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  • Too many projects, too disconnected from goals

    I use the GTD guide that if something takes more than one step, make it into a project. In that way, the "thing" is captured. Doing this, I have a very large number of projects, each with perhaps 5 or 6 next actions tied to them. Many of them stick around for a long time as I work through the NAs of many projects. The number of projects has become unwieldy and most of these projects are not connected to my larger goals - just projects that need to get done. Three questions:
    (1) What do you do to keep the number of projects managable?
    (2) Do you extract the NAs and make a list or just leave them attached to the project and review the projects (projects are in Mind Manger.)
    (3) How do you keep the large number of projects from losing focus on the larger goals. Thanks in advance for your ideas and advice.

  • #2
    Originally posted by sroeder View Post
    The number of projects has become unwieldy and most of these projects are not connected to my larger goals - just projects that need to get done. Three questions:
    (1) What do you do to keep the number of projects managable?
    (2) Do you extract the NAs and make a list or just leave them attached to the project and review the projects (projects are in Mind Manger.)
    (3) How do you keep the large number of projects from losing focus on the larger goals. Thanks in advance for your ideas and advice.
    I'm afraid I don't quite understand, so several questions for you.

    Why are projects unconnected from your goals?

    How do you define an unmanagable number of projects?

    Right now I have about 50 current active projects selected from several hundred that I am committed to do but are sitting in the someday maybe list waiting for certain conditions to be right.

    My project list is a piece of paper on which I've written the top 50 or so active projects I plan to work on this week to ten days. Projects that get actually worked on get a check mark beside them projects that are done get crossed off.

    My S/M list has all the projects I am committed to and also has the next actions and any thinking I've done about next actions, particularly ones that may not happen for several years in line with the project. It also holds the few projects I am considering doing but haven't actually made a firm commitment for yet. I really need to separate it all out into project support files but haven't gotten that far. Just getting it all in one huge word file was a big accomplishment for me. I may take jknecht's advice and move all projects I am committed to into one huge project list, but not until I figure out how to do it all electronically If I do that the S/M list will be very small.

    My projects are loosely organized in this file under my higher level areas of focus so by definition are aligned with my long term goals. If I come up with a project that is not easily categorized into one of those areas of focus it's a signal to me to explore if it's really something I want or need to do. Most of those end up getting trashed.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by sroeder View Post
      (1) What do you do to keep the number of projects managable?
      I focus on only one or two projects max. in a typical day.

      (2) Do you extract the NAs and make a list or just leave them attached to the project and review the projects (projects are in Mind Manger.)
      I don't combine the Next Actions, I work only on tasks related to the same project, and hopefully the same context (most of the work being done at computer), one after another.

      (3) How do you keep the large number of projects from losing focus on the larger goals. Thanks in advance for your ideas and advice.
      Associate a number of projects to a goal. If you complete all these projects it's considered that you reached the goal. You can use Gtdagenda to manage projects in this way.

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      • #4
        You're doing fine! Congrats on keeping a GTD system going. You're now experiencing a common situation.

        Originally posted by sroeder View Post
        (1) What do you do to keep the number of projects managable?
        Don't immediately sign up for a bunch of projects. Put many of them on Someday/Maybe.

        You may be falling into the same trap I fell into when first learning GTD: as soon as I thought up something to do (a candidate Project), I'd put it on my Projects list. My Projects list quickly ballooned out of control.

        I've since learned to put new Projects onto my Someday/Maybe list. I have plenty of current work; when I have an idea, it probably doesn't need to be done now.

        (Of course, occasionally I'll think up a Project that does need to be done now, and it'll go onto my Projects list.)

        (2) Do you extract the NAs and make a list or just leave them attached to the project and review the projects (projects are in Mind Manger.)
        I use paper and a whiteboard to manage my Projects and NAs, so my NAs are separate from my list of Projects.

        I do review both Projects and Next Actions many times over the course of the week.

        (3) How do you keep the large number of projects from losing focus on the larger goals.
        One step of my weekly review is to compare my larger goals to my Projects, and work to match them as closely as possible.

        Does that help?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by DanGTD View Post
          I focus on only one or two projects max. in a typical day.
          Gosh I'd never get anything done if I only worked on one or 2 projects a day. A typical day has me doing something on at least 5 projects and it's not unusual to work on 10 in a day. Most days have several hours on a single project but I try to do only 1 of those per day and fill in the rest of the day with smaller projects. Of course living where I work means that work and home projects get all blurred together and "work hours" can run from 6:30 am until 9pm or so.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by sroeder View Post
            (1) What do you do to keep the number of projects managable?
            I agree to what Brent said before.
            It is part of my weekly review process to always move projects between "active" and "someday/maybe". I only have 12 projects in my active lists, and more than 30 in the "someday/maybe" list.

            Originally posted by sroeder View Post
            (2) Do you extract the NAs and make a list or just leave them attached to the project and review the projects ?
            I am using http://www.taskwriter.com, I am able to display the next actions list in either way I need. I can either have the full list, or just have the NAs in only one project, or only from a set of projects. I am using any of these views.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by katy View Post
              I only have 12 projects in my active lists, and more than 30 in the "someday/maybe" list.
              I find that really amazing. I can get 30 projects out of just one focus area Multiply that by 6 or 7 major focus areas and then add in some things for fun and you rapidly get a lot of projects.

              My total S/M & projects lists is somewhere over 500 items I think, not entirely sure, I've never actually counted them all.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                My total S/M & projects lists is somewhere over 500 items I think, not entirely sure, I've never actually counted them all.
                WooW ! It must be the fact that I've started with GTD for a few months only, and it could be that I'm not collecting everything fully...I will give it some thoroughly thoughts.

                How do you manage to do your review with so many projects ? I have included in my weekly review to process every project in the S/M list and decide whether to activate it or not. For 30 projects, that's manageable...but for 500...woow !

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                • #9
                  (Note: I'm not Oogiem.)

                  Originally posted by katy View Post
                  How do you manage to do your review with so many projects ? I have included in my weekly review to process every project in the S/M list and decide whether to activate it or not. For 30 projects, that's manageable...but for 500...woow !
                  For me, I have enough active work that I know I'll only be able to pick at most one or two Someday/Maybe projects per week anyway. And it rapidly becomes clear which ones are do-able and which ones aren't.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by katy View Post
                    How do you manage to do your review with so many projects ? I have included in my weekly review to process every project in the S/M list and decide whether to activate it or not.
                    It goes very quickly. A lot of my projects on the S/M list are weather or season activated. So if it's fall I can't possible activate the "enter ADG data and register all lambs" project because the lambs to be are still just gleams in the rams' eyes and won't even be born until spring and not weighed until mid-summer. But I have it on my list as it's a project that has to be done when the season is correct.

                    A lot of others are personal and I tend to do only one or 2 of a given type at at time so I can skip over the 20 or so knitting projects on the list until I have finished the 3 I am currently working on. When I finish one then I do a more detailed review of that area to see which one I want to start on next.

                    I also have a bunch of projects that are interdependent. I have not yet figured out how to properly document those so they are all in their respective areas of focus. For example. One project in sewing is make a Moy gown replica. But before that I have to finish a weaving project to make the fabric. And before that is a spinning project to spin the yarn and before that is I have to find fleeces that fit the archeological data. And that can take several years because only a few sheep produce wool that matches the data so all of those are on hold until I have enough wool that matches the requirements. I'm less than half way there, may take a few more years to get enough. Only then can I look at scheduling and activating the various dependent projects.

                    And I use the strict definition of a project is anything with 2 or more steps.

                    My S/M List is a double column landscape format file in Open Office. It is about 14 pages long right now. But even if I read each one I can read then entire list in about an hour and that also allows time for some review and thinking.

                    My S/M file is also designed to enable someone to come in and keep the farm running if something happened to me. I've been on the other side of trying to deal with a farm after the death of the owner and even though I may know what has to be done when for my farm it's not easy to pick up all the tasks to be done in an emergency for a new place. A well written S/M list, supporting data and files would allow someone else to pick up and at least not let any critical actions fall through the cracks. It's part of the emergency planning for the farm to have all the things I am considering documented.

                    It's especially important where projects will take more than one lifetime to complete. Without good records the people coming after me won't know where in the process I was or what the final plan was.

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