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Project list poll

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  • Project list poll

    Here is a poll question.

    Do you have a complete Project list, that is current, updated, and that you work off weekly(or so) to generate your Next Actions?
    Yes, my GTD Project list is complete, updated, and works extremely well for me.
    Yes, I have a Project list, but not complete or always updated, but I think it helps anyway.
    No, I only have a partial list, and it doesn't really work very well for me.
    No, I have struggled with it, and its really just a big mess of confusion and stress for me.
    Last edited by CosmoGTD; 04-01-2006, 04:18 AM.

  • #2
    I keep my project list (along with all other parts of GTD) on a simple flat file database on my circa-1994 palmtop. As part of my weekly review I've made a quick macro that lists all the projects with the next actions beneath each project. If there's no next action then obviously one needs to be determined.

    Unfortunately the querying capability is limited on this database program (although not enough for me to get a one of the newer palmtops, all of which are inferior to my HP200LX in my opinion) so it's not possible to see what next actions are under each project at a glance. I have to run the macro which takes a few minutes to see the exact state of the situation (but you should only need to do this once a week anyway, right?).

    Each project record in my database has a comments field, in which I can include a rough plan of next actions that MIGHT have to be done (plans always change as next actions are completed). There is also a "higher level" field which I put a code which represents a category (this is probably over the top, but that's just me). When the project is complete it becomes reference (I differ from classic GTD by believing that you should NEVER scrap any digital information (reference)).

    For next action records the "higher level" field contains the project which the next action applies to. This is how I get my query macro to tie the projects and NA's together. If there's no project then the next action "higher level" field gets a category code (this category code is a new thing that I'm working on- the system worked without it, but I keep trying out new things).


    • #3
      My core GTD system is ResultManager, a MindManager add-in. It handles all of this pretty seamlessly. Once I create a project, it automatically appears in all of RM's reports and dashboards. In particular, the dashboards warn me when a project has no NAs, or when a project is approaching a deadline.

      NAs are tied to projects by the simple expedient of attaching them to project "nodes." (MM is a visual outliner, basically.) Other project support information can also be added via the notes to the project itself, or via non-task nodes underneath it. MM supports several different kinds of hyperlinks (to other MM files, to other local files, or to web links), so the amount of material that can be referenced in this way is essentially unlimited.

      When I sync to Outlook, each project has its own category name, which automatically attaches to each related NA.

      Doing all of this requires the Pro versions of both MindManager and ResultManager, which makes it a pretty expensive combination. Well worth it for me, but then I was already a MM user when I discovered GTD. YMMV.



      • #4
        I'd like to note that none of the poll options describes me. I have a complete Projects list, but it's not working particularly well for me at the moment.

        I keep Projects and Actions in the Palm To-Do area within my Treo 600 (celphone/Palm hybrid). I keep my large list of Someday/Maybes on my laptop.


        • #5
          Trying to Figure It Out

          I am definitely in the "mass of confusion"/not quite getting it phase, likely due to a combination of (a) a lack of understanding of the system (i.e., probably need to re-read the book), (b) a lack of commitment to and trust in the system itself, (c) my inability to customize it to my business (law), and the inherent characteristics of the job of commercial trial attorney, and (d) my bad habits of overpromising (on delivery time) and procrastinating/not working on priorities in a timely manner.

          I happily get to the point where I have cleared my desk and collected most of my "projects" and "open loops" into a list (Outlook Tasks). I get my calendar up to date, calendaring for hard deadlines, meetings, events, etc. I set reminders for everything in Outlook, to keep me on top of my deadlines. So I start with a "complete" project list at some point. But once in place, everything quickly degenerates into the same mess, and I return to working in crisis mode ... very discouraging. In fact, today is a "re-grouping" day, trying to put my office, files, and GTD Project List back together.


          • #6
            I have a working projects list, however,I have to admit that I don't really work off of it as much as I should.

            For that matter, I probably don't work off of my NA lists that much, either. Basically, I spend the bulk of my time doing work "in the moment".

            It's not bad because stuff still gets done, and I have a parking space for all of the other stuff that I need to get done at some point.

            However, that being said... I find my @waiting for list to be very beneficial. That list is probably the most current, and I check it constantly to see where I may need to follow up.



            • #7
              The tool only helps if you use it...

              I have a projects list (in my Palm's to-do application), but I know I'm not (yet) using it as effectively as I can. I've been making a half-hearted attempt at GTD using various tools (NoteStudio, ShadowPlan, the Outlook add-in) for some time, but I'm forced to admit that I spent more time playing with the tools than I did using them to get actual work done.

              This past week, I've cleaned out my system and basically started over, with a much simpler set of tools. (With one exception -- an add-on application I use for some of my non-action lists -- I'm using all the built-in Palm and Outlook tools.) I'm also doing my daily processing this week, so hopefully this will be the start of really getting going with GTD. I've read the book twice (on paper) and twice (on my iPod), so I know what to do. Now it's just a question of disciplining myself to do it.

              -- Tammy


              • #8
                Likewise, could those who have dysfunctional project lists try to give a little more detail on what is wrong? Too long/difficult to review? Stuff falling through the cracks? Too much work for little benefit?

                Also, what would a "good" project list look like? What function would it serve in your system? Though I have a project list that I'm happy with, I barely look at it during the week. I work from my action lists, and trust the Weekly Review to make sure all the important projects are represented on those lists.



                • #9
                  I haven't yet found a Project list that is:

                  1) With me everywhere
                  2) Easy to update
                  3) Easy to review entirely at a glance

                  Right now, I have all my Projects on my Palm To-Do list, but I have to scroll through several screens' worth of information to see it all. I feel like I can't get a good overall picture of my projects that way. But I can't keep the Projects list in my Moleskine, as that's annoying to keep updated (lists that are mostly crossed-out), and I can't keep it as a computer file since my computers aren't always with me.

                  Same goes for my Next Actions, actually.


                  • #10
                    I use Life Balance. My previous Projects list was a Word document that I managed in Outline mode. I suppose that means that outlines work for me.

                    That doesn't mean it's consistently organized. I try to state my Projects as Outcomes toward desired Goals, but that's easier to do in some realms than in others. (e.g. "Finish Chapter 7" v. "Health"). That said, I think it's currently working well for me; I know everything's in there, but in some areas I have to drill down a level or two before I find actual Projects.


                    • #11
                      The problem is not with the software; the problem is with the physical size of the Palm screen. I can't see all my Projects at once on that screen, no matter what software I use.

                      I've tried maintaining my Projects list on a piece of paper. The list quickly gets difficult to parse, as it contains a lot of crossed-out items.

                      I could print it out weekly, though. Interesting idea.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CosmoGTD
                        I think the problem for me is that I have so many different projects I am working on in intellectual, philosophical, creative and many other areas. Some of them are 'real projects' some are more like concepts. Many of them are both personal and professional at the same time!
                        That's problem number 1. If it isn't a "real" project, by which I mean a clearly stated outcome with at least one next action that you intend to do as soon as possible, it doesn't belong on your current project list. It's a big picture goal, or a Someday/Maybe project, but not a current project.

                        Obeying this rule helps keep the current project list short, which makes all the questions about how to store it, update it, etc. much easier to answer.

                        For example, I am doing a presentation in another city next month. This is a project with a number of tasks, and will also end once its done. So that's fine. I just make the project, be clear about outcomes, make a list of tasks, and do them. Easy. This also fits into one of the 14 areas of my overall vision. That is working perfectly.
                        This is more or less the way I do it. The one addition is that several times a year I look at each of my own focus areas to see whether the projects in that area are actually moving the particular goal forward. I then adjust the project list accordingly.

                        The difference here is that this is a type of Open Project, or a Perpetuity Project, that doesn't stop even when you drop the 15lbs, as it has to keep going, for the rest of one's life. I am totally comfortable calling this a GTD project.
                        I take recurring tasks out of my GTD system entirely, and manage them with a tool called Sciral Consistency. It's basically a spreadsheet, with green, yellow, or red squares to tell me whether a recurring task is current, almost due, or overdue. I've found this works well for things like exercise.

                        So anyway, this is what I am trying to do now. TO go from the BOTTOM UP and try to catch myself DOING a GTD project before I write it down. This way I think I can minimize some of the distortion, and adding in dozens of things that really are not YET GTD projects, but things I WANT to turn into projects, or have sorta started, or whatever. If I just brainstorm them out, it becomes unmanageable.
                        See my note above. For me, at least, the best answer I've found has been to leave this stuff out of my GTD system entirely.

                        Hope this helps,



                        • #13
                          These threads always make me a little nervous, as what I am doing is very simple and works great.

                          I keep my projects in a paper notebook. (A Moleskine cahier, just to be trendy.) Some projects are bigger and they get a page. Some projects are small and they get a portion of a page. At the top of each page I draw a neat line and above that line I write PROJECT NAME and the date the project was started. When the project is done, I use a colored highlighter to draw a diagonal line through it, so it is very instantly recognizeable as "don't need to look at me any more."

                          If a project outgrows one notebook page, it gets a labeled file folder.

                          That's it. I don't need my projects list to be particularly portable--I have my NAs on two sides of a single 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper. (Word doc updated daily.) That's the portable bit. (That said, the project notebook is hardly onerous to carry around if I need to.) If I need to add a project when I'm out & about, that's what my collection system is for.

                          Takes approximately one minute to review.


                          • #14
                            sonia_simone, what happens if you get an idea for a new project while you're not near your Moleskine?


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Brent
                              sonia_simone, what happens if you get an idea for a new project while you're not near your Moleskine?
                              Scribble on nearest available piece of paper. Throw in Inbox for future processing.

                              One of the most liberating things for me has been realizing that I really don't need to have my ENTIRE system with me at all times.