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Best practice for Project List

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  • Best practice for Project List

    This has been a missing key component of my GTD implementation. I wasn't initially convinced I needed to maintain the project list, but listening to the FAST Cds has convinced me of their importance.

    I have started to put a list together, but as I did this I wondered if there was any benefit to grouping them under areas of focus - I also use Tony Robbins TIme of Your Life concepts (Categories of Improvement in his case which are in turn similar to Covey's roles). At least in terms of making the list it helps me brain dump ideas under the same category, but more importantly it immediately connects me to the purpose of the project and where it sits in relation to everything else.

    Can anyone see a downside to listing projects under their areas of focus?

    What other best practice can people recommend for maintaining their project list.



  • #2
    Re: Best practice for Project List

    Can anyone see a downside to listing projects under their areas of focus?
    No downside that I can only question would be: How often do you want to review what levels of focus?

    Once a week is enough for many people to review "just" their projects list to ensure a leak-proof system. I review my "areas of focus" once or twice a year. And from there, I review the other areas as shifts occur. I would say in the past 10 years I've done "real thinking" at the 30,000-50,000 feet levels 4 times (when major life-changes showed up).

    Keep your projects list where you want, so that it's accessable, reviewable, and ensure you're lookin' at that thing every 5-10 days...


    • #3
      Project Breakdowns

      No downside that I can see. I have a couple of project categories that I use. Two for work and two for personal. I have a generic project category for work projects and a second one to handle all of the requests that my team gets for a particular service with a seven day turnaround.

      I then have personal projects and projects related to my real estate investing activity.

      I don't see any particular problem with this. In the GTD add-in for outlook there are instructions for creating both sub-porjects and project groupings so clearly it is an issue that David has thought about.


      • #4
        Not only do I not see a problem with grouping your project list(s), I also think it can be extremely helpful, particularly if you use software that allows for different views. The best test is to give it a fair try and see how it works for you. I would be interested to know how it works out.


        • #5
          Re: Best practice for Project List

          I've had Project lists for each Area of Focus in my life for a couple of years, and it has always worked beautifully for me. The fact that I see related projects together gives me a good overview of what I am doing about that area of my life and also tends to remind me of what other projects I should be doing. Another advantage is that I only have to scan a subset of my projects if I am thinking heavily about a given Focus Area for some reason.


          • #6
            RPM & Projects Lists

            Paul, for projects under my "Personal" area of focus I have 9 lists correpsonding to my CANI Categories. I have a further 7 lists corresponding to my "Professional" CANI catgeories.

            I have 2 further lists for completed projects (one for personal, one for professional). When I complete a project I move it from the CANI list to the "completed list" and preface it with a number that correpsonds to the appropriate CANI category.

            At next action level I do not do anything to relate the action to the project other than in the task subject line

            e.g. if the project is "have a fantastic holiday abroad with my wife without the kids" that is listed with the other projects under CANI Category "4 Husband". (To keep the "personal" CANI projects/categories together in Outlook I assign a number from 1-9. Professional Projects are listed as "Projects - Clients"; "Projects - Marketing" etc).

            if the next action is to review the brochures the NA simply reads "review the brochures re. fantastic holiday abroad" and is recorded in the "@desk - home" category

            once we've had the holiday the project will be listed under the catgeory "Projects - Completed (Personal)" as "4 - a fantastic holiday abroad with my wife without the kids". Its then grouped under that one outlook category with all the other "4" projects (since the catgeory is sorted by subject)

            it sounds like a lot of work but once the intial categories are set up in outlook it works a treat with minimal extra input being required.

            The advantages for me are transparency and easy correlation with my RPM CANI Categories which help me to strike a balance and stay on track, all of which I found required much more effort when using an undifferentiated projects list.

            The disadvantages are that a bit more thought and effort is required up-front when "processing" so as to decide which CANI category a project falls into. This is like an extra step in the workflow processing flow-chart - if the "stuff" is actionable but multi-step i.e. a Project, before asking "WITNA" I ask "what is the CANI category this is most closley linked to?"

            Lots of projects will naturally spin off into more than one CANI catgeory but I'm relaxed about this. If you quickly decide that this is primarily an aspect of "being a great husband" then it goes into "4 - Husband" in the lists, even if it would also be good for my own well-being (& so possibly be a project under CANI Catgeory "1 - Health & Vitality") . You can fine-tune if necessary when doing the weekly review and if appropriate create other related projects as you go. With practice it does not in fact take that much additional time to take this extra step & I find it well worth taking.

            I suspect that the major disadvantage for many people will be that this approach does not work within the Palm 16 category limitations. My spin on GTD results in me having 33 Outlook categories - 16 for projects, as outlined above; 2 x "Waiting Fors" (personal & professional); the same again for SDMB; 4 agendas and 9 separate contexts such as @Home; @ Calls etc. It sounds like a lot but I do not find that it gets in the way of getting things done. On the contrary it helps me make sure I get the right things done and speeds up reviews at all levels - weekly, monthly quarterly and annually.

            My set-up seems to cope OK with 33 categories without being particulalry "high maintenance" or complex. Its not quite plain vanilla but its not far off it. I simply use Outlook, configured per the GTD White Paper (without the electronic add-in) & a Pocket PC using Agenda Fusion. It all fits together nicely. I don't find any need to tinker with special views or filters although those options are there if you want them.

            I've gained a lot of assistance from your posts in the RPM & GTD forums on a variety of topics over the last couple of years' lurking, so I hope this is of some help to you.