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Forums > Getting Things Done®

Ideas/philosophies as next 'actions'



AuthorMessage
Disorganised

Posted: Feb 15, 2012
Score: 0



I use the Next Action status extensively. To me it's not just about actions, but about anything and everything that i want to be aware of now and next. These can include the following:
1) Actions such as "update operating system"
2) Questions to myself such as "should i tell Paul to write the code next week instead?" or "should i change career?"
3) Philosophies such as "Stop being so disorganised"
4) NOT operations such as "stop using facebook" (this is something that i shouldn't do, and so can never truly be completed)

Some people may say that the philosophies may belong in the reference section or as goals, but if they're put there then i won't be aware of them - hence they serve no practical purpose there.
Questions such as "should i change career?" aren't projects because they're not things that have any definite steps and it's intangible at this time, but it's something that i need to keep in mind to attend to next. If i don't put them in the "next action" section, then they have no immediacy about them.

Does anyone else treat non-tasks as tasks in Toodledo like this? How do you deal with them?


=====================

Also, i have various tasks which are not one off tasks such as "take the rubbish out", but which are tasks that are done continuously as and when required. One example being "Look for a suitable bike in Buy and Sell Magazine". It's not a tasks which can be executed once and then crossed off the list as completed. it's a task which, effectively, can go on forever (or in this case, at least until i find a bike). I'm considerign of putting such tasks into the "Active" status section.
How do people deal with such 'on-going' tasks?


This message was edited Feb 15, 2012.
Salgud

Posted: Feb 16, 2012
Score: 0



I don't put things like major life decisions in TD, because I don't tend to forget to do them. If I'm considering changing careers, I don't need to remind myself about it. However, I do need to remind myself to do the research to make that decision, and I always like to have some sort of plan for those kinds of things. That would be in my personal task manager, Things, rather than TD, but it could be done easily in either.

As to regular repetitious tasks, like taking out the garbage and checking for a bike to buy, I'd just make these repeating tasks. "Take out the garbage" would be every other day, based on Completion Date. "Check Buy and Sell for bike" would repeat depending on how often the magazine comes out, probably once a week.
Disorganised

Posted: Feb 16, 2012
Score: 0



Thanks for your input.

You may have misunderstood regarding the 2nd point.
I wasn't referring to repeating tasks. I was referring to tasks which are ongoing indefinitely. Such tasks don't have a date/time to do them. Perhaps the "check buy and sell for bike" was a bad example (i should have mentioned that the magazine is a free magazine which is delivered whenever, so there is no date or regularity about it).
Perhaps a better example would be "continue to work on perfecting CV" or "work on poem". Sometimes life gets in the way and i forget, so i need these little reminders. It has no set date/time or regularity about it. it's on ongoing task which cannot be completed.
These are the type of tasks that i'm referring to.


This message was edited Feb 16, 2012.
lythink

Posted: Feb 17, 2012
Score: 0



I cant really answer your question yet since im new here and still exploring stuff,
but I can relate to your post and would like some more possibilitys with the todo-list in this directions too

esp. I like your "philosophy" idea, and would love it somehow implemented.
(although I prefer positive ones - like "Be more organised")


@Salgud: its very important for your goals to constantly keep an eye on them,
and having some sort of goal remindlist would evoke some thoughts atleast, or better, some spontaneous actions
and would greatly increase my motivation
Folke X

Posted: Feb 17, 2012
Score: 0



1. You could always rephrase a mental or philosphical issue or question into a doable action. For example, instead of "stop being so disorganized" you could enter something like "Identify avenues for increased efficiency (30 minutes)"

But basically, as long as you yourself know what the implicit action is, it does not matter if it is phrased as a question or something else. But if you are uncertain, then it is better to rephrase it as a real action.

2. As for goals and gudelines etc. I have often wanted, and many times tried, to keep a select few such things at the top of my list. It feels like the right thing to do, intuitively. But I must say I have never noticed any real benefit of it, and after experimenting with it yet again for the umptieleventh time I usully stop after a couple of months.


This message was edited Feb 17, 2012.
Salgud

Posted: Feb 17, 2012
Score: 0



@lythink

That's why TD has the Goals field. You can link your tasks to your goals, and be reminded of them every day, if you wish.

As to ongoing tasks, if they're ongoing for a few days, I enter the Start Date and the Due Date and there you are. If they're ongoing for longer periods of time, I try to break them down into bite size chunks (remember the old adage, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time). So if I was writing a book, I'd break it down into chapters, then break the chapters down however seemed appropriate to get to a task level of a few days or less.

I'm sure others have totally different approaches.
Disorganised

Posted: Feb 17, 2012
Score: 0



@lythink
You're right about the more positive "be more organised". I agree. Mine was a bad example.


@Salgud, Folke X
I don't think the idea of breaking everythign down into smaller parts works with everyone. Some people (ie me) need to see things at a glance so as to not lose track of the goal. Often goals and philosophies need to be placed into the Next 'Action' section. I need goal highlighted in front of me otherwise it gets forgotten amongst the trivia. This is also true if i break it down into parts - it gets lost amongst the trivia and i lose sight of the overall goal. If i lose sigh of the overall goal, then whats the point of all the little broken down tasks that that goal was split into? They become isolated from their goal.

Also, "be more organised" can't be broken down because it applies to all aspects of life. it's a philosophy that affects all tasks and how they're carried out, rather than something that can be broken down into tasks.

It would work much more effectively for me if i FIRST see the goal in the Next 'Action' section, and then i can drill down to see the goal split up into it's parts. Having a goal broken down and scattered about all over the place doesn't work for me.


Sometimes it feels as if GTD and Tooddledo are better suited to robots than human beings lol


This message was edited Feb 17, 2012.
Folke X

Posted: Feb 17, 2012
Score: 0



@Disorganised

Rephrasing something into an action (or project, if you will) is not necessarily the same thing as breaking it down. But you could, and probably should, break it down. In TD you could use subtasks for the minor parts, e.g. under the "Get Organized" project (task in TD) you could have a first task (subtask in TD) called "Identify avenues" and set a reasonably short time, e.g. 30 minutes, for this first analysis. Then as a result of that initial analysis you will probably come up with several avenues (further subtasks) to investigate further, e.g. "investigate todo apps", "investigate meditation", "investigate social groups" etc etc, and as you analyze those, one by one, you probably come up with even more ideas. But the whole time you keep your "Get organized" main task high up on your list.


This message was edited Feb 17, 2012.
Disorganised

Posted: Feb 17, 2012
Score: 0



I'm not sure that would work with me. I've tried in the past to have a kind of regimented approach like that, and it fell flat each time.

Also, and most importantly, on my (Android) mobile i use a specific app (Ultimate ToDo) where i have the 4x3 widget on my home page. Hence the importance of the Next Action and the need to put tasks(and entire goals) on the front page (it also saves on room to do this because there is only limited space to fit all tasks and goals that i need to keep at the forefront of my mind). This is the more efficient way for me. Using lots of subtasks as you suggest would mean me not being able to see the wood for the trees.
Perhaps this puts a new perspective on your viewpoint.

I rely 100% on my mobile, so I don't use the web version of Toodledo except on the rare occasion when a sync doesn't go as expected.


This message was edited Feb 17, 2012.
cabbage

Posted: Feb 21, 2012
Score: 0



I have started using next actions as reminders when I want to make a habit. It started with me trying to clear a large backlog of laundry. I set up a daily action to "Wash Clothes" that only got checked once I had washed and hung out a machine-full. If I missed a day or 2, the start date of the task would show it!

By the end, I had formed the habit of checking if there was laundry every day and washing whatever there was. I deleted the repeating action since I no longer needed the reminder. However, I wanted to make sure I kept the good habit so I set up a tickler for a month later to prompt me to reflect on how I'm doing.

Since then, I've done the same with daily exercise and keeping the house tidy (not really an action but a reminder at the start of the day and reflection at the end).



For breaking a bad habit, I prefer a technique outside GTD. My example comes from a job I had in a lab where I wanted to stop spilling chemicals on my hand. No next action here! I got a sheet of paper and wrote Monday to Friday down the left. Any time I got something on my hands a tally mark went beside that day.

The first day was shocking. The next had 10 incidents, 2 the day after, and after that either zero or no incidents.
Disorganised

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



cabbage

Essentially, i'm using Next Action in the same way as you - that is to keep certain things(tasks or otherwise) in the forefront of your mind
Folke X

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



cabbage,

Actually there is a next action there :-)

(Guess what: To make a note of how many incidents you had that day)
Disorganised

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



Posted by Folke X:
cabbage,

Actually there is a next action there :-)

(Guess what: To make a note of how many incidents you had that day)

If you put that in your next action, what would you do once it's been completed for that day?
cabbage

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



Folke X

Yes and no. You could say that making up the sheet is an action, but it's a less-than-2-minutes action so it never gets entered into my system.

Keeping the tally marks isn't an action either. I don't WANT to enter any tally marks, so there is nothing to do other than make sure I have my sheet handy for whenever I slip up.

Perhaps the next action is to review my progress at the end of the week.
Salgud

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



@Disorganized

I don't think the idea of breaking everythign down into smaller parts works with everyone.


Nothing works for everybody, except breathing. I think the vast majority of us do better with a task like "Write Chapter 1" than "Write novel". YMMV.

To me, "Be more organized" is too lofty and remote. That would be a good goal, broken down into a project like "Organize House", which would have tasks like "Organize hall closet" (I probably should add that one now), and so forth. But they'd be attached to that goal of being more organized, and that would serve me well to keep my goal in mind. Not sure about "seeing it at a glance". I can see "Organize hall closet" at a glance, and that it has the goal of "Be more organized" listed in it's Goal. Not sure how it can be more at a glance than that, but that's just how I do things.
Disorganised

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



Salgud
Different methods work for different people. If that works for you, then good for you


This message was edited Feb 22, 2012.
Folke X

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



Posted by Disorganised:
If you put that in your next action, what would you do once it's been completed for that day?

Probably assess it or something. Or keep it for a weekly assessment. Whatever. Up to you.

Posted by cabbage:
Folke X

Yes and no. You could say that making up the sheet is an action, but it's a less-than-2-minutes action so it never gets entered into my system.

Keeping the tally marks isn't an action either. I don't WANT to enter any tally marks, so there is nothing to do other than make sure I have my sheet handy for whenever I slip up.

Perhaps the next action is to review my progress at the end of the week.

A weekly assessment seems very appropriate. Having a daily repeating task as a reminder to yourself to keep tally is not necessarily wrong, why would it be? And when you don't need it anymore, skip it.
cabbage

Posted: Feb 23, 2012
Score: 0



Posted by Folke X:
Having a daily repeating task as a reminder to yourself to keep tally is not necessarily wrong, why would it be? And when you don't need it anymore, skip it.


Good point. Nothing wrong with a daliy reminder!
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