I've totally bought in to the GTD principles but I'm finding it hard to implement and reach the nirvana of "stress-free productivity" because I end up with more Next Actions than I can possibly manage.
I'm a Sales Director for a major software company and I'm responsible for more than 25 key accounts across Europe as well as new business development. My GTD system is based on Outlook 2007 with the Jello 5 dashboard and a fantastic little Outlook add-in called SimplyFile which helps with filing email and creating tasks and calendar items with a copy of the email embedded. I work tirelessly to keep my inbox empty and my next actions collected and categorized with project and context.
I have projects representing each of my accounts but these are really just place holders. I then have projects under each account which map to each sales opportunity in my pipeline, e.g. "Close upgrade deal" or "Close New License deal". This feels right to me as I need to ensure there is a next action defined to keep each of my opportunities moving. Since a typical sales cycle can be anything from 3 to 24 months, my opportunity projects will generally have multiple sub-projects, such as "Deliver successful Proof of Concept", "Deliver compelling budgetary proposal" or "Deliver RFP response". I use Jello to manage these project hierarchies.
My problem is that with 25+ accounts, each with multiple opportunities, each of those with multiple sub-projects at a given sales stage, and each of these sub-projects having next actions e.g call X, email Y, I regularly end up with 50-100 next actions!!!
Now imagine I'm sitting in my office with my laptop, my phone and internet access, in theory I'm able to tackle most of my next actions as many fall into my @email, @call, @office, @laptop, @review contexts.
Now assuming I have the time and the mental energy, I have a perfectly legitimate list of 50-100 next actions that I could do in the contexts I'm in.
Firstly, I really struggle with quickly reviewing this list directly in Outlook. I generally use the To-Do Bar in OL2007 but just end up scrolling up and down my next action list for right thing to do. I could do the same in the OL Task view or Jello Dashboard but I'm still just looking at a long list. I've tried printing out my next action list so I can scan and cross things off more easily, but then new things keep coming in during the day and then I still end up looking at both the printout and new tasks in OL.
I've tried doing a daily review of my next action list and assigning dates to the things I think I need to do today. Of course then I just end up with a daily to-do list that I don't always manage to get through and then feel guilty about as I keep rolling over next actions from one day to the next. Not very GTD.
So basically I'm drowning in next actions. Even when I focus on, say, my top 10 customers in terms of pipeline that will get me to my quota, deciding which next action to tackle at any given moment is still my biggest challenge.
I still enjoy my job and thought that GTD was the answer to helping me be as productive and efficient as I need to be to keep so many balls in the air, but as I said I'm struggling to make it work for me.
Any help or advice from the GTD community would be much appreciated!