Next Action - Lacking Intentionality as cant easily choose what I should be doing next

Hi all,

I follow GTD and I am an OmniFocus user. I have followed GTD for a number of years and feel very comfortable with the principles and I feel pretty good about being disciplined in following them. My HUGE issue is answering the question “What should I do next?”.
My OmniFocus is structured well, I only use due dates for real due dates (and I feel supported by having these tasks jump out at me). I have tried reminding myself of my Horizons of Focus to see if that helps me drill down my next action list, I have tried to pick three things the night before but that still leads to “whats next” if I clear them and ultimately “What’s should I do tomorrow” which daunts me. And in the mean time the email and tasks keep coming, which impacts my priority thinking.
Guys, I know that this a personal challenge but I do hope I’m not alone and that other can share there experiences

Thanks in advance

(Quick Background : I work in a corporate envoironment and do travel for work, so my time can sometimes be notably influenced. This issue is not just work though as its mirrored in my personal life, which is also in the same GTD system)

I’ve been listening to David Allen in a variety of interviews lately. One thing that’s been emphasized in them far more than I picked up from the book is the goal of GTD: obtaining and maintaining a clear head. As long as you do whatever you need to to get the thoughts in your head off of your mind, you’re doing the right “next actions”. And the next action you should take is whatever is necessary to clear your head right now.

It was a pretty elegant insight for me, and I’ve been more relaxed and productive than usual lately as a result.

I have some questions and critiques—namely, does that mentality lead to satisficing rather than optimizing?—but it nonetheless has really helped build momentum.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. The problem with ALL task managers is that at some point they fall down and you’re left with a number of tasks that appear equal and you have to answer the question, “what’s best next?” Even though I use my planning template in GoodNotes every day, I’ve been struggling with how much so should be using a task manager to supplement my analog/digital workflow.

I literally today just watched Shawn Blanc’s Hybrid Productivity video from his All The Things course and I love the analogy he uses there of the task manager being the brain and the notebook (he lists out what he wants to work on every day by hand) as the boss. It makes a lot of sense to me to let the task manager do the heavy lifting, but still having a manual process of deciding built into the process every day. Seems to me that the trick to this method working though would be resisting the urge to go back and check the task manager. Get clarity on what to do, write it down, then stick to THAT plan. He even does the same thing at the beginning of the week with additional space for the “why” behind his most important tasks.

(Full disclosure, I’m actually working with Shawn now on The Sweet Setup.)

Still thinking over how I want to apply this myself, but thought the brain vs. boss analogy might apply here as well :blush:

Thanks for taking the time - really insightful

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Hi Mike,

Thanks for taking the time. This makes so much sense. By complete co-incidence I have been catching up on recent episodes of Focused and listened to David share his thoughts about “Manager Me vrs Employee Me”.

Your both providing a light bulb moment for me. Im attracted to the @MacSparky approach of using “afternoon me” to be the “Manager” and set out the priorities for the following day. Trying it for tomorrow and it is already feeling good.

Boy, been working this stuff for over 10 years and still learning!

Thanks for all the great work you and David do. Keep it up its amazing!



Quick Update - been at this for a couple of days and I am chuffed (UK speak for very happy :grinning:). Just giving myself the license to separate the thinking of “planning by Manager Me” and then “Actioning by Employee Me” is really working. OMG, such a simple concept but I was totally stifled by it. Goes to prove that we can all need a little help.

Thanks again guys - amazing help, amazing community.


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Do you know what episode you’re referring to? I’d like to go back and listen to that again.

Hi peedy - Im sorry I dont recall BUT checking out the language I used I am suggesting that it is an episode around Oct 19. Looking at the back catalogue I am guessing it could be this episode:

Hope this helps