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  • Agendas, Projects, NA's

    Just a little aha on my part that some of you might find helpful.

    I'm plain-vanilla-palm in my GTD approach. I just use the native apps and it works like a champ, except for one little thing. I have lots of accounts to manage and there may be multiple projects within each. I was always a little preoccupied with where everything resided regarding any given account. Well, no more! I took the time (on my back after surgery) to go start at the top of my project list and assign a date for each project beginning with 1/8/01. I then proceeded to assign successive projects with dates for each successive Monday of 2001.

    Having done that, I started through my NA/Context list and where there is a link I'd like to see to my project list, I just attach the same date to the NA. When you look on the palm desktop under category "ALL" and have the sort by "Due Date" and "Priority" it shows each project with the linked NA's underneath it.

    Pretty slick! Since I like the projects at the top of the list I just went into "Edit Categories" and put a space in front of the word "Project". In this way it always groups projects above the linked todo. All of the above is done within the todo app. And I do all my GTD with the Palm Desktop and my trusty Sony SJ33.

    The only thing I've added to my routine now is to add these dates when I want to link todo's or enter new projects - not a big deal considering the payoff. I have over 100 dates available to use before I reach the current year.

    Sounds a little convoluted but its really not.

  • #2
    Best practices for "connecting the dots..."

    Thanks for your post! I am always impressed with what people do to make this work for them. I also like how the viral nature of this work is that people don't do it "one way." We all:
    Collect potential work to do
    Process that into next actions
    Organize reminders in some place we can
    Review easily through the day so that it's possible to
    Do the most important/highest priority/biggest payoff item to do!

    The best practice is to organize the actions by the context for the action, not the project it's about.

    And you don't want to spend the time writing them in both places. The Weekly Review is what "connects the dots" together, which is still the manual discipline required to make it all work.

    Yes, you do (at least once a week) need to review your index of projects and ensure that you have next actions for each one in the appropriate list or folder.

    http://www.davidco.com/pdfs/tt_weekly_review.pdf

    If you tried to organize them by the project, every time you were at a phone with discretionary time, you'd have to look through all your Project notes to find all the phone calls you could possibly make, and you won't do that.

    You need to keep a list of calls to make, that has been generated by looking at your projects.

    I don't keep actions under the Projects, I just keep "flat" lists, reviewing the Projects list as often as required to make sure I have the next actions for each in the appropriate places. That's the only reason to look at the Projects list anyway, since you can't do a project, only the actions about them. Most of the week I'm just working off the action lists.

    Comment


    • #3
      connecting projects to actions...

      ...I have not needed more than the famous re:

      call United re: trip to DC on 11/12

      That let's me know where I am, and what's outstanding on the DC trip. The weekly review has connected all the next actions so far.

      Clients who are worried about connecting all of these, are recommended to do 4-6 weekly reviews in a row. See what you need to see and when, and what you need to write, and how they need to be connected.

      Comment


      • #4
        Jason
        I can see that for simple projects that the weekly review should keep these all on track - you do as many next actions as you can during the week and at review time decide on the next block of na's.
        However - what about some really detailed and complex projects that have so many next actions you could lose track of them all if you didn't have them jotted down somewhere (ie) in the project support material or notes section of the task which describes them. Therefore if you have a project requiring a lot of actions and some of them can be done in any order - is it not better to get these out of your head so to speak and on record for HAVING to be done just in case you lose the plot with all your projects?
        I've got a lot of really huge work projects about to start and sometimes I get blinding revelations on some aspect I hadn't thought of - not during the weekly review but just before I'm dropping off to sleep. Isn't it better to thrown these down in the palm as a kind of checklist so it doesn't get lost?
        I suppose I"m worried that I'll be too 'slow' if I keep these 'flat' project lists rather than something with more coherence.
        Interested to know yours and others thoughts.
        cheers Helen

        Comment


        • #5
          Weekly Review...

          ...remember, a weekly review is just that.

          Review every Project, Next Action, and Project Plan. I detail projects down to the nth degree, sometimes creating an entire Excel spreadsheet/PERT chart. All of that is reviewed and calibrated against time/effort/resources weekly.

          The weekly review is not arbitrary, not theoretical, not "lite." Instead, it's a very real, very practical reality of effective knowledge work.

          ALSO, the weekly review must be done at least weekly. I have worked with several clients who spend 2 three-hour sessions reviewing their system weekly...that's how much they have.

          Most weekly reviews take people 1-2 hours. That's time to review every outstanding element of the workflow process. On a practical note...

          when you have a project with LOTS of steps, and a lot of time, connected to it, you'll probably have some kind of project plan. Depending on what system you use, also, you can see this system vertically and/or horizontally.

          Horizontal = all the actions you need to do
          Vertical = all the actions, past/present/future on each project.

          For example, using the Oulook Add-In, available on our site, you can switch views. ("Where are we on the Smith proposal?") The great news here, you can see what's done, and what's left, and even do "future-think" ("I have to remember to e-mail Susan after I hear back from Bill, after I send him the proposal...").

          Let us know how it goes!

          Comment


          • #6
            Jason
            I have the GTD addin but must be seriously missing something unfortunately! I can see that it is good for reviewing what tasks HAVE BEEN done by project but I can't see how it can tell you -ok done that one, what's next - is there some feature I've not found? I've tried listing all future tasks against the project and not assigning an action or category but they just clog up the action 'none' section and they sit at the top of my calendar view task pad as well, making me nervous
            Where exactly do you record your future think - and be able to go back to it using the add-in eg 'must remember to call bill after etc etc'? - that is what I need help with. If I have a flood of ideas about a project which includes a whole heap of next actions that can happen randomly and are not dependent on eachother I want somewhere to record those so I can relax a bit knowing that 'thinking' is covered - and if I can have them listed as a task waiting to be assigned a context when I have the time or am at that stage then I would feel more 'prepared' I guess.

            I looked up in the GTD add in help but couldn't find much help with this I"m afraid.
            kind regards Helen

            Comment


            • #7
              Views in outlook...

              Originally posted by helenjc
              ...but I can't see how it can tell you -ok done that one, what's next - is there some feature I've not found? I've tried listing all future tasks against the project and not assigning an action or category but they just clog up the action 'none' section and they sit at the top of my calendar view task pad as well, making me nervous
              Those clients who do "vanilla" GTD (plain old "next action" and "successful outcome" organization) don't usually put down all of the "and then...and then...and then...

              HOWEVER, I did set someone up using the add in and we created a NEW VIEW. In that view, we activated the PRIVATE field. So, to do future think, she just marked the ones that were part of the project - later - as private. In the "Actions by PROJECT GTD Add In View" she kept the private things in view. In the By Action view she "hid" the private ones, so that only current ones show.

              When we designed the Add In, we decided to keep it vanilla, and let the users identify which views they wanted to create. Does that make sense?

              Comment


              • #8
                Jason --

                Thank you for the tip! That is an absolute light bulb "a-ha" moment, as I'm the same type of person -- I'll have a burst of brainstorming and think of things, and this is a fantastic way to "keep" them but not see them.

                Thanks!
                Heather

                Comment


                • #9
                  Although I can't take credit for it since it was suggested to me by another GTDer, I use the priority of the task to indicate whether it is next or future. It is easy to change the priority of a task to High when it is a next action, leave it at Normal for future tasks. Then, I made four views: 1) Next Actions by Action, 2) Next Actions by Project, 3) Active Actions by Action, and 4) Active Actions by Project. Of course, views 1 and 2 are filtered to show only High priority (next) actions, while the other views show all non-completed actions (next and future).

                  In this way, you can still assign an action like @Office, and a project.
                  Works for me.

                  This works the same as Jason's tip about using the private field.

                  -Ken

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    To DM

                    DM, thank you very very very very very very very much for sharing that little tidbit to "force" palm to give you a way to assign a todo multiple categories.

                    The discussion got off a little on sorting the NAs by project not being the best way to actually do them, but I (and I know others here) have been dying to be able to VIEW the list of outstanding NAs for a particular project. I.e., boss walks in office and says, "so, what is the status for XYZ project?" (No need to use the clunky find function anymore to get a list). I usually have from 1 to 6 NAs for each project, and this will allow me to easily group and view them.

                    You're a genius. I intend to adopt your strategy today.

                    So here's a follow up question: do you have any particular way of tracking which date goes with which project? Another list? or ??

                    Thanks!
                    Taxgeek
                    Thanks!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      No I havent, but if I was really a genius I probably would have. Hope it helps.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        dm

                        Well, I just assigned "due dates" to all the next actions, and now I have a nice list, sorted either by context or by project. Nifty. And you know what? When you sort by "due date", they all line up and you can see what date goes with each project. Thanks again.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Actually, I do include a subject name (usually client) in the todo field. If you wanted to get really fancy you could make all projects priority 1, NA's for projects priority 2 and NA's that stand alone (not connected to projects) as priority 3 it would line up nicely.

                          I've even taken the step of putting -----> in front of the NA's below projects just because it seems easier to read to me. Total user preference there.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            DM

                            My todos are all NAs, so they look like:

                            SMITH: draft will.
                            JONES: trust funding

                            So, when the NA's sort, I can see what project it is easily.

                            I have fiddled around with using the priority field to mean something, but haven't found anything I like yet, so for now it is ignored.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Views in outlook...

                              [quote="Jason Womack
                              HOWEVER, I did set someone up using the add in and we created a NEW VIEW. In that view, we activated the PRIVATE field. So, to do future think, she just marked the ones that were part of the project - later - as private. In the "Actions by PROJECT GTD Add In View" she kept the private things in view. In the By Action view she "hid" the private ones, so that only current ones show.

                              When we designed the Add In, we decided to keep it vanilla, and let the users identify which views they wanted to create. Does that make sense?[/quote]

                              Thanks very much for your reply Jason. My only problem with this is now how to stop flooding the palm with those 'private' actions. I use keysuite and thought there would be a way to not export private records but I have not worked out how to do this. I will examine this view idea and some others suggested above. There are a lot of suggestions coming forward for those of us not able to live without those planned project lists!!

                              Great board!

                              regards
                              Helen

                              Comment

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