My favorite TV series, to date, is the West Wing. The plot lines and characters were just outstanding and would be the perfect fuel for anyone dreaming about life in the White House. This must mean that, by default, President Josiah Bartlet is my favorite fictional president.
For those who have watched the show, President Bartlet’s typical line “What’s next?” should be familiar. This was his trigger for moving to the next challenge or event. Usually, the line was written into the script at a dramatic transition after major plot points.
After screwing around with different means of productivity, I have committed to implementing the actual Getting Things Done methodology into my world. I carefully went through David Allen’s book and am making a conscious effort to make this happen. A central tenet to GTD is to look at some “thing” and then process it by asking “What’s the next action?”
That sounds too obvious or simple, but it is really powerful. By breaking down a project into specific next actions, it helps remove potential mental roadblocks. For example, you might be procrastinating on drafting a contract for a client. It may become apparent that you cannot put together a draft until someone else completes research on a particular topic. The next action is actually waiting for or getting information from another person. Once that information comes in the door, you are ready to write.
Or, you need to hold a non-emergency meeting with some of your key folks. The overall thought of implementing this is not fun, so you put it off. By breaking down the project into actionable steps, it will move much quicker. What is the next actionable step to hold this meeting? Choosing the date? Finding the venue? Delegating the organization to another person? One little step at a time…
I am recalibrating my brain to consistently think this way. So far, it has been quite useful.
Whenever I am processing some action items, “What’s next?” pops into my head. President Bartlet, somehow, has become the fictional GTD POTUS prodding me along. Whatever works, right?
So, what’s next?