Use the right words to describe Next Actions

Use the right words to describe Next Actions.

Merlin Mann over at has done it again: he's found an currently out-of-print guide which includes David Allen's lists of Project Verbs versus Next Action Verbs. Why care? Because if you describe Next Actions wrongly it's like tying your shoelaces together and then expecting to be able to run. It doesn't work.

A Next Action in Getting Things Done parlance is the next physical action you can take that moves you closer to completion a task, set of tasks, project or goal. Without a physical verb, you're not defining a Next Action, and the whole system Allen has conceived breaks down. This is one of the easiest ways of fracking up your GTD system.

Here's a few examples – checkout Merlin's post for more:

  • Worthless verbs that define impossible to take Next Actions: Finalize, Resolve, Handle, Look into. Treat these like the flashing red lights they are.
  • Verbs that define Physical – and therefore doable – Next Actions: Call, Organize, Review, Buy, Fill out, Find, Purge.


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