When I was first learning GTD, I remember it took me a while to understand the gap between project outcomes (the finish line) and next actions (what’s next). Where do those go? How do I not lose them? What gets me back to them? I recall asking David Allen one day, “What reminds you to buy that plane ticket for that trip 3 months from now? You’re not going to buy it now, and it doesn’t go on a next actions list if you can’t do it yet, so what’s your trigger?” His two-word reply, “Weekly Review.”
That was many years ago, but it made a lasting impression on me that:
1. David had a process to make sure he’d see it
2. It was parked in a leak-proof system he trusts
Here’s how I work that myself:
Example: I am attending workshop in December
Outcome on my Project list: Attend Photography Workshop – due 12/5/13
Next Action on my @Computer list: Register for Photography Workshop on @Computer
This is a pretty simple project right now, from what I know, but what’s in the “gap” between outcome and next action is to book my flight. I’m not going to book it until about a month before hand. So I have a couple of choices:
1. Trust seeing the project on my Projects list in my Weekly Review to trigger me to ask, “What’s next?” (only works if I am doing weekly reviews of course)
2. Put a calendar trigger/tickler 4 weeks prior telling me to buy the ticket (only works if I’m looking at my calendar daily)
The gap could also be called your project plans, notes, ideas or future actions. Doesn’t matter what you call it or where you put it (really!), as long as you have a process to get back to it and you trust where you are putting it.
Kelly Forrister is a Senior Coach & Presenter with the David Allen Company.