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  • New Projects - How do you get them into your project list?

    Help me out with your ideas - often a bunch of new projects will enter my world during the day, and I'll forget to put them on my projects list. I remember to add the new thing as a next action: (i.e., "JONES TRUST AMENDMENT: talk to Sally re xyz"), but I don't remember to also go to my project list and add it as a new project. It seems duplicative to have to add the item in two places.

    Is the place these get caught the weekly review? When I go over my todo lists? But that depends on me seeing the todo and knowing that it isn't on my projects list - not guaranteed that I'll notice it.

    Am I approaching the project list wrong?

    I also have the added complication that my boss wants me to give him, every other week, a chart showing each of his clients, the status of that client's work from the previous week, and the current status. This forces me to create additional documentation - I do the list before our every-other-weekly meeting, by using my project list and searches using the "find" feature of the palm os to find @NAs for each client - but this is TEDIOUS! And, it seems like a time waster since it doesn't help with GTD any, but is just a format requested by boss. Oh. The list of projects for the boss's clients isn't but maybe 1/4 of my total list of projects (including personal).

    Any ideas on how to make this easier?
    Thanks!
    Susan

  • #2
    New Projects - How do you get them into your project list?

    As far as duplicating effort, perhaps you're complicating the next action lists by trying to embed the project description. The project list item should answer the question, "What is the successful outcome?". The next action list item should represent the next physical, visible action to move that project forward.

    I know a lot of people get hung up on trying to link next actions to projects for tracking purposes. I'm starting to believe that kind of overall view of a project's progress should be contained in Project support materials (e.g. project plans, mind maps, etc.). The next action lists should be populated based on actions identified in those support materials.

    When you review your next action lists, ask yourself the following question regarding each action, "Is there a larger outcome driving this action that won't be completed by this one action?" If yes, then you probably have a "new" project that needs to be recorded on your project list.

    I imagine you could catch these in your Weekly Review, but the real key to the weekly review is reviewing your project list for potential next actions. Doing it the other way around is OK, but probably not optimal use of your brain. The Weekly Review optimally occurs at the 10,000 ft level (projects).

    I don't think this will solve your particular challenge, but it's food for thought nonetheless.

    Good luck,
    Brian

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: New Projects - How do you get them into your project lis

      Originally posted by bdavidson
      When you review your next action lists, ask yourself the following question regarding each action, "Is there a larger outcome driving this action that won't be completed by this one action?" If yes, then you probably have a "new" project that needs to be recorded on your project list.
      Yes, good point, I'm supposed to be asking that question each time I make a @NA. I'll have to try to be more conscious of that.

      The reason I like to put the project description in the title of the next action is so that when boss walks into office and says "where's Jones's trust", I can quickly do a search and tell him the status of it, no matter which list it's on. I don't really keep project tracking materials, keep that kind of stuff ("sent to client on 11/26/02") in the note attached to the next action usually. Maybe I need to rethink this and put that info in the project list instead (as a note perhaps).

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: New Projects - How do you get them into your project lis

        Originally posted by taxgeek
        The reason I like to put the project description in the title of the next action is so that when boss walks into office and says "where's Jones's trust", I can quickly do a search and tell him the status of it, no matter which list it's on. I don't really keep project tracking materials, keep that kind of stuff ("sent to client on 11/26/02") in the note attached to the next action usually. Maybe I need to rethink this and put that info in the project list instead (as a note perhaps).
        This is where I also run into trouble. I've managed to get to the point where I'm comfortable not directly linking NA's to their respective projects, however, I get frazzeled when my boss comes over to ask me the status of PROJECT X and I have to do a mad search through my NA's list.

        I guess that this is something that I'll have to live with because I've tried something like what you've done, and it makes me nuts! What happens though is that I end up looking stupid (yes, I've found this to be a by-product of the GTD system; I don't mean that it has actually made me stupid - I mean that since now that everything is litteraly out of my head and not in the center of my focus my imediate recall isn't as good) because I can't remember a given project's status on the spot.

        As far as missing projects, what I do to remedy this is whenever I process my inbox, I ask myself of each item I touch "what is the desired outcome for this".

        If it's actionable, I try to determine if there will be more than one step involved. If there is, it goes on my projects list and I determine what the very next physical action is.

        If there's only one step and it will take less than 2 minutes, I do it. If it will take longer, it goes on my NA list until I can find time to do it.

        What I have observed as a result of this is that I tend to gravitate towards the things that I want to do and neglect the things that I don't (even though they might be very important). As a result, some things that need to get done don't. I haven't figured out a way to remedy this... I need to find a way (short of going back to the old A, B, C, I, II, II etc. method) to add urgency to these NA's.

        Sorry for the long-winded post; I hope that you can find something useful out of all that rambling!!

        -James

        Comment


        • #5
          The new GTD Outlook add-in lets you create a new project while you're creating a next action. You can then use the view by Project to get a quick status report.

          Another Outlook based solution is found at:
          http://home.attbi.com/~whkratz/index.htm

          Bill Kratz's method uses a contacts folder to create Projects - allowing a drag and drop method of including the project name in the next action subject and/or note. HTH.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: New Projects - How do you get them into your project lis

            [quote="jkgrossi I don't mean that it has actually made me stupid - I mean that since now that everything is litteraly out of my head and not in the center of my focus my imediate recall isn't as good) because I can't remember a given project's status on the spot.

            Thank goodness! I thought it was advancing age that was making me worry because I was forgetting what I should be worrying about, but it seems that it is just GTD working its magic. Takes a bit of getting used to, though.

            HNY

            Andrew

            Comment


            • #7
              Yeah, it's happened to me more times than I care to mention. Just the other day, my boss said to me "did so and so ever send you that report?". My reply was "what report? I don't know what you're talking about". I went into a panic. She just looked at me like I was an idiot.

              Sure enough, though, when I went back to my @waiting for... list, there was "WF report from so and so". I haven't given it a second thought since I wrote it on my NA list 3 weeks ago...

              The problem here is that my boss doesn't think that I have my bases covered, when in actuality I more on-top than I've ever been (I'm actually able to think about things rather than just trying to keep track of them). This makes me look very bad... I'm not sure how to fix this.

              Comment


              • #8
                jkgrossi

                Hi, JKgrossi and all, I have the same problem! Once you become dependent on your lists, you mind ceases to hold anything anymore. So if you forget your palm one time when you're out doing errands, you're SOL! I suppose that's good though, because our minds are off being more creative and efficient.

                Here's how to make your boss realize you're not stupid: I impressed my whole department one time when, at a dept meeting, someone asked about the status of something. I opened my palm, did a little click click click, and said "We sent that report to the client on 11/26. I called to follow up on 12/4 and 12/12 and haven't heard anything since." Their stunned amazement was followed by: "How'd you get all that IN THERE?"

                Or, when she comes in, just pull up your palm os desktop, use the "find" function to pull up all instances of the client's name (if you have it embedded in your NAs somewhere). Then she'll see how organized your system is.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have also been focussing on actions rather than projects. If I don't have the project down on my projects list, chances are I haven't worked through the outcome and deliverables/ constraints - I certainly haven't written them down.

                  I hadn't really thought this through until I saw this post: thanks!

                  FBA

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: New Projects - How do you get them into your project lis

                    Originally posted by taxgeek
                    I also have the added complication that my boss wants me to give him, every other week, a chart showing each of his clients, the status of that client's work from the previous week, and the current status. This forces me to create additional documentation - I do the list before our every-other-weekly meeting, by using my project list and searches using the "find" feature of the palm os to find @NAs for each client - but this is TEDIOUS! And, it seems like a time waster since it doesn't help with GTD any, but is just a format requested by boss. Oh. The list of projects for the boss's clients isn't but maybe 1/4 of my total list of projects (including personal).

                    Any ideas on how to make this easier?
                    Thanks!
                    Susan
                    I am using Agendus, with my projects set up as contacts in Agendus. I can look up the history of each project (it does use the global find feature, so takes a couple of seconds) but it can also log completed todo's to the note of the contact/project. Your note would then include exactly what had been completed at all times.

                    Pam

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      PD Workman

                      So let see if I understand. Agendus is one of these contact management, networking tracking programs. But instead of people contacts, you are inputting each project as a contact. And one can attach notes to these contacts, so they can contain the history of the project.

                      Say I had a next action to "Send final docs to client", and I sent them on a particular day. How would I get that info into the contact?

                      Thanks!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: jkgrossi

                        Originally posted by taxgeek
                        Here's how to make your boss realize you're not stupid: I impressed my whole department one time when, at a dept meeting, someone asked about the status of something. I opened my palm, did a little click click click, and said "We sent that report to the client on 11/26. I called to follow up on 12/4 and 12/12 and haven't heard anything since." Their stunned amazement was followed by: "How'd you get all that IN THERE?"
                        Here's the thing - if you don't keep a running "log" of a project's status (and I currently don't - GTD doesn't directly account for this), this won't work. I should give it a try. Each time a NA is completed, copy it along with the date into the "notes" section of the project...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          jkgrossi

                          Hmmm. That's an interesting idea. My NAs tend to just get transformed - "draft report" morphs into "proofread report" morphs into "send report." So MOST of the NAs end up in a "thread" basically, and whenever I do something, I note it in the notes section of the @NA. That's more convenient for me - when the @NA is "waiting for boss to review report", I put in the notes section of the todo for the NA: "to boss 1/2/03".

                          I wonder if we would be better served to put this kind of info in the project list somehow. It seems like putting it in the project list would require bouncing back and forth between todos and memos alot during the day. Putting it in project materials seems like what should be done, but those are in paper files and completely inconvenient for me. What do you think?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Client Files

                            Susan:

                            What is the nature of a Client File? When you approach the Client Work are you setting about one task or do you intend to do many tasks sequentially, perhaps working through a checklist? If the latter, then perhaps the Client File is really a Context, according to the GTD approach - it's a location/tool/person in the context of which you want to consolidate tasks - i.e. while I have this file out, I am going to do more than just one single next physical action related to it - so I want to group all of the actions related to that File in one place. But what happens if you have more Client Files than the number of categories available to you, e.g. on a Palm?

                            I have had a setup similar to yours, except that my Project was written as the top level ToDo and the action steps were recorded in the attached note (each date-stamped when completed), unless there were 3 or fewer action steps, in which I case I wrote the whole thing as ToDo text. I found it a good way to consolidate my next actions under a group heading, and a good way to avoid duplication of inputting. My question is: What could be "not-GTD" about this approach? It mirrors the way that @Agendas is set up according to the book. And it has the major advantage of allowing you to print the history from one place (the attached note) to place in the Client File. And, most importantly, it is more or less the style that your intuition settled on for your first GTD setup. If it's working for you (congratulations on getting recognition for being so organized), then why mess with it?

                            Andrew

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                            • #15
                              andmor

                              I guess the answer to that is that it's working, except that it's a pain to prepare the status list for The Boss. But hey, maybe he'll forget about that before too many more weeks go by!
                              Susan

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