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How to... Projects

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  • How to... Projects

    I have been making some thinking in my GTD, thanks to some Buddies.

    Yesterday, I found that maybe I do not know how to define my projects, usually at the end of the day when I collect I tend to process and create then my lists, but I discover yesterday that maybe it is not the best way.

    Then thinking about it at home at night I got the question on how people define their projects and next actions, do you wait and have kind of an incubation place until WR or do you define the basics on the go and review on WR...

    How do you guys define a project. Can you provide examples...

  • #2
    It depends on the project. Some need to incubate, some don't.



    • #3

      Usually the project just begins as a single sentence on a scrap of paper. For example, "Buy new palm." This goes into my inbox and when I get to process it, I do two things, one I decide that this will take more than one next action and needs to be a project. I then create a project file. I then decide what the next action is, "Search cnet for reviews of current palms." I often leave it at that, when I do the next action, I then think about the next NA and put it on my list and keep track of what I learn in the project file. If I think of other NAs, I open up the file for this project and put it in there.

      If you keep doing next actions, the project planning usually happens naturally.


      • #4
        Originally posted by gnugrep
        If you keep doing next actions, the project planning usually happens naturally.
        Usually this is that I do, I keep doing next actions and many times the project is planning naturally and done without trouble, but there are some that go to my list in a way that I think is only one action when in reality is a little project.

        For example, I have a friend getting married, and me and my wife need to send a present.

        When I got the invitation in the mail, I check my calendar and noticed was in our Aniversary week, therefore I proccedd to send the RSVP in less than 2 minutes saying that we will be unable to assist; also I add an item in my list (no project) Buy present for Friend.

        This 'buy present for friend' is been on my list for a little longer than I want to admit; but I did not knew why. Yesterday I noticed that the action was not really the next action and more a little project, because I need to ask my wife how much and what she thinks is appropiate, buy it, make sure they receive it... so this project was not naturally planned.

        How you deal with those cases, those little actions that looks like actions and they are really little subprojects?



        • #5
          Can be tricky

          Yes, that can be tricky. I had a similar problem today. I had one thing that was sitting on my NA list for a week. I always avoided it until I realized that it was really a project in disguise. I then created the project and broke out the first next action, which was actually a simple 10 minute thing that allowed me to get moving on what was really a "stuck" project where nothing was happening.

          I think this is one of the keys of the NA idea. They have to be small enough that you'll actually do it. If it becomes "stuff" it will clog up your list and not get done and become a weight on your shoulders. I think one of the clues is that it has been sitting on your NA list for too long. Then you have to really examine it and figure out why, usually it is a mini-project in hiding.

          One thing about these mini-projects is that you might not want to create a whole new file to keep track of the 4 small steps needed to complete it. In that case you can put the real NA on your list and put a little comment next to it that it is really the foo project. When you finish the NA you replace it with the next NA to keep it moving forward. David Allen talks about this here:

          There is also a good article on projects on this website: