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  • Small business owner having a difficulty with organizing projects and implementation.

    I have read the GTD book twice, listened to both the GTD and “Making it all” work audio books. I have collected, emptied my inboxes and organized my reference files. I think I understand the “Areas of focus”, “Projects” and “Next Actions.

    I am currently using Microsoft Onenote for all my GTD info. If you are not familiar with Onenote, it is basically a digital notebook and think it should work great with the GTD system.

    As a small business owner I have many different “areas of focus”/projects. They can vary from creating a new database to redesigning our offices (and many things in between). I’m having a difficulty with organizing projects/next actions and implementation.

    Here are some examples what it think are “areas of focus”:
    Database
    Website
    Amazon
    eBay

    Here is an example of how I have my notebook setup:
    *() are how I have them organized.
    1. (Area of focus)Database
    a. (Project) Forms
    i. (Sub-Project) Data entry form
    1. (Sub-Sub-Project) Parent form
    a. (Next Action @Computer) Highlight MSRP when creating a new entry
    b. (Next Action @Computer) Style/Type
    i. Reverse lookup type
    c. (Next Action @Computer) Basic Color (Cascade Combo)
    i. General color
    ii. Sub color
    ii. (Sub-Project) Create Product forms
    1. (Sub-Sub-Project) Hats
    2. (Sub-Sub-Project) Ties

    Imagine my example above x100+.

    Questions:
    How would I organize my next actions? (I would love an example of how you would implement)
    Do I just copy it over to a next actions list? If so, do I include the hierarchy?
    (Database_Forms_Data entry_Parent form_ Highlight MSRP when creating a new entry)

    Is “Highlight MSRP” really a next action (I may need to refer to my reference section)?
    Some of the threads I've read say to just list one action for each project. If that is the case, after I complete “Highlight MSRP” do I refer back to the (Sub-Sub-Project) Parent form or since I am already modifying the (Sub-Sub-Project) Parent form do I list all the actions?

    I’m sure that a lot of my “Projects” could be considered “Someday maybe” if they are do I have a separate “Someday Maybe ‘Projects’” list just like the example?


    Am I under or over thinking the system?

    I would appreciate any input.

    Thank you very much for your help,
    Brian

  • #2
    Unfortunately, I have no idea what your organization means. This may be an indication that you are over thinking it. Suppose you were run over by a truck, and somebody else close to you had to execute your lists. Could they do it? If you have clear projects and clear next actions on well-defined context lists, they very well might be able to do so.

    [At work, the computer guys who work for me actually keep what we call run-over-by-a-truck books, so that if one of them is on vacation or whatever and something goes wrong, the rest of us actually have a shot at fixing things.]

    Comment


    • #3
      No hierarchy for Next Actions!

      Originally posted by Briantam View Post
      Do I just copy it over to a next actions list? If so, do I include the hierarchy?
      (Database_Forms_Data entry_Parent form_ Highlight MSRP when creating a new entry)
      No hierarchy for Next Actions!

      All Next Actions are free and equal - ready to be done as soon as possible in a given context.

      But you can include Project prefix in their names.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Briantam View Post
        I am currently using Microsoft Onenote for all my GTD info. If you are not familiar with Onenote, it is basically a digital notebook and think it should work great with the GTD system.
        I've used OneNote and feel that it might be too much of a blank canvas and therefore open to making your digital system overcomplicated. Certainly what you've described sounds really complicated. You really want whatever system you use to never get in the way of getting things done - it's meant to be a tool to help you, not make it more difficult. You want to be able to capture, process, do.

        I'd suggest you consider using a paper-based system to begin with because it will be straightforward, e.g. an actions list, a projects list, a waiting-for list, a someday list. If you really want to have a digital system then find something that is simple where you can just mimic the paper lists without much more overhead.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi Brian,

          From the information you have given, I think you may need to be more distinct with your next actions. Try to make sure you have an action verb heading every action to ensure that you have completed your thinking in the processing stage.

          In your example "Highlight MSRP when creating a new entry" this sounds more like a checklist item, rather than a next action. If your action is to create a new entry I would recommend that you start with "Create" - perhaps "create a new entry re. X highlighting MSRP" (apologies if I have not correctly understood your meaning with this item). You also had an example of "Style/Type" under a next action. I would definitely explain this far more clearly.

          I would also recommend stating your projects in terms of the outcome (starting with Area of Focus) eg. "Database - Forms completed for product X"

          It can take some time to fine tune your system, so start simple if you can.

          I hope this helps and good luck!

          Comment


          • #6
            I don't like hierarchical projects; I tend to go from hierarchical to parallel as soon as possible, often creating a bunch of parallel projects that show their dependencies with WAITING FOR next actions. I also don't like too much of the project planning to be in GTD.

            So I'd have organized this as:

            ----
            Area of Focus: Database

            Project: Get forms done.
            WAITING FOR: Parent form ready to use
            Next action (after WAITING FOR is done, so it technically shouldn't really be here yet): Create list of needed forms.

            Project: Get parent form ready to use
            Next action: Create list of needed functionality for parent form.
            ----

            And then that list of needed functionality, which is project support material rather than something inside GTD, would include all of the other stuff above - highlight MSRP, style/type, reverselookup, etc. At least, I'm assuming that all of that is functionality that you want to design into the form, rather than just instructions for filling out a form.

            Similarly, the list of needed forms would include hats, ties, etc.

            Once the list of needed functionality is done, you might have next actions under the "Get parent form ready to use" project that look like:

            - Select an item from functionality list and create an action or project for it.

            and working that action would mean that you write an action:

            - Write code to highlight MSRP when creating a new entry.

            and then, when you've finished working that action:

            (That is, when you've written the code - assuming that the code is a very small coding task. If it's a large task, it may rate its own project, or at least be represented by several next actions.)

            - Test MSRP highlight code.

            (Again, this might be a project on its own - "Write test plan for...." "Meet about test plan for..." "Recruit testers for..." I'm assuming here that it's a little testing session that you can do yourself while you eat a sandwich.)

            and then, when you've finished that:

            - Select an item...

            and so on, until you've cleared the list of needed functionality for the parent form. Then you might have a couple of wrap-up actions ("Test completed parent form"), and then you're done with the parent form. The fancy lists and advance planning were in your project support material, _not_ in GTD. IMO, GTD should be as lightweight as possible, because you don't want to plow through what is essentially several project plans, just to find something to work on.

            Also, if you can wrap up the whole parent form in one two-hour work session without all this action-writing, go ahead. It's fine to charge ahead without having written actions. When you're done with that work session, _then_ write a next action to keep that project on the radar.

            Gardener

            Comment


            • #7
              Love OneNote

              I've just been upgraded to Windows 7 and Office 2010 at work and love OneNote.
              I have a notebook for each area of focus (6), one for GTD reference, one for general reference, and two project notebooks (Projects1 and Projects2). Projects1 is for projects that I really need to focus on and are high priority, ideally I'd review them every day or every second day. Projects 2 is all the rest, and can be reviewed once a week in the normal weekly review.
              The section tabs at the top of each notebook are for the project names, or to save space I use a short code to make them smaller so I can see more tabs.
              The pages within each project are for the plan, info, brainstorming, organising, subprojects etc.
              I use tags for each task (a multistep action). I keep my Next Actions in my iPhone app at the moment.

              For example, I have a project "hydro models" short for hydrodynamic modelling. I have tagged a task 'look at past year data'. Then from this I decide the next action is 'extract past flow data from database', and put this NA on my iPhone app under my Work Network context.

              I think the real advantage for OneNote is to keep all the project support. You could use it to do NA, but I haven't set it up that way, still getting used to it, and my other app is already working well.

              Comment


              • #8
                I don't think oneNote is suitable of GTD system.
                Your projects look like issue management system in software develop company.
                For some details, I like JIRA for bug management.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Others would disagree

                  Originally posted by speeding View Post
                  I don't think oneNote is suitable of GTD system.
                  Your projects look like issue management system in software develop company.
                  For some details, I like JIRA for bug management.
                  OneNote could certainly be an effective system. In fact, I happen to know a very senior member of the David Allen coaching staff uses it. It's all in what works for each individual.

                  Comment

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