Next Actions and Actions Parallelism

Posted 07/10/14 by Sergio and filed under:

This is the first post in a small series concerning the Next Actions, their logic and the parallel/sequential implementation in

In this post, I’ll describe what the “Next Actions” are, and how using them helps to manage your tasks and plan your life better.

In GTD, the “Next Action” is the very first action of a project you are planning.  Having a big number of projects planned makes it a headache to review all of them and all their tasks to choose which one to do now. GTD’s Next Actions makes the process much easier, letting you just pick the action from the Next Actions list (which is much shorter, than all the actions in all projects).

However, in real life, projects may have sub-projects, which may have actions and their own Next Actions.  And some actions may have non-consecutive relations to others, but can be done in arbitrary order. Those actions are called “parallel”.

So, actions within one project that can be done in arbitrary order are named Parallel Actions.

In the GTD application, it usually means that all those actions should appear in the Next list, all being the Next Actions.

The sub-projects may also have similar (bot not the same) behaviour- there may be two or more sub-projects that can be done (over long period of time) in parallel. All this may sound a little complex, so lets consider the small example project,  ‘Organize Vacation’.

It can have both parallel and sequential Actions and Sub-Projects.

- Organize Vacation
  - Finish undone work
    - Finish some tasks
    - Delegate other tasks
  - Choose a hotel
    - Find the list of hotels
    - Discuss with wife
  - Book a hotel
  - Get the tickets
  - Make a list of things to take with me

In this example, ‘Finish undone work’ and ‘Choose a hotel’ are the parallel sub-projects.

Book a hotel is a sequential action, as it can be started only after the ‘Choose a hotel’ sub-project is completed.

The actions inside the ‘Finish undone work’ may be done in parallel, but the actions under ‘Choose a hotel’ can be done only sequentially.

In the next post, I will show how the “Next Action” and parallel/sequential concepts are implemented in the application.