Must dos vs want to dos
RE: Must-dos vs want-to-dos:
Everything on my NA lists are actions that I've committed to doing, either to myself or to someone else. The goal is to make these lists as complete as possible so that I can decide in any given context what the best use of my time is.
In that sense they are all "must do" as soon as possible. Anything with a specific do-on date is on calendar (as are hard deadlines). The weekly review is the key to making sure everything is progressing as much as I want it to.
For example, the list of personal things I can work on in my @home context is quite long. When I have some time at home I look at thoses lists but still often choose to nap because my baby is! During my weekly review, I can look at these NAs and the project from which they came and assess if they are moving forward at a pace that I'm happy with. If not, I can tweak the NA if that makes sense to do so or I may choose to put it on my Someday/Maybe list if I'm happy not having it front and centre.
For me, I have so many things "on the go" that I really like the options to choose from and it works for me being able to see the NA on the list.
It is still important to work from (that is, look at fequently when in context) my entire context lists so I catch the time-sensitive things (like paying the hydro bill, renewing my membership subscription, etc).
Does that answer your question?
Perhaps this is just a question of length of "NotRightNow". I'm saying that for me (and I expect a lot of others) "NotThisWeek" is too short. "NotThisYear" is likely too long. I find I'm comfortable with NAs being there for up to a few weeks and if I haven't worked on them at all then I'm more ready to move it to S/M or toss it altogether. Finding that balance is unique for everyone.
This may or may not be relevant, but: Is "revise book proposal that editor is interested in" really a Next Action? It sounds to me like it would involve writing, revising, maybe some research into that editor's publisher's submission guidelines, consultation with various people, and so on. I'd be inclined to call it a project.
Originally Posted by raindog
The reason that I think that it _may_ be relevant is that if your lists contain project-sized actions, that may result in an excess of hesitation when choosing an action. If choosing a task is going to tie you up for two or three days, then that decision takes on a substantial importance. Edited to add: Plus, oversized Next Actions often don't clearly point to the precise action to take. If you have to figure out how to start working on the Next Action, then to me, it's not a Next Action; it's still too big.
On the other hand, imagine that "Revise book proposal" is a project, with actions like:
- Download PublishOrama's submission guidelines.
- Read PublishOrama's submission guidelines.
- Spend one hour brainstorming ideas for revising book proposal based on PublishOrama's submission guidelines.
- Speak to agent about my revision ideas.
- Spend two hours revising book proposal.
Not that you'd necessarily have all of these actions listed anywhere, but I'm imagining that each one would become a Next Action as the project progressed.
None of those actions lock you up for many hours at a time, and they also break the task up into tasks relevant to different contexts. If you're feeling braindead, you could do a number of Google-and-download tasks. If you're going to be on the train for two hours, you could bring the submission guidelines and a notebook for brainstorming. And so on.
So I guess my point is, is part of the problem the presence, in your lists, of Next Actions that are oversized should really be treated as Projects?
tell me more
I'm really interested in this, but I'm a little confused as to how it works. Can you clarify some more? What do you do with the items that come after Z?
Originally Posted by Cpu_Modern
I put them on a second list. After completing a few items on the A-Z list, I refill it drawing from the second list.
Originally Posted by TooMuch
(Why this works is subtle in many ways. For instance, I could have another limit instead of 26 NAs. But that would alter the cost of one NA on the list. If you make the list too short, the cost of one NA is raised so much that choosing one becomes a task in itself.)
Cost of an NA?
So the second list is unlimited in length? But what do you mean by "cost of one NA"? Is it that moving one NA from your second list to the A-Z list precludes all other NA's you could have chosen from your second list, to that is the "cost"?
Originally Posted by Cpu_Modern
I use calendar, inbox zero, opportunistic contexts, and project support materials.
During my weekly review, priorities do emerge.
Firstly, slightly against pure GTD, I will highlight projects in my project list as important whenever I'm keen to progress them promptly. During weekly review I make sure these have a full set of concrete actions before looking at the rest. I make a mental distinction between being in normal cruise mode and priority mode in any given week.
If certain actions are critical to progressing an important project, I will put them into my calendar, rather than a Next Action context list.
My electronic calendar lets me add alerts so, as a standard, I have an alert to beep when I should have done something, then another alert that emails me the day after. Then, as part of my all-day Inbox Zero activity, I will scoop up anything important and just do it. If I did not have this feature, then I would just email myself with the action.
Then I treat my context lists as opportunistic within that context, not as must-be-done-next lists (!).
Additionally, I will allow my projects to queue up their next actions as part of their project support material. Then, during weekly review I may hold them up, to keep my current actions in focus, then release them in a subsequent weekly review once I am over the hump of critical activity.
So my prioritisation process is to act in this sequence:
(1) Work off my calendar
(2) Clear my Inbox to zero - (including emails to self)
(3) Whenever I have time beyond these two, process off my context lists
(4) Allow NAs to queue up within project support materials and only release when I feel comfortable working opportunistically for the coming week.
And (5) if I hit a life-crushing crisis, just throw it all into Collector and start again !
Last edited by pxt; 08-09-2010 at 09:40 AM.
I think it's interesting that the email Inbox really seems to get top priority if you want to keep it empty. I realize that the priority is just on dealing with it, not necessarily doing everything as it comes in, but it is a fine line.
And I have noticed a tendency on my part to lounge around a little bit when the Inbox is empty since with all that other stuff hidden away on different lists and folders, I feel like I am in better shape than I really am.
I think I am getting it slowly, though. Man, knocking off next actions feels great! It is like positive feedback, since doing them energizes you to do more and sooner or later you are out of stuff! Hooray!!