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Next Actions 101 – Put it on Your List

Next Actions 101

This is Part 1 in a new series on “next actions,” part of getting things done (GTD).

As you probably know, I’m a GTD fanatic. Well, I might not merit the “fanatic” title, but this productivity system definitely has a fan in me. Thus, I want to highlight a couple thoughts I’ve had about next actions. That’s what “Next Actions 101” is all about.

Make a list

How can you ever know what you’re supposed to do, if you don’t have a list? This is central to GTD. Get those thoughts, tasks, and nags out of your head and into your system. Make a list.

But what do you put on your list? Next actions! A list is meaningless, unless it lists things you can do. That’s what next actions are: discrete, doable tasks.

Maybe you’ve been wanting to clean out your garage. You can’t just put “garage” on your list. What the heck does that mean? Instead, put “clean garage.” Even better, be more specific: “clean shelves in garage.” You’ve got to start somewhere, right?

Use verbs

As with the “clean garage” example, you need to make sure you actually have something actionable in your next action. I find it best to start every next action with a verb.

Thus, you wouldn’t write “oil in car” if you need to change your oil. You would write “change oil.” Better yet, you’ll probably actually take your car somewhere to get the oil changed: “Take car to Jiffy Lube.”

There are usually many ways to phrase a single next action. The key is to use a method that makes sense to you. But always remember that it should be a discrete, immediately doable action.

Here’s the rest of this series:

[tags]legal andrew, next action, gtd[/tags]

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