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  • Projects that require sophisticated management

    Hey Guys,

    So I like what I've read in GTD and am trying to implement some of this stuff.

    I've customized Outlook according to the whitepaper and am doing pretty well with maintaining 'little' things there.

    My problem is with managing my "real" projects for work. I run a web consulting business and currently use Basecamp (www.basecamphq.com) to manage client projects. Projects range from building web applications to e-commerce integration or search engine optimization.

    I'm having trouble using the GTD methodology for these and incorperating actions into my main lists in Outlook.

    Let's say for instance that I want to update "Next Actions" for all my projects-- I'd have to login to Basecamp, choose the project, look at my To-Do list there, create a "Next Action" and put it into Outlook... do this for each project. Then, when I complete a "next action" I'd have to go back to the project and figure out the *next* one to put into Outlook. Is that correct? This is very cumbersome.

    I thought of just keeping these "work projects" seperate from Outlook but feel like having "To-Do's" in 2 seperate places (Outlook & Basecamp) is counterproductive. Besides, work projects are more urgent than most personal ones so I'd probably just put Outlook tasks on the back-burner.

    I'm really looking to handle work projects more efficiently here.

    Any advice? How do you guys deal with it?

  • #2
    firehous: I see two possibilities. One is to have a parallel GTD basecamp implementation, with the attendant transfer requirements. A second approach is to list the NA for each projects as "do the next task from basecamp." Hand-in-hand with this might be to block out time (AKA a "time map") for project work, in which you just work through each basecamp task one after another for however long your block is (90 minutes minimum for programming, I'd suggest).

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    • #3
      Originally posted by cornell View Post
      One is to have a parallel GTD basecamp implementation, with the attendant transfer requirements.
      What exactly do you mean by this "attendant transfer requirements"?

      Originally posted by cornell View Post
      A second approach is to list the NA for each projects as "do the next task from basecamp." Hand-in-hand with this might be to block out time (AKA a "time map") for project work, in which you just work through each basecamp task one after another for however long your block is (90 minutes minimum for programming, I'd suggest).
      So far I've been treating them (Basecamp + Outlook) as separate entities, but it's provden difficult. Having stuff in 2 places means one (work - the most urgent) gets checked more than the other. It's also a hassle having to constantly update a web-based application like that.

      I guess I wish there was a more seamless way to do this.

      -Costas

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      • #4
        > What exactly do you mean by this "attendant transfer requirements"?

        Sorry, I just meant the hassles of checking multiple places, or of pulling out action from one into the other, as you described.

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        • #5
          I manage projects that require separate project plans (I posted elsewhere here about planning software). For me, since I manage more than a dozen unrelated, moderately complex projects at once, the only practical way to "do GTD" and incorporate them is to keep the project plans in a separate program (I am now playing with the JCV Gantt Pro plug-in for MindManager). Then when I do my weekly review I check for resource conflicts and transfer my own NAs by hand to my task list. It works well for me--the process of transferring the NAs makes me think about what is practical and necessary, and frequently results in my catching resource conflicts and adjusting the schedules (and letting the right people know that things have to change).

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          • #6
            Just a quick question.

            Do you really need to store next actions / waiting for's in a larger project plan, or are these really outcomes / projects in a David Allen sense of the word which is more than one singular action?

            I was listening to the recent Tim ? (sorry forgot his second name) GTD interview where he was talking about having larger project plans in Excel and then taking actions from these and putting them into his GTD system. It got me thinking about creating a higher altitude view in Excel more based around outcomes and roles which I can use in Excel to e.g. plan a quarter out and then turn these into smaller distinct projects/next actions when I do a weekly review and actually check progress against the bigger picture.

            Paul

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            • #7
              I use iGTD for managing "stuff", and I have Trac for software development (Trac is a ticket tracking system that integrates with the Subversion version control system).

              The way I work is this: everything that pops into my head appears in iGTD first (my GTD "inbox"). When clearing out the inbox, my next actions list may end up containing stuff like "Add ticket for ...". Once that task is complete, the ticket is no longer a concern for iGTD.

              The tickets I create in Trac end up in the Trac equivalent of the "inbox". At some point in time, after reviewing my iGTD Inbox, I go through the Trac inbox and do the same prioritisation task.

              Then I block out time to work on programming for that one software project, and just work through tickets in Trac. My other "next actions" list (stored in iGTD) sits in the background, and I can happily ignore it because I know I'm going to come back to it in two hours.

              Don't maintain your programming "next actions" in your Outlook system.

              The only trick to the whole thing is knowing that you have to process the "inbox" in Outlook first, then the "inbox" in your project tracking system (in your case, Basecamp). Then block out time to focus on just the one programming project, and work through that project's "inbox" at the start of each session - this could be during your daily project team meeting for example.

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