Projects Advice

Stephen Brown

Registered
Hi

I have a number of projects in OmniFocus which I am not sure should be treated as projects.

To give one example, I work in a regulatory capacity and individuals have a right to appeal against decisions that I make. When an appeal is lodged I set up a project with the subject's name and then appeal as the project name (e.g. 'Brown appeal').

The problem I have is that I cannot really do anything toward completing this project except respond to requests from the body that handles the appeal. Eventually, the hearing will take place and then the project is completed.

Is this a project?
 

Gardener

Registered
I'm inclined to think that it's not a project. Each request from the appeal body could be a project, but unless and until there's a request, I'd say there's no project.

Not that it would be wrong to make it a project. It would be a handy place to put any actions that do come in. But since I minimize the total number of projects, I wouldn't make it a project if I were in your situation.
 

TesTeq

Registered
To give one example, I work in a regulatory capacity and individuals have a right to appeal against decisions that I make. When an appeal is lodged I set up a project with the subject's name and then appeal as the project name (e.g. 'Brown appeal').

The problem I have is that I cannot really do anything toward completing this project except respond to requests from the body that handles the appeal. Eventually, the hearing will take place and then the project is completed.

Is this a project?
The Project should have a defined outcome. "Brown appeal" is not an outcome. "Brown appeal rejected" is an outcome.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Hi

I have a number of projects in OmniFocus which I am not sure should be treated as projects.

To give one example, I work in a regulatory capacity and individuals have a right to appeal against decisions that I make. When an appeal is lodged I set up a project with the subject's name and then appeal as the project name (e.g. 'Brown appeal').

The problem I have is that I cannot really do anything toward completing this project except respond to requests from the body that handles the appeal. Eventually, the hearing will take place and then the project is completed.

Is this a project?
Maybe each appeal is a project, and maybe not. If handling the information requests are a major part of your work, then that is probably an area of focus. It may not contain many projects if work related to each appeal is small and/or sporadic. If it is important to track each appeal and related requests, then it may be more like a specialized tracking system, similar to a software developer’s bug tracking system. Such a system could be implemented either inside or outside Omnifocus.
 

AndrewJMason

Registered
Hey there Stephen,

I don't know if this'll help - but I've felt the freedom to use my OmniFocus system as *both* my projects system & my reference system. Just set up a "projects" folder, and a "reference" folder - and it's the best of both worlds: If some audio, picture or note in my inbox has an outcome with next actions? Set up in OF as a project. If not? Set up as a "project" (but not really) in the "Reference" section of OF. It makes for fast filing as well when your inbox jumbles up. (Another tip: If you decide to do this, you can set the review intervals for 1 month or 1 year, so they all don't show up in your weekly review, but you *do* get to see them.)
 

Attachments

RS356

Practicing GTD since 2005
If it were me, I'd set up each appeal as a project if it had my attention. The next action would be a waiting-for item such as, "Brown to file next request." There is no immediate action, but the outcome is tracked and reviewed regularly to keep it off my mind. I have about 20 such projects in my system where I'm waiting on others to act, and they may not act at all.
 

Jared Caron

GTD enthusiast and amateur coach
Hi Stephen,

Sticky question... I would consider a couple factors here
  1. Threefold nature of work- is this a project that needs to be defined or is it "unplanned work" or "work as it appears" that you simply handle as it shows up?
  2. Turnaround time frame - how long do you track these requests typically? if its across weeks or months, maybe a project is useful
  3. This is a regular, recurring responsibility - responding to appeals might be an accountability under one of your areas of focus. As an educator I personally have a lot of work that involves responding to ad-hoc questions and issues that just "show up." I don't include all of these on my projects list unless i've made some commitment to intervene about a problem.
    1. So for instance i get a lot of questions that can usually be answered with a single email or phone call. These do not land on my projects list, but they might be a next action or a 2-minute action handled as i process my inboxes. This is an example of an area of focus having a next action with no project associated. Responsiveness is something i'm accountable for even if i haven't made a specific commitment to an outcome.
    2. Other times, simple questions or conversations turn into bigger projects like delivering education to staff, or addressing a quality assurance issue. these end up on the project list, especially if they take longer than a week to handle
  4. Is this a special type of list for you? - for instance it sounds like this might be subcategory of a waiting for list - "waiting for- appeals" That way you have a place to put it and keep a 'stake in the ground' that there is indeed an appeal going on, but it may not require any action from you other than reviewing it or following up.
Hope it helps!
 
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