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Do you categorize Projects?

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  • Do you categorize Projects?

    To make my list of Projects easier to search, I have put them in categories by my identified responsibilities and areas of focus. Examples of the categories are Household Daily Maintenance, House-Inside, House-Outside, Financial, Professional, Extended Family, Myself, Community and so on. I did this to try to make it easier to see if I already had a specific project going as I processed my massive amount of stuff (current and backlog) and also so I can readily check back after I have completed a n/a. But it does not work well for the latter and I find I have to do a lot of thinking. For example, a letter comes regarding an elderly relative's medical plan and I have to ask myself is this something pertaining to an existing project? I have to search Financial and Extended Family. If it is related to an exisiting project, I have to see if it is something I am waiting for or just something initiated by another person? Does anyone have a better idea? I am finding this searching my project lists less than inviting, it feels tedious and reminds me of how slowly I am accomplishing things. In each category I have at the bottom the SDMBs that fall within it. I wouls appreciate hearing about how others are managing their Projects' List(s).

  • #2
    Besides the Someday/Maybe list (a different list altogether) I separate my projects into two categories: Home and Work. I tried combining them when I started implementing GTD, but it never really felt comfortable to me. By the way, the Home category could probably more accurately described as "Not Work," in that it includes Agendas, Errands, etc. that I do outside of my house.

    I separated them because I wanted to be able to review work-only related projects easily, either for myself or with my supervisor (we have weekly team status meetings, before which I review each project's status).

    This works for me because the number of lists is still small (just 2) and there are very clean, hard edges between my work and personal life. When a topic, potential action, or project comes up, there's no doubt where it belongs.

    David Allen's latest newsletter has an article about this very topic, and he advocates combining all project lists into one single list. I'm giving thought to retrying the single list idea, but haven't come to a conclusion yet.

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    • #3
      Projects exist in outlook in only two categories for me: Home and Work. However, each project gets coded, usually with a simple acronym of the project name. “Create Retention Report” is a simple CRR in the notes section. It’s not quite habit yet, but usually when I write out the Next Actions for the project, the project code goes into the Next Action note box. “Ask Wendy for June Membership Statistics” then CRR in the notes. This way, a search of outlook using CRR brings up everything, the project and all the next actions related to it.

      This works if you set up outlook in the manner described by the David Allen Company. I’m not sure this helps with your letter example, though. For me, scanning a long list of projects is easier than adding the extra step of trying to decide which category of projects to search first. It’s the same for me with filing. Sub files are death.

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      • #4
        PROJECT CODES! That's very elegant.

        I would not have thought to use this as a way to back-reference all the Next Actions for an individual project at will. Thanks for the idea.

        (BTW, davidco should pay you a commission. Your post caused me to read up on the Workflow Processing pdf - I just bought it).

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        • #5
          A quick note related to projects that has
          helped me recently.

          I make sure my projects are written in
          terms of the desired outcome.

          For example, one of the things I do is help
          small business build a web site.

          Instead of labeling a project "Company B Web Site",
          which could mean, build it, update it, review it, or a lot
          of other things ...

          It helped me to label the project based on the
          desired outcome, which in this case would be
          "Build a website for company B".

          Defining the projects in terms of the desired outcome
          makes it clear what will defined a "completed" project. Makes
          it easier to check it off as "done".

          Also in a recent motivational video clip I saw in
          another post, David explained to develop the
          inspiration (and so motivation) to complete a
          project, one needs to focus on the desired outcome.

          This will help you come up with ways to bridge the
          gap between incomplete and complete.

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          • #6
            Jamie,

            I guess the theory is that you assess whether the input requires a project when you process it. At that point, you either recognise that it belongs with an existing project or you don't. If you don't, you put it on the project list. At that point, there is a sporting chance that you recognise an existing project. Even if you miss it, you should pick it up at the weekly review.

            So you have three lines of defence. If a few tasks get through all three and you have a few duplicated projects, it probably isn't the end of the world.

            I am far from expert on the practice, however!

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