Take the 2-minute tour ×
Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Because of accumulation, I have far too many tasks that qualify as a "next action" (say, 200+). Many of these tasks are independent and do not belong to a project. For example, it could be [1] "learning the main shortcuts in software A", [2] "learning theorem B", [3] "copy file C from the laptop to the desktop computer", [4] "install software D". There can be a lot of these tasks.

I do not want to see them all in the next actions. This would be too much. Do you have a solution?

My current idea is to create fake projects, like "Training" and "Computer". The former could receive tasks [1] and [2]; and the latter would include [3] and [4]. And I would assume only [1] and [4] (for example) are next actions, and I keep track of [2] and [3] in my projects' reference material. Once [1] is finished, I go to the reference material of "Training" and move [2] into "next actions". If I do not have too many fake projects, then my next action list will not be too long, and the other actions (maybe still 200+) are kept in the reference material. Do you think this is the way to go?

I was also considering moving the tasks to the list "someday/maybe" but I would have the same problem again in this list. It would become far too long and, as a consequence, I would never review it.

share|improve this question
    
Try simplist.me - it has helped me with this problem big time. Not a perfect solution but helps get your next actions sorted in a nice, easy-to-use, way. I also like Evernote for this, creating different projects for each, but it doesn't give you feedback or let you recur things, etc. –  Douglas Crew Nov 2 '13 at 9:26
    
If you found my answer useful, could you slect it please? –  dwwilson66 Nov 8 '13 at 12:41

2 Answers 2

As I've stated before on many posts, I'm not a big fan of having one and only one productivity system. Different systems work for different people, for different task types and for different working styles. I've taken what works from about nine billion different systems and philosophies, and it works for me. That's all that counts. Finding a system that's easy enough for you to stick with but rich enough to keep you on task and organized to do so. With that disclaimer, I'm saying I don't follow all the tenets of GTD all the time with every task.

I have a HUGE list of non-dependent projects. I think there are about 400 items on it. There are some smaller project-type things on this list (e.g., "fix lamp" is contingent on "buy replacement plug") for which, based on the way I work, I don't bother creating a formal project-dependency relationship. I just call them "FIX LAMP-buy plug" and "FIX LAMP-attach plug" so they sort together in most cases. But I digress.

Each task has a time attached to it, as well as a category. For categories, I use ERRAND to designate anything for which I need to leave the house to get or drop off something. ONLINE which is typically research or online shopping for which I need an internet connection, HOUSEHOLD which includes any necessary discussions or meetings with family, yardwork, chores, etc., I think I have six altogether.

Each day, I allocate a set amount of time to do "miscellaneous projects". Some days it's a half hour, on weekends when I'm bored, it may be three hours. Given that block of time, I take the first tasks on the list that fit into that time slot. Usually it's about 3-6 items.

If I need to run errands, I'll sort on ERRAND and pull the first few that I can get done in my time alloted for running errands.

I do a periodic review to see what's still relevant or see if there's anything that's increased in importance enough that I need to block off a specific time in my calendar to get it done. For instance, I've had "find a replacement belt for the turntable" on the list for a few months now...but way at the bottom. I know that I'm getting my partner some specialty vinyl for Christmas, so I've put "find a replacement belt for the turntable" on my "must get done this weekend" list to ensure it's here before (or at elast concurrent with) the records.

The little things can be overwhelming. I find that the best way to deal with them is to feed them to myself 5 or 10 at a time, with regular reviews to clean up and reprioritize the rest of the list.

I use google calendar for my task list (and it only displays the top 4 or 5 anyway), and move a task to a specific calendar time slot as needed. The calendar itself, with specific start and end times for everything in my life is pretty much the bible that I follow for getting things done.

share|improve this answer

One of my philosophies is that I don't want to be a slave to the process. It should be a tool for me to be more effective and efficient. The solution you're proposing is essentially changing a list of unrelated tasks into an ordered list of actions and adding a manual step to manage your "fake projects". The manual step you're adding is turning you into a slave to your system IMHO and I suspect it will eventually result in the method failing to work when you tire of moving stuff between lists.

Instead, could you create your "fake" projects as the actual project with an ordered set of actions? Whichever one is on top is your next action. This is what I've done with my "Reading" project. There are lots of things I could go read, and they have no intrinsic dependencies on each other. I take the one on the top as the next action. If needed I can sort the list of tasks into the order that I want and let the system (OmniFocus) do the rest for me.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.