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How do you manage recurrent projects

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  • How do you manage recurrent projects

    Hello,

    I need to process my expenses bills in a regular basis (weekly). This is a project with a few steps like:
    - fill a report in corporate extranet and paste all bills on a paper in the same order.
    - wait for my manager's approval (which can take several days)
    - print the approval from extranet
    - hand (or mail) the approval and the bills to accounting department.
    - wait and check the payment

    No problem to handle this project by step with immediate actions or waiting for actions.
    But when it's cyclic, I just can't find a good way to do it.
    I need a task with a recurrent weekly reminder to start the first action (fill the report). The problem is that all other actions are also recurrent, yet I can't create them as recurrent tasks because they don't have a fixed date (I need to wait the approval). On the other hand, creating them one after another each time the same over and over is very annoying.

    How do you do in this case?

    Thanks in advance,

    WZX

  • #2
    What I'd do

    I would just put a recurring all-day event on my calendar on the day you want to start this process. After you do it, I'd create a "waiting for" task (waiting for approval). Once you get the approval, I'd enter the next step in the process on your task list, and then the next. I'm not sure I'd make a project out of this at all. It technically IS a project, so there's nothing wrong with doing it that way, but routine things are sometimes handled just as well by calendar or by a checklist. Other than that first waiting for (approval from your boss), is it likely you would just automatically take the next action(s) as they show up? Maybe you don't have to get really granular?

    Comment


    • #3
      You don't mention what tools you are using, but I'm with Barb. One easy way to do this with most electronic list apps is to have a recurring item with a note that is the checklist. I use something like

      - Gather crud
      - Fill out form
      - Give to admin
      - Wait
      - Do next thing
      - Wait some more
      - Get money

      and change -'s to +'s when I do them. (In fact, this is also what a lot of my project plans look like.) I know some people like to paste the next action into the item header, as in "WF form back 9/3/2013: Reimbursement for expenses week of Jan 15 1911" (Yes, sometimes accounting is slow..).

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for your replies.

        I use Outlook 2010.

        Barb's suggestion of not using project is good, but it doesn't solve my concern of creating the same tasks over and over every week.

        mcogilvie's method with a note is more practical.

        By combining your 2 methods, I imagine the following way:
        I need to change the task's header because several reimbursement requests could be started in parallel since Jan 15 1911, I think to create a "main" recurrent task (for reminding me) which spawns a child task for each process (which will have a date in the header and will jump from context to context). The "main" recurrent task could have a note containing the checklist as template, that I can copy/paste to the child task when I create it. The child task will be a one shot task without recurrence.
        This way, I get reminded (by the "main" recurrent task), I create a single task with date in the header for each reimbursement request (so no fastidious creation of 5-6 different tasks every week). (The only "concern" is that it could not be a PURE GTD method because the task's header doesn't state actually what to do, you should open the note to see what's the actual step to proceed).

        Anyway, it sounds already pretty good. Any improvement yet?

        Thanks a lot,

        WZX

        Comment


        • #5
          Sounds workable

          Don't worry about it being "pure GTD". Better that it be simple, manageable, and meet your needs. Maybe once you try it the new way you'll get an ah-ha about how you can simplify it even further.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Barb View Post
            Don't worry about it being "pure GTD". Better that it be simple, manageable, and meet your needs. Maybe once you try it the new way you'll get an ah-ha about how you can simplify it even further.
            Couldn't agree more! I tripped myself many times when I was first learning GTD by trying to be "by the book" but really, it's about tweaking things until they work FOR YOU! I like combination of the two great suggestions above as well.

            Best of luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              Use Project Templates

              I use Things for Mac and have an area of focus called "Project Templates". Inside, I have a project called "Submit Expense Report" with the Tasks. Each month, I copy/paste that project into my "Work" area of focus so it falls into my current project list.

              Best of luck!

              Comment


              • #8
                Recurring projects, checklists, evernote

                I'm playing with Evernote right now. The "templates" notebook contains a daily checklist, weekly review checklist, etc. You could build a "Weekly accounting project" checklist template and cut/paste into a rolling to-do note, then put "Do accounting checklist" into Outlook each Monday or Friday or whateever?

                Jim

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by wzx View Post
                  I need a task with a recurrent weekly reminder to start the first action (fill the report). The problem is that all other actions are also recurrent, yet I can't create them as recurrent tasks because they don't have a fixed date (I need to wait the approval). On the other hand, creating them one after another each time the same over and over is very annoying.

                  How do you do in this case?
                  I use Omnifocus so my solution won't work for you but may help someone else. I have a lot of recurring tasks like that. I set the project to automatically complete when I complete the last action, repeat at the interval I choose and one of the action items is a task of waiting for whatever it is I am waiting for. Here is an Example

                  Complete our annual Federal Inspection
                  Order more federal scrapie tags if needed
                  Waiting for Scrapie Tags to arrive
                  Put federal tags in ewe lambs
                  Put federal tags in ram lambs
                  Update all sheep records for past year with required federal data
                  E-mail federal vet to schedule inspection
                  Waiting for federal vet to scheule inspection
                  Run all ewe lambs through sweep and verify tag numbers
                  Run all ram lambs through sweep and verify tag numbers
                  Run all ewes through sweep and verify tag numbers
                  Run all rams through sweep and verify tag numbers
                  Print 2 paper copies of sheep data for inspection (working and reference)
                  Sheep Federal Inspection with vet
                  E-mail federal vet the sheep data after inspection
                  This one happens yearly but I have other tasks that are monthly that are similar.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OogieM,

                    Do each of the tasks in your project automatically populate your appropriate @context lists? If not, then I don't think Omnifocus would even help WZX. His/her problem was as follows:

                    WZX said:
                    "Barb's suggestion of not using project is good, but it doesn't solve my concern of creating the same tasks over and over every week."

                    I understand that you have a project checklist template, OogieM, but each of your tasks within the project must be manually copied over to your @context lists just like everybody else, right?

                    --Chas29

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      [QUOTE=Chas29;109746]OogieM,

                      Do each of the tasks in your project automatically populate your appropriate @context lists? /QUOTE]

                      Yes they do. I never deal with them until things change. They show up automatically in my contexts, I work the context/next action lists and they re-start at my defined period.

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                      • #12
                        Well that sounds very cool. I may have to rethink OmniFocus. Thanks for the reply.

                        Chas29

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