The Streamlined Business Blog

What’s the Next Action? Getting Things Done

If you haven’t read David Allen’s personal productivity bestsellers, Getting Things Done and Making it All Work, we highly recommend them! In both books, but most recently in Making It All Work, Allen stresses that the simple discipline of asking the question, “What is the next action?” is one of the most powerful and profound steps anyone can take to boost personal and team productivity and “get things done.”

According to Allen,

“The best criteria to determine whether or not you’ve actually thought something through sufficiently to act upon it is how clearly you can answer these three questions:

  • What has to happen first?
  • What does doing look like?
  • Where does it happen?”

 Allen goes on to say:

“Identifying the next action runs neck and neck with defining the desired outcome in terms of generating value in a given situation. But if I had to choose between those two questions [the one] that would be the most effective in increasing productivity, I’d unhesitatingly pick, ‘What’s the next action?’

Why? Because I’ve seen too many people come up with a confident response to what they’re trying to achieve, but have the whole effort falter because of a lack of clarity in what, specifically, to do about it.”

Making It All Work, p. 174.

Focusing on the “actions” list is the most important thing you can do if you want your company’s procedures manuals, SOPS, and corporate training manuals read and used.

Watch for more tips and techniques that you can use for writing policies and procedures that deliver more value. You might also want to check out our webinar series, particularly our How to Create User-friendly Procedures webinar. Follow the link to download a data sheet.

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