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what do you use for your project list?

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  • what do you use for your project list?

    And optional questions, what do you use for your other lists?

    Here's the background: I do lots of stuff on a computer, I find command-line solutions like very seducing, but I know I get sidetracked when I'm in front of the screen and would like to keep my lists as lo-fi as possible.

    I've got some big boards around my desk I'm pinning small index cards on for the time being, and I quite like that. However, I'm contemplating moving all computer-related lists to my computer so I have them with me if I'm on the road.

    My biggest trouble is my projects list. I foresee I'm going to have a bunch of those, including tentacular ones like "clean and decorate flat" (it's a mess and still has boxes from my moving in 5 yrs ago). So I'm hesitating: computer-based project list or paper-based one?

    What do you use? Some examples of how you people do things might help me find a solution for myself. Thanks in advance.

    Steph --

  • #2
    ListPro, available from, is a great program to do what you want to do.

    It allows you to enter in a list of items, and then drag and drop the order of those items.

    You can make main and sub-cagories, and drag and drop items between those categories.

    I have this on my laptop and my PocketPC. The fact that it is on my PocketPC allows me to work with my lists anywere, like at lunch.

    It is very powerful, but is very lo-fi in that the order is what you arrange. Even if you put dates or priorities on items, they remain in the order you entered them in, or dragged them to.

    The most powerful program right now, I believe, to do what you want, is MyLifeOrganized. But, it is very Hi-Fi, in that you enter information into each item as to due dates and priority, and the resultant list is a computer generated list based on the importance of those due date and priority attributes. I also use this program on laptop and PocketPC. But I use it only for my job related due date specific project information.

    So. I use ListPro for my project lists and personal action items, (and my customer lists and song lists, and birthday lists, etc.), and I use MLO for my job related, date specific project planning.

    And if you don't like the PocketPC because you like to jot thinks down on a small pad of paper, PhatPad allows you to write freeform onto small screens of psudo-paper.

    If you are a paper writer downer, and you think you can go fully computer for all your data, I think you are going to fail unless you use a Palm or PocketPC also, and use software that syncs between your PDA and your computer. You may not like having your data locked up in that darn computer that is just not always with you.

    Good luck.


    • #3
      Paper, paper, paper

      Originally posted by steph
      What do you use? Some examples of how you people do things might help me find a solution for myself. Thanks in advance.
      I keep a 5.5 x 8.5 inch paper planner filled with templates printed from Most of it is "Notes" pages for daily capture and collection, but I also keep my projects in the planner -- one page or more per project for big ones, just a few lines for smaller ones.

      I keep my next action lists on paper too, but I use Microsoft Word to manage them. I have a Word document that I print out regularly, so my actions can always be handy.

      And yes, I spend a lot of my time in front of a computer at work. It's nice to turn away from the thing every so often.


      • #4
        Simple List

        I keep a simple list in Word for work related projects. I add project codes and due dates (just the end date) to it. I print it and carry it around with me. I hand write new projects on it and at least once a week update it.

        When I meet with my boss, I print an extra copy. We go down the list as it's a great trigger to provide an status for everything I'm working on. It gives an opportunity to realize when something isn't making progress and to decide whether it needs to move up in priority or deliberately continue to be ignored (put on hold). Usually I have the highest priority projects at the top. These projects range from $$$$$$$ new product development projects to requests to provide a report (a project because the report doesn't exist). Sometimes the boss doesn't realize how many little requests he's made until he sees all listed.

        Being in Word, it's easy to update, accessible on the computer, but easily portable for a meeting.

        I keep a separate hand-written list for personal projects.


        • #5
          I use an application called Brainstorm for my project lists on the computer.

          During the weekly reviews I have a printout of the projects that I can make 'adjustments' as needed. I am not near a computer during this time, just my Time/Design, fountain pen and coffee.


          • #6
            I keep my Projects in a Word document, formatted to fit in my desk sized Day-Timer (5.5 X 8.5). I have created a two column table with Projects as the left header and Successful Outcome as the right header. I have extra rows for Projects that I use during the week until I update it all in my weekly review.

            I have separate Word docs for Calls, Computer, Email, etc. Each catergory is a separate list formatted for my paper binder and is in a simple list format. I can add to each list quickly and record next action as I go through my week. At the Weekly Review, each list is updated, typed, and printed for the new week.


            • #7
              Contact folder in MS Outlook

              For GTD in general, I use MS Outlook, but I don't use the Netcentrics add-in for portablity reasons.

              For projects, I use a contact-item folder named Projects to maintain a list that I can associate with tasks a la Bill Kratz' method. I don't bother with Bill's custom form - I like to stick as close to the base MS Outlook product as possible. These projects are categorized by sphere of influence such as Work, Personal, Volunteer, Home, etc (not by context like tasks, since projects consist of tasks in various contexts.) This method even works for 'tentacular' projects, since, in Outlook, contact items can be associated with other contact items.

              As far as other lists go: for one-dimensional lists, I use note items in Outlook, which can be categorized. For lists of more than one dimension, I use OpenOffice Calc.


              • #8
                I also use Word for Next Actions, Projects, and Tickler lists. I print them out (in small fonts) for portability. It's working very well. I like being able to change them easily; I spend most of my time at the computer anyway; I type more easily than I write. I also carry a monthly calendar for hard landscape stuff, and a Moleskine for capture. Good luck finding just the right system for you!

                Do Mi


                • #9
                  Actually, I'm really not trying to put everything on my computer. I'm torn between going almost completely "paper" (but then, a lot of stuff happens on the computer, and for example makes task sorting and adding really neat) or "computer". I feel that I'm going to have to settle for something in-between (paper AND computer) depending on the lists.

                  For example, someday/maybe would be nice to have on the computer (it's going to be a long one). Waiting is pretty good on a panel with index cards. Errands are post-it notes in my booklet. Gets bad with @macbook, @home, @work lists and sublists. I've also started a @notrightnow list for stuff I'm going to do but not in the coming week(s) (somewhere in between someday/maybe and NA lists).

                  And then, as I sais, there is the projects list. For the moment the projects are piling up in plastic folders. I tend to to a lot of scrap-planning and organizing on paper, so I'm going to have lots of paper-based project support material anyway. But does that mean the project list should be on paper too?


                  • #10
                    I use a combination of both. I use MyLifeOrganized because I can plan much easier on the computer. I also use a simple binder for the calendar and print out my lists for a portable version of my system.


                    • #11
                      post-it notes!

                      I used a plain list for a while, but I switched to using Post-It notes in an opened file folder. Weird, I know, but it's just a list... More at On using Post-It notes for GTD projects, instead of lists.


                      • #12
                        Variations on using post-its for projects

                        I looked, but cannot remember which ADD organization book I have that describes how to implement a file folder/post-it calendar, project list, and planner method.

                        I have used this method for lesson planning and brainstorming-it works very well. Laminating the folder makes it last a lot longer too. I have a folder for each course I teach, divided into 6 columns-one for each day of the week and the 6th for supplies, to-dos, and miscellaneous items that need further action. Have you ever seen pictures of Pixar's brainstorming sessions? You would but stock in 3M!

                        My post-its stay in my work area in a basket that is easily to reach and move around when needed. At school, my students have access to they can write notes and post them for me to read later. A piece of fine-sanded plexiglass mounted to the wall makes an attractive note board for projects/lists too big for the folder.



                        • #13
                          On the computer

                          Computer systems can be great for managing your projects and tasks. I don't know if you already have a system in place, but if you do not, I would suggest .


                          • #14

                            I think I understood something important: I can have some lists on paper, others on the computer, others as index cards on a board, and still others in my cellphone.

                            I decided to use a mind-map for my projects list, because it allows me to organise them in a way that makes sense to me. So, great, I started listing my projects. I also grouped smaller related projects ("sub-projects", if I dare). And then I started adding notes to some of them (that might be "project support material" or "project planning").

                            And then, when I started doing stuff for one of those projects, I used the mind map to track what I had started, where I was, and what the next things to be done needed to be.

                            See where I'm going? My projects list is morphing into a weird NA list of sorts in some places.

                            Bad? Good? Where did I cross a line?


                            • #15
                              It's possible to use a mindmap as a combined Project/NA list. I found ResultManager, a MindManager add-in, very helpful for this. It will create dashboards to help you see just the NAs, or just the Projects, or whatever view of the data you want.

                              However, note that the above sentence is in the past tense. I recently decided that the overhead of this approach was simply too much compared to the benefit I was getting from it. See my post on the triumph of paper for what happened next.