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projects, sub-projects & next actions

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  • projects, sub-projects & next actions

    Hi there!

    For starters:

    Besides getting things done,
    GTD is so much fun.

    Hooray, now comes the question:

    When you have a very big project and you decide to create several subprojects to make the work better manageable... Do you still create next actions for the main project? If you do the slicing in a clean way there should be no need for this because all the moving parts have become (sub)projects in theire own rights. But then you have some hyper-projects without next actions... How do you handle that? And a related question: do you have any structure in your projects list besides just listing all the projects?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    re: Project-Structures

    Yes. I still create next actions for the larger project in addition to its sub-projects. Some aspects of a project break down into sub-projects but not all of them, and hence you still need to make next actions for the larger project.

    I designed the Ready-Set-Do! program for the Mac and I had to come up with my own way of handling projects and sub-projects. What eventually started working for me was having sub-projects get listed at my main level of projects and just treating them all as things that need the same kind of care in terms of brainstorming, outcome visioning, and specifying of next actions. The way it works in RSD is by having "aliases" made where necessary to link next actions for a project or sub-projects with their larger projects.

    Each project has 7 folders:
    1-Project Support - for any reference material related to the project
    2-Primary Purpose - where the purpose of the project is specified
    3-Standards - where the standards are defined ("made sure…")
    4-Outcome Vision - where the successful outcome for the project is described
    5-Mission Critical - where actionable components go that need to be organized by priority
    6-Key Milestones - where actionable components go that need to be organized by sequence (first this must be done, then this, then this, etc.)
    7-Deliverables - where actionable components go that are left and get organized to the required degree.

    On the mac one can just simply look at the entire thing in "list view" and see most of it at-a-glance. I've attached a picture that shows something of what the final result looks like. The "moving parts" of a project are in folders 5 thru 7 and RSD just automatically makes "aliases" to each component that has a next action specified in the comments field. And these aliases are placed in one of three desktop folders based on the comments for the next action: Actionable, Read-Review, or Waiting For. It provides a great way of keeping the 'thinking' and 'doing' aspects of the GTD workflow in rhythm. And for sub-projects there is a little alias at the top of each one called "<-- To Main Project" that allows me to navigate up the hierarchy of projects to see how everything relates.

    This setup works very well for me, but because it relies heavily on how aliases work in Mac OS X I'm not sure how that same setup could work for, say, paper-based setups. But I'm sure someone could figure it out or modify it in a way that would work best for them.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Todd V; 07-01-2011, 10:54 PM.

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    • #3
      Folder Categories for Projects

      Thanks Todd - Excellent explanation. Quick questions:

      Saw your 7 project categories:

      1-Project Support
      2-Primary Purpose
      3-Standards
      4-Outcome Vision
      5-Mission Critical
      6-Key Milestones
      7-Deliverables

      How did you develop your folder categories?
      Do they differ for different projects?
      Could they differ for sub-projects of the same project?
      How have our categories changed over time?
      How do you see them changing in the future?
      Have you borrowed ideas from others?
      How can you be sure nothing is left out?

      Thanks in advance...

      Comment


      • #4
        re: Project Categories

        How did you develop your folder categories?
        I developed these project categories after re-reading David Allen's book for the third time and wondering why all of my projects were lagging. My original categories were

        Project Support
        Moving Parts
        Unmoving Parts
        Completed Parts

        How have our categories changed over time?
        Initially everything began in "Unmoving Parts" and when I wanted to 'send' them into my active system, I would drag them into the "Moving Parts" folder and define their next actions. When complete, I would drag them to "Completed Parts". I used text files to collect my brainstorming and outcome visioning on the projects. But my projects really lagged and were not moving much. So when I re-visited the GTD book I noticed on pages 57-59 that there were these categories David Allen mentions of "Mission Critical", "Key Milestones", and "Deliverables". It took me a long time to figure out what they each meant -- but the key is that they have to do with how components of a project must be organized. Mission-Critical by priority, Key Milestones by sequence, Deliverables to required degree.

        Once I made that change, I saw a huge jump in how much more my projects began to move forward. As David Allen says, it helps to have very "clean edges"; and the same applies to projects. When there are items that must be organized by sequence mixed up with items that must be organized by priority, it clogs the system. The mind can't work as well when things aren't clearly defined and organized.

        Do they differ for different projects?
        The seven categories are the same for every project.

        How do you see them changing in the future?
        So far I don't see these categories changing much in the future. They are working really well for me right now.

        How can you be sure nothing is left out?
        I can never be sure nothing is getting left out - that's why I keep returning to the GTD books. But so far I think this is pretty close to the way the books describe getting clear on projects.

        Could they differ for sub-projects of the same project?
        Sub-projects get treated the same as Projects -- same categories. And often I use "tags" to keep all of the projects and sub-projects that are related to each other together. So all of my projects having to do with well-being get a [WELL-BEING] tag that makes them all get grouped together in my Projects folder.

        Hope that helps.

        Comment


        • #5
          tags and RSD

          Todd V

          Sub-projects get treated the same as Projects -- same categories. And often I use "tags" to keep all of the projects and sub-projects that are related to each other together. So all of my projects having to do with well-being get a [WELL-BEING] tag that makes them all get grouped together in my Projects folder.
          I'm test driving RSD and this is something I find I really want to be able to do. How do you attach these tags and use them?
          Thanks,
          Shanana

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          • #6
            This sounds like it would translate nicely to Word in outline view on a PC?

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            • #7
              wow, some of these systems look very black belt. I am NOT this organized when it comes to breaking them down. I have long lists of NAs and my sub projects aren't even connected to the original project in my system. I am going to have to work on this.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 12hourhalfday View Post
                wow, some of these systems look very black belt. I am NOT this organized when it comes to breaking them down. I have long lists of NAs and my sub projects aren't even connected to the original project in my system. I am going to have to work on this.
                Why? If your system is working for you, why change it?

                I've found that a simpler structure works best for me. Otherwise I spend too much time worrying about where things fit, and too little time actually doing them.

                Much depends on the nature of your projects, too. "Design and build Brooklyn Bridge" is likely to require much more structure than "Write 500 word article about Brooklyn Bridge."

                Katherine

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                • #9
                  re: Test Driving &amp; Tags

                  Originally posted by Shanana View Post
                  I'm test driving RSD and this is something I find I really want to be able to do. How do you attach these tags and use them?
                  All projects in your projects folder get the automatic prefix "Project-". To add a tag to one of them, just add a word or two in brackets after that prefix. An example would be:

                  Project-[WELL-BEING] I am regularly doing things to lower my stress

                  Once that tag is added it gets attached to all next actions associated with that project.

                  Hope that helps.

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