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Are Your Action Steps Too Complex? Or Too Simple?

It’s vital to any project that it be broken down into action steps along the way. However, you can get a little too trigger happy when breaking these down. Some people like to put every little minute detail into an action step.

  1. Take out index cards
  2. Open pen cap
  3. Write next action

While others prefer the vague approach, perilously getting close to summing up a project with a single “action step”.

  1. Make scrapbook
  2. Show family

What other steps go into making the scrapbook? I personally wouldn’t know, as I’m not much of a scrapbooker, but others will tell you that you have to buy a myriad of things from the craft store, carefully plan your layouts, get your pictures in order, and assemble the book. Phew! This approach may benefit from a little more detail in their lists.

Steve Pavlina has a wonderful post analyzing these two approaches, and then showing a happy medium between the two. This is straight outta the GTD methodology, known as Next Actions. Next actions are simple the “next action” needed to complete a project.

As to how vague or descriptive your action steps should be, it all depends on one thing: You. If you’re comfortable with really vague lists, use ’em. If that anal retentive side of you really needs that much detail, then break that project down into tiny slivers of actions. The important thing is making GTD (or microtasking) work best for you.