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  • Slow long term projects?

    How do you file and track Current Projects where the next action can't happen for years?

    It's an active project and an important one but the logical next action can't be done for a couple of years from now. Where do you put them so they don't get lost in the shuffle?

    Right now they are sitting in my big someday/maybe file but they really do have a deadline and it's often longer in time away than the tickler file supports.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
    How do you file and track Current Projects where the next action can't happen for years?

    It's an active project and an important one but the logical next action can't be done for a couple of years from now. Where do you put them so they don't get lost in the shuffle?

    Right now they are sitting in my big someday/maybe file but they really do have a deadline and it's often longer in time away than the tickler file supports.
    I would put an item on my calendar: July 1, 2035 - Add "Do next thing for Project XYZ" to my next actions list.

    If I used the 43-folders tickler system, I might create a folder for "Future Years" (making it a 44-folder system) and throw a note card in there. Then just make sure you review that folder at the start of each year so you can put the card in the appropriate upcoming month.

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    • #3
      If you're using a physical trickler file that only goes to the end of the year (or is one you rotate every x months), you could put a reminder in the last slot?

      If you use a digital calendar of some sort like me (I use Yahoo calendar) you can put a reminder for some time far in the future.

      The reminder might be something like "Project X: Check if I need to do [some thing] now".

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
        How do you file and track Current Projects where the next action can't happen for years?

        It's an active project and an important one but the logical next action can't be done for a couple of years from now. Where do you put them so they don't get lost in the shuffle?

        Right now they are sitting in my big someday/maybe file but they really do have a deadline and it's often longer in time away than the tickler file supports.
        If the logical next action can't be done for a couple of years, then it's not really a next action; therefore this isn't really an active project.

        My intuition tells me that if the next action can't be done for a couple of years then this is likley not a project and instead a 40,000 ft long term goal. If that's the case then it is probably best to store this in your higher altitude file/mindmap.

        Does that make sense?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by jpm View Post
          If the logical next action can't be done for a couple of years, then it's not really a next action; therefore this isn't really an active project.
          Not true. There are bonsai that have been actively maintained for centuries, and their caretakers can easily take years between significant sculpting decisions. Pretty much any landscaping project or animal breeding program is going to have timescales measured in years. Some things take as long as they take.

          Renewing passports, business licenses, and similar documents might also require reminders more than one year out.

          My suggestion for this kind of thing would be a long term tickler system, either paper or electronic. Plus a really robust filing system for the project support materials, since you can't trust your memory for that long.

          Katherine

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          • #6
            Put it in the Tickler File's "December" folder.

            I would write this Next Action on the separate sheet of paper with the approximate date of execution and put it in the Tickler File's "December" folder. Each year I would consciously leave it here until the year when it has to be executed.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by jpm View Post
              My intuition tells me that if the next action can't be done for a couple of years then this is likley not a project and instead a 40,000 ft long term goal. If that's the case then it is probably best to store this in your higher altitude file/mindmap.

              Does that make sense?
              Not really. Goals to me are stated as things like "Our farm produces 80% of the feed for our animals." But the project is "Convert front pear orchard into permanent pasture with cool season grasses and legumes for fall and winter grazing and provide trees for shelter." If I am part way down that projects set of stuff to do one of the next actions will be: "Evaluate possible trees after at least 2 average winters for long term survivability." So in 2 years I have to evaluate which trees work for shelter because the action after that is "Plant the best trees in a pasture for shelter." And I got there by planting a variety of trees in a section to test long term survivability which was after researching what might work and so on. So it's a current active project just on a very slow timeframe.

              Animal breeding projects are also long term.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                Not really. Goals to me are stated as things like "Our farm produces 80% of the feed for our animals." But the project is "Convert front pear orchard into permanent pasture with cool season grasses and legumes for fall and winter grazing and provide trees for shelter." If I am part way down that projects set of stuff to do one of the next actions will be: "Evaluate possible trees after at least 2 average winters for long term survivability." So in 2 years I have to evaluate which trees work for shelter because the action after that is "Plant the best trees in a pasture for shelter." And I got there by planting a variety of trees in a section to test long term survivability which was after researching what might work and so on. So it's a current active project just on a very slow timeframe.
                I think you're actually doing pretty well with this. The day you decided to go forward with creating a pasture, you opened a loop (i.e. identified a project) and identified next actions. You've even done some detailed planning. Make sure you save that thinking in a project support folder. It will help you identify next actions later.

                In his seminar, David Allen suggests that if your next action is "call Fred", do it and just see what shows up before deciding what to do next. In your case, you've done a next action that requires two years to see what shows up. THAT'S FINE. That project is still active and should remain right where it is, and the next action is a calendared event. Put a reminder on your calendar two years from now when you want to check those trees. Give yourself enough time to procure them and plant them--perhaps a month or two before optimal tree planting time.

                During your weekly review of your Projects list, you know you have a next action on your calendar, so you can consider that project "reviewed" and move on to the next one.

                I suggest you handle your breeding and other long-term projects in the same way.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
                  Put a reminder on your calendar two years from now
                  I think where I was getting stuck is the whole altitude description where things that happen years out are not ever considered projects. That just doesn't work in my business, a lot of things take years but are still active and current projects. Now I do need to sort out those ones from the real someday/maybe ones that I haven't actually started yet

                  Although, one benefit to keeping them all in one file where they get reviewed regularly is that I sometimes see interdependencies or ways to save that I might have missed, like if I have several things that all need an expensive hired piece of equipment, it makes sense to get them all going at once if something more active/current requires that equipment even though they were only maybe things. The mere fact we have access to the equipment may make some things active or at least we might be willing to do the next action even if we never finish the project related to that.

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                  • #10
                    I'm with TesTeq

                    I would use the tickler file, and put it in the December folder. Then when I reviewed it December of the year it needed to be done I would place it in the appropriate month.

                    It seems to me that this method would work for a number of items beyond the 10,000 foot level, including quarterly and annual goals, with a number of benefits such as reviewing them regularly (relatively speaking) as well as not having them get lost if I change calendaring systems.

                    Gordon

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                      Not really. Goals to me are stated as things like "Our farm produces 80% of the feed for our animals." But the project is "Convert front pear orchard into permanent pasture with cool season grasses and legumes for fall and winter grazing and provide trees for shelter." If I am part way down that projects set of stuff to do one of the next actions will be: "Evaluate possible trees after at least 2 average winters for long term survivability." So in 2 years I have to evaluate which trees work for shelter because the action after that is "Plant the best trees in a pasture for shelter." And I got there by planting a variety of trees in a section to test long term survivability which was after researching what might work and so on. So it's a current active project just on a very slow timeframe.

                      Animal breeding projects are also long term.
                      Okay I may have been being pedantic, but I've found this to be a very important point at least for me. When I say that this is not an active project, I'm speaking only in terms of the current week.

                      If you must wait for two winters before you can evaluate possible trees then to me there is no next action here because it can't be done for some time. That means this item doesn't go in your next action lists. It does go in your system, but probably as either a someday or on your calendar or in a tickler.

                      It's not an active project (in the GTD sense) because there is no next action this week. GTD defines projects as those outcomes that you are working toward in the near future (e.g. weeks/months -- longer than that and you move up.)

                      The point is you don't want something two years out cluttering up your action list for this week, but you do want it to come back to you in the approrpiate time frame.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        "Halfway" reminder

                        Nothing revolutionary and maybe along the same lines as some other answers here.

                        I would leave it off my action list to avoid clutter. There's no point in reading the reminder again week after week. You have some idea of when it has to get done so you could put a "halfway" reminder on your calendar about a year from now: "Bonsai tree will need pruning in October." or put it in the absolutely last folder in your tickler file.

                        If you know the specific date already, it can go there too. If not then you will be reminded to choose a specific date by the "halfway" reminder.

                        Whether you keep it on your projects list, 1-2 year goals list or someday maybe list isn't really important. You're already reviewing these lists on a weekly basis to keep a "mind like water".

                        If you have several similar projects with next actions 2 years from now then I would leave them off my active projects lists to avoid clutter there too.

                        I'm coming around to something that me and other people seem to forget: there's no absolutely correct answer for exactly where to put everything on every type of project. The most important thing is to get things out of your head and put them somewhere you're absolutely sure you won't miss them. It's important that this "somewhere" doesn't get so cluttered that you resist maintaining it or let things get lost in the crowd.

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