The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


What Is A 'Next Action'?

A Next Action is the next specific, concrete thing you can do now to move a project forward.

You don't have to know everything to move forward, just the next step.

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

Focus on completing the Next Action, and you'll eventually complete the entire project.

Josh Kaufman Explains 'Next Actions'

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 Mt. 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."

Writing this book was a massive undertaking-it took me years to compile the research, and a little over a year to actually write the text. "Write the book" is not an action-it's a project.

There's no way I could finish the book manuscript in one sitting, but it's possible to write a section of the book in less than an hour. After breaking up the book into smaller, well-defined sections, it was much easier to make progress, since each individual task was less overwhelming.

Track your projects and tasks separately. Here's what I do: I always carry around a notebook that contains a 3x5 index card. On the card is a list of my active projects.

The notebook contains a list of the next actions I can take that would move my projects forward, which I process using a system called "Autofocus," which was created by Mark Forster. The system helps me use my intuition to identify what I can do right now to move my projects forward.

As long as my projects are tied to my Goals and are aligned with my preferred States of Being, it's only a matter of time before I get there.

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

Questions About 'Next Actions'


"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."

Samuel Butler, nineteenth-century novelist


From Chapter 7:

Working With Yourself


https://personalmba.com/next-action/



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The Personal MBA

Master the Art of Business

A world-class business education in a single volume. Learn the universal principles behind every successful business, then use these ideas to make more money, get more done, and have more fun in your life and work.

Buy the book:


About Josh Kaufman

Josh Kaufman is an acclaimed business, learning, and skill acquisition expert. He is the author of two international bestsellers: The Personal MBA and The First 20 Hours. Josh's research and writing have helped millions of people worldwide learn the fundamentals of modern business.

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