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newbie idea: is a project list necessary?

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  • newbie idea: is a project list necessary?

    Hi all, newbie here. I've already become a big fan of the GTD program in the few months I've used it, and have found great delight in incorporating it into a 5x8 Moleskine notebook with tabs and a calendar insert. Along the way, I came up with the following idea:

    Is a project list necessary? Before you decapitate me for heresy, hear me out. I'd like to get input on the idea.

    I made a project list, and each list has an underlined keyword written in all caps. Example: Maintain TRUCK. My next action for that project may look like "@ Store: TRUCK--Buy oil for oil change." Upon completing that action, I then (immediately, upon completion), write the next Next Action into my list.

    It seems that most projects are relatively straightforward a simple keyword reminder is enough to tell us all we need to know as far as what the goal is (e.g.: LAWN, TRUCK, DIET). For such projects, a projects list may be unnecessary. This may cause trouble for my RAM, but I don't know yet.

    Some keywords are for bigger projects that have more moving parts. What of these, you ask? Well, the Project Support material takes care of that. The keyword MERGER (7 or LAWSUIT (84) indicates where to go for the Project Support list, so as each of the Next Actions for those are crossed off, I'd know to go to the Project Support page to scan for new Next Actions and immediately write them in.

    I admit, I am just tossing the idea out there in theory because I haven't yet implemented it--I want to think it through more. The goal is to have as simple a system as possible, but no simpler.

    What do you all think?

    Thanks for your input
    Last edited by JohnV474; 05-16-2008, 04:00 PM.

  • #2
    The primary purpose of a project list is to give you a complete list of your commitments in one location outside of your head. I don't see how your approach serves that goal.

    Your use of keywords can help maintain the project-NA link, so it's not "wrong," but I don't see how it renders the project list unnecessary.



    • #3
      Hi JohnV474,

      I admire the way you are exploring the GTD concepts. As you deepen your understanding we can learn from your discoveries.

      By definition a project is anything that absorbs your thinking and has more than one next step. A benefit of keeping project lists is the potential for creativity when developing them. Rather than just mechanically listing a project, we should explore it for new ideas at the clarification and review stages. In this way, even simple projects can be stepping stones to new and better ways of execution. These new ways could lead to new projects that generate exponential benefits.

      However, I suggest you try your approach and let us know what insights you have gained from practice rather than theory.

      I look forward to hearing from you



      • #4
        Your Actions are split up across several contexts, right? The advantage of a separate Projects list is that it reminds you, at one glance, of your total workload. The Projects list can be your reminder to switch contexts.


        • #5
          Addendum---no contexts

          I wanted to add in that I don't use Contexts in separate lists, though I have tried. With my lifestyle, I found it easier to see ALL of my Next Actions in one place. It is more efficient for me to look on ONE list for Next Actions for anything that is pressing. In order to keep Contexts involved, I write @ Store (for instance) for the Next Action I am going to write, so if I am stuck somewhere I can scan down the left hand column for Phone or Home items, for example.

          My GTD Planner, therefore, has the following sections: Next Actions, Projects, Someday/Maybe, Lists, a Calendar, and the final page is an Index (because I use a notebook). The Lists sections is often Project Support dedicated pages, or may have shopping list, or a list of exercises for my next workout, dream house ideas, etc. It serves as a kind of journal, also.

          The Index is very handy for us paper-based folks. I can quickly find any information in my planner in about 2-3 seconds. I find it more efficient and attractive than having lots of tabs sticking out. I have 4 tabs plus 3 months of calendar tabs--nice and simple.

          I think that the idea of eliminating the Projects List may be complicating the system rather than simplifying. I am trying it on a few relatively unimportant projects, just to see if it works or if it 'statics up' my RAM.

          Thanks for the input, all.
          Last edited by JohnV474; 05-17-2008, 04:53 PM.


          • #6
            Further thoughts on the necessity of a project list...

            ...can be found in this thread


            • #7
              Must get off the runway at some point

              One of the things that appeals to me about GTD is the matrix of self management which looks at how we maintain control and perspective. Control is achieved through the 5 stages of Mastering Workflow. Perspective is achieved through the Horizons of Focus. This has Runway Next Actions linked to 10000ft Projects which relate to 20000ft Areas of Focus/Responsibility. And so on up to 50000ft. Projects therefore are crucial. They are the glue between your daily activity and where you want to go over the next 12 months or so. In my Weekly Review I focus on my Projects and how they relate to my Areas of Focus - it's like an audit. If there's not a connection I ask myself why. What needs to change? The Runway NAs or the Area of Focus?

              I couldn't run my GTD system without Projects.