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GTD question:

I'm very good at capturing "stuff". My problem comes in at classifying the stuff as actionable or someday/maybe. It's all actionable, right? How do I classify items as someday/maybe when I want to do them right now?

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up vote 9 down vote accepted

Someday/Maybe items are things that you can't or don't need to do right now. Examples are things like vacations or ideas for future projects. Actionable items are things that you need to do now and you have the context, time, energy, and spending the time and energy will yield a payoff. These relate to current projects or tasks.

Something that is a Someday/Maybe would be a big trip. It's something that you want to do, but perhaps you can't take time off from work, or you have too many high priority tasks, or you don't have the money. Put it on Someday/Maybe and reassess in the future when you have the time and energy (and any other needed resources or skills).

If you can do it now (you are in the appropriate context, have the time and energy, and it is of sufficient priority), then you can choose to take action on that item. If you can't do it now, put it in he backlog of next actions, schedule a future time to do it when it's appropriate, or pass the task on to someone else.

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I specifically agree with moving the projects / NAs to the Backlog (Someday Maybe) List. This could then be blended with agile techniques of iterations to work through the backlog possibly. – Jeremy E Sep 19 '11 at 20:52
I'm not sure how "GTD" my idea is. As a software engineer, I have experience with the agile methods, and I'm using a combination of GTD and Pomodoro Technique to manage my own time and tasks. I'm still fine tuning everything, and figuring out what works best at work, what works best on personal projects, and what just doesn't work at all. I should probably start blogging about it at some point... – Thomas Owens Sep 19 '11 at 20:54

An idea that I found helpful from the GTD forums was creating two lists, the SD/M and a 'Dreams' one. In SD/M I put things that I could start and turn into a project right now if I wanted to. 'Dreams' is for things I'd like to do some day but I couldn't start right now, maybe because they are dependable upon other conditions still not created, for example because I haven't reached the required professional status or financial level yet...

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You're right, someday/maybe vs actionable is an artificial distinction that induces mental resistance during the classification process.

GTD requires this distinction because it is designed for the pencil and paper era and paper has a lower processing throughput that necessitates aggressive deferral in this manner.

I eliminate this distinction in Cyborganize, instead classifying all grammatically actionable phrases as "actionable". This is possible because Cyborganize has a high throughput because it's designed for specific software and cannot run on pencil and paper.

The result is a more fluid task sorting process that reduces anxiety over whether something truly belongs in someday/maybe and whether you'll come back to it again in time, and removes the problem of having to do weekly reviews in order to not let stuff languish indefinitely forgotten in the someday/maybe stack.

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