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  • Processing inbox and Project Planning

    Hi forum,

    I find that often while processing my inbox that a bit of "stuff" needs to be turned into a project. I then spend the next 20-30minutes nutting out a project plan for that project and creating a list of next actions. If there are two or three of these that can kill a good hour of my morning (I know they need to be planned at some point) and I still have the rest of my inbox to process.

    For these projects should I just create a next action "plan X project" or spend the time and create a series of next actions then and there?

    How do others handle new projects when processing your inbox?

    Thanks in advance,

    Tom

  • #2
    Originally posted by tomguy View Post
    I find that often while processing my inbox that a bit of "stuff" needs to be turned into a project. I then spend the next 20-30 minutes nutting out a project plan for that project and creating a list of next actions. If there are two or three of these that can kill a good hour of my morning (I know they need to be planned at some point) and I still have the rest of my inbox to process.

    For these projects should I just create a next action "plan X project" or spend the time and create a series of next actions then and there?
    If you are have everything else under control, there's nothing wrong with spending an hour on a random project. But processing your inbox is processing your inbox. If you stop in the middle to spend an hour on something, how do you know you're not neglecting something more important? Dump it on the project list, but all means. If you know the next action, put that on a list too. If not, you have two choices: put "figure out next action for project x" on the right list, or wait to determine a next action when you review your project list (that can be more frequent than weekly- it just has be at least weekly).

    Another point: a rule of thumb is that for most people, 80% of projects just need a next action, 15% just need a very simple plan, and 5% need something more elaborate. Elaborate planning is a waste of time for the vast majority of projects, because in most cases the next action is pretty obvious, and the next one after that may change with no notice.

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    • #3
      I have all my project plans (natural planning model type plans) for an area of focus in the one word document, and keep the next action lists in Pocket Informant on the iPhone.
      So to make a new project I make one in Pocket Informant, and then in Word I copy and paste a blank natural planning section in, and rename it to the project name. While it is still fresh in my mind I spend 5 minutes putting in any ideas or thoughts or next actions that occur to me now, and then also put in a next action to plan the project.
      I keep it to only 5 minutes though, just long enough so it's off my mind and I can get back to my inbox. If you don't spend a few minutes capturing your thoughts though, you'll keep getting distracted and going back to it.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Suelin23 View Post
        and then in Word I copy and paste a blank natural planning section in, and rename it to the project name.
        Could you expand on this a bit? I don't use Office that much but what you say intrigues me. I've poked around Word a bit to see if there is anything that references a "natural planning section" but nothing came up. Is the "natural planning section" something native to word? Or is this just some sort of template which you yourself designed?

        thnx,
        Christoph

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        • #5
          You can do it even in Notepad.

          Originally posted by jcb View Post
          Could you expand on this a bit? I don't use Office that much but what you say intrigues me. I've poked around Word a bit to see if there is anything that references a "natural planning section" but nothing came up. Is the "natural planning section" something native to word? Or is this just some sort of template which you yourself designed?
          I think Suelin23 has a blank template of Natural Planning Model and just copies and pastes it for each new Project. You can do it even in Notepad.

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          • #6
            Yes, TesTeq is right. I've just taken a blank Word document, populated all my own headings but not filled in all the detail, and called it "Plan Template", and saved it in my electronic reference folder with all my other templates (also made by me). It just saves time rewriting and formatting all the headings, and I like all the project plans to look roughly the same. It's based on GTD's natural planning model but of course with other info relevant to my job. I have one Word file per area of focus.

            Some typical headings I use:
            LEADERSHIP
            -Context
            -Drivers for change (incl corporate strategic framework and legal info)
            -Purpose
            PEOPLE
            - internal stakeholders
            -external stakeholders
            -agendas and meeting notes
            INFORMATION, DATA & ANALYSIS
            - Information (glossary, general info)
            -Data sources
            -Past work
            OPPORTUNITIES
            - Ideas
            COMMUNICATIONS
            - Reports
            PROJECT 1
            - Purpose
            -Principles
            - Outcomes
            -Brainstorming
            -Organisation
            -Actions & Checklists

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