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How to deal with a huge project list (400 projects)?

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  • How to deal with a huge project list (400 projects)?


    I have already read the book some time ago. I am currently listening to the fast track CDs. If you have not already done so, put "buy fast track CD" on your errands list ASAP. Listening to those CDs is much more impressive then reading the book. I am listening each CD twice and have done so up to number 7. One more to go. I really want to install a GtD system for my professional and private live now.

    Business first. This is a lawyer environment. I currently have about 350+ client related files, each one representing a different project, some projects contain subprojects. Some are small and some are really big with several hundred pages already. There are additional non client related non filed projects in different stages totaling things up to roughly 400 projects. Non client related projects are all those typical office managing things.

    All hard deadlines are in a trustworthy system and popup 7 days in advance and a second time at the morning of the deadline day (when I am out of office the day before). I manage to keep them, but under great stress.

    There are many files which have soft deadlines which are overdue. They popup a certain day on my desk (thank to the trustworthy system) and start an odyssey from there thru my room. They get done some day and sometime but not as effective and quick as I would like them to be done. They really drain my energy, because I am thinking of them every once in a while shuffling thru the stacks of those files. It is not uncommon that up to 70+ of those files decided to have a meeting in my room.

    All client meeting related files popup at the day of the meeting (trustworthy system again).

    And there are quite some files which fall into the waiting for category for some days, weeks or even months.

    There are no actual files outside of my room which do not have a date attached which will make them show up on my desk sooner or later. The problem arises when those files come into my room.

    I do have a tickler file already and a reference system right beneath my desk.

    Writing all projects down into a single project list makes me feel bad even before beginning. I imagine weekly reviews with 400 projects. The sheer size of this list overwhelms me and makes me feel like it would be a good idea to do a little bit of procastination here. So I am working on a day to day basis instead and process always those things which are burning hot.

    I imagine as well brainstorming 400 projects + planning + organizing + defining next actions, as described on the CDs under project planning. If I were fast it would take at least 10 minutes for each file totaling up 4.000 minutes. (I doubt that I would be able to stay with 10 minutes on average). That is already more than 1 complete week of workload. And not a single next action would have been done during this time.

    If all those files pop up regularly in my room, how could I integrate them into a free flow undated next action lists system?

    Any hints, ideas, links are greatly appreciated

    thanks in advance


  • #2
    Anybody have the URL to the 'lawyer-gtd' website?

    On several searches I've conducted at Google, one of the results was a website called, something like, "GTD For Lawyers" -- but that's *not* the title.

    I'm sure there must be many here who are familiar with the site I'm referring to, and will provide the URL. If not, next time I surf across it, I'll post the URL to this thread.


    • #3
      The thing to remember is that all of those projects exist, whether you write them down or not. You are not creating them by tracking them--you're just moving them from your head to your system. How can you keep track of 400 projects? Beats me, but anything would be simpler than trying to do it in your head.


      • #4
        The links in the second post on this thread are helpful:

        My first thought on reading your post is that 400 projects is a lot. How many are on your someday/maybe list? How about things on your waiting-for list? My rule of thumb: if I'm not going to think about it or work on it in the next week, it isn't on my projects list. If I'm responsible for it, but I'm not working on it in the next week, it's a someday/maybe project.

        The second thought I have after reading your post is that things on the waiting-for list don't go there until I get a response. They go there, and once a week I review the list to see if I need to do anything else. If something's been on my waiting-for list for a month, odds are that I need to remind someone to do something, call someone to find out where something is, or re-evaluate what it is that I'm waiting for and maybe give up on it.


        • #5
          helpful law site

          This may be what you're lookin for:


          • #6
            With 400 projects, it is time to get an assistant. Take some of the load off your shoulders and let someone else deal with it. That can take some of the non-client related projects off your list as well as some of the client related items. Let your assistant deal with the @Waiting for... item reminders and things like that.

            Sounds like you just need help getting everything done. You've got it organized, but you need help in the execution.


            • #7
              It sounds like you may be trying to do too much in your weekly review. You're right, of course, that you can't do a weekly review in which you spend 10+ minutes on each of your 400 projects. But, in my experience, if I've got everything caught up properly, a review of most of my projects takes no more than 1 minute per project (and most of my projects are complex lawsuits). I don't try to do strategizing during my weekly review -- I have to set aside other time for that, during which I note the "next action" or "waiting for" item in my project notes. During the weekly review (which is not yet happening on a weekly basis!), I scan those notes to make sure everything's on track; I may realize that I need to remind someone to do something or take some other action myself. But I don't try to DO those things during the review (unless they're 2-minute tasks). The problem that I have (and this may be your problem, too) is that I am NOT up to date on all of my projects. That's because I started GTD in middle age rather than at the beginning of my career. I've accepted that it is just going to take some time to dig myself out from under the pile of papers and un-done tasks that I've been creating for the last decade.

              If, after getting reasonably caught up, you still can't get through a weekly review, it may be that you are trying to do more than humanly possible and you need to either delegate more or decline more.