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I put together an example of a real world project using Action Groups for a real world project.

Originally Posted by SpiralOcean View Post
I put together an example of a real world project using Action Groups for a real world project.

As a teacher myself, it strikes me that I would treat many of your action groups as actions. For instance, the group "Handouts are ready for class" has two actions in it: "Prepare in-class handouts" and "Photocopy handouts," both of them in context Computer. I would make that a single action: "Prepare and photocopy in-class handouts." (I'd be especially inclined to do so because they all have the same context. If I had to prepare handouts on my computer and then turn them in to be photocopied at the office, I might make them separate actions, though I might not, for reasons explained below.)

Sure, from a strict GTD perspective, that's not a single action. On the other hand, Allen observes in GTD that tasks that are habitual might not need very much detail, while people who have taken on new responsibilities might need to break them down to a more granular level. I've been teaching for over a decade, so I've internalized a lot of routines that I don't need to track in my GTD system.

I've also taken on a new administrative job, and I find that I'm tracking that at a more granular level because the routine tasks aren't yet habitual. GTD expands to meet my needs there. But in a couple years, I expect that my actions for that job will be a lot more succinct than they are now.

If you need that level of granularity, far be it from me to criticize you. My own approach to GTD is to specify actions precisely enough that I know what goes without saying. But then, I'll put stuff in front of the door so that I don't forget it in the morning, so I know that "what goes without saying" varies a lot from person to person and project to project.

I also find that, fairly often, instead of marking an action complete, I'll edit its description and give it a new context. It works for me and, at least sometimes, keeps me from overplanning instead of doing! :-)
Thank you for the post Brian. All valid points.

Later in the document I change the photocopy contexts to School... meaning, it needs to be done walking around the school.

I also detail an example where a teacher is working at their desk, they complete three different actions at their computer, and the next actions of photocopy appear in the school context.

The teacher goes to lunch, and on the way back flips open their mobile OmniFocus, sees they can stop by the photocopier on the way back, and makes the photocopies.

I go back and forth between granularity.
The beauty of breaking down tasks into small grains appears when they have different contexts. I call it breaking the list into contexts, because now you are looking at many different actions from different projects in one context.

As for the habitual, I am by no means always this detailed. But for habitual projects that take more than a couple weeks to complete, it's extremely helpful to have the detail level of the project. Especially when a person is working on more than a couple of the same type of projects at the same time.

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