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  • Newbie Questions

    Hi,

    Am starting out and am confused. I want to use Outlook2007 to manage everything, it seems to make the most sense. Some questions I would appreciate feedback on:

    * How many projects do you have on the go?

    I could envisage 30 or 40, and that's going to get cumbersome to look at in Outlook Task view. Do you categorise or sort them further if you have that many?

    * Sub-projects. Do you split your projects down into sub-projects, and if so, how do you manage them in Outlook?

    * Items in each context - how many do you have? Do you sort or sub-categorise these as well?

    I see a lot of value in the system but am worried that I will turn a big paper pile into an even bigger pile of stuff in Outlook that will be unmanageable.

    Thanks.

  • #2
    There are quite a few other posts in this forum detailing how folks have set up their systems; a bit of digging may uncover quite some gold.

    Originally posted by havoc1 View Post
    How many projects do you have on the go? I could envisage 30 or 40.... (snip) Do you categorize or sort them further if you have that many?
    I'm different than many; my active Projects are only those that I feel I can accomplish in the coming week. Every other Project goes on Someday/Maybe. This just works best for me; I'm more focused this way, and I do the important stuff.

    So, I only have 7 to 10 active Projects. Others on this forum have over 100. Depends on your style.

    Sub-projects. Do you split your projects down into sub-projects, and if so, how do you manage them in Outlook?
    No sub-projects. A sub-project is...a project. So I treat it as such.

    That said, I do have larger projects, which I keep in my Someday/Maybe list, which some of my individual Projects support.

    Items in each context - how many do you have? Do you sort or sub-categorise these as well?
    I have 10-20 Next Actions in each context. Depends on the context, of course. I usually have about 50% more Next Actions (total) than active Projects, for recurring or occasional work that's really just one Action (Such as "Return headhunter's phone call" or "Check truck oil level")

    Comment


    • #3
      Let's start first!

      Originally posted by havoc1 View Post
      Hi,

      Am starting out and am confused. I want to use Outlook2007 to manage everything, it seems to make the most sense. Some questions I would appreciate feedback on:

      * How many projects do you have on the go?
      I found very useful GTD & Outlook sold @ only 15$ @store. However I keep my about 60 Projects. Without any sub categorizes. It' your thin tank. Every weekly review you can choose which next actions is required and you create these nex actions in your context @computer, @ home and so on.

      Originally posted by havoc1 View Post
      * Items in each context - how many do you have? Do you sort or sub-categorise these as well?
      I use only to add a word at the beginning, so my next actions in the same context are group

      web find web site of david allen
      web Download a file....
      Originally posted by havoc1 View Post
      I see a lot of value in the system but am worried that I will turn a big paper pile into an even bigger pile of stuff in Outlook that will be unmanageable.

      Thanks.
      It's more simple of what can you imagine. But you cannot image, as well, how it'll be more easy you life!

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by havoc1 View Post
        I see a lot of value in the system but am worried that I will turn a big paper pile into an even bigger pile of stuff in Outlook that will be unmanageable.
        The trick is to realize when it's getting unmanageable, and then modify your system.

        If your next action lists are repelling you, then it's time to figure out why.

        I'd suggest that you don't try to get your system perfect, just make a reasonable first attempt, and keep tweaking it until it's the way you want it.

        - Don

        Comment


        • #5
          Huge projects = Areas of Focus.

          Originally posted by Brent View Post
          No sub-projects. A sub-project is...a project. So I treat it as such.

          That said, I do have larger projects, which I keep in my Someday/Maybe list, which some of my individual Projects support.
          In many cases I treat huge projects as Areas of Focus. No subprojects - just regular projects defined for this Area of Focus.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by havoc1 View Post
            Hi,
            * How many projects do you have on the go?
            I could envisage 30 or 40, and that's going to get cumbersome to look at in Outlook Task view. Do you categorise or sort them further if you have that many?
            You might have anything from 30 to 100 projects or more. But relax, you had them in your earlier system (perhaps your mind) anyway. Here you are just extracting them in an external system. Further, to begin with, try without sorting. For most of the times, you will need to look at one project at a time only, so the list does not need to fit in one page. As you gain experience, you might find it convenient to sort them in categories, not for the purpose of reducing the number that you see at a time, but for your own other reasons of reviewing.

            * Sub-projects. Do you split your projects down into sub-projects, and if so, how do you manage them in Outlook?
            I don't know much about Outlook, but you can either make the subprojects individual projects, or keep them in the project notes of the bigger project. What is important is to review those subprojects at least during weekly review so that they don't stay long without next actions. And as TesTeq has said, some of the larger projects may be actually Areas of Focus.

            * Items in each context - how many do you have? Do you sort or sub-categorise these as well?
            I used to be afraid of the number of next actions in my real physical context (and tried to further subdivide it according to some criteria), but now I am not. Each time you don't know what to do, go through the appropriate context list, and choose based on your intuition. I have about 50 on my office list, and I have heard of people having 150 or more next actions. Relax, and remember that (1) by putting 100 actions on a context list, you are not going to do them all at once; you can do only one action at a time, and (2) even before you got into GTD and made these context lists, you already had these many alternatives to choose from. All that GTD is doing is making you aware of your options. It is natural to feel overwhelmed when one suddenly faces so many of options. But trust yourself, one really gets better and better with looking at 100 actions, choosing the best action according to context-time-energy-priority, and not feeling bad about the other 99 actions, since you will be coming back to them one by one.

            I see a lot of value in the system but am worried that I will turn a big paper pile into an even bigger pile of stuff in Outlook that will be unmanageable.
            Anything left to itself will turn unmanageable, whether small or big. Ignore the size*; those many items were in your life anyway. Weekly review is the key. You need to look at all aspects of all the items in your inventory and revise them whenever you notice them being different from what you have in mind. After all, a GTD inventory is an extension of your mind ("distributed cognition"!), so the items in it should reflect the status of the items in your mind.

            (*Ignore the size except: proactively check during the weekly review whether you are overcommitted, and do something about it if so. The size is then the amount of work you are committed to, not just the number of items on your inventory.)

            Hope this helps,
            Regards,
            Abhay

            Comment


            • #7
              Excellently put, Abhay.

              To quote a queuing theorist I once saw, "You had all these commitments before. Now you're just being clear and honest about them."

              Comment

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