How do you handle tiny projects with maybe 2 items?

ivanjay205

Registered
I understand being TRUE to the system means anything with 2 items is a project. But how do you handle tiny little things for example if I need to send calendar availability to a client for a meeting and before I can do that I need to check with a colleague on their availability.

Seems a bit redundant to create a project and manage that just for this. Even though that is true to the system.

I currently create the next action to send availability to the client and put in waiting for and just make a note I am waiting on my colleague. Just curious what others do for tiny projects?
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I sometimes have written “WF Jack’s availability > send client possible dates.” When the WF is satisfied, I duplicate the entry, erase the first part, change the context and done. However, is that really the only thing anyone has to do to prep for this meeting? Perhaps not. Will there be follow-up after the meeting? Probably. So these days I’m more inclined to call it a project. It‘s actually faster for me that way.
 

ivanjay205

Registered
I sometimes have written “WF Jack’s availability > send client possible dates.” When the WF is satisfied, I duplicate the entry, erase the first part, change the context and done. However, is that really the only thing anyone has to do to prep for this meeting? Perhaps not. Will there be follow-up after the meeting? Probably. So these days I’m more inclined to call it a project. It‘s actually faster for me that way.
Interesting and fair point. Based on that thought I guess the right thing to do is to make a project for the meeting and realize there are more steps coming even if I dont have those next actions now. Probably a really good idea as it triggers my mind to not lose sight of the follow-up...
 

TesTeq

Registered
Interesting and fair point. Based on that thought I guess the right thing to do is to make a project for the meeting and realize there are more steps coming even if I dont have those next actions now. Probably a really good idea as it triggers my mind to not lose sight of the follow-up...
I also - like @mcogilvie - often use Cascading Next Actions. For example:
- Order the "mylneryki.pl" domain > pay the invoice.
This method was invented by "MarkTAW" and called "Cascading Next Actions" (the original description disappeared from the internet but it is mentioned in "The PigPog Method" description (GTD without the Projects list - very interesting for project oriented people like me: GTD - The PigPog Method).
 

Oogiem

Registered
But how do you handle tiny little things for example if I need to send calendar availability to a client for a meeting and before I can do that I need to check with a colleague on their availability.

Seems a bit redundant to create a project and manage that just for this. Even though that is true to the system.
I'd take a slightly different approach. Why is there resistance to creating a project? Do you dislike your tools? Do your tools make it hard to track once you get past a certain number of projects? Is it hard to enter a project quickly and on the fly and move on?

Cascading actions can certainly be one way to handle small projects btu I'd ratherfigure out why I need a separate method. In my mind if it's a project it's a project and what you describe is clearly a project. Not just the fact that you know of 2 actions now but that it clearly has the potential to include other items that are as yet unknown or undefined.

So I'd create a project for it and put the actions in as described.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I also - like @mcogilvie - often use Cascading Next Actions. For example:
- Order the "mylneryki.pl" domain > pay the invoice.
This method was invented by "MarkTAW" and called "Cascading Next Actions" (the original description disappeared from the internet but it is mentioned in "The PigPog Method" description (GTD without the Projects list - very interesting for project oriented people like me: GTD - The PigPog Method).
That was back when brave men carried internet traffic in covered wagons over the rockies. In a burst of whimsy, I suggested "Conquer Albania" as an example project for the Pig-Pig method, and it has survived to this day: GTD – The PigPog Method
 

Ger80C

Registered
If there are only two next actions, I think you could record just the next actions if it is too cumbersome to record a project. However, I would not recommend to do this, for several reasons: Having next actions "float in space" without any associated project takes some of the power of the weekly review and the project list away. You would unconsciously stop trusting your project list. Also, as has been mentioned, there may be more next actions necessary as you initially are aware of - and having no entry in the project list means that you will not think about this systematically in your weekly review.
 

OF user

Registered
For me, it depends on whether this short project would ever be subjected to a weekly review. if it will last longer than a week and require review, then I treat it no different than any other project. If it is a quick exercise that is completed within a week, I write it as a single action. For example, "Call the auto repair shop after looking up their phone number". Not the best example but you get the idea.
 

Longstreet

Registered
For me, it depends on whether this short project would ever be subjected to a weekly review. if it will last longer than a week and require review, then I treat it no different than any other project. If it is a quick exercise that is completed within a week, I write it as a single action. For example, "Call the auto repair shop after looking up their phone number". Not the best example but you get the idea.
This is what I do too. I see no reason to create a project for two items if I know I am doing it this week before another weekly Review.
 

ivanjay205

Registered
I'd take a slightly different approach. Why is there resistance to creating a project? Do you dislike your tools? Do your tools make it hard to track once you get past a certain number of projects? Is it hard to enter a project quickly and on the fly and move on?

Cascading actions can certainly be one way to handle small projects btu I'd ratherfigure out why I need a separate method. In my mind if it's a project it's a project and what you describe is clearly a project. Not just the fact that you know of 2 actions now but that it clearly has the potential to include other items that are as yet unknown or undefined.

So I'd create a project for it and put the actions in as described.
I use Facile Things and it makes you follow the system pretty strictly. But it does take just a little longer to set it up as a project, and I have to navigate to a different screen etc. We are talking minutes at most so it is not a huge deal, but just seems overkill to create the project, manage the project, and close out (complete) the project for such a small 2 step thing. Seems like a lot of overhead to me
 

ivanjay205

Registered
If there are only two next actions, I think you could record just the next actions if it is too cumbersome to record a project. However, I would not recommend to do this, for several reasons: Having next actions "float in space" without any associated project takes some of the power of the weekly review and the project list away. You would unconsciously stop trusting your project list. Also, as has been mentioned, there may be more next actions necessary as you initially are aware of - and having no entry in the project list means that you will not think about this systematically in your weekly review.
Do you typically work in your project list or your next action list? Just curious as what I use (FacileThings) pulls all of the next actions into one summary page and I can filter them by context. For projects it only pulls the first (basically the next) next action and the rest are "hidden" until I complete that first one. So it keeps the overload factor down quite a bit.
 

ivanjay205

Registered
For me, it depends on whether this short project would ever be subjected to a weekly review. if it will last longer than a week and require review, then I treat it no different than any other project. If it is a quick exercise that is completed within a week, I write it as a single action. For example, "Call the auto repair shop after looking up their phone number". Not the best example but you get the idea.
Yea I like that point, most of these are done within a day or two so they are gone by the time I hit the review. Of course that assume sthe other person responds to me timely :) And what I like and hate about being loyal to GTD is I tend to be far more responsive than my colleagues lol
 

Gardener

Registered
I use Facile Things and it makes you follow the system pretty strictly. But it does take just a little longer to set it up as a project, and I have to navigate to a different screen etc. We are talking minutes at most so it is not a huge deal, but just seems overkill to create the project, manage the project, and close out (complete) the project for such a small 2 step thing. Seems like a lot of overhead to me
If that two step thing is a pattern that you follow frequently, it might be worthwhile to create a project for the pattern.

That is, let's imagine that a substantial part of your work is, oh, acquiring out of print books. Instead of having a project, "Acquire Necronomicon" and "Acquire Eltdown Shards" you could have a project, or perhaps an area of focus managed inside a project structure, "Manage book acquisition effort".

Similar, if you organize a lot of meetings for which availability, scheduling, etc., is the entirety of the tasks, you could have a project, "Keep meetings flowing", or something of the sort.

Edited to add: Now, one issue with this is that the "project" doesn't clearly indicate every desired outcome. It's just a bucket for tasks, but nothing in that bucket guarantees that you haven't dropped the ball on the Widget Meeting or the Pnakotic Manuscripts.
 

Ger80C

Registered
Do you typically work in your project list or your next action list? Just curious as what I use (FacileThings) pulls all of the next actions into one summary page and I can filter them by context. For projects it only pulls the first (basically the next) next action and the rest are "hidden" until I complete that first one. So it keeps the overload factor down quite a bit.
I work form next action lists and review the project list for "getting perspective" regularly (more than once a week). I have to use Outlook 2010 and it would be rather difficult to record a sequence of next actions related to a project and hide all but one. For me this also typically makes no sense as my projects (mostly cases, be it litigation/arbitration or out-of-court projects) tend to evolve dynamically. Usually, when I record a next action, the one after that is not clear yet so I do not bother to record it. Example: next action: call opposing counsel re settlement -> dependint on the outcome, next action(s) could be "file brief", "inform court about settlement", "get back to client to discuss counter offer", and so on...
 

ivanjay205

Registered
I work form next action lists and review the project list for "getting perspective" regularly (more than once a week). I have to use Outlook 2010 and it would be rather difficult to record a sequence of next actions related to a project and hide all but one. For me this also typically makes no sense as my projects (mostly cases, be it litigation/arbitration or out-of-court projects) tend to evolve dynamically. Usually, when I record a next action, the one after that is not clear yet so I do not bother to record it. Example: next action: call opposing counsel re settlement -> dependint on the outcome, next action(s) could be "file brief", "inform court about settlement", "get back to client to discuss counter offer", and so on...
I used to have this problem but started making my next action to confirm which action I need to do. That helped me not lose sight of it. And when I get to that action I just rename it to whatever I need to do since I now know.
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
I was reading through this thread a few days ago, and thought to myself, "I'm pretty consistent about listing any outcome that takes two or more actions as a project." But pride goeth before the fall. Two days ago I got an email that I thought would be handled by my single reply. A small voice in the back of my head raised a doubt that it would be that easy, but I didn't create a project. By now I'm about six emails in, have had two calls with a state government agency (25 minutes hold time in the queue), and 30 minutes on that agency's website. At this point I have a waiting for, and at least one action to take after that waiting for happens. The moral of my story is call it a project at the first hint that the outcome won't be achieved with just one action.

Also, the person at the state agency was polite and helpful despite having answered a bunch of calls before mine, and knowing that she's still got a long line of calls that have been waiting for 25 minutes.
 

Oogiem

Registered
A small voice in the back of my head raised a doubt that it would be that easy, but I didn't create a project.
I've had that happen.

In my Omnifocus system I have 2 catch all single action lists, Miscellaneous and Errands. That's the place to put all the one off actions that I don't think are projects. It corrals them and still allows me to assign them a context so I see them in the appropriate place without the overhead of making them a project if I'm sure it's a single action. I can pretty much guarantee that any action that sits on either of those 2 lists for more than a week or 2 is there because it's really a project and the action I have isn't really the next action and I'm procrastinating on it.
 
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