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  • Weekly Review: action and project association

    Please don't think I have a subnormal IQ but... 1. When doing your weekly review, how do remember which action of a project you have completed? I may do something that was on a context list or just do it intuitively, and then when I review my projects I do not reember doing it so I put it on a list all over again. 2) Also, when you are working off a context list that is just a list of next actions how do you remember which n/a goes with what project and the relevant aspects of the project? Here is a very simple example. Let's say you are running errands. Your @errands says-- Grocery: buy 12 boxes brownie mix. You get to store and the brownie mix is very, very expensive. You would buy it if 1)you need it within a short time and there will be no other opportunity to go shopping again before the event comes up or you know you cannot substitute something else, like cookie mix because you were assigned the item by someone or something. I sometimes cannot remember any of that at the time. I may have come up with 12 boxes because I wanted to save time and bake for three events that are occuring on the same weekend, but I cannot remember how many of what I needed for a particular one, or if a substitution would be appropriate or not.

  • #2
    Re: Weekly Review: action and project association

    Originally posted by Jamie Elis
    1. When doing your weekly review, how do remember which action of a project you have completed? I may do something that was on a context list or just do it intuitively, and then when I review my projects I do not reember doing it so I put it on a list all over again
    I think the answer to your question depends on your setup (PDA, paper-based, etc.) but I use a PDA, with Shadow Plan for my project lists and the native To Do application for my next action lists (sorted by context). When I check off a completed to-do item, it updates the project list in Shadow to show the action is completed.

    Even if you're using a paper-based system, check off the actions and hold on to your completed list for your weekly review. You can refer to both to keep things updated.

    Also, I check my lists many times throughout the day. So, I don't really have a situation where I do something intuitively, and don't remember doing it before I can check it off.

    Originally posted by Jamie Elis
    2) Also, when you are working off a context list that is just a list of next actions how do you remember which n/a goes with what project and the relevant aspects of the project?
    Here's what I do (and this would work with a PDA or paper-based setup). Each project has a short code associated with it, that is included in the next actions. For example, I have a project called "Kitchen" (I have moved recently and am organizing and redecorating). One of my current next actions for this project is to "Install wine glass rack". On my @Home context list, the project is listed as "KITCHEN: Install wine glass rack." All of my actions associated with a project has a capitalized short project name at the beginning. This helps me remember the overall purpose in any specific action.

    I tried placing the full project name, not capitalized, before the action, but it was more difficult to note that it was part of a project. Also, with the project name capitalized, it's easier to scan and find actions with a context associated with the same project.

    HTH!

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    • #3
      I usually don't have a problem remembering if I did something or not (on the other hand, sometimes I can't find my glasses even when they are right on my nose). As an attorney, I keep progress notes, so I can always check my time entries and progress notes to see if I have done a particular thing. I think if I had trouble remembering these things, I would probably make a greater effort to check them off as complete when I do them instead of waiting for the weekly review.

      For each task that I have, I start off with a short project name so that I can associate it with the relevant project (e.g., Smith: Draft letter to opposing counsel). People who use third-party software have an easier time with these associations. I use the native Palm software, so I have to be creative.

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      • #4
        I hate paper and I'm on a mission to eradicate it from my life as much as possible. There are some things, however, that paper is still the best technology to use. Relating projects to next actions is one of these. I've found that I have much better review when I print my projects list and my next actions list and compare them side by side. I check off projects and next actions that are related. If I see a project without a next action I add it. Then I review my next actions and see if any of those are actually part of a bigger project that never got put on my projects list. I've tried several ways to do this electroncially but paper still seems to best method for me. It makes the association much more thought provoking as well. I have to think about it. It isn't just already done for me. This thinking is a big part of the weekly review as well.

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        • #5
          Re: Weekly Review: action and project association

          ... when you are working off a context list that is just a list of next actions how do you remember which n/a goes with what project and the relevant aspects of the project?
          There really isn't a good way yet structurally to link actions with their projects, other than enough of a descriptor to recognize what it's about. In other words, don't put "Fred" on an action list - put "Call Fred re: mtg re: budget". Your brain, especially in the Weekly Review, needs to connect the dots about all this. Your action lists should be in front of your face as often as you have any discretionary time, to make choices from them, so there's nothing on there that will be foreign to you in terms of what it means.

          Same answer about where you are on a project, and "what actions are left". First of all, when you are really working off the next PHYSICAL action, you probably won't have very many past the very next one. You'd be over-planning. When you "call Fred" it might generate all kinds of next actions that you can't know until you "call Fred", so don't overplan. What you're probably referring to in your question, though, is more the "project planning" kind of thinking - "Well, first I need to..., then I need to..., then I need to..., and don't forget to...." kind of stuff. Those are seldom next actions themselves, but represent components and other factors to consider in a plan. Your planning thoughts should indeed be captured in a folder or file relative to the topic. Then when you need to check on what's next, you can and should review the project notes to make sure you're on track toward the next sub-outcome in the plan. Again, people see the Weekly Review as the glue that holds all this together, and should include reviewing project notes like that, to ensure you have all the current next actions "bookmarked" in your action lists.

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          • #6
            Re: Weekly Review: action and project association

            For both reasons one and two I continue to use a PDA and the Life Balance software. The next actions are always grouped by projects and the project priorities drive the order of the lists. Shadow and Bonasi can do similar but without the inherited project priorities.

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            • #7
              Re: Weekly Review: action and project association

              Originally posted by ratz
              Shadow and Bonasi can do similar but without the inherited project priorities.
              Bonsai does this - don't know about Shadow, but knowing the level of enthusiasm of its devotees, I'm sure someone will confirm.

              Andrew

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              • #8
                There really isn't a good way yet structurally to link actions with their projects, other than enough of a descriptor to recognize what it's about.
                Jason - has anyone on the GTD team ever looked at Bonsai or Shadow or any other palm software? These are outliner apps and do provide a way to link actions with projects. They are excellent GTD tools. Why do you seem to be sticking with the basic palm apps?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by guest
                  There really isn't a good way yet structurally to link actions with their projects, other than enough of a descriptor to recognize what it's about.
                  Jason - has anyone on the GTD team ever looked at Bonsai or Shadow or any other palm software? These are outliner apps and do provide a way to link actions with projects. They are excellent GTD tools. Why do you seem to be sticking with the basic palm apps?
                  A while ago (maybe in 2002) I tested out the Bonsai program, and - personally - didn't use the power built into that application like some people do.

                  I stick with the Palm, just 'cause it works for me - personally.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Table of projects and next actions

                    Jamie,

                    if you have only few contexts and consider only the active projects of this current week , you might set up a table with MS Word (or a spreadsheet with Excel).

                    The first left column would be titled "Active Projects" and the other columns would be titled with the contexts "At Home", "Phone", "At Work" etc. Then you write the names/descriptors of the projects in the left column and print the document. The next actions go handwritten into the columns of the contexts (in the row for the corresponding project). When an action is done, you check it off and write the next action for the project into the column for the context where the next action takes place.

                    When the table becomes too cluttered you have to print it again, maybe even every day.

                    Rainer

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                    • #11
                      From a still newbie: I love the topic of the relationship between projects and next actions and have tried to read as many postings as possible about it. The fact that there is no "sound bite" answer has been frustrating and exciting because I've been able to practice some creativity in my system creation. Until recently, all my "creativity" always resulted in several file folder open on my desk and my eyes darting around trying to see all the relationships, as if I was playing chess. I've tried colored pens and index cards on my bulletin board and on and on. I've been trying to stay "mid-tech" because the act of writing things out by hand gets more brain-juices flowing for me than typing does. But I finally decided that this point in the system was crucial and so I set up my Outlook for lists as described in "Implementing David Allen's Workflow Processing Using Microsoft Outlook." I coded my project and then coded my NA's and at one point I started laughing out loud because the results were do dang cool.

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                      • #12
                        Wow, Mike, I'm almost ready to switch to Outlook from the Palm...

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                        • #13
                          Jamie,

                          I wrestled with the problem of how to keep actions and projects linked as made some changes to my system. Here is where it is explained:
                          http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GtD_Palm/message/15260

                          Hope this helps.
                          Frank

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Frank:

                            Let me ask you a question...
                            How do you do, when a project can have more than one action. because in the system you explain you only make one action at the time, but for example, lets say my project is like this (By the way I like your system)

                            +Meeting With Tom @ his Office

                            Lets say me next 2 NAs are:

                            1.- Call Tom and Scedule Appoiment.
                            2.- Prepare Documents to bring to Meeting with Tom.

                            I know that we are going to have the meeting, actually I create the 2 NAs, but how I can do that Using your system. Because if I understand right first I make the call and then go to waiting for... but I know I need time to do the documents....

                            Maybe sounds dumb... sorry about that, but I will love more explanation.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              You ask a very good question and one that I gave thought to before implementing. I found that most of my projects did not have numerous independent actions, and if they did, I would simply choose one to do first and put that one in the task line and the other independent ones in the note.

                              In the best of all worlds, when I get going on a project, I stay with that project through as many steps as I can go. So, I may do what is in the task line and immediately begin working on the actions in the note. When I reach a point where I have to move on to something else and need a "bookmark," that's when the next action is going to be replaced in the task line.

                              Also, I try very hard not to let any "grass grow" under the tasks. That keeps tasks which are independent and can be done from sitting around hidden in a note because I didn't move on what was in the task line.

                              As for the example you asked about, I would phrase the outcome something like:
                              +Meeting with Tom has been planned

                              If the next 2 NAs are:

                              1.- Call Tom and Scedule Appoiment.
                              2.- Prepare Documents to bring to Meeting with Tom.

                              then I will edit the task to say:
                              Tom-Schedule appoinment+Meeting with Tom has been planned
                              In the note, I will have "Prepare Documents to bring to Meeting with Tom"
                              I will assign the task to the calls category

                              To make things interesting, say Tom is not in when I place the call. I leave a message for him to call back. In the note section, I add: "LM 6/10 10:45" in the note section and change the category name for waiting for. Since this project is on my mind right now, I may go ahead and prepare the documents provided I am SURE of what documents will be needed. When I get them prepared, I want to put them in the tickler file for the date of the meeting. Since I don't know when that is yet, I will put them in tomorrow's tickler file. Hopefully, by tomorrow I will have talked to Tom and set the meeting date. If so, tomorrow morning when I open the tickler file, I will see the documents and refile them immediately in the tickler file for the correct day.

                              It's highly possible, however, that the second task is NOT independent. During that call, he may tell me about material to bring that I had not thought of. I may find that material I was going to spend time putting together is not needed after all. If that is possible, then I am going to hold off until I get that return call from Tom. During the conversation, I am going to have that task open so that I can take notes in the note section. Seeing "Prepare Documents to bring to Meeting with Tom" is going to remind me to discuss with him exactly what I need to bring.

                              After having made this modification a few months ago, I am really very happy with it, and it has made the whoe sytem more fun for me.
                              Frank

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