Most people have To-Do lists. Whether they make one daily or they make one for the week, whether they use software or write it down or keep it in their head, we all tend to have list of stuff we want to get done.
When I look at people’s To Do lists I usually see a list of a mix of outcomes they want to achieve and tasks they want to complete:
- Fence the back yard
- Call Jim back
- Publish blog
- Schedule dentist appt
- Find new pediatrician
- Write Acme Construction proposal
In the language of David Allen, in his book Getting Things Done: The art of stress-free productivity, this is actually a list of Projects and Next Actions. It’s good to have both of these things captured, just not on the same list!
Brain dumping a list of all the PROJECTS you need to complete is freeing. It lets your brain stop using energy to remember all those projects so it can get on to more meaningful work. So get those projects out of your head and onto paper or in a program like Evernote.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A Project is anything that will take more than one step.
Then, create a list of NEXT ACTIONS you need to take to move those projects forward and operate off of that list on a daily basis.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A Next Action is something I could walk in and see you doing. Like brainstorming, making a phone call, writing an email, outlining a presentation, researching info online, etc.
So now the original list above might look like this:
Find new pediatrician
Write Acme Construction proposal
Call Rick and ask him for the phone number for his fence guy
Call Jim back
Review my list of blog topics
Post to mom’s group on FB asking for pediatrician recommendation
Review Acme Construction website to understand their target market
With your Next Actions list you have a just that, a list of actions you can complete and cross off. Actual steps to move your projects forward. As you cross off an item you might get to cross an item off your Project list. Or you might add the Next Action you need to take to keep that project moving forward.
For example, after you get a number for a fence guy from Rick your next action would be: Call Rick’s fence guy
Whether the Next Action completes the project or uncovers the next Next Action, you make progress the only way anyone can…one step at a time.
Grasp this concept and I promise you will get more done.
PS: This is just ONE concept out of David Allen’s book. It will have a big impact AND having a complete system in place will be life changing for you. If you are interested in getting your own system in place, click here to stay up to date on classes and services I offer in this arena.