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Projects and deadlines

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  • Projects and deadlines

    Hello everyone!

    I'm a relative newbie, having only adopted GTD in the last two weeks. It's been quite an exciting and hectic journey. I have a question about everyone's "favorite" topic (projects). It was only after much googling elsewhere and searching through this site that I finally realized I needed to post here, so your patience is requested.

    After being stumped for a while, I think I finally hit the nail on the head with regards to projects. Today, I received an assignment to head the team that is rebuilding the help pages for my employer's Web site. I stayed focused on outcomes, tracked everything I delegated as WF's, devised a few NA's and put them in my Outlook Task list, etc.

    But how do others track projects if the main part of your job is deadline-driven? At the beginning of each month, I receive a spreadsheet that lists about 10-15 deliverables. For each deliverable, there are specific milestones and deadlines that must be met (10/1 Initial Review, 10/5 Content Review, 10/9 Final Approval, etc.). How does one go about tracking this? I work with many others, and of course, it's a multi-step project (one thing cannot happen without another happening).

    Any advice would be more than welcome and appreciated. Thanks! This is a fantastic community and I'm grateful to be a part of it.


  • #2
    It sounds like you have to devise the path to reaching the milestones and that these are date driven. There is much more planning involved than deciding on a singular next action for "personal" projects. So it sounds like a job for an industrial-strength project planner. Do you have access to MS-Project or the like? Mind-jet is a mindmapping program that allows for the brainstorming session to be easily integrated into the MS-Office suite, Project included?

    Good luck


    • #3
      Re: Projects and deadlines

      Originally posted by zooropa
      But how do others track projects if the main part of your job is deadline-driven?

      everything that is deadline-driven I write in my calendar.



      • #4
        Yup, deadline driven stuff HAS to be in the calendar. But some more in depth planning is needed here, to schedule reminders in your calendar that will be timely enough to be useful.

        For one thing, I don't think just entering the deadline for things would be enough. If I had some tasks that have long lead times, I'd schedule an advanced reminder. The reason for this is, some tasks have to be finished months ahead of the deadline, which might not be covered when you do your Weekly Review.

        Let's say you're buying materials from a supplier overseas. To put in a reminder to place the order, you'll have to do it by a date that will give you enough time for the processing, delivery, and Murphy's law. So your advance reminder could be given a date to account for these.

        Definitely look into project management software. MS Project is good, and I think one of the simpler ones out there. For huge construction projects, Primavera might be a better choice.

        And I agree with Abby Normal, luck is important. But if you play your cards right with advance notices, you can hedge a bit.

        Good luck


        • #5
          I track deadlines by placing them on my calendar with advance notice to tickle the item to my attention. I also do some planning to estimate how much time a project will take and to schedule specific times to work on a project. On a typical day, I have large blocks of time to work straight off my next action lists (e.g., process inbox, read e-mail, make telephone calls). I also schedule concentrated time to work on specific projects that are deadline driven, such as writing a brief. The projects that I schedule are projects that I am definitely planning to work on absent some great emergency, they are not the sort of projects that I would like to get done but I can carry them from day to day. For more discretionary items, if I am concerned that I may lose track of them on my next action lists, I use the due date function on the Palm task list to tickle the items to my attention. The same is true if I am waiting for information from someone else. If I need information from the client to finish my brief on time, I create an @waitingfor task and set a due date to tickle the item for follow up to make sure that I get it on time. GTD can work for managing smaller projects, but if your projects are more sophisticated you may want to look at project management software. You may find it helpful to read Managing Multiple Projects by Tobis & Tobis (see
 This book is designed more toward smaller team projects. You can read the first two chapters online.