Forum

  • If you are new to these Forums, please take a moment to register using the fields above.
Announcement Announcement Module
Collapse
No announcement yet.
projects, sub-projects, multi-step stuff, and filing, too! Page Title Module
Move Remove Collapse
X
Conversation Detail Module
Collapse
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • projects, sub-projects, multi-step stuff, and filing, too!

    I'm very enthusiastic about really making this methodology work for me, but I'm finding some habits are hard to break...

    I've got the GTD Outlook Add-on, and am implementing it fairly well.

    BUT...
    -still struggling with describing a Next Action, as opposed to noting something in a broad and vague way, and deciding how to categorize it.
    for example, @office vs. @errand. Anytime something must be done outside of my cubicle, I consider it @errand. But in a broader sense, those things are done while I'm "at the office", so I'm never really clear on how to classify, making me do lots of second guessing.

    -I find that there are very few things I manage or do that are exactly ONE step next actions and the task is done. Instead, it would seem the majority of my work is a lot of little multi-step projects.
    But, it seems like overkill to create a Project category and/or folder for work that doesn't seem like a "Project with a Capital P". I'm resisting the terminology maybe?

    -the really BIG projects have sub-projects of multi-steps. With these, I feel like I'm drowning in layers and layers and layers of categories....

    So, I begin to feel like instead of actually getting things done, I'm forever analyzing and deciding and focusing on "is this a project?", "how many steps are there?", "what are ALL the steps involved in getting to completion?"

    In addition, filing is confusing, because I have Electronic filing (email into "Project folders", files onto a server, files on my own computer) in addition to paper filing in my own office. There are some issues with using the same filing "concepts" electronically and physically.
    For example, one project involves providing my department with access to 2 shared color printers. In my paper filing system, I have info on the printers themselves, by name, "HP Color Laserjet 5", "HP Deskjet", but in Outlook (electronically) I called the project "Color printers", and managed and filed it that way. Is this a variation that's acceptable, or not?

    Any tips to help me get a better grip on these issues?

  • #2
    Re: projects, sub-projects, multi-step stuff, and filing, to

    Originally posted by barb.g
    BUT...
    -still struggling with describing a Next Action, as opposed to noting something in a broad and vague way, and deciding how to categorize it.
    for example, @office vs. @errand. Anytime something must be done outside of my cubicle, I consider it @errand. But in a broader sense, those things are done while I'm "at the office", so I'm never really clear on how to classify, making me do lots of second guessing.
    Use whatever contexts make sense to you. For me, "errands" take place at outside locations, not places where I normally go daily. So picking up dry cleaning is an errand, but walking down the hall to talk to a coworker is not. It might make sense to have an @cubicle context for things that take place in your cubicle, and an @office context for the other stuff. Or, if there's a particular in-office location that you need to visit often, it might get it's own context: @copier, @mailroom, @cafeteria, whatever.

    The idea of contexts is to group tasks that require similar resources together. It's more efficient to make all your phone calls at once, or you might be stuck in a waiting room with no access to any of your tools except a phone. It's more efficient to carry everything to the mailroom at once instead of making three trips. If your contexts aren't helping you, change them.

    Originally posted by barb.g
    -I find that there are very few things I manage or do that are exactly ONE step next actions and the task is done. Instead, it would seem the majority of my work is a lot of little multi-step projects.
    But, it seems like overkill to create a Project category and/or folder for work that doesn't seem like a "Project with a Capital P". I'm resisting the terminology maybe?
    IMO, one of the most important aspects of GTD is the recognition that most tasks *are* little multi-step projects. The whole point of the system is do convert vague undoable stuff into tangible actions.

    If it makes you feel better, you might group your mini-projects into categories (Household, computer maintenance, whatever), or drop them into a special Bits and Pieces project folder. As long as (a) you don't lose them and (b) only immediately doable tasks appear on your Next Action lists, you're fine.

    Originally posted by barb.g
    -the really BIG projects have sub-projects of multi-steps. With these, I feel like I'm drowning in layers and layers and layers of categories....

    So, I begin to feel like instead of actually getting things done, I'm forever analyzing and deciding and focusing on "is this a project?", "how many steps are there?", "what are ALL the steps involved in getting to completion?"
    You don't need to know all the steps in order to get started. You just need to know the Next Action. For me, at least, GTD uses a "just-in-time" planning methodology. Even if you know that at some point you're going to have to sit down and outline a complete product launch plan, your Next Action is probably something like "Call Bob. What is the marketing budget for the XYZ launch?" So put Bob on your @phone list now and worry about the rest at your next weekly (or daily) review. If there are things that will need to be in the product launch plan, write them down so you don't forget them, but don't overplan prematurely. After all, until you get the budget from Bob, you won't know whether to book the Ritz or Motel 6 for the launch party, whether to order pizza or caviar, etc.

    I don't use the Outlook addin, so I can't help with the details of your category problem. In my system (ResultManager for MindManager), I've found that it's often helpful to move the current subproject for a big project up in the hierarchy. Which sounds really confusing as I read it over....

    When I launch a megaproject ("launch XYZ" for instance), it gets its own entry in the project list, along with probably a few notes so I'll remember what the key subprojects are. However, whatever subproject I'm currently working on ("plan launch party," for instance) also gets its own entry at the same level of the project list, with a link tying it back to the megaproject. This keeps the very Next Action on the subproject ("request catering quote from the Ritz") from getting buried among tasks that I've already completed or don't have to worry about yet. Yes, this means that my project categories aren't hierarchical, but for my purposes I don't actually care.

    Originally posted by barb.g
    In addition, filing is confusing, because I have Electronic filing (email into "Project folders", files onto a server, files on my own computer) in addition to paper filing in my own office. There are some issues with using the same filing "concepts" electronically and physically.
    For example, one project involves providing my department with access to 2 shared color printers. In my paper filing system, I have info on the printers themselves, by name, "HP Color Laserjet 5", "HP Deskjet", but in Outlook (electronically) I called the project "Color printers", and managed and filed it that way. Is this a variation that's acceptable, or not?
    I think GTD is pretty agnostic about filing methods for information (as opposed to actions). Project-related materials all go together, by project. Reference materials go somewhere that you can find them easily. Otherwise, don't worry about it.

    Hope this helps!

    Katherine

    Comment


    • #3
      IMHO you use the biggest buckets possible and put everything in them. @work might be better than @cubicle, which seems like overkill. Why not @keyboard, @penholder, @phone... I'm exaggerating, of course.

      If you're at your desk and can read an item and decide to do it, then put it on the same list. That's the important thing "Can I act on this item as soon as I read it?" I think this is the #1 problem people have with understanding GTD. David puts so much emphasis on having contextual Next Actions that most people don't realize they don't have that many contexts. David might have a @phone context because there are times when he's at the airport and only has his blackberry and phone, very few of the rest of us have that context.

      Filing is something you do and forget about. The important thing is you know how to lay your hands on it when you need it. Personally, I use a program called Treepad ( http://www.treepad.com/ ), there's another excellent program called Tranglos Keynote if you need use formatted text and add pictures ( http://www.tranglos.com/free/keynote.html ). All my digital data goes into this, except for links which go in a personal Wiki. Any files that don't fit into these buckets, go into pre-defined folders.

      Again, the important thing is you can retrieve information from this system with a minimum of fuss. Just create a scheme for storing the data, and if it's digital, preferrably one you can search, and start putting things there.

      Comment


      • #4
        Contexts, fine-grained or coarse

        I have found flexible thinking about contexts to be really useful. For the past few months, I have had a succession of knee and foot problems, culminating in a broken foot-bone, which has put me on crutches, unable to drive my standard-shift car. @errands needs to be carefully planned for when I can use my wife's care or get someone else to do them. @home projects (honey-do) can be postponed or delegated.

        It pays for me to avoid going up and down the stairs too much. Therefore, @home2ndfloor and @home1stfloor. Also, some items have gone from @errands to @online.

        Some calls are too distracting to do while driving (even with hands-free phones) @phone-nodrive vs. @phone. Some phone calls are likely to upset those in the vicinity or risk disclosing private things to others: @phone-anywhere vs @phone-private.

        There really can be a lot of considerations that lead to non-standard configurations of contexts.

        Comment

        Working...
        X