How clear are your next actions?

Another quick consideration: “how clear is your next action?”
I believe it was Merlin Mann who first spoke about the idea of making sure your next action is a delegation to your future self. He made that statement as a comment on ways to ensure task clarity. Kourosh Dini refers to this as well in his excellent book “Workflow: beyond productivity”.

Now, I know this is a constant challenge to me. This is why I work with TextExpander snippets which make my life a little easier. At least they force me to use the GTD approved verbs which in turn make future task execution easier.

I want to take this a single step further … not only in delegation to yourself, but in delegation to your collaborators, to your team members: how clear are you in defining the next step, the next action? I see the following possibilities:

  • You are too clear: you are defining tasks at a level of detail that does not allow for any initiative or creativity from anyone of your team at all, and you do not want nor appreciate this initiative either. Tasks should be executed in exactly the way that you want them to.
  • You are as clear as required, but no more: It is clear what you want to achieve. The how remains the initiative of your collaborators, who can be as creative as they want to be within the clearly defined boundaries of time, scope and quality.
  • You are not clear at all: You may have the vision, but you fail to operationalize it, ensuring that what gets done may not be what you wanted at all.

Let me know in the comments of this LinkedIn article what you think about these two important issues relating to next actions, both for yourself and for others.