A quick guide to GTD & projects

projectsupportSome of the most common questions we get are about managing projects.  Here is how one of the Coaches replied when a new GTD’er was asking how to manage projects and all of the related steps.

There are 3 components to consider with your projects:
1. Tracking the outcome on a Projects list(s) that serves as an master inventory of your Projects.  For example, “Complete 2010 Budget.”
2. Tracking the project support, future actions and reference for your projects.  For example, budget research you have been gathering, than you will use when working on the project.
3.  Tracking the next actions for the projects, on your context-sorted next action lists.  For example, “Call Jose in marketing for his dept. budget figures,” or “Book meeting to go over taxes.”

The key to your next action lists is that they only hold your next actions. So if you have a project that has 10 steps, but only 1 of those is a next action (meaning you have all of the information you need to take the action) then only that 1 would be organized on a next action list.  Many people will have some kind of keyword or enough in the description of the next action to tell them what project it relates to. And some programs (like the GTD Outlook Add-In or eProductivity for Lotus Notes) will link your next actions to your Projects automatically.  All 9 other actions that you cannot do yet are project support–until they become next actions.

Our latest newsletter, called Productive Living, has an essay and coaching tips by David Allen on projects.   There is also a free podcast on How to Organize Project Actions.  And, there are a wealth of resources on GTD Connect, our online learning center, about projects.