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handling short projects (with few NA)

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  • handling short projects (with few NA)

    If a project has only very few NA's and the steps are clear I tend not the write the project in a project list but instead write the first NA on my NA list. How do other people approach these?

  • #2
    No matter how small, I will write the project on my project list, if I don't take care of it then and there. For me, it is not only a matter of awareness, but also a matter of completion - it is a motivator and builds momentum to not only check off NAs but also projects.

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    • #3
      When small like that I tend not to write a Project as well. It takes more time to write down a project then to actually finish I don't think that's a big mistake!

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      • #4
        Record ALL of your open loops on your Projects list!

        Always create an item on your Projects list when you identify a multi-step outcome, no matter how few actions are required to close the loop. I've added projects to my projects list even if they should require only two action steps. It only takes a moment to define your outcome and add it to the list.

        For example, my batteries were running low in one of the motion sensors in my home security system, but I didn't have the correct batteries on hand at my house. I created a project "Replace batteries in motion sensor" on my Projects list and the next action "Buy two CR123A batteries" on my @Errands list. When I bought them and brought them home, I immediately replaced the batteries in the sensor and the loop was closed. During my weekly review I got to check that off my Projects list.

        However, as you probably realize, sometimes things don't go according to plan, and what should have taken one or two simple next actions to complete suddenly becomes a major production. I call it a case of "next action gone project". I might have gone to the local Batteries Plus store and discovered they didn't have the battery I needed in stock. I don't know where else to buy that type of battery in town, so I'd have to hunt for another seller, which means calling or driving all over town to find one. If I don't track the outcome to which I've committed (replacing the batteries in my motion sensor) it will crawl back into my head to create infinite stress and pressure. I'll have this nagging feeling that something's not right and I won't be able to identify it.

        By tracking it on your projects list, you don't lose track of the commitment no matter how wierd the open loop goes on you, and you get the satisfaction of checking off a Project when it's done. To my psyche, checking off a Project is like dunking a fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie in milk and eating it. Why deprive yourself of that kind of sweetness by not tracking it?

        Don't answer that by saying you're allergic to chocolate.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
          To my psyche, checking off a Project is like dunking a fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookie in milk and eating it. Why deprive yourself of that kind of sweetness by not tracking it?
          Wonderfully put!

          The extra psychic energy I get from completing tasks or projects often gives me a push to do just one more.

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          • #6
            If you do write it down on your project list, do you make a small file/note that goes with it (eg writing outcome on it) or just write it on project list and one next action?

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            • #7
              I've seen a couple of different approaches on this, but basically the title of your project should define your successful outcome enough to remind you of your commitment. I've also seen others define their projects as an outcome in past tense, and that works well, too. For example

              "Get new tires on my car" vs
              "New tires are installed on my car"

              Either one of these items on your project list should remind you of the outcome to which you've committed--you need to get new tires on your car. Don't feel that you have to choose one or the other; choose the one that makes most sense for you for each project you define.

              Some of the more complex projects have a number of success criteria before you can consider them finished, and it's not always possible to "capture" that information in the title of the project. For those, I suggest that you define the project as best you can with a simple title, put it on your Projects list, then make a checklist of success criteria and add it to your project support material. Review this list regularly (at least during your weekly review) to help you evaluate the status of the project and define appropriate next actions.

              If you use a electronic system (Palm Desktop, Outlook, etc) where there's a freeform text "Notes" field attached to a "Task" that represents a project, I suggest you put this checklist inside that "Notes" field.

              If you use a paper based system, I suggest you create a project support folder for that project, write down the success criteria checklist on a separate sheet of paper, and put that checklist in your project support folder. I suggest that you keep paper-based project support materials in a vertical file sorter on your desktop or in your general reference filing system.

              I have one final thought to share. Not every project is going to have a folder full of support materials. Only create one if you need it. Don't overwork the system or try to run it too "perfectly" or it will become a burden rather than a help and you'll stop using it.

              I hope that helps. Best of luck!
              Last edited by ellobogrande; 05-15-2008, 01:06 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by mephisto View Post
                If you do write it down on your project list, do you make a small file/note that goes with it (eg writing outcome on it) or just write it on project list and one next action?
                For small simple projects, I only write the project on my list and one NA. If there is something I don't want to forget to do for a project, then I would put that in the project notes.

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                • #9
                  For smaller projects I, too, put an NA in a context, and then the next NA in the notes or even as part of the NA title. I can easily move these actions to different contexts as I work on the project. My project list would be too long if I didn't do this , for me.

                  I do this a lot with W/F:

                  W/F: call back from Steve re: estimate, then submit expense

                  or something like that.

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