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  • Project List

    I've been transitioning to the GTD system over the past 6 weeks and have experienced outstanding results. I am committed and it is making a HUGE difference. I have been focusing on this solely as a "private victory" endeavor but it is amazing how others within my work system (direct reports, boss, peers, etc) have noticed the changes and comment or ask questions. It seems as though GTD "finds" people who are ready for it. Without explicitly trying to influence others at least 5 people have begun adopting the system based on this indirect influence.

    Anyway, my specific topic is project lists. I use outlook and have 22 work projects, 15 delegated projects and 15 personal projects. I am still identifying my entire "project landscape" at this point and finding a project or two daily that is real but not yet captured. I have next actions for each project but have been experiencing a strong desire to prioritize the projects on the list - you know 80/20 type thinking. Perhaps using a ABC, TOP 5 Critical Few or some other method. I use outlook and assign start/end dates as appropriate but again not really identifying the "critical few".

    What are your thoughts and practices relative to prioritizing the project list?

    Thanks in advance for your input.

  • #2
    Meg Gott (one of the DA coaches) has a great article on this in the coaches corner of the website - The idea is to keep the stuff that you aren't working on stored in your "Someday/Maybe" list. That can shorten your "Projects" list significantly.



    • #3
      If you have a critical project, then you really also have a critical next action. Accomplishing the actions completes the project. I also use Outlook (and sync it with the Palm). When I have a few tasks that need to stand out from the rest, I remove the category. That way, they appear at the very top of the task list in a category called "None."


      • #4
        Hi Jeff,

        Regarding your question about priortizing your project list I look at my project list once a week during my weekly review. I don't priortize this list since it is a place that I go to think about my work, not to do my work. I ask myself during that time " Am I still committed to doing this project?" and I want to make sure that at least one next action is captured.

        I do however put a due date if there is a deadline. For example, Submit proposal for ADDA conference was due 11/29 so that project ended up being at the top of my project list.

        Hope that helps some.


        • #5
          Thanks, Meg - you've helped clear up a question I had in another thread. Having specific tasks "jump out" at me was becoming a concern of mine, as my Next Actions list is growing large enough with my new company that I sometimes worry about whether or not I even SEE everything that's on there.



          • #6
            Prioritizing Projects

            Jeff L.

            I split my projects into 3 lists.

            Projects Needing Attention Immediately
            Projects Needing Attention Soon.
            Projects Needing Attention Later

            In my daily/weekly review I file the projects accordingly. If there is a project that has an actionable task that needs to get done in the next day or so it goes in Immediately, In the next week or so, soon and beyond that it goes in later (just so it stays on my radar).

            I prioritze these in my list, Immediately is near the top, soon is near the middle and later is near the bottom.

            It works for me.



            • #7
              Originally posted by Michael L
              Projects Needing Attention Immediately
              Projects Needing Attention Soon.
              Projects Needing Attention Later
              Just to clarify, if you do this, I assume that only the "projects needing attention immediately" have next actions, right? Even a project that isn't DUE until 3 months from now, if there is some action that will be performed "ASAP" (i.e. there is a next action on one of your next actions lists) then it is a "Project Needing Attention Immediately" correct?

              Otherwise, it seems like this is sort of antithetical to the GTD process in a way. However, if you ARE using it as I describe, it is sort of an interesting way to handle the "not quite actionable yet, but not someday/maybe" case. That's actually something I've struggled a bit with.

              Good stuff.

              --- JRJ


              • #8
                Just To Clarify...

                Joseph R. Jones wrote...

                Just to clarify, if you do this...

                Yes....sort of...

                Projects that have actionable items that need to be done within the next week go under the "Immediately" heading.

                Projects that have actionable items that need to be done within in the next couple of weeks go under the "soon" heading.

                For confirmed projects that I know are going ahead and will eventually move up to "soon" I put them under "later" just so I can keep them on my radar. That way during my weekly review, I am at least giving these projects a minute or so of attention and review, until such time as they require more definitive planning.

                As for my someday/maybe list. I use that as a bit of a dream list. Some items stay on forever, some move up into other categories and some just die due to lack of attention.

                Hope this answers your question.

                Take Care

                Mike L.


                • #9
                  I like the idea of broad subcategories. This does not mean that I want to move into an "ABC,123" Covey style controlling list that doesn't acknowledge shifting realities/priorities, etc. This method sounds like it acknowledges the importance of certain actions which are something less than hardscape "must be done today" but still a bit more time critical than the 30, 40 or 100 other items on your next action lists.

                  I think we need to keep things in perspective here. The GTD police are not going to come and get you if you adapt the system to what works best for you. In fact that's what's so wonderful about it. The premise is to set up your lists and categories in such a way as to know that you have captured everything (projects and next actions) and that you review the lists frequently enough to be comfortable with what you are or, as is sometimes more important, are not doing. We all make choices in deciding what to do next from the many things that are on our lists. I am also one of those who has many things that I am juggling at one time and they all have a defined next action. If today is a relatively quiet day without too many distractions I can probably handle many next actions and have the time to review in sufficient detail to make sure that I am handling the most important ones but if it is a normal day I think it would be helpful to quickly know which of the hundred things I could be doing @ office are most critical. This method sounds like a logical way of doing this which seems to me to be GTD compatible.




                  • #10
                    Project lists

                    I tend to just keep a separate list each week of the things that MUST get done that week. It is a little off the normal GTD path, but it helps keep my from slipping on any critical commitments. David mentions in his FAQ that he sometimes does the same, so I guess I'm in good company.



                    • #11
                      I have been struggling with the same problem , and became more relaxed and productive only when I created 3 categories of projects:

                      The "Hard Landscape " projects, that have to move Fast!, even if they do not have a due date.

                      The "Active" projects, that have to move.

                      Projects of both categories have a next action defined.

                      The third category is the Someday/Maybe.

                      I keep a separate list of the projects of the first category. Next actions of those projects usually never get into a list , they just get done, as fast as I can.

                      If there is no possible action for those projects, I go to the next actions
                      list of the "Active " projects.