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  • Active Projects apparently with no NA? (Or a vague one?)

    Hi all,

    I'd like to shape my system for this. May I ask for your advice here?

    For a while, I have considered active projects only as those I would work on (with defined NAs) in the following week (weekly review). However, I think it's better for me to extend it as something I need to get done, and thus are constantly in my mind (I want to unload them). They are not "someday/maybe", as they must get done before a due day; they are not "ticklers" as I can and I should start working on them from now, as soon as I can or have the information to.
    Now I put them as active, I don't yet have a specific NA for them. They may be something due 3 months later; I should start thinking about it; but I cannot do so as there are preliminary skills/knowledge/technique I need before making any productive progress.

    Now, can I leave this 'no decided-NA yet' project on my Active Project list as a bookmark to remind myself every week in the review?(so I can assess again if I am at a position to start doing something. Those learning/information seeking/research work are listed as separated projects). Or should I force myself to place a NA in the list (like 'assess the possibility of doing xxx', so I'm reminded nearly every time I do an operational review?).

    Personally I prefer the first approach. What do you think?

    Thanks a lot!
    Last edited by Campion; 09-03-2007, 04:17 PM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Campion View Post
    I don't yet have a specific NA for them. They may be something due 3 months later; I should start thinking about it; but I cannot do so as there are preliminary skills/knowledge/technique I need before making any productive progress.
    It sounds to me like "develop preliminary skill" (or some component of that) should be the next action.

    Comment


    • #3
      If a project has no NA, it is not active, by definition.

      In the case of a project that requires preliminary skills acquisition, the NA might be, "@online research course offerings on Topic," or "@email John asking how widget tracking system works."

      Treating the skills acquisition piece as a subproject is fine if you'd rather set it up that way. In that case, moving the subproject forward also advances the main project, so subproject NAs "count" as the NAs for the master project.

      Katherine

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      • #4
        Originally posted by kewms View Post
        If a project has no NA, it is not active, by definition.

        In the case of a project that requires preliminary skills acquisition, the NA might be, "@online research course offerings on Topic," or "@email John asking how widget tracking system works."

        Treating the skills acquisition piece as a subproject is fine if you'd rather set it up that way. In that case, moving the subproject forward also advances the main project, so subproject NAs "count" as the NAs for the master project.

        Katherine
        Thanks Katherine. I know about the definition so I ponder if it's something we have to stick onto, albeit with various workarounds/tricks.

        So you think subproject NAs "count" as NA for the main project, I'd think it's okay for the main project to have no explicit NA for itself (?)
        I don't want to force an explicit NA to it; it's giving me 1 extra item to track without significant gain. I don't want to lose it from Active Project list either, for I really need it as a bookmark so I can trust the system to be holding what I need (in the ActiveProject list in this case).

        More & more I think GTD is not decided to do project management (not even the smallest day-to-day project, as the many trunk-branch-subs complicate the system). I would like to think of it as a set of smart bookmarks that help me track my open loops.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by dschaffner View Post
          It sounds to me like "develop preliminary skill" (or some component of that) should be the next action.
          Ya, that is, but I'd consider it as a project instead. "develop preliminary skill" usually takes more than 1 physical step.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Campion View Post
            So you think subproject NAs "count" as NA for the main project, I'd think it's okay for the main project to have no explicit NA for itself (?)
            Yes, that's correct. The main project is stuck until the subproject is finished. Thus, the subproject NA is the "very next physical action" to move the main project forward.

            More & more I think GTD is not decided to do project management (not even the smallest day-to-day project, as the many trunk-branch-subs complicate the system). I would like to think of it as a set of smart bookmarks that help me track my open loops.
            Many people think of it that way. As I see it, GTD is really a task management system, not a project management (or time management) system. Different people are likely to supplement it with additional tools specific to their environment. (Bug tracking systems, trouble ticket systems, large scale project management, graphic arts job sheets, etc.)

            Katherine

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Campion View Post
              For a while, I have considered active projects only as those I would work on (with defined NAs) in the following week (weekly review). However, I think it's better for me to extend it as something I need to get done, and thus are constantly in my mind (I want to unload them). They are not "someday/maybe", as they must get done before a due day; they are not "ticklers" as I can and I should start working on them from now, as soon as I can or have the information to.
              My project list system might help: I have three project lists. "Projects" are the ones I'm actually working on this week. "Later projects" are ones I'm definitely going to do, but not yet (this might be the place for the ones you describe). "Someday/maybe" is just that. I've found it very helpful to distinguish the latter two. When all of the definite projects were on my current project list it was overwhelming, and it was confusing to mix dreaming/maybes with definite/laters.

              Hope that helps!

              Do Mi

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Campion View Post
                For a while, I have considered active projects only as those I would work on (with defined NAs) in the following week (weekly review). However, I think it's better for me to extend it as something I need to get done, and thus are constantly in my mind (I want to unload them).
                I'm right there with you. I have quite a few active projects which have a definite next action, but for which there is only a 1% chance that I will do anything about it this week. For me, most of these projects do not have a fixed due-date, but I have some vague notion that I'd like to finish them "soon".

                In those cases, I keep them as active projects. When I look see the next action on my list, I think to myself "Good. It's captured. I won't forget about it. But it's OK that I don't do anything about it right now." On the off chance that I get everything else done and I have enough time to take action on that project, then it's already there on the NA list, just waiting to be done -- I don't have to wade through a bunch of Someday/Maybe projects and then go through the process of reminding myself, "what was the next action on that one?" Nor do I have to complicate my lists by creating a third category of projects.

                I know a lot of people here like to keep that third category, but for me, a project is either active (something I've committed to doing) or it's not. This approach forces me to not be wishy-washy about projects that I think I probably will do. "Probably will do" is not the same as "will do". Making the decision one way or another has eliminated a lot of the guilt-ridden projects from my lists, and my life is better for it.

                As always, your mileage may vary.

                Comment


                • #9
                  If an item is not a project (and projects are covered well in this thread), then don't forget the S/M: It's reviewed weekly, and is therefore a great "park it until it's ready" place for projects you're not ready to act on.

                  Also, often something that comes up with no apparent action is at that level above projects, with various names - Areas of Responsibility (Allen), Significant Objectives (McGhee), Concerns (Mission Control), etc. They are the drivers of projects. So being healthy might be one, with a corresponding project of "research fitness clubs."

                  Finally, sometimes I have a "master" project that has sub-projects. I've not completely figured this out yet, so any thoughts from others would be welcome. As Katherine points out, a project without an action is a no-no...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Also note that you can subdivide your lists.

                    I've been playing recently with my Projects list. I put all my creative projects at the bottom, and the rest at the top, separated by some blank space. I can more easily see the creative projects, and be reminded to work on them, as those are the ones that I'm most likely to "not get to this week."

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