Try inverting your attitude towards your lists
"You can only feel good about what you're not doing when you know what you're not doing" -D.A.
Your action lists remind you of the things you could be doing, but not necessarily what you should be doing at this moment in time. There's a principle in GTD that you must track every commitment you've made internally or externally with yourself, but many of them are not important in the grander scheme of things.
When you want to relax, take a vacation, spend time with your family, or get some spontaneous urge to do something wild, crazy, fun or enriching you know that you can do it and give it your full attention because you know that everything on your lists can wait while you go do that thing.
An empty next action list could be a sign that you've got actions that you've not yet defined. These will shake out during your weekly review. Having a page worth of next actions is not a bad thing unless you can't make an intuitive choice from it. At that point, renegotiation of your commitments may be needed. But it's far from a bad thing.
I think I know the feeling...
I just had a similar experience with my newly commissioned cell phone notepad list of next personal actions. It only shows 7 on the first page, so once I went past that I started getting nervous. But mostly I started going numb to the list because there were some items I couldn't get done easily so I got sick of looking at them.
As I typed this I just had a thought - maybe I should change "find cell phone charger" to "look for cell phone charger", mainly because that is doable - I can look for 10 minutes, and after a few of those sessions decalare it "lost". So maybe "find cell phone charger" is really a project, not a simple next action.
The same goes for my "Back Burner" list at work. It is huge and has many ancient and/or trivial items, but at least it is in chronological order, newest last, to aid in scanning it.
Man, this stuff is addicting! Seems crazy, but it really has energized me by helping me get a few tasks done in some small windows of available time. With the cell phone list for example, it seems like there are a LOT of benefits just from writing something down as it occurs to me.
This is a great example of a project in disguise, and it happens more to me than I'd like to admit. Even though you might find it when you look the first time, you might not. Since you don't know if you have a single action or a project, it's better to identify it as a project.
Originally Posted by Spalding
I think the project here is "Find or replace cell phone charger". "Search house for cell phone charger" is an action, but once I do that unsuccessfully I might not define a new next action; I might just wait to see if it shows up. Or, perhaps I should put "Cell phone charger: 8/5: Magically reappear" on my @Waiting For list since that is technically a next action. Often I never find lost things during a deliberate search.
During the weekly review I decide whether or not to define an action to replace it or if I should just wait longer.
The way I've interpreted this is as a common response to Next Actions caused by widespread preconceptions with traditional "To Do" lists. On a "To Do" list, the sense of accomplishment is in crossing tasks off and making your way towards the bottom of the list. Once you get there you are "done!" and have achieved completion.
Originally Posted by HappyDude
While ,to a certain extent, this is an element of GTD, feelings of success and completion shouldn't come from seeing empty lists but rather from those that are full! With GTD you are not simply completing chores but also working on higher levels (Horizons of Focus) and therefore, as long as your projects and actions are aligned with these, a continuously renewed NA list is one which is moving you towards these life goals.
Hi, so here I am responding to this thread. I didn't reply after each reply..wanting to really take to heart the advice from fellow GTD'ers and make sure it truly resonated with me.
& I have to say that right off the bat this really hit home for me. Perhaps I forgot about why I even purposefully set out to discover a system to help me sort my life...but ever since reading this I revamped my entire OmniFocus system...from de-complicating my contexts, projects and the folders that rested to house it all...but i'll get to that.
Originally Posted by PeterW
It made great sense and this leads me further want to ask why when i'm looking at my NA lists, or overall projects for this matter, I am purposefully numb to say 3 particular projects...and it just so happens these 3 projects with the next actions i'm numb to, ignoring them as I scan for other NA's, are the most important projects in my GTD/OmniFocus system.
Originally Posted by bradenchase
Since posting this thread and totally revamping my system I've been tackling NA's left and right with a sense of accomplishment, but still having my mind being tugged by the top 3-4 important projects that I know i'm numb to. (I'd love to admit that i'm probably ignoring them because of insufficient planning these projects but on the other hand I think i'm afraid of not successfully completing these 3-4 big important projects)
Take for example, transferring to a university. My successful outcome would be to transfer to a 4 yr. university within a month. Not unheard of, but in my mind i'm hearing voices saying its too late or the financial aid wont transfer over or the units i've taken wont, etc. - Which has led me the past few days to tackle actions around this project; and yes i'll feel good knowing i tackled 15 needed-to-do actions, but having not tackled that 1, 2 or 3 actions from this very important project weighs my mind down big time. David Allen in a recent podcast said something along the lines regarding intuitive next action decision making Which next action if I accomplish will provide me with the most satisfaction and sense of accomplishment?
In my OF i've created a few folders (I should mention this is all trial and error, if it works great, if not during my weekly review its back to the drawing board) that read "Active" "On Hold" and "Someday/Maybe"..with the Active Folder holding a sub-folder titled "Focus."
Originally Posted by abhay
Someday/Maybe folder is only really pulled out during the Weekly Review, while the On hold folder houses projects that aren't going to blow up anytime soon, could be on hold, or may have a start date soon but isn't quite about to hit prime-time. The active folder houses all the projects that i've assigned to be active and should be tackling when I'm in any appropiate context, have time and energy...while the Focus folder (within Active folder) will house some active projects in the active folder that I should be focusing on.
I jotted down a note suggesting for my upcoming WR at the end of the week to perhaps try creating 3 folders in the Active folder housing projects in level of significance; such as 1)Most Important/Satisfying, 2)Should Tackle, 3)Do These Too.
Again- i'm thinking out loud here.
This too really hit a sweet spot for me. For the longest time I would only add things to my system that I considered work. Things for fun, at most would be added to my iCal if it had a set time/date.
Originally Posted by DragonsLady
Since revamping my system I've cleared out my mind with everything i want/should be doing....including the fun stuff, not just work/school.
I think this is the post that originally made me think about creating the current Active, and On Hold folders...and furthermore the level of importance folders.
Originally Posted by Cpu_Modern
After listening to DA's podcast about how to begin doing and he mentioned level of energy available i've been seeking some way to add this to my system. Admittedly daily, there are times after banging out numerous actions that I do want to keep going but need a break to tackle the stuff (if available) that don't require too much brain power.
Originally Posted by peakaytea