm very low energy, I start looking down my list, tasks 1-7 are all high energy brainstorming items, item 8 is easy but will take at least an hour, item 9 is low energy and will take 15 minutes but I have spent 3 hours today working on that project and don't want to do it any more, item 10-13 are high energy. Item 14 is a 10 minute task, low energy and will let me leave work on a high, so that's the one I start doing.
Because I am reviewing my list regularly, and doing a full review first thing in the morning to check for anything urgent I know that I can effectively pick & choose what I want to do at that moment, & once I have found something, I can stop scanning.
04-15-2009, 03:06 PM
You could just start at the top and work down.
If you don't need to do it as soon as possible, it shouldn't be on the list in the first place. So it makes more sense to just do *something* than to spend time trying to prioritize a long list.
04-15-2009, 03:34 PM
33 Next Actions on my @Office list right now (5 Agendas, 16 Calls, and 14 Home).
If I have an NA list that's overwhelming me like your @Office, I would actually not look at the @Office list per se. I would pick a narrower context i.e. @Calls, and take care of 4-5 of those 16 calls. Then switch context and work on Agendas, etc...
04-15-2009, 11:38 PM
Does Kelly have better or more brains capacity then me? :)
When you meet people from DavidCo you can have such impression. I think it is caused by the long exposure to the strong GTD force field in Ojai, CA. ;-)
04-16-2009, 12:30 AM
Recycling a tip from someone else on here (Sorry!), but it seems to work quite well.
When my lists start to backup, I look through the list and work out things that take a maximum of 10 minutes per task to do (which you say some of your tasks are), then block out 30 or 60 minutes in your day and blast through these items.
I generally then find that I'm more motivated and have that "feel good factor" which usually leads on to increasing my energy levels enabling me to take on something bigger whilst reducing the bloat on my lists.
Hope this helps?
04-16-2009, 03:40 AM
Summary! It looks like is not that simple :)
No way to cut down the number of Projects and Next Actions so either to choose (yeah, takes time and mental energy) or go one by one from the top (could result in less important items done).
I wish there would be some shortcuts like in Windows :mrgreen:
04-16-2009, 10:49 AM
In another post I made a suggestion to just cut the lists down to size if nothing is jumping out at you. Assuming that you can't remove or defer any actions or the related projects to Someday/Maybe, one way to do this is to tag the actions that would take less than ten minutes to complete, then just start knocking off as many as you can. Forget about priority decisions. Even if they aren't the most important tasks, you're at least getting work done and it builds momentum. Plus you'll have a smaller list that your brain will have an easier time working with in the moment.
04-18-2009, 01:29 PM
If you don't need to do it as soon as possible, it shouldn't be on the list in the first place.
I thought everything you've processed that have a NA is on the list. And every project has an NA. Where are you putting things that aren't ASAP if not on the list?
04-19-2009, 05:57 AM
Where are you putting things that aren't ASAP if not on the list?
Someday Maybe list, not in active projects and so not on the NA lists
04-19-2009, 10:06 AM
Someday Maybe list, not in active projects and so not on the NA lists
I second this. To the OP - to me a project is an outcome you are committed to achieving as soon as possible. If there are projects on your projects list that you haven't touched in weeks, then I suspect this committment hasn't been made or you just don't have the time yet. In this case they are better placed into a Someday list.
There is nothing wrong with putting a project into a Someday list - it does not mean you won't do it. It just means that now is not the right time. As long as you have a weekly review, you will always be able to see these projects and judge when the time is right to activate them.
04-21-2009, 03:53 PM
So, I'm curious: it's been a week: how's it going? What did you try? Has anything worked?
I'm a little curious about what your thought processes are as you read through that list from 1 to 30, and particularly what's happening along the way that item #1 is gone from your mind when you get to #30. Is that really a bad thing?