What is a "Next Action" Card
The "Next Action" was popularized in David Allen's book, Getting Things Done. A Next Action is a task in a project that should next be accomplished to move the project along. The benefit of identifying a Next Action is that it keeps you from being overwhelmed into inaction by a project. Instead of looking at a large project and being frozen into inaction by its size, a Next Action is identified - what is the next thing that needs to be done to move the project along. By identifying a bite-sized task to undertake, you both identify what is needed to progress the project, and since it is small and not overwhelming it you will likely actually do it. After you complete that Next Action, you then identify a new Next Action for the project, which you can then act on, etc., until the project is completed.
The Next Action approach to keeping track of tasks:
- Keeps you from being overwhelmed into inaction
- Keeps your project moving
- Breaks your project into easily accomplished, bite-sized pieces
- Allows for easy delegation of tasks to others
- Provides an easy method to keep track of tasks - each project only has one Next Action at a time
As noted, credit is due to Mr. Allen for refining the focus of a "to-do" or project list on what is the next action. However, these cards are effective for any project management system, not just the Getting Things Done system (indeed by having a spot for prioritization on the card, that is a "no-no" under that system - but we find it helpful, at least where there is a large volume of tasks and projects). Mr. Allen's book, Getting Things Done is highly recommended. Also, for more information on what is GTD, go to http://www.davidco.com/what_is_gtd.php.