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  • Linking projects to action lists

    Hi all,

    I've just read the book and am trying to apply it to my life. I've used a Palm for a long time to keep semi-organised, and I want to carry on using it. One thing I don't understand with the free article on the website about using a Palm is how I would link the items in the "project" category with the various things that need doing in the action lists that start with the "@" sign.

    For example, in my project list I might have "move house". That might trigger various actions. In the "@agenda" category, the "spouse" item might have a point in its note saying "decide how many bedrooms we need". The "@call" category might have an item "register with realtor". The "@computer - web" category might have an item "check prices for 3 & 4 bedroom houses". How do I reliably track progress on the "move house" project when lots of these actions could be scattered around the action list categories? Is something like Natara Bonsai any good, or will it over-complicate everything?

    Thanks,

    Wrigglesworth

  • #2
    Weekly Review is The Answer!

    Originally posted by Wrigglesworth View Post
    How do I reliably track progress on the "move house" project when lots of these actions could be scattered around the action list categories? Is something like Natara Bonsai any good, or will it over-complicate everything?
    You can use Project-Next Action linking software if it is not too much overhead for you but nothing replaces the Weekly Review done weekly.

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    • #3
      Agree with Weekly Review!

      One of the valuable tips I use on my Weekly Reviews is to review my lists of next actions (NAs) before I review my projects lists. By the time I get to the projects I've already made a mental link to the NAs.

      But you can also use tools to make these links. I use Outlook 2003 with the GTD Add-In as my primary GTD list tool. There I get direct links within the software.

      I have a segment of my GTD lists at work where I use Outlook 2002 without the Add-In and configured ala the DA White Paper. Here I spend a little extra time with the wording of things on my list so I can easily search (link) later on.

      This would work with the Palm too.

      Example:
      Project = XYZ is delivered and installed
      NAs = Browse the web for XYZ pricing; Speak with Jennifer re: experience with XYZ
      Search = "XYZ" will result in an indirect but visual link between the projects and NAs

      I think it's a tough balancing act to get these technology tools working for you but not get so caught up in the software that you miss the simplicity of the overall GTD process and its methods.

      Good luck!
      Mark

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      • #4
        3rd-ing the Weekly Review

        I spent a lot of time and energy early-on trying to tie NA's to projects. Once I started doing proper weekly reviews, my need for this diminished.

        That said, a project like "Move House" might have several subprojects. In this case, something like a mind map can help keep all the moving parts together so you don't forget something important during your weekly review. My tool of choice for this is Freemind (http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki....php/Main_Page) -- it's free and it should run on just about any platform that supports Java.

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        • #5
          Supposedly the #1 question asked of the GTD system. Also supposedly never gets asked by people doing a regular weekly review, according to a DA interview!

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          • #6
            Originally posted by richard.watson View Post
            Supposedly the #1 question asked of the GTD system. Also supposedly never gets asked by people doing a regular weekly review, according to a DA interview!
            I've always feel annoyed when I hear DA say this. I think people who are imaginative always ask questions and this question is bound to come up. I was certainly doing regular weekly reviews when I first asked this question. Now, I actually agree that a "link ONLY in the head" is the best option, simply because it means maintaining the link is the easiest and most flexible way possible, but that conclusion could only be arrived at by trying out the different options. But answering a question by saying "well, you are only asking this question because"... was just never a good answer.

            Credit where credit is due though. Compared to the excellence of GTD and what he's given us, its a small gripe.

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            • #7
              Thanks to all for the advice.

              I'm planning on downloading Bonsai to play around a little, but I understand the weekly review point. I think lack of a weekly review is probably one of the reasons why my own existing system doesn't work so well.

              What I find slightly counter-intuitive is that my understanding of the core GTD "mission statement" was: "get everything down in a reliable system so that your mind is unburdened and can focus on being creative and productive". But what David recommends on projects and action lists seems to place the burden for tracking the action items back on the mind rather than the "system". Anyway, I'm prepared to try the leap of faith to see how it works.

              Cheers!

              Wrigglesworth

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Wrigglesworth View Post
                What I find slightly counter-intuitive is that my understanding of the core GTD "mission statement" was: "get everything down in a reliable system so that your mind is unburdened and can focus on being creative and productive". But what David recommends on projects and action lists seems to place the burden for tracking the action items back on the mind rather than the "system".
                Heh. I had this exact same revelation at some point too... although, I think it took a little longer to occur to me than it has for you.

                I was happily plodding along, throwing stuff into my system and forgetting about it. I won't go into the details here, but suffice to say, Boy did this get me in trouble!

                At some point (shortly after I dug myself out of the hole I had put myself in), I came to the conclusion that "my system" was really there as more of a backup than anything. Now I try to keep as much stuff in my brain as I can, but the difference between now and "before GTD" is that I don't stress about it -- I know that if I forget something, it's OK because I've written it down.

                Likewise, if I remember something that I need to do while, for example, I'm in the shower... no stress, because I know it is already in my system and I can tell my brain to chill out.

                The other thing that helps (which I didn't have before GTD) is that everything is written down, and I look at my lists *a lot*. That constant review keeps the important things top of mind, and since I've got the lists mostly memorized I know immediately when I think of something whether I've already captured it.

                This is beginning to veer off the original topic, so I apologize for the rambling, but I thought someone might find my anecdotal experience useful.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Wrigglesworth View Post
                  But what David recommends on projects and action lists seems to place the burden for tracking the action items back on the mind rather than the "system".
                  For me, the reason why this recommendation made sense was that the capture and processing steps need to be as fluid and low-effort as possible, or else I find myself making excuses to avoid doing them. If software existed that could maintain that link for you automatically, it might be a different thing. But, for me, having to scroll through a tree of projects in an outliner to find the right one under which to create my NA was just too much effort.

                  That's not to say, though, that I don't capture that information in my system. I simply do it in an implicit way, rather than through explicit hyperlinks. That is, I write on my NA list "Research sources for sleep article", rather than writing "Research sources" and coming up with a method to link that NA back to the project. This way, my mind intuitively picks up the link when I look at my lists.

                  Granted, I'm presently using a 3x5 HipsterPDA (paper-based) system, but I did the same thing when my GTD system was electronic.

                  -- Tammy

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                  • #10
                    I feel the same way as you Tom, a bit annoyed, bec I'm doing weekly review and sometimes you just miss things, luckily I've migrated to the Blackberry platform and they have an application called Next-Action and it handles projects very nicely.

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