Next Action

Sep 11, 2023


Next Action

If we attend continually and promptly to the little that we can do, we shall ere long be surprised to find how little remains that we cannot do.


Often, what we want to achieve can’t be done in a single sitting. Projects are Goals that take more than one action to complete, and the larger the project is, the more difficult it is to anticipate all of the actions that must be done.

Climbing Mount Everest is a project—one fraught with complexity and Uncertainty. How do you work on a project so large it threatens to overwhelm you?

Simple: focus only on the action you need to take next to move toward your Goal.

The Next Action is the next specific, concrete thing you can do right away to move a project forward. You don’t have to know everything that must be done to make progress on a project—all you need to know is the very next thing you can do to move the project forward.

David Allen, the author of Getting Things Done, coined the term to describe one of the core steps of his “fundamental process”:

1.      Write down a project or situation that is most on your mind at this moment.

2.      Now describe in a single written sentence your intended desired outcome for this problem or situation. What needs to happen to mark this “done”?

3.      Next, write down the very next physical action step required to move the situation forward.

4.      Put those answers in a system you trust

According to Allen, these questions help you clarify exactly what “done” and “doing” look like. If you define what “done” looks like, you can focus your attention and energy on “doing” the things that will get you to “done.”

To keep yourself from feeling overwhelmed, track your projects and tasks separately.

Focus on completing the Next Action, and you’ll inevitably complete the entire project.