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One-Day Projects

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  • One-Day Projects

    How do you deal with one-day projects? I get a lot of requests that are mini-projects and need to be completed the same day they are requested. Like 'could you print out report XYZ, review these changes, reprint and fax to so-and-so'. Or oftentimes I get to work in the morning to find a note attached to my door saying 'help, my printer needs more ink' which requires that I retrieve an ink cartridge from storage, call the person and ask when I can come install it in their office (so I don't interfere with a meeting) and then actually installing it and realinging, etc. These are projects in themselves, but they are simple and usually completed a few hours or less after they are 'collected'.

    In the previous example, I usually just put 'Fix Printer 1234' on my next actions list for the day and try to do it all in one step. If I can't because the person is in a meeting and I have to schedule another appointment to finish the job, then 'fix printer 1234' is not a true next action. Perhaps I'm overanalysing this, but I am guessing that I should change the text and/or context of the action each time I get to a stopping point. Maybe changing the action to 'set appointment with so-and-so for printer repair'. I want to keep it simple, but I don't want to see 'fix printer 1234' when the true next action is 'call so-and-so/re: printer'. It seems like overkill to define a successful outcome and create a project out of a small task that in itself will take less than a half hour at best unless I am forced to wait for the other party to be available to complete the project. There are other small 'projects' like this that creep up through my day. I am trying to get a handle on them as they pop up. If they are urgent (and many of them are) they immediately go on my agenda for the day. I just have trouble picking them up again when the true next action isn't clearly stated. I end up having to rethink where I was with that 'project' before moving on it. Maybe I should just do it and not overthink it and only change the context if it doesn't get completed that day. Any thoughts?

  • #2
    One day project check-list

    Here would be my rules, if l had to write them:

    1- Is it over 2 minutes ?
    2- Have I to take that task in charge?
    3- What must be completed at least today ?
    (Suppose it's "yes".the whole task today).

    4- Am I at risk to procrastinate it?
    • yes: write the NA
    • no: leave it as a global task (but maybe substract the global duration from your available time that day!

    5- Is this task one shot?
    • if truncated, append a one/two word reminder what/when to resume. (next.action)

    6- Does this kind of task often occur ?
    • Make a routine for this (a check-list, you tick as you proceed).


    • #3
      I've got tasks/projects just like that in my job .

      I don't usually make something like an ink cartridge a project , I'd just mark the current next action as done and enter a new one .

      so I'd put "check storage for hp 78 " on at office list , then once I had the cartridge I'd mark it done and enter " call so and so re: ink cartridge install " on my calls list . Then if I ended up having to leave a message , I'd mark it done and enter " so and so 6/7/04 reply re: ink cartridge ? " on my waiting for list .

      after the whole process was complete in arranging it , if it was going to be today that I installed it ...I'd put " install new cartridge at so and so 's office" on my calendar as an all-day event in outlook .

      I wouldn't want something that was most likely going to be completed in one day on my projects list --I try to look at projects list daily --but I might not one day --and then I'd miss that one.


      • #4
        I've been lurking around this board for a long time and thank you all for such wonderful advice/ideas/solutions to Getting Things Done. I read the book in the summer of 2003 and have, for the most part, implemented it in stages since then. I haven't fully immersed my whole world into it, but it's an incredible source of strength in managing my life work.

        Drummergirl, your post really struck a chord with me and I thought I could offer some insight. I'm the Creative Director at my company. I provide all of the creative services...print, web, video, etc. I end up with a lot of what I call "911 Art Emergencies". Quick print jobs, presentations, web fix, and the like. I am also kinda like the office geek and am constantly sought out for software help, email problems, blah, blah.

        In one part the book, DA talks about leaving things that you already track with paper as they are. I need to keep track of all my print jobs etc. so I created a log so I can quickly jot down the action, who from, when requested, and a note area. I can check it off when done and then use at the end of the month for billing. I would spend way too much time entering these mutliple requests into my next actions. They are so routine to me, they are really just background noise, but so many that I must keep track. The whole log then just gets reviewed during the weekly review to make sure it's done and to transfer any jobs that can be billed.

        In short, some actions that you do repeatedly aren't worth the time it takes to put directly into your system. They just become an entity unto themselves.

        Hope this helps


        • #5
          Thanks for the responses. I think I am already doing what I should be doing. I keep a small legal pad on my desk where I jot down all the 'emergencies' and other requests as they surface throughout the day. If I am away from my desk I use the voice recorder or notepad on my T3. At the end of the day I review all the input and add whatever is left incomplete to my NA lists. This is probably the best way to handle this stuff, I suppose I was just fishing for something better, but I think I already found it. Thanks for the reassurance!


          • #6
            Wow, people really leave notes on your door saying "Help my printer needs more ink"? Maybe you should have a project entitled "Teach employees how to change an ink cartridge." Seriously, it might save you time in the long run.


            • #7
              Yes they do leave notes like that. I was hired to bring them all into the technology age. Before I started, they only had 2 computers and the receptionist told me I could never toss out the 2 year old staples catalog under her desk because she had the ink cartridges marked with post-its so she knew which ones to order. I have no idea who installed them after they purchased them. My job is highly frustrating because much computer training is needed, but we don't have the funds to get the training. I used to teach advanced levels of MS Office, Lotus Notes, etc., but I don't have time to prepare my own material and we can't afford to buy any. Besides, it would be better if they WANTED to learn and get better at it before we waste time on training. Right now it would be a waste because most folks here resist computers like the plague.

              I am just trying to be an example, using GTD, loaning out my book and never dropping the ball when it's in my court. They all compliment me on my organizational skills and call me the 'computer whiz' but they all seem content to wallow in their messes. I have offered to teach them GTD or just help them setup better files, but it falls on deaf ears. I think it is because I'm the youngest here (at age 31) and there's a generation gap issue. I just purchased the GTD Fast CD's and have been playing them while I work on mundane stuff - like filing. So far, two people have picked up the CD case off of my desk and looked at the cover. Maybe someday...

              BTW - I have only the current Staples catalog on my reference shelf. I tossed the old one a week after I started.


              • #8
                Drummer Girl,

                Just out of curiosity, what type of company are you with? I am a school principal, and getting older teachers to use technology efficiently is challenge (or shall we say "opportunity"?!)

                It's interesting to see that other fields have this same problem.



                • #9
                  Church administration. We also have a school (K - 9th grade) and a day care.