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  • RTM vs Paper & Project lists

    I've been a long time user of RTM for my GTD system. I love it for my personal life, but find that I use a notebook a lot at work (Inbox/Notetaking), and would like to have a paper system for work, and use RTM for personal.

    The problem I have is that RTM is great with Tags, and my projects are saved Smart Lists with all the Next Actions visible within the Project. I like the ability to see my tasks by context or by project.

    My lack of understanding of the project list on paper keeps me from moving there. i.e.- I don't know if all my projects and the next actions should be on the Project list page, or just the name of the project. It seems that if I put the next actions nested within the project list, then re-write the next actions within the context lists, I am doing double the work.

    Maybe I'm answering my own question, but it seems like a digital solution (and RTM) works best for not duplicating tasks on lists.

    Help me understand how project lists on paper are supposed to work...

  • #2
    Project List is just a Project List.

    Originally posted by larrinski View Post
    I don't know if all my projects and the next actions should be on the Project list page, or just the name of the project.
    Project List is just a Project List - contains project names only.

    Originally posted by larrinski View Post
    It seems that if I put the next actions nested within the project list, then re-write the next actions within the context lists, I am doing double the work.
    Next Actions are on @context lists. No double work required. You can write down some Project actions in the Project support file/notes if you are afraid that you will forget about something important.

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    • #3
      So a few areas of comment here:

      1). I believe that technically, the original description by DA on this issue was that the Project List only really needed to contain the project name (+/- a description of what the successful outcome looked like). The idea was that all you really needed to do was identify the very first "next action" and put that on your Next Actions context list(s). When you completed that one, you could then identify what the next sequential action was and put that one on your Next Actions list .. .. and so on and so forth until the project was completed. The weekly review would help identify any active projects for which a current, uncompleted Next Action wasn't in your system. For those projects where not all actions are strictly sequential, you could certainly create Next Action items for the parallel steps, but for the sequential steps, really only the very next step needed to get onto your Next Actions list(s).

      2). However, if you're like me (and it sounds like you are), I like to take a project and "plan out" most, if not all, the steps needed to complete it. For me, it gives me a much clearer picture of just how big this initiative is going to be and how much resource (mine own and others) will be required. But, if you're going to approach it that way, you might end up with Actions that aren't really Next Actions because later sequential steps would require that previous steps be completed first. If, on the other hand, your Project List contains the nested action steps, and your Next Action list(s) contain only true next actions, you do, indeed, end up writing these things down twice in a paper system. That's one of the reasons that I, personally, choose to use a digital system. So my use of paper vs digital is the opposite of what you're contemplating - rather than move to a paper actions system to accomodate your paper note-taking/inbox, I choose to use a digital note-taking/inbox to accomodate my digital actions system.

      3). Either way, the issue of linking actions to projects has been the subject of many, many discussions here. Some say you don't need to do that at all, while others (myself included) feel that it's desirable. Easy to do with most digital systems - somewhat harder on paper, although various suggestions of including the project name (or some project code) into the text of the Next Action item is adequate to make the link if you want to have it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by johnaohman View Post
        So a few areas of comment here:

        1). I believe that technically, the original description by DA on this issue was that the Project List only really needed to contain the project name (+/- a description of what the successful outcome looked like). The idea was that all you really needed to do was identify the very first "next action" and put that on your Next Actions context list(s). When you completed that one, you could then identify what the next sequential action was and put that one on your Next Actions list .. .. and so on and so forth until the project was completed. The weekly review would help identify any active projects for which a current, uncompleted Next Action wasn't in your system. For those projects where not all actions are strictly sequential, you could certainly create Next Action items for the parallel steps, but for the sequential steps, really only the very next step needed to get onto your Next Actions list(s).

        2). However, if you're like me (and it sounds like you are), I like to take a project and "plan out" most, if not all, the steps needed to complete it. For me, it gives me a much clearer picture of just how big this initiative is going to be and how much resource (mine own and others) will be required. But, if you're going to approach it that way, you might end up with Actions that aren't really Next Actions because later sequential steps would require that previous steps be completed first. If, on the other hand, your Project List contains the nested action steps, and your Next Action list(s) contain only true next actions, you do, indeed, end up writing these things down twice in a paper system. That's one of the reasons that I, personally, choose to use a digital system. So my use of paper vs digital is the opposite of what you're contemplating - rather than move to a paper actions system to accomodate your paper note-taking/inbox, I choose to use a digital note-taking/inbox to accomodate my digital actions system.

        3). Either way, the issue of linking actions to projects has been the subject of many, many discussions here. Some say you don't need to do that at all, while others (myself included) feel that it's desirable. Easy to do with most digital systems - somewhat harder on paper, although various suggestions of including the project name (or some project code) into the text of the Next Action item is adequate to make the link if you want to have it.
        Thanks for the clarification. I never felt comfortable just naming my projects without fleshing out action steps. A lot of my workflow is not necessarily sequencial. So if I have a project with @phone, @computer, @agenda, they may go in any order. Waiting for a weekly review seems so long term. Being in banking/lending, many of my clients are done in only a few days. But I may need to deal with a bunch of different actions within the project. So it is nice to be able to review the remaining steps I need to take within the project.
        I think I'll just stay with RTM. It works so well.

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