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  • Project List or Project Pages?

    I get so bound up in the tools sometimes that I have to work to break free.

    GTD talks a lot about keeping a Projects list, and I have one in Outlook and on my Palm. I love my gadgets, but I'm a real paper freak, too, and sometimes I need that tactile medium to really engage with something (software often makes me feel like I'm looking at my data through a keyhole).
    So I started thinking that maybe my project list doesn't belong in the software, but on a piece of paper, or pieces of paper. So that's my question:

    How many of you use a project list versus project pages?

    I'm tempted to transfer my project list to project forms on big notecards with the DIY Planner templates. Then when it's time to review projects I can just flip through the cards, note next actions as they come to me, and transfer next actions to my active lists as appropriate. The project card can carry the intended result, purpose, etc. It seems like with just the list I keep having to reestablish the intended result, next actions, etc.

    I just thought I'd ask before I start transferring everything and then realize it was a bad plan. :P

  • #2
    I would suggest for small to medium project list using paper. This way if can control items and transfer by hand the updates and revisions. I would say though for a person with large task and lots of projects to do them with a computer based system. This way items can be moved and changed faster either through copy & paste functions or search and replace.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Vramin
      I get so bound up in the tools sometimes that I have to work to break free.

      GTD talks a lot about keeping a Projects list, and I have one in Outlook and on my Palm. I love my gadgets, but I'm a real paper freak, too, and sometimes I need that tactile medium to really engage with something (software often makes me feel like I'm looking at my data through a keyhole).
      So I started thinking that maybe my project list doesn't belong in the software, but on a piece of paper, or pieces of paper. So that's my question:

      I'm tempted to transfer my project list to project forms on big notecards with the DIY Planner templates. Then when it's time to review projects I can just flip through the cards, note next actions as they come to me, and transfer next actions to my active lists as appropriate. The project card can carry the intended result, purpose, etc. It seems like with just the list I keep having to reestablish the intended result, next actions, etc.

      I just thought I'd ask before I start transferring everything and then realize it was a bad plan. :P
      I don't think your plan is necessarily a bad one, but you have to be ruthlessly honest with yourself about how you work best. The project list needs to be useful as a trigger list, a place where you can run through the list fairly quickly, and throw stuff on (or off) as necessary. Will your paper be available to you when you need it?

      There is another aspect: many people want to force their projects into a set of fairly uniform project plans, which can be stored as a set of sheets of paper, or as notes behind palm tasks. This doesn't work for me, but I have to continually remind myself of this. As a college professor, I have research, teaching, and administrative projects, and they have different characters. A large introductory course is guided by the syllabus I prepare before the course begins, and managing TA & RA slots for the hundred graduate students in our department is done with a spreadsheet. Research is cycles of expansion and contraction of focus, with lots of paper and computer files. Then there is home and family, with very different needs. The master document for my daughter's wedding (last weekend) ended up at eight pages, including schedules and vendor information. Some of the issues never got "checked off," but my daughter and son-in-law are married, so the desired outcome was realized .

      For me, a key question is "what kind of projects do I have, and how are the different kinds of projects best managed."

      Comment


      • #4
        Yeah, I'm thinking about the cards as replacing the list as the trigger tool. I find that the project list in the palm becomes a bit overwhelming since it looks like a task list, and I can see so little of it at a time. I'm generally in a place where I can review my projects list on paper (it's mainly needed during the weekly review anyway, as far as I can tell, and my context lists are brimming, so I don't need to return to it much more often than that), and if each of the cards shows me that I've at least considered the next actions then I can mentally shelve it or pull out an action to make current. For more than that, of course, I would have support material in other folders or on the PC. I'm just looking at ways to handle the list that would work for me, not ways to handle the projects.

        Comment


        • #5
          Paper user here!

          Originally posted by Vramin
          I'm just looking at ways to handle the list that would work for me, not ways to handle the projects.
          I use D*I*Y Planner templates for my paper planner, including my project lists. It works fine for me, but I think it's important to make sure it fits into the rest of your workflow and organizational methods. I collect fountain pens, so I want to keep my system on paper. Where do you keep the rest of your system?

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          • #6
            Palm and Outlook

            I keep all of my next actions in Outlook tasks synced with the Palm (running Agendus). Everything seems to be working pretty well (aside from my penchant for posting on internet forums when I should be getting other things done), I'm just not sure if a project "list" is the right thing for me. Since there's no real connection between the actions and the projects short of a mental one (they're not linked in the software, etc.), it seems like any device that lets you collect the project outcomes and then periodically review them to see what new actions they trigger would work. I don't know if I'm just looking for a stronger distinction between projects and actions as "tasks" in a PDA application or what. I really think that if I could pull out my deck of projects during my weekly review that I would find it easier to review them and look for next actions, or go to the related project support materials - the project list is a trigger, so I'm thinking the format matters less than that it be able to collect all of your mult-action projects until they are completed or eliminated.

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            • #7
              Post-It notes!

              I've been playing with a 2D layout using Post-It notes, and it works great for me. I too like paper, and this is more tenable than a straight list (which is still what it is when it boils down). However, one great thing about Allen's ideas are that they are "system agnostic" (as he puts it).

              More here, FYI: On using Post-It notes for GTD projects, instead of lists.

              Comment


              • #8
                Just did my review last Friday...

                And so far the list in my Palm/Outlook seems to be working about right, so I may or may not change it. I have often used Post-It notes to break out projects into more managable chunks (learned the technique in a project management class some years back... try sticking them on a whiteboard or a window and drawing lines between them to identify dependencies), so using a folder as described in that article is intriguing.

                I'm discovering that I do occasionally browse my projects list when I'm not near my paper support materials, in between weekly reviews, so I may be better off leaving things alone for now, but the idea of a project folder that does nothing but hold Post-Its has some value.

                I have an old Scan-Plan notebook that might be good for this sort of thing, too... holds 3x5 cards... I keep trying to find a new use for it... could this be it?

                For the moment, I think I'll live with the list in software for another week.

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                • #9
                  I have a list in Outlook (Synced to Palm) but then I have two folders in my action drawer at my desk, one has a simple list,(printed from outlook) where I can see all my projects, then if a project merits it's own folder, I have that as well, with the current status, mind map etc in there so I can tell exactly where I am, where I've been, and where I plan to be.

                  Works for me so far...

                  Mike

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                  • #10
                    Projects / NA

                    I am using the GTD Outlook plugin. When you create a task or appointment you can assign it to a project. It would be nice if there was a projects view that showed all of the NA you had scheduled for this project. The views currently are grouped by type of entry. You can see all of the appointment items for that project or all of the task items for that project but you can't look at the projects and see task and appointments listed together. I hope this makes sense.

                    Does anybody know how to do this? Does anybody think this is a bad idea because it over complicates GTD?

                    I am New to GTD so please be gently with your help.

                    Charles

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