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Where Did My 80 Other Projects Go?

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  • Where Did My 80 Other Projects Go?

    According to most of the materials, the average person has anywhere from 40-100 active projects at any one time. I only have 10-15 or so at a time. Where are my other projects? I put things on someday maybe lists or deferred, but I think GTD implies that even AFTER that you have a lot of projects.

  • #2
    10-100 is the average we've most often seen.

    If you think you are missing any, you might scan your Next Actions list and ask, "Are any of these projects? Will they take more than one action to reach the outcome?"

    If you still have 10-15, consider yourself lucky!


    • #3
      Quantity isn't as important as quality. Sometimes less is more.

      Btw I personally have 97 active projects at the moment but I used to have about 15 at a time at some point too. It doesn't really matter as long as you feel good.

      Having more projects doesn't necessarily mean doing more.
      More projects = More switching and less focus and progress on each one.
      Last edited by supergtdman; 01-20-2012, 11:56 AM.


      • #4
        Originally posted by furashgf View Post
        I only have 10-15 or so at a time. Where are my other projects?
        If you really only have 10-15 projects that's great. But beware you may be missing some.

        I've found that when my number of projects gets small it's usually because I have either forgotten a bunch of projects that I am really working on but are still in my head and not in my GTD system or I have a bunch of "next actions" in my system that are really projects but I didn't realize it.

        For example, here is a next action that was on my lists but upon review I realized it was really a project. "Get more sheep and wool activity books". That sat on my lists for several weeks before I realized it's actually a project. The *real* next action is E-mail B. re how to order the new kids sheep & wool activity books. Once I get the info then I'll have to place the order or if they are too expensive decide I won't have them this summer for visiting school groups. In any case what I thought was an action turned out to be a project.

        FWIW I rarely get below 100 active projects and usually sit closer to 200 at any given time. Right now I'm at 185.


        • #5
          I am assuming by "active" projects, you mean projects with a next action in one or more contexts. I keep those limited as much as possible so I can focus on only a few projects in each area of focus at one time. There is no way I could personally focus on 185 active projects. That would be way too many next actions for me to have to sift through for any context.

          So don't worry if your active project list is small. It all depends on how you view active projects. One person could have 100 active projects and 200 someday/maybe items, and the next person with the same exact list could have them listed as 25 active projects and 275 s/m items.


          • #6
            Also depends how much concentrated focus, creativity and mental energy your projects require. E.g. You can't be writing 100 multiple books at a time, or working on 100 multiple artworks at a time - it doesn't make sense.
            Doing a lot of cog like/widget cranking work and having 100+ projects would work and makes sense however.


            • #7
              Originally posted by graphicdetails View Post
              I am assuming by "active" projects, you mean projects with a next action in one or more contexts. I keep those limited as much as possible so I can focus on only a few projects in each area of focus at one time. There is no way I could personally focus on 185 active projects. That would be way too many next actions for me to have to sift through for any context.
              As mentioned previously on another thread any given context has between 2-20 items in it so not too many to sift through when I am working. Because I follow the GTD mantra of anything that takes more than one step is a project very strictly I have lots of projects. Plus many of my projects are long term things and individual actions can take a long time to complete. I differ from typical GTD in that way because my projects are often longer than a year to complete.

              Another issue for me is that while I have many projects that I can't work on unless certain seasons or weather is present I tend to leave all projects that can possible be done in a given season active just in case the right combination of time and weather conspire to allow me to do their next actions. So right now all projects that are in the winter season are active even though our weather has been too mild to do many of them and so I can't actually do the tasks. I don't put them as on hold or in Someday Maybe because waiting to review them until weekly review may not be fast enough. It's far far better to have them active with next actions ready to go so that in the morning when I check the weather and talk about the days work with hubby if we can do one we go and I already know about it. Otherwise the drag on my system would be huge.

              I find I actually get frustrated if there isn't a lot of choice in actions on my lists. I did a short experiment trying to limit my projects to just the very few I was certain I could or would work on and I was frustrated and missed opportunities to move other projects forward, opportunities I only caught during weekly review time when the missed chance really bugged me.


              • #8
                Thank you for all the advice. It seems to boil down to:
                1. check your next actions to see if any are really mini-projects. Those would become projects, probably "child" projects of another project or higher level, but that's okay;
                2. remember that ANYTHING that can't be done in 1 concrete step is a project
                3. 20-100+ is a normal number of projects
                I would also think:
                3. if it can't be done in 2 minutes, it's a N/A or probably a project

                So, I still think I have too few projects. I'll make a few next actions to see if I can find them:
                • Project: Identify "Missing" Projects
                • Project: Develop Habit of Creating Granular, Well-Defined Project
                • NA: Review trigger list to indentify "missing" projects and next actions » process identified NA and projects into GTD lists
                • NA: Review each NA and Project to see if it is 1 step and concrete (in the case of the former) or well defined enough and granular.

                Any additional advice would be appreciate.


                • #9
                  @furashgf you are registered since 2003, How long are you using gtd system?
                  If it's not a long time then I'd say just keep capturing stuff and all your projects would appear naturally over time.
                  Just keep using the system and paying attention to what has your attention and your subconscious mind would point out at all the incompletions.


                  • #10
                    I have a problem dealing with GTD and corporate terminology

                    I know I don't have enough projects on my list, and I even know why. I was looking at my next actions list this morning, and there was an entry on it from yesterday that I realized was project in GTD terminology. There are several steps, that were clearly going to take a couple of days, and at least three people (not all at once!). Project, right?

                    Except that to my employer this item is a task that is a small part of a project. By the rules, for something to be considered a project at work, it has to be estimated to take a certain minimum number of hours. A task takes somewhere between 20-40 hours, and anything smaller than that is not worth tracking.

                    I have to use the corporate speak to be understood around the office, and I am trying to stop putting things on my Next Actions list that are bigger than Actions.

                    Does anyone else have this kind of problem?


                    • #11
                      I came to the realisation that it is better to keep with the corporate version. How my boss defines a project is how I define it in my GTD system, I just have many 'open loops' within the one project, so one project may have 10-15 next actions. Your company's definition of a task is either a subproject in GTD or an 'open loop'. So your project list might actually be a list of projects and tasks and that would be fine.


                      • #12
                        Thank you to everyone for their thoughtful suggestions. I've started to "micro" more projects (i.e., if a project has many steps, and the steps themselves are mini-projects, I make them a project), so I'm finding more, and also record any > 1 step task as a project.

                        I haven't had any trouble linking child to parent without fancy software. I just use a wordy description of the task, and GTD's promise that your mind will link them actually seems to work (it seems unbelievable, but it does).