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  • How many Projects/Mini-Projects is too many

    S. Covey recommends working on no more that 6-7 goals per week.
    Another Time Management author I've suggests focusing on no more than 4, max 5, major projects.

    However with GTD, I find my "major" projects get lost amongst my other GTD-defined projects (things requiring more than one step to accomplish).

    Now I'm not too Orthodox about this approach (I think Allen's too anal about placing all things requiring more than one step in the project category), however my weekly review is overwhelming while focusing on more than 9-10 projects (regardless if they're big or small).

    Any advice?

  • #2
    Weekly Review is not a brainstorming session for planning projects.

    Originally posted by legidan
    however my weekly review is overwhelming while focusing on more than 9-10 projects (regardless if they're big or small).
    Weekly Review is not a brainstorming session for planning projects. It is just for checking if something obvious is not missing or forgotten. I think it should not take more than 2 minutes per project.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by legidan
      S. Covey recommends working on no more that 6-7 goals per week.
      Another Time Management author I've suggests focusing on no more than 4, max 5, major projects.

      However with GTD, I find my "major" projects get lost amongst my other GTD-defined projects (things requiring more than one step to accomplish).

      Now I'm not too Orthodox about this approach (I think Allen's too anal about placing all things requiring more than one step in the project category), however my weekly review is overwhelming while focusing on more than 9-10 projects (regardless if they're big or small).

      Any advice?
      I think that a certain amount of common sense has to apply here. I don't know how long your reviews take but if you feel they're too long, then yeah, something probably has to be done. Although it isn't ideal, you should probably concentrate on the most immediate projects.

      Nevertheless, I would make sure that I at least looked at the whole project list and thought at least a little about each one, even if it doesn't mean a full blown, consider and plan every detail review.

      Tom S.

      Comment


      • #4
        Not to miss aby opprotunity you have to look through all of the projects in your Projects and Someday lists. Spend maximum 3-5 minutes per each. Just ask yourself if there anything that should be done with this Project next week. If yes, leave it on your Project list, no - move to Someday list. Brainstorming could be a Next Action that you put for your active Project.

        Regards,

        Eugene.

        Comment


        • #5
          Hmm.... I think there may be a problem with definitions here.

          A Covey-style goal could include several Allen-style projects. It really isn't possible to compare the two. Allen-style projects are much smaller and, in general, require very little brainstorming, goal-setting, and other project-type activities. That makes it possible to manage many more of them effectively. How much review time can something like "Buy new tires" possibly need?

          On the other hand, if your "major" projects are requiring huge amounts of review time every week, have you really broken them down into clearly defined outcomes and actions? Once a big project moves from planning to execution, there shouldn't be much reviewing needed other than making sure you are still on track.

          I also think that you may be confusing cause and effect. I see lots of posts here along the lines of "GTD doesn't work because my lists are too long." But is that a problem with GTD, or a problem with the number of commitments you've taken on? Changing something from a project to an NA doesn't make the work go away, after all. If your lists are too long, or your review is unmanageable, you might consider that a sign that you are trying to do too much.

          Katherine

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by legidan
            S. Covey recommends working on no more that 6-7 goals per week.
            Another Time Management author I've suggests focusing on no more than 4, max 5, major projects.

            However with GTD, I find my "major" projects get lost amongst my other GTD-defined projects (things requiring more than one step to accomplish).
            The problem with fixating on a subset of "important" projects is that the other ones then have a tendency to blow up on you. Plus, you know you are ignoring them, producing guilt and anxiety.

            Originally posted by legidan
            Now I'm not too Orthodox about this approach (I think Allen's too anal about placing all things requiring more than one step in the project category), however my weekly review is overwhelming while focusing on more than 9-10 projects (regardless if they're big or small).

            Any advice?
            What do you do with these "little" projects instead? If you habitually use a "pig-pog" style (basically changing and moving a single next action entry as things progress), and it's working for you, then fine. Otherwise, you *must* have a stake in the ground for them. Or are you overplanning small projects?

            As for the projects you do review and feel overwhelmed by, have you clarified the desired outcome? Have you tried setting the next action, and then moving on to review the next project? Perhaps planning has become another avoidance or procrastination mechanism?

            From my own experience, two great truths are:

            You have to do what you have to do.

            You have to be honest with yourself about what you have to do.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kewms
              How much review time can something like "Buy new tires" possibly need?
              And that's where I leave certain "projects" off the the projects list. I'd probably place "buy new tires" on my calendar and be done with it. Not Orthodox GTD, but breaking obvious tasks down is tiresome.

              On the other hand, if your "major" projects are requiring huge amounts of review time every week, have you really broken them down into clearly defined outcomes and actions?
              I know this step is necessary (I really, really do), but I find it difficult to implement. I work alone, and when I look at a project like, hmmmm, say
              "develop blog for "x" client" not only do I freeze visavis breaking it down, but I get stuck with coming up with an outcome that I believe and is realistic. Any advice for this step would be welcomed.

              Thanks for the tips/advice

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mcogilvie
                You have to be honest with yourself about what you have to do.
                When you work alone, and you manage yourself, this can be very difficult. Perhaps that's why many folks finish GTD only to being The Now Habit a few days later. It would appear, by the posts on this site...the books on procrastination, etc, that few of us are able to "...be honest" with what we need to do. I plead guilty.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Borisoff
                  Just ask yourself if there anything that should be done with this Project next week. If yes, leave it on your Project list, no - move to Someday list.
                  Actually that's sound advice. Many of my hobby/desire projects don't always have to appear on my projects list. They can remain in someday/maybe and I'll do them when I have time, and move them to Projects when time/space is open.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kewms
                    I see lots of posts here along the lines of "GTD doesn't work because my lists are too long." But is that a problem with GTD, or a problem with the number of commitments you've taken on?

                    Katherine
                    That's a great point... GTD in of itself doesn't create work, it just uncovers it. The work has been there all along; the GTD methodology just moves that work to the forefront of your consciousness, and removes it from your active consciousness by parking it on a list.

                    Jim

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by legidan
                      I know this step is necessary (I really, really do), but I find it difficult to implement. I work alone, and when I look at a project like, hmmmm, say
                      "develop blog for "x" client" not only do I freeze visavis breaking it down, but I get stuck with coming up with an outcome that I believe and is realistic. Any advice for this step would be welcomed.

                      Thanks for the tips/advice
                      I'd approach it like this:

                      Desired outcome: Blog created for X client
                      NA: What is the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do toward achieving this outcome?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jkgrossi
                        I'd approach it like this:

                        Desired outcome: Blog created for X client
                        NA: What is the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do toward achieving this outcome?
                        I understand this to a degree. But of course, my mind races...

                        1) I'll need to download software
                        2) Perhaps brush up on programming language
                        3) Watch blogging tutorials

                        etc
                        etc

                        Some of these NA's are really mini-projects in disguise. So in the end, one may have 4-5 mini-projects, and 7-9 NA's all from answering a simple: "What it the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do...."

                        No?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by legidan
                          I understand this to a degree. But of course, my mind races...

                          1) I'll need to download software
                          2) Perhaps brush up on programming language
                          3) Watch blogging tutorials

                          etc
                          etc

                          Some of these NA's are really mini-projects in disguise. So in the end, one may have 4-5 mini-projects, and 7-9 NA's all from answering a simple: "What it the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do...."

                          No?
                          Yep...

                          So given the above, I might do:

                          Project: Blog software downloaded
                          NA: What it the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do

                          Project: Brush up on programing language
                          NA: What it the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do

                          Project: Watch bloging tutorials
                          NA: What it the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do

                          Just keep breaking it down until your mind stops racing... the reason that your mind races is that you've got all of these things that haven't been clearly defined yet. I know that the above may seem tedious, but you may need to get this granular in order to feel like you have your inventory of open loops accounted for and appropriate reminders set...

                          Jim

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jkgrossi
                            Yep...

                            So given the above, I might do:

                            Project: Blog software downloaded
                            NA: What it the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do

                            Project: Brush up on programing language
                            NA: What it the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do

                            Project: Watch bloging tutorials
                            NA: What it the VERY NEXT physical thing that you must do

                            Just keep breaking it down until your mind stops racing... the reason that your mind races is that you've got all of these things that haven't been clearly defined yet. I know that the above may seem tedious, but you may need to get this granular in order to feel like you have your inventory of open loops accounted for and appropriate reminders set...

                            Jim
                            Jim, I'm finding this quite useful. So thanks.

                            A question...
                            But given that your Project list can grow...and grow...causing one to lose focus on the most important things when looking at "Project: Change Flat Tire" next to "Project: Learn Blogging software". I'm wondering, if using Outlook, one could have one project category for all the seemingly mundane projects, and the provide a separate category for each major project (with subsequent mini-projects underneathe).

                            By the way, would you break down Projects into NA's at your weekly review, or some other time? And if so, do you actually plan that into your calendar?

                            Again, thanks for the info.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by legidan
                              A question...
                              But given that your Project list can grow...and grow...causing one to lose focus on the most important things when looking at "Project: Change Flat Tire" next to "Project: Learn Blogging software". Again, thanks for the info.
                              Well, David Allen (and GTD for that matter) operates under the assumption that your whole life is important. Using the example "Change Flat Tire", that project became VERY important the moment the tire went flat. It may have been less important in the days leading up to the blowout, but I'll bet that at the moment the tire went flat it was the most important thing on the list!

                              I think that the more you work the system, the better tuned-in you become to intuitively prioritizing projects.

                              Originally posted by legidan
                              I'm wondering, if using Outlook, one could have one project category for all the seemingly mundane projects, and the provide a separate category for each major project (with subsequent mini-projects underneath).
                              You can certainly have that kind of hierarchy, and I think that in some instances that would be useful. I would, however, keep that hierarchy written out in your project file rather than as part of your lists. During your weekly review, you can compare your lists to your project file and measure them then.

                              I wouldn't muddy my lists with project plans. All that I want to see in my lists are my "stakes in the ground".

                              Originally posted by legidan
                              By the way, would you break down Projects into NA's at your weekly review, or some other time? And if so, do you actually plan that into your calendar?
                              Yes, I plan my weekly review in my calendar. When I complete my review, I look at all of my NA's and mark off the ones that have been completed. Next, I review each of my projects and make sure that there is a NA for each on my lists.

                              As actionable items pop up, I ask "what's the outcome?". If there are more than two steps involved, that outcome becomes my project. Then I ask myself what the very next action is and the context, and that's what goes on my list.

                              Hope this helps...

                              Jim

                              Comment

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