Just started and confused with organizing

bretkennedy

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Just reading the book and starting out. I have gotten to and read the first 3 action chapters. What I am looking to get clarity on is the organizing station.

I use Asana for my project management (I am a general contractor, I use this to schedule all the trades and the days they are working) This also helps my Project manage know what is happening and when it is supposed to happen for each job.

My question comes in that, because I use it so much, would I set up asan with the organizing titles for GTD? ie:
ie: Projects
Project Supprt
Calendar actions (this is going to be specifically on my ical)
New actions list
WAiting for list
etc.
Each of these projects can have sub tasks and can have notes etc.

or is my best bet to go through each item in my in tray first to develop the system?
 

GTDengineer

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Set up a system first. The categories from the book are a good starting point. But, I’m concerned about your proposal to apply this to project management.

Note that while GTD is an excellent personal productivity tool, it’s not a replacement for project management techniques.

For example, the next actions actions list in GTD is usually only documenting the single next action of each project in the project list. And the project is defined as any outcome which requires more than one action. This is a much diff scope from a construction project.

So while it’s valuable to teach individuals how to use GTD for themselves, I wouldn’t recommend spreading GTD throughout the organization for project management. Especially if you are a beginner yourself. Read the PMBOK (project management book of knowledge) for that!
 

Tom_Hagen

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In my opinion, GTD is perfect for recording and managing projects. First of all, a project in GTD does not have to have one next task defined - there may be more. Secondly, as in the Gantt model in GTD, you can immediately note the entire algorithm of proceeding, including milestones. It is simply that as the work progresses, the "inactive" tasks become the next. GTD contexts are great for delegating tasks. I see no reason why GTD should not be used for project records.
 

bretkennedy

Registered
Thanks for your responses. I wasn't proposing using GTD for my project management system. I have a set way of working with ASana for each construction job. I think more closely as I set this up.

Here is how I decided to work it out.
My project management system for my construction jobs might have been a little under-qualified. I used Asana to 'schedule' my trades, that is basically what that's for.

I have setup a team for GTD with all of the groups 'next actions, projects professional, projects personal etc, you see the list in the picture'
Then I setup in the next actions list the 'calls, at computer' etc.

So I am trying to make these things as similar as possible to the book, and then once I understand how to use them, I can adapt to myself.

As in a post I had before, projects is where I am kind of getting a little messed up. I guess I need to label them correctly. As in a post I had also written, I asked about a project 'crypto trading' which was suggested that isn't a project, but when I re-defined it to 'learn all aspects of crypto trading' then all of a sudden I had a group of sub tasks, ie: watch videos x y and see, read newsletters 1-63-. I thought that I could put the project in asana, then add all of teh subtasks, and then I culd allocate a 'next action' for each subtask.

Screen Shot 2021-03-24 at 3.12.15 PM.pngScreen Shot 2021-03-24 at 3.12.28 PM.png
 

Jared Caron

Nursing leader; GTD enthusiast
ie: Projects
Project Supprt
Calendar actions (this is going to be specifically on my ical)
New actions list
WAiting for list
etc.
Projects list - great.

Project support - caution here; I wouldn't treat this as a "list" per se. consider using notes and subtasks on your project list as a place to store "project support". you may also have project support material in places such as:
- Document folders
- Email folders
- Larger project plans (see @GTDengineer post re: project management)
All of that is "project support" - which is really a form of reference; hard to contain in one list. The important part in GTD is to have a clear separation between what is an active reminder for "next actions" and all of the reference information and plans related to a project.

Calendar - I'm not sure whether you're saying your using a list and a calendar. If so, opt for just the calendar

New actions list - the recommendation here is to separate "next actions" by context; There are 10 recommended lists in the book, e.g. agendas, anywhere, calls, computer, etc.) Start with those. It feels counterintuitive at first to separate the actions from projects but you will learn to love the way it facilitates efficiency and rapid focus switching when busy.

I may be misunderstanding what you mean by this - if you're using this as an "inbox" that's perfectly fine.

Waiting for- great! this can actually be considered one of your "next action lists"
 

bretkennedy

Registered
I use just the calendar, so per the book that is tasks that must be done on that day and at that time.

I have the 'next actions' list as you see in the second picture which has all of the labels as described in the book and your post.

So I guess that I am getting lost on the project support stuff. It didn't really make sense to me in the book either.
so a project is a thing that has more than one next action item.
If we use the eg of one of what I thought was a project
"learn all aspects of crypto trading'
Inside this project has a number of things that I need to do, in order to learn about crypto trading.
- Watch videos in the course
- read newsletters
- watch training videos ( there are a lot of them)
etc.
So how do I distinguish for these things?

And if I have next actions to do on a specific day, like I have to get on my computer and find these documents, do I put that on the calendar? or does it go in at computer, and if it goes in at computer, unless I review those next actions lists daily, how do I remember it was necessary?
 
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Gardener

Registered
If we use the eg of one of what I thought was a project
"learn all aspects of crypto trading'
Inside this project has a number of things that I need to do, in order to learn about crypto trading.
- Watch videos in the course
- read newsletters
- watch training videos ( there are a lot of them)
etc.
I think that this project and these actions are too big.

An example of what I see as an appropriate-sized project and actions:

Project: Gain a basic high-level understanding of BitCoin.
Next Action: Watch (specific video)
Next Action: Make an appointment with Joe to talk about BitCoin.
So how do I distinguish for these things?

unless I review those next actions lists daily, how do I remember it was necessary?
Yep! You do check your next action lists daily. I say "check", to mean that you check them for actions that you should be doing. A full review--going through projects and actions, making sure that every project has actions, checking off things that you forgot to check off, incorporating new items from your inbox--may only happen once a week, but you'll probably check your lists for tasks several times a day.

You may feel that the lists are too long to check several times a day. That's a reason for both contexts and Someday/Maybe. You don't review Someday/Maybe every day, so if it's unlikely that you'll get to a task or project this week, you can put it into Someday/Maybe. In your weekly review, you decide which items to put into Someday/Maybe and take out of Someday/Maybe. And Contexts are a way to allow you to focus on the tasks that you can do in your current circumstances.

Re project support material: That is neither projects or actions. It's the "stuff" you need to plan the project or perform the actions. It might be books, house plans, sewing patterns, a design document for a computer programming project, a contract with a customer, a punch list, and so on.
 

bretkennedy

Registered
Ok so that makes a bit more sense. So if there are 5 Items that I need to do to for eg: learn to trade, I could break each of those down into specific projects such as
Project: Learn Technical analysis
NA : Watch video on Support and Resistance
NA ; Read Newsletter 56 on Support and resistance
NA : watch video on momentum
etc etc.
I was thinking though to utilize asana's task and subtask management system, it might be ok to have that over arching project with 5 subtasks, and then put a NA on each, but as you described here, they might just be too big. I guess also I wanted to keep them all kind of 'tidy' together, rather than having 7 projects to do with crypto out in the open.

I'll look into this and implement a little closer to what you're suggesting.

Thanks
 

GTDengineer

Registered
You’re off to a good start. I just want to add that you appear to be in the brainstorming phase of the natural planning model. For now, just write all your ideas down until your brain is empty. Make a big list or a mind map. And go back to review the first two steps, defining purpose and envision the outcome. But you need to capture everything so that you don’t forget or have to waste time remembering that great idea you had, or have to experience that brain churn that keeps people up at night as they have to think hard to retain the memories of their ideas. This brain dump will become your future project support material. Later on, you can organize and start planning next actions in Asana.

Take a few minutes to read the chapter on natural planning for more information.
 

bretkennedy

Registered
You’re off to a good start. I just want to add that you appear to be in the brainstorming phase of the natural planning model. For now, just write all your ideas down until your brain is empty. Make a big list or a mind map. And go back to review the first two steps, defining purpose and envision the outcome. But you need to capture everything so that you don’t forget or have to waste time remembering that great idea you had, or have to experience that brain churn that keeps people up at night as they have to think hard to retain the memories of their ideas. This brain dump will become your future project support material. Later on, you can organize and start planning next actions in Asana.

Take a few minutes to read the chapter on natural planning for more information.
Thanks for your answer. Well I have already done my capture session. I had about 50 pieces of paper with all of the things I wanted to do and had to do. I sorted them out as best I could which is where I kind of ran into those problems, but I will go back and look over that chapter for sure.

I read in the forum someone had a question similar to mine but I can't find it again. If I have continued study sessions, eg I am taking a course in improving my memory, and I wanted to work on that for 1 hour every day, would that go in my calendar as a 'must work on this, it doesn't' matter what time' event? I ask because I am very aware of the misuse of my calendar for a while, where I have constantly put in needing to do things and then after a while they just get ignored. What's the best way to get something like that setup in the GTD method? I have a total of 3 things like that, 3 courses I would like to spend and hour on each per day.

Bret
 

GTDengineer

Registered
First of all, the whole point of GTD is to stop you from forgetting. That goes along with the reduction of time and stress from trying to re-remember something that you previously thought of.

As an example, I exercise first thing after I wake up every morning. It’s a habit and I’m just not going to forget about it. I’ve reserved the time for it because of the time of day I chose to do it. I don’t need to write it down anywhere.

So, are you struggling to make time for your study session? Then put it in your calendar.

Are you forgetting to study even though you generally have the time for it randomly throughout the day? Then put it on a “free time activities” list that you refer to frequently.

Do you just feel that GTD expects you to document everything you do? That’s not the case.

Also, the habit of following your calendar has to be ingrained for any of these techniques to be effective. Ignore it at your own peril! But if you end up without any free time and you want that to change, you may need to make some bigger life changes.
 
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Gardener

Registered
f I have continued study sessions, eg I am taking a course in improving my memory, and I wanted to work on that for 1 hour every day, would that go in my calendar as a 'must work on this, it doesn't' matter what time' event? I ask because I am very aware of the misuse of my calendar for a while, where I have constantly put in needing to do things and then after a while they just get ignored. What's the best way to get something like that setup in the GTD method? I have a total of 3 things like that, 3 courses I would like to spend and hour on each per day.
If you're not blocking off specific times at which you WILL do that activity, with very few exceptions, then it shouldn't go on your calendar. You could block off time for "course study"--maybe every day from 1pm-4pm you study.

However, is it realistic to spend three hours a day, therefore 21 hours a week, on these courses? Is it possible that you're not doing it because it's an unrealistic goal?
 

Jared Caron

Nursing leader; GTD enthusiast
o how do I distinguish for these things?
Re: Project Support
There are generally a few major categories of items that constitute project support:
- Plans (this can include "future actions" - things you know will need to get done, but that you either can't or won't start doing now)
- Notes/brainstorming
- Reference material/documents

All of that can be project support. It is a "loose" category, and can be stored/organized in a number of different places. The important part is to clearly separate what is a current "Next action" from all the "other stuff" related to the project.
As for plans and future actions, you will likely move items from project support to next-actions as you progress through the project. This might happen during your weekly review, or at some other time when you choose to peruse your project support material.
And if I have next actions to do on a specific day, like I have to get on my computer and find these documents, do I put that on the calendar? or does it go in at computer, and if it goes in at computer, unless I review those next actions lists daily, how do I remember it was necessary?
Try to think of your Calendar as a specialized next-action list. An appointment is simply a next-action that is scheduled for a specific date/time.
The important thing here is to determine whether the action a) needs to be done on a specific day; if you b) want to do it on a specific day; or c) must be done by a certain date (deadline).

Generally:
a) should definitely go onto your calendar.
b) is probably better on your NA list
c) can go on your NA list with a due date, but you may also have an event on your calendar to remind you of the deadline (Day-specific info)

This doesn't mean that you can't intentionally plan to do something at a specific time and place that on your calendar. David refers to this in the book as "making an appointment with yourself".

If something is going to take me a long time (>1hr), or requires a lot of focus, I often will schedule it.
Project: Learn Technical analysis
NA : Watch video on Support and Resistance
NA ; Read Newsletter 56 on Support and resistance
NA : watch video on momentum
etc etc.
I was thinking though to utilize asana's task and subtask management system, it might be ok to have that over arching project with 5 subtasks, and then put a NA on each,
So this is a common conundrum of project planning. Often there are multiple things you could be doing on a project at one time. GTD invites you to take control by intentionally thinking through what your very next action is.

All three of those could be NAs. To expand on your example:
you might look at that list of potential NA's and realize you will digest the newsletter on support and resistance better after watching the video, or vice-versa. So you choose to put "Watch video" on your @computer NA list, and keep "Read newsletter' on a list of "Future actions" with project support. You might even leave breadcrumbs for yourself by adding "(then read newsletter)" to the entry on your @computer list.

Alternatively, you might feel like it doesn't matter the order you do these items in and put "Read newsletter" on a @Read/Review list, and "Watch video" on @computer list at the same time, from which you can choose what to do based on context.

Different people have different appetites for how long they let their NA lists get.

With GTD, you are in the driver's seat, but the challenge is that sometimes it forces us to think more thoroughly about precisely how, when, where, and with what tools we want to accomplish each item.

It's also important to remember that with GTD, the working/day-to-day part of your system is the NA lists and calendar. You will refer to these many times a day and use them as your criteria for deciding what to do next. This is a big paradigm shift for folks who are used to storing all the project-related actions within the project.

The project list and project support, on the other hand, help you re-populate your NA lists and calendar, so you'll generally review them less often. A major function of the weekly review is to ensure you are doing this at least once a week, though there's no rule that you can't pull out the project list or support material more often than that.
 
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