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Help me organize my non-active projects

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  • Help me organize my non-active projects

    Making my project and context lists "lean and mean" has worked well for me, but has created the side effect of ballooning someday/maybe lists.

    My someday/maybe lists seem to consist of the following items (with multiple categories):

    - someday (important to do, just can't do right now because of queuing issues)
    - maybe (may or may not ever do)
    - disconnected, random next actions
    - inchoate - not sure what it is
    - projects
    - next actions associated with projects that I've already put somewhere in in my list

    I've thought of organizing the items by some combination of higher levels and someday vs. maybe (e.g., each 20K role and someday or maybe).

    My concern is that (1) in this huge pile of someday maybe's I'll loose the important projects that I've simply put here because I can't get to them right now and (2) I'll loose the next actions that go with them.

    Thank you in advance for any recommendations.

  • #2
    Someday Lists

    I have a similar issue. The way that I've solved it is I have two "someday" lists - one that is for projects I truly intend to do "someday" soon, and another for projects that are on the backburner, that I intend to move up in my priorities as I get more time.

    I also have a THIRD list which I keep items in that are projects I vaguely have an interest in doing. I review the first two at every weekly review, and the third one sporadically (since it's really random stuff - e.g., write a novel about some idea I had, etc).

    This sounds similar to your system already. I guess the short answer is, you can have as many lists as you like - as long as you review them regularly enough that nothing falls through the cracks!

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by furashgf View Post
      - inchoate - not sure what it is
      I believe this should be "incubate" -- these are random thoughts or ideas that you're just not sure what to do with, but you know you don't want to lose. This is probably best implemented as a file folder, or a box, or a drawer, rather than a simple list.

      Comment


      • #4
        I've tried both keeping them on separate lists and combining everything into one. I've found that keeping them all on one list works best for me.

        Really, it is a problem of drawing lines. There are some projects that I know I absolutely must do, just not right now. And there are some that I may never do, but I don't want to lose track of them (just in case). But most of them fall somewhere in between--I probably want to do them, but I have no idea when--so what do you do with those?

        The simplest solution is to not try to distinguish between them.

        This approach also has the side effect of forcing me to look at every item during my weekly review with the same critical eye. When deciding whether to activate a particular project, "Climb mount everest" will be reviewed with the same care and thought as "Buy anniversary gift for Mrs. Jknecht".

        Yes, it slows down the weekly review. But I think it also makes the review more meaningful, because I am not afforded the luxury of glossing over a large chunk of my "stuff".

        Comment


        • #5
          Agreed with jknecht (as usual).

          The Someday/Maybe list is really just a sort of tickler file. It's a list of things to review every week.

          If you have things on there that you know you don't want to think about for a while, then you can remove them from Someday/Maybe and tickle them for next month.

          My concern is that (1) in this huge pile of someday maybe's I'll loose the important projects that I've simply put here because I can't get to them right now and (2) I'll loose the next actions that go with them.
          You're doing the Weekly Review, right? So you're looking at all your Someday/Maybe items every week, right? So how can you lose any of these projects or NAs?

          Comment


          • #6
            inchoate? incubate?

            @ jknecht:

            "Incubate" is good; so is "inchoate" (in an initial or early stage, immature, imperfect [American Heritage Dictionary]).

            For our S/M lists: Enlarge vocabulary!

            Comment


            • #7
              I like "inchoate," and I also like "incubate" ~ it does make a difference what kind of wording we use for our categories! The right metaphor can make you respond more productively to the things on your list.

              In that regard, I never have liked the term "Someday/Maybe." It could be just me, but it always sounds too wistful. "Someday, maybe, I will do these things..." I was always resistant to putting things on the list, when I called it that. "Incubator" is better.

              What I finally ended up calling it is "Sleeper Projects." These things are only sleeping. Sleep is a good thing. When the time is right, I will wake them up, or they will wake up on their own, but for now, I can be quiet around them, and let them sleep.

              I wouldn't worry too much about the list being very organized ~ as long as you are really doing a Weekly Review, you can trust that you will see and think about everything on the list, even if it is a mess.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Day Owl View Post
                @ jknecht:

                "Incubate" is good; so is "inchoate" (in an initial or early stage, immature, imperfect [American Heritage Dictionary]).

                For our S/M lists: Enlarge vocabulary!
                Umm, whoops!

                And to think, when I saw, "inchoate - not sure what it is," I thought, "of course you don't know what it is -- that's not a real word!" So embarrassed...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Last week I did a post called Somedays, Research and Edgework: Three Strategies for Dealing with Ambiguity, addressing this topic. While they may not be the definitive classifications, I outlined three types of inarticulate intentions.
                  1. Someday/Maybe: Things that would otherwise be active projects, but aren't due to either a lack of sufficient resources or motivation, or an intuitive reservation. Like Brent said, these are reviewed weekly. For less frequent reinforcement, use a tickler file.
                  2. Research projects: "R&D" -- Instead of open-ended information collection, the goal of research projects is to get precisely the information necessary to decide whether to proceed with, defer or delete a potential project
                  3. Edgework: Collecting random or recurring thoughts whose central theme hasn't yet been identified. This might be done with scrapbooks, online notebooks, mind maps, project folders, etc. Material accumulates as you allow it to incubate until an conscious understanding of the project or theme behind the collection crystallizes. You're essential creating a funnel for things at the edge of your awareness to centralize into something that's more actionable.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Nice list, Andre!

                    I'd add that Someday/Maybe also includes items that you want to do, but have consciously decided to wait on so that you can do other things now. It's a matter of queueing (sp?) -- you can't do everything at once, so some things must be put off for later.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Brent View Post
                      The Someday/Maybe list is really just a sort of tickler file. It's a list of things to review every week.

                      If you have things on there that you know you don't want to think about for a while, then you can remove them from Someday/Maybe and tickle them for next month.
                      Thanks for raising this one. It is something I've been struggling with for a few months now. In fact, although I've started a 'weekly review' many times most weeks, I've not actually completed one for a very long time! I think this is part of the problem - so I'd appreciate any thoughts.

                      As you can see from the photo, the deck of cards that is my 'projects and 'someday/maybe list' is rather large. At one time I was liberally throwing anything into my 'tickler' that I wasn't intending to get anything done about for a certain duration. However, when it came to my weekly review I felt I wasn't looking at the whole picture. So now I've got this pile that has everything from the 10,000 feet level up but I've got two problems arising from it. One is simply the time I'd need to consider each adequately. If I don't feel I'm giving enough attention to them I give up as it seems pointless. If I do, the whole process takes so long I feel guilty about not 'doing' anything and abandon ship. The other problem is in looking at so many things I'm not doing I seem to be getting dispirited about lack of accomplishment.

                      OK, I think now I've articulated this I've made a step towards resolving it somehow. I have the office to myself tomorrow morning so I'm going to go for it with the intention of getting it done. Whichever strategy I choose, I know I'll work better and feel better for having completed it - and it should be easier next week too.

                      Thanks for being here folks

                      Gareth
                      Attached Files

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                      • #12
                        Remember that the higher levels *don't* need to be reviewed every week. For me at least, once every six months or so seems sufficient. The higher levels are, by their nature, fairly static: is "spend more time with kids" going to drop off your list anytime soon?

                        Now, that doesn't mean you can completely ignore the upper levels. You might use a short list to remind you to balance your higher level priorities, for instance. But it does mean that you don't need to think about "learn Japanese," "learn to scuba dive," "build dream house in Vermont," and "teach Gareth Jr. to ski (in August!)" *every* *single* *week*. You certainly don't need to give these anywhere near the same amount of focused review that you give to more active projects. If I look at my long term goals at all in the weekly review, it's as an action trigger list: did anything happen last week that affects the status of these items?

                        Deciding what you *don't* have to think about is, IMO, one of the most-overlooked aspects of GTD. Trust your system. That's why it's there.

                        Katherine

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks very much for your reply Katherine

                          I can finally see a way forward now. I think I was so pleased with my blank playing cards system I had failed to consider a simple list on a sheet of paper I can quickly scan may be more appropriate for the higher level and long-term (no forthcoming action) stuff. I already have an additional folder in the back of my tickler system for purchases I may like to make (triggered by having money to spend, not by time). I'll just get another into which I'll put the cards for the project items which, for the most part, will be reviewed on my typed up list.

                          This means I can accept the 'weekly review' I'm about to start is going to take a long while, but once I've done it, the next weeks' will be much less daunting and shorter.

                          Thanks again,
                          Gareth

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Best of luck, Gareth!

                            For what it's worth, I've found that while the initial Weekly Reviews do take a long time, they get progressively shorter. I'm consistent in my Weekly Reviews now, and I can't remember the last time one took more than half an hour.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Okay, based on the recommendations I've currently gone with the following:

                              1. trashed everything I had there already
                              2. simplified (in general, choose the simplest thing that could possibly work) - I'm not sure if this is a GTD principle but it seems to come up repeatedly from the old-timers on the list
                              3. used 3 categories:
                              - queued: should do as soon as possible, but can't do right now because of bandwith constraints
                              - someday: should do someday if I can
                              - maybe: may or may not ever do
                              4. within the categories, I have a simple "personal" and professional list that I'll review and prune weekly
                              5. as a few obvious catgories emerge (e.g., "books I might read") I'll keep those around, but I let those proliferate before and that became kind of challenging to maintain

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