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Projects list questions

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  • Projects list questions

    Hi guys,

    I'm just getting started with GTD, and although I've been using my Next Actions list quite a lot (which has increased my productivity greatly), I'm still finding myself quite stressed and overwhelmed. I realised that I've really been neglecting my project list, and thus my projects are only defined vaugely and therefore I can't really trust the system.

    I have a few questions about project lists...

    1. Should projects be listed as desired outcomes or short titles? For example, I could write "Company X project" or I could write "Acheive seemless delivery of content to Company X". Outcomes seems like a better idea, but sometimes the outcomes will be too detailed for single-line descriptions (maybe then they should be seperate sub-projects?)

    2. Should projects be arranged by context, like NAs, or all in one big list? To me is seems they'd be better off arranged by context, but perhaps I'm looking at it the wrong way.

    3. Last question, perhaps the most challenging... Does anyone have an example project list they'd like to share?

    Any help would be very much appreciated,


  • #2
    Re: Project List Questions

    >1. Should projects be listed as desired outcomes or short titles?

    Many people like the "verb-action" formulation ("Replace toothbrush"), while some like a "completion statement", as in "Toothbrushes are replaced." I find that I naturally use a verb-action form for simple projects ("renew passport"), but not for more complicated ones where the goal becomes more clear as the project develops. For those I just use a descriptive name. You can experiment, and see what you like.

    >2. Should projects be arranged by context, like NAs, or all in one big list?

    Some people like one big list. I have 2 project lists, one for work and one for home. This is just for convenience, because a) short lists are easier to review than long ones and b) one project may trigger another, or be related to another. For example, I chair two committees at work, and there are multiple projects associated with each committee. But there is no value for me to say a project is "@Computer" because it isn't, really.

    >3. Last question, perhaps the most challenging... Does anyone have an example project list they'd like to share?

    I can give you some of my current entries in Projects- Home:

    First Floor Remodelling
    Master Bathroom Toilet
    Passport Renewal

    pretty mundane, huh?

    My Projects- Work list is mostly incomprehensible, with things like:

    DoE renewal
    Fix Morgan
    Gauge Fixing at FT
    Phys 551

    I have found I don't want a sentence to read in the list, just a phrase to remind me.



    • #3

      Thanks so much for taking the time to reply, your advise is very useful to me and much appreciated.

      Many thanks,



      • #4
        I just want to mention Michael Randall's excellent PigPog technique of implementing projects:

        The problem is that items in the project list are disconnected from items in the next-action lists.

        Michael's solution is to do away with the separate project list, instead writing down the project name beside the next action. Example:

        Ask Dr. S. what topics will be on the exam [Phys 551 exam completed]


        • #5
          My application

          While far from perfect, this is what I have done. At the suggestion of Meg Gott (GTD coach) I made a list of my areas of focus and responsbility. It was very hard to determine the degree of specification, so some were pretty geneneral (My Health) ands some were pretty specific (Smell Patrol: Manage and Monitor all sources of household bad odors- refrigerator, trash, basement humidity, lunch boxes). Then I made each of these AREAS into a category in "TO DO". Then the projects are listed in these categories and then they are written as if they have a tangible successful outcome. So under MY HEALTH are projects such as "My weight is optimal for me", "My lab tests and diagnostics are up to date", "My schedule is fine tuned to limit stress". Within any area of focus or responsibility, I have a few SomeDayMaybe projects, such as "I have a couple of social sports that I enjoy. Under the area of SMELL PATROL I have these projects "Refrigerator is Clean and Easy to Find things in", "Garbage goes out night before day ". These projects gave rise to checklists or Next Actions in different contexts. For Garbage, I needed to ensure sufficient bags, so that became an errand. For Frig, I needed to do some brainstorming. That itself became a N/A and from that came another N/A--start a soup pot and while amking dinner do a search for recnt leftovers and add to it and reboil while I am cooking. And, a checklist item "Sunday-toss any leftover soup, unless athe whole thing is fresh within 2 days. From that came another N/A "put masking tape and marker in kitchen drawer to date leftovers". I hope this helps you see the paradigm. My suggestion is to keep reading and re-reading the book and fine tuning your system. And, don't try themes and variations until you master the original score.