What’s the Next Step?

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Ever feel overwhelmed by a big project? How to scope it? Where to begin?

This is a great time to take a page from David Allen‘s playbook. The creator of Getting Things Done advises to note the next action that needs to be taken.

Because life really is a series of small steps that add up to big things. And somehow, that first action builds momentum for the next action, and the next and so on.

It reminds me of visiting a prospective middle school with my son. The science teacher wrote an acronym on the board: WTDWYDKWTD.

He asked who could tell us what it meant.

Huh?

That’s what he said he was teaching his students to do.

Unfortunately, or perhaps not surprisingly, no hands went up in response.

It translated into “What To Do When You Don’t Know What To Do.”

What a brilliant concept. Because how many of us know exactly what to do, every moment of every day?

Often, though, we know a lot more than we give ourselves credit for. A few questions can help.

  • What is known about the situation?
  • What is the goal or the problem that needs to be solved?
  • Can that be related to a similar scenario?
  • What is unknown that would be helpful to know? How could that information be obtained?
  • Could a small pilot be conducted to test a theory at how to proceed?
  • Has someone faced a similar situation who could give helpful insight?
  • What is the worst thing that could happen? How could that be prevented or mitigated?
  • What is the best outcome? How could you make that happen?

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, Social Media Savvy for Corporate Professionals, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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