Work in Progress

Hermanina

Registered
Hello everyone, I started reading GTD a couple of years ago and got stuck making my long list of things. I have since read it again, rewritten my long master list and have decided on a few projects to work on while everything else whether important or not has stayed on my long master list/someday maybe.

Now I have 5 projects and my question is - Is it best to have a WIP for each project or a general WIP for all my projects?

It would be great if someone could share with me.

Thank you,

Hermanina
 

mcogilvie

Registered
I’m not quite sure what you are asking, but the GTD approach is to have at least one next action for every active project, and to also identify next actions which are not part of projects. This can include going to the grocery store, paying bills, and other recurring items, as well as true solitary actions like reading a new work-at-home policy. Projects go on lists of projects, to be reviewed at least weekly, and next actions go on lists which are looked at every day, usually many times. I hope that helps. David Allen and his associates have a lot of material available as books, setup guides, and articles that can help you with an Initial implementation.
 

Hermanina

Registered
Hello mcogilvie, thank you for responding to me : )

I would be very interested in set up guides if you can recommend any or a live gtd set up group - that might be fun!

I was trying to ask about my GTD set up. I have just started and have made a list of projects and next steps within these projects. I sent some emails about six different projects out and made a note of the replies I’m waiting for in one common WIP list and I’m now wondering if I was right to muddle my WIP reminders all in one area or if I should separate them by project. Does that make more sense now?

Hermanina
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
Hello mcogilvie, thank you for responding to me : )

I would be very interested in set up guides if you can recommend any or a live gtd set up group - that might be fun!

I was trying to ask about my GTD set up. I have just started and have made a list of projects and next steps within these projects. I sent some emails about six different projects out and made a note of the replies I’m waiting for in one common WIP list and I’m now wondering if I was right to muddle my WIP reminders all in one area or if I should separate them by project. Does that make more sense now?

Hermanina
Hi Hermanina, and welcome.

In your second post here you have brought up a very good point to clarify, about muddling the reminders. If I am interpreting WIP correctly, that's work in progress. Tell me if I'm off about that.

Part of what makes GTD work so well is organizing like items with each other. If you have a silverware drawer in your kitchen, you probably have the forks, spoons, and knives in separate compartments. And you might even have dinner forks separated from salad forks.

The same holds true with your lists. GTD would not have you blend projects, next actions, and waiting for items on one list, but on separate lists. You can separate those further if you choose, such as having your next actions listed by context. You might want to add one more list, called Someday/Maybe, to capture things you might want to do in the future, but are not committing to now.

We have lots of resources with more guidance. One of those is our online learning library, GTD Connect. If you would like me to set up a free trial for you, just say the word.
 

Hermanina

Registered
Hello, thank you for your response.

Yes, I meant work in progress when I wrote WIP.
Now you’ve confused me even more!

Thank you for offering to set me up on a free trial. I would like a trial but not now as I feel I am too stressed and busy to make good use of it. What I would like is to be able to understand GTD so I can begin to use it properly before I lose momentum again (like I did 2 years ago). When you say GTD would have you separate it all is there anywhere I can see this or a workbook that explains it with pictures?
I love what I’ve read about GTD but putting it in practice is quite tricky.

Hermanina
 

John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
Hello, thank you for your response.

Yes, I meant work in progress when I wrote WIP.
Now you’ve confused me even more!

Thank you for offering to set me up on a free trial. I would like a trial but not now as I feel I am too stressed and busy to make good use of it. What I would like is to be able to understand GTD so I can begin to use it properly before I lose momentum again (like I did 2 years ago). When you say GTD would have you separate it all is there anywhere I can see this or a workbook that explains it with pictures?
I love what I’ve read about GTD but putting it in practice is quite tricky.

Hermanina
I apologize for causing confusion. I have something that may help. I've attached a PDF that is a simplified version of a workflow map that we sell in our store.

If you start in the upper-center of the map, it walks you step-by-step through defining the work (personal or professional) that goes on the lists.
 

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John Forrister

GTD Connect
Staff member
Back to the lists we recommend, here they are with brief explanations about what goes on them.

Projects: Things you want to accomplish that will require more than one action, that you want to finish within 12 months or so. The project name can answer the question, "What will 'done' look like?

Next Actions: These items are the very next physical, visible step to finish something or move a project toward completion. These next actions may be related to projects, or simply single actions that aren't part of any project. The next action can answer the question, "What will 'doing' look like?

Waiting For: Items that you have requested, delegated, ordered and you are expecting something to come back to you.

Someday/Maybe: Items that you might want to do in the future, but are not currently committed to.
 

mcogilvie

Registered
Hello mcogilvie, thank you for responding to me : )

I would be very interested in set up guides if you can recommend any or a live gtd set up group - that might be fun!

I was trying to ask about my GTD set up. I have just started and have made a list of projects and next steps within these projects. I sent some emails about six different projects out and made a note of the replies I’m waiting for in one common WIP list and I’m now wondering if I was right to muddle my WIP reminders all in one area or if I should separate them by project. Does that make more sense now?

Hermanina
John Forrister had lots of good advice for you. Let me just say that the organization of lists is something that gets a lot of discussion here. The "classic GTD" approach is by context: @home, @computer, .... plus other lists like @waiting-for or @agenda. If you are starting out with a few projects and a few actions, that's a good place to start. So if you waiting for an email, when that email arrives, you figure out the next action, put it on the right list, and cross off the waiting-for. Simple. Do a weekly review every week, and you may be surprised how easy it is to get a lot done.
(Maybe that should be GALD? :))
 

Hermanina

Registered
Hello,

Thank you for pointing that out to me mcogilvie, I had missed his second message as I was looking on my phone instead of my laptop! I will have a quick look and then another look when I wake up and my brain is fresher.

Thank you to both of you for helping me get started.

Hermanina
 

Sojourner

Registered
Hello everyone, I started reading GTD a couple of years ago and got stuck making my long list of things. I have since read it again, rewritten my long master list and have decided on a few projects to work on while everything else whether important or not has stayed on my long master list/someday maybe.

Now I have 5 projects and my question is - Is it best to have a WIP for each project or a general WIP for all my projects?
If you are referring to WIP from a Lean/Kanban principles perspective, then GTD basically builds in a WIP limit of one (1) for each project. Meaning, you have one (1) next action you need to work on within each project. But if you are looking at WIP in relation to the total number of projects themselves (in your case 5), then that becomes more of a personal choice to set your own project WIP limit. Of course, as @mcogilvie stated, you could use GTD's context, time, and/or energy levels concepts to help you to determine your project WIP.
 
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GTDengineer

Registered
I don’t agree with the responses that say next actions are relevant to WIP, because next actions, by definition, have not been started yet. Once you start, it’s no longer a next action, it’s what you are doing. And you can’t do something else at the same time.
 
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Gardener

Registered
I don’t agree with the responses that say next actions are relevant to WIP, because next actions, by definition, have not been started yet. Once you start, it’s no longer a next action, it’s what you are doing. And you can’t do something else at the same time.
You can't do something else at precisely the same time, but you can task switch and project switch, which tends to pretty drastically reduce progress.
 

Gardener

Registered
Now I have 5 projects and my question is - Is it best to have a WIP for each project or a general WIP for all my projects?
Could you define what you mean by "a WIP" in the context of the above sentence? I have my own definition for work in progress, but in that sentence it sounds like you may be talking about a list or document? (And, yes, it's not a GTD term, so everyone might have a different definition or no definition.)
 

Hermanina

Registered
Aha - it could well be that I am mixing methods and creating havoc along the way. When I read GTD the second time I made notes and set up lists with the headings David suggested (yes I even started an "errands" list despite never having used the word previously). I picked five projects to work on, added my desired outcomes and my next steps. My main project has many next action steps but my other projects have just one.

Lots of the things I need to do are dependant on responses from other people eg Once I have chosen a new carpet I need to wait for three quotes to come in. As I don't want to forget about the carpet quotes coming in I added a note for each quote in a list with the heading WIP (work in progress) which I placed under my main list (with the five projects on it).
Should I have added it to the project next steps instead? eg Once I emailed asked for the quote add something like "Wait for carpet quote till 1/9 then chase".

I look forward to your response.
 

Hermanina

Registered
Tes Teq - I have just been reading more about the GTD method (instead of actually getting anything on my list done) and realised that when I wrote WIP (work in progress) I should have written Waiting for which is the GTD heading for the list I was referring to.

So I'm not mixing methods and I'm still finding it tricky to get started with GTD. I do feel that I'm almost there though ....
 

GTDengineer

Registered
GTD’s convention is to only mention your projects on the projects list. You should record all your waiting for items on a single, general list.
 

TesTeq

Registered
Tes Teq - I have just been reading more about the GTD method (instead of actually getting anything on my list done) and realised that when I wrote WIP (work in progress) I should have written Waiting for which is the GTD heading for the list I was referring to.
@Hermanina Your WIP list looks like a @WaitingFor list. If you put there only things that you're waiting for it is a standard @WaitingFor list. GTD does not require to nest "waiting-for" items in Projects nor to link them to Projects - it's optional. But there shouldn't be any actionable Next Actions on the @WaitingFor list - just things you're waiting others to do for you.
 
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Hermanina

Registered
Hello again,
GTDengineer and TesTeq thank you both for your truly helpful responses.

GTDengineer - I think that you have pinpointed what I need to change. I have not separated my lists out enough and have instead grouped my individual project next steps together whereas I think I should have been separating my project lists out into separate lists with the GTD headings - @calls, @emails etc

So I will go back to the drawing board with my list and make completely separate lists so I make all my calls together whichever project they are from.

One question - Isn't it hard switching from thinking about an email for one project and then going straight on to writing another email about a completely different project?

TesTeq - You are completely right. I looked at a number of organisation methods before plumping for GTD and I mixed up my list names. I have actually used the heading "waiting for" in my list but wrote WIP in my initial message on here.

Thank you for your answer that I should keep a separate list for my waiting for items rather than 'nest' items in each project. My head is finding it hard to let go of joining all the items for each project together so I might give a different colour to each project which would be my way of linking them.

I must admit it makes me feel uncomfortable to think of organising my lists this way (all calls together whichever project they are from, all emails together whichever project they are from etc), as I feel I will get muddled about what I'm working on and miss something but I'm going to give it a try because the way my brain thinks should work definitely doesn't!

Thank you again to everyone on this thread who has helped me, I feel very supported to make (another) start with GTD. I have timetabled a Sunday review where I hope to redo my lists and will let you know how I get on.
 

Gardener

Registered
One question - Isn't it hard switching from thinking about an email for one project and then going straight on to writing another email about a completely different project?

I think this is an individual preference.

I, yep, don't like to switch from project to project when the cost of switching from context to context is relatively small--and for me, if I don't have to get up and go somewhere, the cost of switching from context to context is indeed pretty small. So I'd rather stay inside one project and make a call, use a piece of software, write a bit of a document, etc., all inside that project.

This is true when those tasks involve a certain amount of mental effort, and the context switch involves less mental effort. If I were, instead, printing a bunch of documents, or making copies, or some other fairly low-thought task, then I'd be more likely to remain within a context. If it took a big investment to get into a software tool and get going, I might, again, prefer to switch between projects than switch between tools.

But more often than not, I prefer to stay with a project.
I must admit it makes me feel uncomfortable to think of organising my lists this way (all calls together whichever project they are from, all emails together whichever project they are from etc), as I feel I will get muddled about what I'm working on and miss something but I'm going to give it a try because the way my brain thinks should work definitely doesn't!
There are tools that let you organize your actions both ways, where each action is tied to project AND a context, and you can view them either way.
 
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