Here's how this works:
Z represents the successful outcome - what your project will look like when done.
A represents the next single physical action to take to move forward.
b...y represents any additional action steps (but not the next action) along the way.
Now, here's the secret: Z (the project) goes on your project list. A (the next action) goes on the appropriate action list. Everything else (b...y) needs to be parked somewhere, but if they are not next actions they do not belong on your current working list.
Perhaps this is support information, it may even be a list of next next actions. A great place to park this is information is with the project. If you use Outlook, park it in the Notes field. If you use Lotus Notes, the comments field. The key is to keep it accessible in the proper context - when you are looking at the project - but not on your current list.
Got it? If you do, then your action lists will only have "A" items on them and your project lists will only have "Z" items on them.
Take a look at your lists....
How are you doing? Any opportunities for improvement?
What I like about this approach is that it keeps my lists clean and simple. As a result, they are less full, less intimidating, and less repelling.
So, if your lists seem too full, ask yourself: "Is that an A or a b...-y action?"
I've been aware of this concept for many years, but I think this is a great illustration. The day has been full of these kinds of illustrations and practical examples. I'm glad I attended.
(Slide used with permission)