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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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7 Responses to “Next Actions 101 – Put it on Your List”

  1. [...] has started a series on “Next Actions” as they relate to the GTD methodology. The first post in the series is available now, and you should definitely check it [...]

  2. [...] This is Part 2 in the “Next Actions 101″ series (read Part 1). [...]

  3. [...] is Part 3 in the “Next Actions 101″ series (read Part 1 and Part [...]

  4. Andy Cunningham » Paid To Blog
    February 8th, 2007

    [...] was actually led there by a link to this post on a new series of posts on the subject of Getting Things Done, the book by David Allen [...]

  5. [...] This month’s most popular post was Next Actions 101 – Put it on Your List. This was the first article in a GTD series I wrote, and it turned out pretty good. Check it out, [...]

  6. [...] actions I’ve talked many times about the advantages of next actions so I won’t repeat myself too much here. Basically, you should break down your work into [...]

  7. immigration
    September 1st, 2009

    A Simple but interesting tip. I tend to jot down things that need doing in a hurry using just one word, maybe I should make that one word the verb and hope I remember what it means! (e.g. “Run!”)

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