slippery projects...



How would you say you're capturing the projects that have "opened" up on you in light of David's latest essay:

Perhaps the most profound result of creating a complete and accurately defined inventory of our projects is how it can propel us to do something positive and concrete about ephemeral and ambiguous situations that have our attention. We are all capable of taking dominion over every problem or challenging situation we encounter. But this doesn’t happen by itself. Nailing down the real outcome we’re committed to in those situations, when “the answer” is still not clear, takes awareness and focus. There is a subtlety and rigorous mental discipline required to create that “complete and accurately defined inventory of our projects.”
Defining a “project” as “anything you’re committed to complete that takes more than one step” means that most people have between thirty and a hundred projects. Though many are somewhat obvious (hire a new assistant, set up the new computer, finish moving in), many aren’t. And as mundane as making a complete version of this kind of list may seem, it is key to masterful self-management.
It’s challenging enough to get someone to write down even the most evident projects (it takes some guts to face objectively all the commitments you’ve made with yourself). And even when you think you have your “total list” of projects, it seldom is. The ones that will elude you are the projects that you can’t even see yet as projects. They are the situations you implicitly have committed to change or improve, but haven’t gotten a grip on yet.
Often what will hang you up are uncomfortable, unfamiliar, or distracting circumstances you find yourself in, for which you haven’t yet gotten clear about how you’re going to relate to them. For example:
- Potential professional relationships: “Acme Brick has approached us about a joint venture, but I’m not sure that’s something we want to do right now.” “Smedley Company has asked for a proposal, but I don’t know if we even want to do work for them.”
- Sticky interpersonal situations. “My sister and her husband continue to avoid talking to me about the money they owe us.” “I don’t know if I can stand working for the person I have as my boss much longer.”
- Personal development issues and opportunities. “I’m frustrated that I’m not further along in my career.” “I’m not sure if I should take time to learn more computer skills.”
- Miscellaneous life and work situations. “I’m concerned about what Mom is going to do now about her house.” “We’re frustrated about the latest changes in the policies of our organization.” “I’ve got to do something about my energy.” “I don’t know how to deal with the troubles Jimmy is having in school this year.”
Then, because people don’t in the moment “have the answer” to the situation, they don’t take the opportunity to define a project of resolution, clarification, or research. If the above inner dialogs were part of your reality, your “Projects” list might begin to look something like this: “Research possible JV with Acme Brick,” “Clarify money issue with my sister,” “Evaluate career change opportunities,” “Resolve Mom’s living situation,” etc.
Then, and only then, can real next actions be determined which will be the key to your positive engagement with still vague and ambiguous things. Something that has been gnawing at your psyche melts away as you “Call Maria re: suggestions for elder care options” and “E-mail Chuck/Sally/Bertrand re: meeting about Acme offer.” You don’t need the final solution to take away the pressure -- you just need forward motion toward it.
Training yourself to identify all the things that are “yanking your chain” at any level of your awareness and define for each a positive result and an action to take to move toward it – that’s installing an extremely productive behavior, and a mark of significant maturity.

“Confusion is a word we’ve invented for an order which is not understood.”
- Henry Miller



Hi Jason

The article is great. I understood it as taking the fuzziness out of ones thinking regarding what needs doing. I still struggle with the time element. Obviously choosing an outcome and a next action are huge steps, but always the big question for me is *When?*

When to take the next action? Will it get into my long list of todos and projects and sit?


Wild projects

Well, it's making the projects and someday maybe lists bigger :wink:

but he's definitely right on with this one--I'm sure it'll help a lot of people just like it helped me !

We've all been trained to not think of these things as projects when they are indeed wild projects running around un-identified .

Reminds me of one of his old principles or food for thoughts when he talked about putting a name on something got rid of the fear and superstition about it --I think it was called "Name it and you can control it"



Slippery projects

Taking the time to read Jasons post and rereading David's remarks finally clarified an issue that has been bouncing around in my head.
My law firm is Mac based and we use Amicus as our law office software. Its set up like file drawers of cases and each case when clicked opens up like a legal folder with brads and has a list of all people involved, time spent , issues involved, deadline appts etc, as well as a regular contact lists, calender, alarms etc. Last year it stopped supporting the Mac version and said it would be out wih a new system 10 version of the Mac but could not say when. I have put off upgrading my computer system( the new really awesome Mac 4 which I really really want!) until this issue was resolved with Amicus. Now all reference to the Mac version is off the web site and it is unclear if a system 10 version will ever arrive. I dont want to be left with an unsupported outdated piece of crucial software. I went into a frenzy of undirected activity downloading every PIM legal and otherwise etc out there that I might use as a substitute. I found an information manager, nonlegal, that might work. I bought the one user version and have been taking bits of time to play with it and at the same time berating myself for wasting time.

After reading the post I took a deep breath and decided my Project is: Evaluate Daylite as a law officer manager software package
My next action is: Imput ten current cases into Daylight.
Next further action: follow through imput on these cases for six weeks.

Now I have a direction. When I am imputing data into this software I am not wasting time, I am evaluating an alternative so I wont get caught in a bind. I have a clear next action on my list and once I imput the intial data it can be performed at my daily documentation time.