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  • What is a Project?

    I'm sure this has been discussed many times, but I could use some input.

    We are building out some office space at one end of our building, and I am acting as my own contractor.

    Is getting all quotes one project, or getting all painting quotes one project, or getting a painting quote from three painters three projects. After all you have to make the call, then wait on the quote then analyze the quote.

    I seem to be getting mired in the process.

    I use eProductivity as my list manager if that helps.

    Thanks,

    Carl

  • #2
    Originally posted by cnovit View Post
    We are building out some office space at one end of our building, and I am acting as my own contractor.
    Is getting all quotes one project, or getting all painting quotes one project, or getting a painting quote from three painters three projects. After all you have to make the call, then wait on the quote then analyze the quote.
    I would say building out the office space is the project. If that seemed like a really big project, I might have sub-projects, but not necessarily the ones you give. Getting all the quotes is clearly not a good project, because that activity may be going on through much of the big project's life. Similarly, getting one quote is not a project, because you are not going to analyze one quote: you are going to analyze all the quotes for a specific activity together. Here's how I would do it:
    - Identify 3 companies to ask for painting bids
    - Call each for bids
    - Waiting for each bid
    - When all 3 bids are in, analyze
    You could make that a project if you wanted, but it's not that complicated: the flow of next actions fans out and then comes back in, but it's basically linear. I think this is not such a good project either, because now you want to
    - pick contractor for painting
    - sign contract
    and so on until painting is done. Maybe painting would be a good sub-project for you, but it is your choice.

    Comment


    • #3
      A Project is any outcome that will take more than one action step to complete.

      It's really your call how you break this out. Guideline David uses here, is if you look at your Projects list in your Weekly Review, is how you captured it on your Projects list enough of a trigger about the moving parts? If the overall outcome does not give you enough detail, then break it into subprojects. It's really your call.

      A classic example I use for this is getting married. You could have one Project called "Get married" or several subprojects about the major parts, such as:

      Mail Invitations
      Hold Ceremony
      Hold Reception
      Take Honeymoon

      etc.

      Comment


      • #4
        I choose the level at which I can visualise a successful outcome. For this job, I would have "Painting done" as a project. All that other info you've listed would be put in my project plan as part of the natural planning model.

        Comment


        • #5
          My definition of a project tends to be based on whatever makes the tasks in OmniFocus (my GTD tool) flow better, and _that_ tends to be based on breaking the bigger project into subprojects where the tasks run sequentially, instead of concurrently.

          For example, I _could_ have one "get painting done" project:

          Project: Get Painting Done
          Tasks:
          Call Painter A
          Call Painter B
          Call Painter C
          Arrange walkthrough with Painter A
          Arrange walkthrough with Painter B
          etc.

          But I'd rather see a next action for _each_ painter, because there's no need for, say, "Follow up on Painter A's Quote" to wait for "Call Painter C". And I realize that, yes, I didn't need to list all those tasks up there - I could, and perhaps should, list precisely one next action. But I like my system to remember thjings for me, such as remembering that, oh, yeah, I was also going to talk to Painter C.

          So I might have the following group of projects:

          Project: Get Painting Done:
          Waiting For: Completion of project Get Painter A Quote.
          Waiting For: Completion of project Get Painter B Quote.
          Waiting For: Completion of project Get Painter C Quote.

          Project: Get Painter A Quote
          Next Action: Confirm walkthrough with Painter A

          Project: Get Painter B Quote:
          Waiting For: Painter B quote.

          Project: Get Painter C Quote
          Next Action: Call Painter C

          Those three projects could be a subproject of the main "Get Painting Done" project, but purely as a matter of personal taste, I don't like that - I prefer parallel projects that refer to each other with a "Waiting For".

          Editing to add: Of course, I could break up the project differently, with more of the structure in the project support materials and less in my GTD system itself:

          Project: Get Painting Done
          Waiting For: Get Painting Quotes

          Project: Get Painting Quotes
          Make spreadsheet of candidate painters, with space for walkthrough dates.
          Repeating, daily: Call at least two candidate painters, requesting walkthrough and quote. Stop when four painters are scheduled for walkthrough.
          Waiting for: Give painters two weeks for walkthrough and quote.
          Repeating, daily: Analyze one quote. Stop when all are analyzed.

          and so on. The walkthroughs themselves wouldn't even be in this project, they'd be hard calendar items.

          Gardener
          Last edited by Gardener; 01-25-2011, 05:20 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Listen to "GTD Managing Projects"!

            There's a great discussion about projects and subprojects in GTD Managing Projects. Recommended.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kelstarrising View Post

              A classic example I use for this is getting married. You could have one Project called "Get married" or several subprojects about the major parts, such as:

              Mail Invitations
              Hold Ceremony
              Hold Reception
              Take Honeymoon

              etc.
              The next actions list for the project "Take Honeymoon" could be interesting...

              Comment


              • #8
                the thing about project is that there are 2 portions to it:
                1) intuitively understanding what are the milestones and the tasks within the milestones
                2) tracking the tasks and milestones

                you might not want to do the second one.

                take an example using a soon to be released Android To Do List app WAToDo!:



                Essentially creating and monitoring and tracking it might entail creating sub projects for sub objectives that contains more than one action.




                You might consider going into detail to make sure that you check off your task and leave no stone unturned.



                Specifying the right tags/context allows you to filter well while in Review/Monitor mode.

                The question is whether you want to spend so much effort writing it out. Alternatively, all you care about could be "What is the next action for this sub-project?" that could be what you want to track in your task list rather than the whole sub-project.

                Comment


                • #9
                  do it the way u like but make the outcome really explicit

                  A lot depends on preferences and your experience with similar activities. If you have never had painting quoted before then learning might be part of the project, so I might start with the higher end, more corporate type of firm or the one most highly recommended to see how the job is specified. The general idea being if you are learning about a process start with the supposed gold standard (although a reverse approach could also be advantageous). Then you know better what to ask and look for with painting firm number 2. A more experienced person who knows what to look for and what to look for might make the site visits with the paint estimators all on the same day and then wait for the quotes.

                  The guiding principle is first to make it work for you in so far as your cognitive and motivational style must be satisfied. The other principle is to think about and state clearly your desired outcomes. If you are seeking completion for a specific target date then getting the three quotes as fast as possible and pinning done completion is part of the outcome desired. If you are thinking that finding a good, reliable painter who might also be suited to some other jobs, who you can call back easily for little dings or to match finishes and colors your outcome desired makes for a different way of working the project.

                  Comment

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