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Do you guys use sub-projects, that is do you break down larger projects

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  • Do you guys use sub-projects, that is do you break down larger projects

    If you have a big project do you break it down into smaller sub-projects? If so how to you track / manage these. Presumably you can have parts to a project that can be done at the same time as other parts

  • #2
    Originally posted by macgrl View Post
    If you have a big project do you break it down into smaller sub-projects? If so how to you track / manage these.
    Depending on how big I will move each separate piece into it's own project. If the parts are truly independent then I'll have as many projects as I need to handle the larger outcome.

    Large project is rebuild the winter sheep pens. I have 3 projects for this, rebuild ewe pens, rebuild ram pen rebuild ram lamb pen because it doesn't matter which one I start with and all 3 can be worked on independently of each other.

    But if the project is dependent I keep it as a subproject of the larger project:

    Within the rebuild ram pen project was a project to get more walk by feeders. Only once that is done can we continue with the rebuilding project. So I had a subproject of Buy more ram feeders, with all its actions in order and only once that was done did I get to the action of decide where to put aisle way for 2010 ram pens which was the next action on rebuild ram pens project.


    • #3
      Thank you for your reply. Much appreciated as always


      • #4

        Yes. Breaking it down is one of the key principles of GTD, and David and Co advise using whatever it is that works to get the idea out of my head and to have the right thing written down to help me get it done (What done is.)

        If I have a big project, "Electrospinning Paper has been submitted," then the next appropriate "chunk" is written as a subproject, "Electrospinning Paper Data has been finalized," with "Meet with Sam to review the data" as the next one (the next project) and "Email Sam to Arrange Meeting" on my email list.



        • #5
          I break down sub-areas/topics into sub-projects of their an overall project. For this, I use OmniFocus which assists me beautifully.

          Say I have a complex project right now about moving to Japan (which is an actual project right now), it'll look something like this:

          Moving to Japan (Project Name)

          1. Google:
          a. Search Kayak flight deals
          b. Google roundtrip flights to japan
          c. Ask James for advice re: flights to japan

          (each w/ their own appropiate context, such as a & b: online and "c": phone.)

          Applying for a Visa
          1. Visit Los Angeles Japanese Consulate site
          2. Set date/time in iCal to visit Japanese Cosulate in L.A.

          1. Call Frank in Japan re: reserving apartment in japan
          2. (waiting for) Franks response re: pricing plans and move-in date

          Convincing Natalie
          1. Email Natalie info re: move in dates
          2. response from natalie re: move in dates


          This isn't exact to the complexity my OmniFocus system has everything laid out, but imagine what i just typed each with an appropiate context and start date for waiting fors. I can choose each sub-topic to be active or individual place some on hold for the time being.

          As a side note, i'll add that many times the full on project i'm undertaking isn't really laid out the whole i'll tackle what i can and take numerous, and i mean numerous notes along the way adding to my projects. Kinda like feeling my way through a project to further advance it.


          • #6
            What is the best way to use things to deal with sub projects? - use areas of responsibility?

            Basically what i have done is to set up 4 areas of responsibility that I think are appropriate. I have then added the relevant projects and single actions that fit to those areas. This way I can have more projects and still have them in some sort of relevant grouping.

            With a project being something that can't be completed in one step I suppose that you will have lots of projects and probably load of sub projects if the overall project is quite big - I suppose also it depends on how you define a bigger project and subprojects?

            I suppose this is the same as using folders in omnifocus?
            Last edited by macgrl; 12-12-2011, 05:04 AM.


            • #7
              Most importantly you must capture the primary project (e.g. Oogiem: rebuild sheep pens). That must go on your Projects list as it acts as the main trigger for all of the other sub-projects and actions.

              Sub-projects / intermediate outcomes generally should be tracked in project support materials in the form of a project plan. This can be a loose list of things that have to happen in a particular order or it could be a full-blown MS Project plan with Gantt charts and all of the trimmings.

              However, there's nothing saying you can't track the intermediate outcomes that you've currently committed to reaching working on your Projects list, too. In fact, for large projects it may be necessary to do just that to maintain the appropriate focus and perspective. When it comes time for a weekly review you don't want to spend 15 minutes going through support materials to define a next action.

              Oogiem would be able to identify a next action in seconds for "Install new walk-by feeders for rams", but would require a lot more time for "Rebuild sheep pens".

              If in doubt, just track it on the Projects list. Better safe than leaky.


              • #8
                Some people use the folders in OmniFocus for Areas of Focus and have that work well for them. I prefer not doing that, as I often find that one project can relate to more than one area of focus. Still, I do use folders for some kind of high level topical grouping.

                As for projects with subprojects however, I never use folders, but instead have either the subprojects in OmniFocus as separate projects, and the main project as a separate project as well (just as a reminder) or, more often, make use of the Action group functionality for the sub-projects, which gives me a better overview of the entire project at the same time.


                • #9
                  My System Update

                  I was using a lot more sub-projects a year ago but I am finding out that I tend to want to see more smaller individual projects now. I have only 3-4 projects now that have subprojects.


                  • #10
                    Very helpful replies. thanks for the support