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  • Still can't get organizing right

    I must be missing something. I'm okay with all of the steps but organizing. Leaving aside projects that are so simple that they don't need organizing, at least 30-50% of my projects seem sizable enough that they need organizing. I've got no trouble whacking out the outcome/vision thing, but:

    1. I never get to the brainstorming/organize part - I've cut it out of the weekly review; It's not clear from the david materials when you do the brainstorm/organize.
    2. It takes forever to do it (I can spend up to 1/2 hour or an hour, coming through materials, etc., fiddling with the outline).
    3. I end up with something very "fragile" - constantly needs revisiting.

  • #2
    Originally posted by furashgf
    1. I never get to the brainstorming/organize part - I've cut it out of the weekly review; It's not clear from the david materials when you do the brainstorm/organize.
    2. It takes forever to do it (I can spend up to 1/2 hour or an hour, coming through materials, etc., fiddling with the outline).
    3. I end up with something very "fragile" - constantly needs revisiting.
    Brainstorming each project is NOT part of the weekly review. You should do it on as needed basis. If your "project plans" seem to constantly need revision, try just doing next actions: do one, do whatever else you want to do on that project, and then write down the next action for when you work on the project again.

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    • #3
      mcogilvie's correct; you don't organize during the weekly review; you do it as soon as a project comes up.

      Also, in GTD, organizing does not mean brainstorming. In fact, in GTD there is very little brainstorming.

      The purpose of the Organizing step is to accomplish the following:

      1. Figure out if the project needs to be done now or later.
      2. Putting the project in your Projects or Someday/Maybe lists.
      3. If it's a current project, determining the Next Action.
      4. Storing or trashing appropriate materials (putting an article you want to read in a tickler file, storing a brochure in a long-term file, etc.).

      This shouldn't take an hour. Obviously, if you want to take time brainstorming about the project, you can, but you don't need to. All you need to worry about are the four things above.

      (Unless I've missed something.)

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      • #4
        Originally posted by CosmoGTD
        To me its an error to say there is never a time for Brainstorming.
        If you're referring to my response, Cosmo, I never wrote that there's never a time for brainstorming.

        Why not give us a SPECIFIC example of a project you are having trouble with?
        Yes, please!

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        • #5
          More information

          Thanks for all the good comments. I'll try to be a bit more specific.

          I currently have 60 projects (probably really more like 80/100 but leave that aside for the moment). I don't have any trouble keeping each one moving - e.g., figuring out a next action on the fly during the weekly review or as I finish them. Some of them clearly don't need much brainstorming & organizing, like "Hang Pictures at Home": it's sort of obvious what to do. Others are much larger BUT I don't have a large, fancy outline or mind map from each.

          The reason this concerns me is that his book spends a fair bit of time talking about the importance of natural planning, and talks about pulling NA from your organized plan rather than making them up. So, I think I'm doing this wrong.

          I used to do my brainstorming & organizing during the weekly review, but killed this because it caused me never to finish a review. I then tried to do it as I created the project, but often I'm creating the project as I process, and process NAs are < 2 minutes, and brainstorming and organizing takes a while.

          When I do get around to it, it can take up to 1/2 hour or more to finish my branstorming activity following the natural planning model, then I have something that's sort of "fragile" - i.e., I need to maintain the thing to make it look like the issues the project is handling today.

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          • #6
            If your projects are moving forward and you're happy with the results, don't worry about it.

            Though DA spends a lot of time talking about the natural planning method, he also notes that most projects for most people don't need this level of detail. (He then muddies the waters by using the trivial example of planning an evening out to illustrate the method. Oh well.)

            For projects that require more detailed planning, the best approach for me seems to be to create a planning-oriented NA. What that NA is depends on the project. It could be "@Call: Ask Mom when she wants to visit" or "@Anywhere: Outline research plan for (subject)." As with any other NA, the planning step is simply the next action needed to move the project forward. And then once I've done the planning, I'll end up with other actions, other subprojects, and possibly even other planning tasks, all of which can go into my system as normal.

            Katherine

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            • #7
              Ferklempt to Butter

              Originally posted by furashgf
              I've got no trouble whacking out the outcome/vision thing, but:
              1. I never get to the brainstorming/organize part - . . .
              2. It takes forever to do it (I can spend up to 1/2 hour or an hour, coming through materials, etc., fiddling with the outline).
              3. I end up with something very "fragile" - constantly needs revisiting.
              Others have given you better responses than I can, but I'll throw out my impression from your complaint: I wonder whether you have adequately defined and clarified the project's outcome and purpose (see CosmoGTD post for more). I find that my projects that stall out are usually imbued with a squishy or fuzzy quality. Invariably, when I ramp up the focus and demand from myself a succinct explanation of why I'm doing the thing and what I want from having done it, I find conflicts. On the surface, it may seem eminently worthy, so I have to explore the causes for my reticence. Sometimes it turns out that the justification for the project is there and its outcome well defined, but I really don't want to do it. I may want it done, but I may not want to be the person who does it. Sometimes I discover that I believe that doing the project will ultimately lead to negative consequences of some sort, and I haven't adequately explored or come to terms with those risks. Sometimes I find that, while I am personally assured of the project's merit, underneath it all I am not confident that it has the support and backing of others who will be involved in it. I'm often loathe to confront that reality and see what the others feel because I'm so sold on the project myself. Ego, ack! Sometimes I realize I haven't properly scoped out the costs of the project, in time and funds and other resources, and am hesitating because instinct tells me that ultimately, it's not going to be feasible. There are plenty of other dynamics that can stymie a project, but those are the biggies in my world.

              I believe that if you are on track and other things are working well, stalling or hesitation in moving a project forward is an indicator that work needs to be done on the justification for the project itself. I've found that when I finally get down to brass tacks and pinpoint the problem and resolve it, the ambiguities and conflicts evaporate and it's clear sailing. Until the next block.

              Which brings me to another point. Complex projects that involve major resources and require work over a long period of time are the most subject to changes in direction and circumstance, and their logical underpinnings may need review and reevaluation throughout the execution of the project. Momentum is wonderful when you need it, but it can be a monster when you'd be best served by abandoning or redirecting an ongoing effort.

              Lastly, 30 minutes doesn't seem excessive for this kind of work. Half an hour spent focusing on the real issues can save you goodwill and funds, not to mention days, weeks, or more in time and labor. The positive effect of true clarity of purpose can generate enormous energy to accomplish the work itself. Or, as I think of it, out of ferklempt comes butter.

              Arduinna

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