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Do you keep a list of finished projects?

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  • Do you keep a list of finished projects?

    After you have finished a project, do you put it on any kind of done or finished list? In other words, do you in any way archive your lists? What about next actions?

    I am trying to decide if it's worth the effort archive old finished projects or if I should delete them?

  • #2
    I keep all materials related to client projects for at least a year, and all financial materials for as long as my accountant tells me to. Artifacts related to personal projects may or may not be kept, depending on the artifact. (Vacation photos, yes. Rubbish generated by hacking through the blackberry thicket, no.)

    Old NA lists, old project lists, old calendars, etc. all get tossed.

    Katherine

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    • #3
      I keep completed projects and next actions around for at least 7 days in the software that I use to help me Get Things Done.

      I don't see any use for keeping stuff around longer than that.

      If I'm having a bad day, and need some motivation, sometimes its useful to look at my completed next actions or projects. I've almost always done more than I think I have!

      - Don

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      • #4
        There was another recent thread that linked to "Surround Yourself With Success." I've been doing this for a couple weeks. Every week after finishing my Weekly Review, I print off my Projects list and post it on my door. If I work on a Project, I highlight it in yellow. If I finish it, I highlight it in red. Next week, I take down that list and post it on my wall.

        It's gratifying to see how much red is up there.

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        • #5
          I love Brent's idea - I'm stealing it!

          Re: saving projects vs. actions, one thought is to only save projects - after all, finishing them is the goal, at least on the "successful outcome" level.

          Re: saving project materials, I'm like Katherine: I save them - as long as necessary. I just stick the folder(s) in my filing drawer. However, I use the "incremental purge" technique, so when I file something I notice a few around it, and retire or archive as necessary.

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          • #6
            Thanks for the replies. I'm mainly interested in lists, not so much support material. What I'm wondering is if there is any psychological value (as dschaffner and Brent alluded to) or practical value (maybe as fodder to a future resume or reminder that you already did something) to having a list of things you've completed.

            Or is this just pack-rat behavior, and is it better to take a moving-forward-only approach?

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            • #7
              I delete projects and NAs off the list once they'e done - it's such a satisfying feeling!

              Ruth

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              • #8
                It can be useful to look back and see what you've accomplished. Doing that is part of my Weekly Review. But still I don't find old lists terribly useful. The granularity in GTD-style lists is too small, and so the major projects on the lists tend to be surrounded by relatively minor stuff. For most people, "Build Brooklyn Bridge" is cause for celebration, but "mount magnetic latches on kitchen cabinets" may not be.

                Katherine

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                • #9
                  I think it's partly personal. Some folks benefit from reviewing completed work; others don't.

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                  • #10
                    Zeigarnik Effect

                    Originally posted by overflowing View Post
                    Thanks for the replies. I'm mainly interested in lists, not so much support material. What I'm wondering is if there is any psychological value (as dschaffner and Brent alluded to) or practical value (maybe as fodder to a future resume or reminder that you already did something) to having a list of things you've completed.

                    Or is this just pack-rat behavior, and is it better to take a moving-forward-only approach?
                    According to Daniel Wegner, in his book The Illusion of Conscious Will, there is a substantial body of psychological research most of which supports the conclusion that people have a "tendency to remember incomplete tasks better than complete ones"[166]. Furthermore, "the intentions we form and do not yet enact may be quickly forgotten if we believe that other people in our group may have done them. All this reveals a remarkable fluidity in our moment-to-moment memory for actions"[167].

                    I just read this today and was previously unaware of this so-called Zeigarnik Effect. If this effect is strong, it would strike me as useful to have a record of one's completed tasks/projects, if only to protect oneself against the "remarkable fluidity" of our memory.

                    Most of us (me) are worried about forgetting incomplete projects, which is why we find GTD so helpful.

                    But it appears as if our minds are much more likely to forget completed projects. This is much more benign, which is probably why we evolved to forget them. The cost of storing them in our internal brain memory is too high. The cost of keeping hard copy files might also be too high. But the cost of keeping electronic files is becoming infinitesimally small as Moore's Law (the incessant growth of electronic memory capacity) continues to assert itself.

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