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  • Keep projects and sub-projects on the same list?

    I am new to GTD and have attempted to create an electronic workflow that emulates paper lists as much as possible in order to keep things simple.

    I use Remember The Milk as my main list keeper, with Evernote as my main electronic warehouse for reference material, project planning materials, and lists/checklists that are not part of the "Core GTD" system.

    My problem is with managing very large projects that have a number of sub-projects. For example, I work in finance and am responsible for maintaining forecast models that predict our company's revenue and expenses.

    We are planning to completely overhaul the methodology we use for some of our forecast models for 2014. The ultimate outcome is to have a 2014 budget that has been designed based on a new way of looking at our company's data, and to do this I will need to complete a variety of sub-projects, such as:
    • Gathering data from various sources
    • Analyzing the data using several statistical techniques to see which ones are most predictive
    • Meeting with Senior management to get their feedback on how the models should look/feel
    • Building new models based on the newly discovered statistical prediction methods
    • etc....

    All of these sub-projects will have multiple actions and are legitimate projects in their own right. Would you list all of these sub-projects on your Projects list? Or should you only list "2014 Budget Redesign" on your Projects list and keep all of the known sub-projects on a separate list within the project support materials for the main project?

    Or is "2014 Budget Redesign" large enough that it should be considered an area of focus and bumped up to a higher level list completely?

    Thanks for your advice!

  • #2
    Area of Focus + flat Projects list.

    Originally posted by TryingToGTD View Post
    Would you list all of these sub-projects on your Projects list?
    Yes, I prefer flat lists.

    Originally posted by TryingToGTD View Post
    Or should you only list "2014 Budget Redesign" on your Projects list and keep all of the known sub-projects on a separate list within the project support materials for the main project?
    No, but this approach works for some people.

    Originally posted by TryingToGTD View Post
    Or is "2014 Budget Redesign" large enough that it should be considered an area of focus and bumped up to a higher level list completely?
    Yes, I like to group Projects in Areas of Focus if it makes sense.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by TryingToGTD

      All of these sub-projects will have multiple actions and are legitimate projects in their own right. Would you list all of these sub-projects on your Projects list? Or should you only list "2014 Budget Redesign" on your Projects list and keep all of the known sub-projects on a separate list within the project support materials for the main project?

      Or is "2014 Budget Redesign" large enough that it should be considered an area of focus and bumped up to a higher level list completely?

      Thanks for your advice!
      I think some of the questions to ask are: how do you like to see your work? How often do you want to be reminded of this projects and its sub-projects? Are some of the sub-projects dependent on other things? Personally, I would probably use a mind map to chart a rough plan, put sub-projects in a note for the main project, and try to find next actions to start on. A large project usually has more ambiguity than a small one

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the feedback guys. I guess for this particular example I will end up making 2014 budget an Area of Focus, and then use my Projects list for all of the resulting sub-projects.

        For some reason I'm just not comfortable mixing the parent/child relationships all on a single list. Maybe I should have a "Master Projects" list that would represent the 25,000 foot level between projects (20,000 ft) and AOF (30,000 ft). Of course the more lists you maintain, the more overhead you're adding to your workflow, so I have to consider that aspect as well.

        Comment


        • #5
          I would try to avoid "over-thinking" the problem. The 2014 goal sounds to me like it is a *major* project for you, a big deal, something that you are going to spend a lot of time on in the next 6 months or so. It's not as though you are going to *forget* to work on it completely. After all, one of the key goals of GTD is to capture tasks so that you do not lose track of them.

          Call it an area of focus and create the sub-projects, as you have said. Do your project planning, and add your NAs as you go. And you're done (with the guts of the GTD portion of the exercise, anyway).

          Put your efforts into accomplishing the NAs, not struggling with exactly how and where to "bin" the overall "parent" super-project. It's at the lower levels that your efforts will make the most impact on your success.

          I hope this helps.

          Joe

          Comment


          • #6
            Great comment Joe, thanks! Have to make sure you can see the forest through the trees...

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
              I think some of the questions to ask are ... How often do you want to be reminded of this projects and its sub-projects?
              Great question. Personally, I would probably want to see the subprojects more often than the overall project. How about making the overall project a "goal" in the GTD sense? You might still want to glance at a list or mindmap of this goal once a day (or post it on the wall), but the subprojects are closer to the runway.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by cwoodgold View Post
                Great question. Personally, I would probably want to see the subprojects more often than the overall project. How about making the overall project a "goal" in the GTD sense? You might still want to glance at a list or mindmap of this goal once a day (or post it on the wall), but the subprojects are closer to the runway.
                Exactly my thoughts - I have decided to add a branch to my AOF mind-map that is just a list of ongoing "master projects". I will see those projects whenever I review my AOF's but they will not be sitting constantly on my projects list where I'm worried I would feel numb or distracted by them.

                Thanks everyone for helping me work through this!

                Comment

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