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  • #46
    I, too, am finding this thread very elucidating. I'm struggling with some of the same issues. I don't have Making It All Work so I'm going by the GTD definition of Project: "An outcome I'm committed to achieving that will take more than one action step to complete."

    I think that any definition that includes timing (i.e., less than a year) is arbitrary - that does not mean it isn't a useful distinction for some, but I don't think that it is intrinsically necessarily part of the definition.

    So to use an example from above: "Write my autobiography." is a Project. The Next Action may be "Open Word File and Write" and that action may be on my Next Action list for many years. During the weekly review it is up to me to decide if it's lingering on the list because I'm not actually doing it (move it to SDMB or define a more specific NA: "draft ideas of events to write about in my autobiography") or if I just have a lot to write about and I'm quite comfortable with how that long-term project is progressing.

    Oogiem's cloak project example clearly describes a Project that is going to take longer than a year but is still a project by the GTD definition: it has a defined outcome, Oogiem is committed to it, and it will take more than one action step.

    In my mind, the goal is to make sure that your system reminds you of the things you do and want to do often enough to keep them off your mind when you aren't actively engaged in doing them. If you don't want to look at your long-term projects every week, then for you maybe they should go on the "Areas of Focus" list to be reviewed less often (although I look at my AOF during the weekly review just to be sure I've caught random thoughts related to those areas).

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    • #47
      Originally posted by Conejo23 View Post
      Am I close or missing the boat?
      I'd say that was spot on.

      Comment


      • #48
        Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
        I've tried splitting up contexts by weather, and that hasn't worked really well for me so I dropped it.
        Out of interest, what was the problem with that approach? It struck me (in my warm dry office) as a really good idea.

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        • #49
          Originally posted by stronimo View Post
          Out of interest, what was the problem with that approach?
          Because I live in Colorado, where the saying is if you don't like the weather wait five minutes. We can go from totally windy and cold with blowing snow to bright sunny and 50 degrees in a few hours. Happens at least once a year during lambing We have thunderstorms that can be 2 inch rain (rain drops 2 inches apart, we are in a desert) to gully washers with 6 inches an hour rates or higher then back to sunny in an hour or 2. I can watch storms go up the valley, less than a mile away that will miss us and every year during haying we have at least one storm where we are the only mesa that is getting any rain at all, usually on the just cut hay or while it's being baled. Our mesas, mountains and the river all combine to make our weather very unpredictable.

          I found it easier to have the contexts in broader terms, outside with help or outside without help for example as the presence or absence of assistance was more often the determining factor. That way if there was a sudden squall but I was outside I could do something that didn't need dry sunny weather but an hour later when it cleared up and I was still outside I could pick a task that required sun.

          My next and available action lists aren't so long that it really matters. Right now on next action list for outside with help I have 8 items. I have 20 available actions for that context (because of projects where I can do several actions without regard to order)

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          • #50
            Is it Wrong to wake up this thread again? I wanted to comment.

            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
            recent personal example: There is no finer division than weave tabby fabric on my cloak. At least until that is done. All the thought went before. The project is planned out, all the yarn is spun, all the design is done all the warps are on and measured, all that is left is throwing the shuttle thousands of times back and forth in tabby pattern. Yet the physical act of weaving took 6 years elapsed time. It needed to stay on my next actions list because that was in fact the next physical action. There were times that when I reviewed the context that the action was in I had neither the energy or time or the priority to work on it but it was still the very next physical thing I could do. Just because it would not be checked off as complete for 6 years didn't mean it was not a next action.
            In my case, because I have a need to check things off, I would make this a repeating cumulative action. Which is a term that I just made up. I would have an action, somewhere, that says, "Spend one hour weaving tabby fabric". Because I have the need to check something off, and because I have the need for a manageable unit of time to juggle in my lists.

            So I picture:

            - Project: Make cloak
            -- Next action: WAITING FOR completion of project "weave tabby fabric".

            - Project: Weave tabby fabric.
            -- Next action: REPEATING, MWF: Spend one hour weaving tabby fabric.

            Or possibly:

            - Project: Make cloak
            -- Next action: WAITING FOR completion of "weaving tabby fabric" item on cumulative action chcklist.

            - Checklist: Repeating cumulative action checklist
            -- Item: REPEATING, MWF: Spend one hour weaving tabby fabric.
            -- Item: REPEATING, DAILY: Turn cheese wheels.
            -- Item: REPEATING, WEEKLY: Remove ice plug from ice wine.
            etc., etc.

            From an earlier post in the thread:

            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
            A project is something that takes more than one step. Projects like Vaccinate sheep or deworm sheep or trim sheep toes will never be done because there are always new sheep to vaccinate, deworm and hooves grow constantly but they are still clearly projects. If I put all the recurring and long term things as areas of focus it doesn't make sense to me. Trim sheep toes is not an area of focus. Maintain the flock of sheep is.
            I would feel uncomfortable phrasing these ongoing tasks as projects. That doesn't mean that _you_ should feel uncomfortable, just that I would. I would do one of the following:

            - Create a project of "Get November sheep vaccinations done", and a monthly tickler of "Create next month's sheep vaccinations project". And start and complete that project every month.

            - Have a "sheep vaccination checklist" and a monthly tickler of "Work sheep vaccination checklist." This doesn't work as well, because presumably you can't just hop up and complete the whole checklist in a predictably small amount of time, so you'd need interim reminders. So I prefer my first suggestion.

            Again, I understand that the fact that I want a "project" to be something with a clearly foreseeable end doesn't mean that you have to want that. I just wanted to describe how I'd handle this.

            Gardener

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            • #51
              Not wrong to wake it up at all.

              In some ways I already do what you suggest. For long term things like the weaving example, as long as at weekly review time I am satisfied with the progress I am making on the overall project I don't bother to split the actions down further. But I sometimes have ones that are stuck. When that happens I catch it at weekly review, realize I am unhappy with the progress I am not making and rethink the project and next action.

              My current one is my scrapbooks. I am working on my 2008 Family Book. I had as a next action, Lay out all 2008 pictures. Nothing was getting done on that at all. It was too large. So I broke it down to Lay out 1 months 2008 pictures. That seems to be working and I have it set to start up again so many days after I check it off. I actually use a project template for scrapbook projects. Lay out pictures is one step of several. The coarse granularity works for most scrapbook projects but this one for some reason was different.

              For the vaccinate sheep and toe trims type stuff I do exactly what you have said. I have a project Vaccinate Sheep with actions, in sequence of vaccinate pregnant ewes 2 weeks before lambing, vaccinate rams, vaccinate ram yearlings, vaccinate ewe yearlings, vaccinate pet sheep, vaccinate early lambs first shot, vaccinate early lambs 2nd shot, vaccinate late lambs 1st shot, vaccinate late lambs 2nd shot. The entire series kicks off keyed on the expected first lambing date which is keyed off the date the rams go in with the ewes. This sequence repeats every year. There is always an active vaccinate sheep project because I am always waiting for the next instance to start. I do much the same thing for other recurring sheep management tasks.

              Which is my point, those are projects, they are never really done although I guess you can think of a single set of them being done, but they are not areas of focus, they are projects.

              Some sheep management tasks are not as well tied to dates. Deworming is much more fluid. We have to deworm 24-48 hours before going out on pasture in spring and then as needed during summer and sometime after a good hard frost in winter. Those are fluid dates and I may not know the turn-out date until just before we actually do it.

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              • #52
                Tracking Categories

                I was reading this and have had the same struggle with what to do with areas of focus where I want or need to track what I have done and/or look at the actions together. This could include ongoing things I have or things I do multiples of that are a task that I need to track. I have set them up basically using the same structure as a project in the Project Central list, but they are all up at the top as @Tracking - Name.

                Examples - I have @Tracking - Birthdays where I have corralled all my recurring annual birthday tasks. I have some tracking categories for work where each item is just a task that falls into a particular area of responsibility - example is receiving a request for endorsement of a farmout - each farmout request is just a task rather than a project, they are generally simple and I just need to send a quick recommendation to my manager - if one turns out to be more complex I might set it up as a "subproject" - but the reason I need them grouped is that I need to have a record at the end of the year of how many of those requests were handled.

                So in effect I am handling a few of these (less than 10) exactly like a project but at the same time recognizing they are not exactly a project....although on the farmout example I guess I could say there is a project of "handle all the farmout requests I receive this year" etc.

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                • #53
                  in short, the OP describes an Area (of responsibility) and NOT at all a project

                  One of my areas is Learn German (I will never finish learning German -- possibly, I will continue to master it in the after-life ) so it's a life-long activity.

                  I am not going to say, at 60, for instance, that, "Wow, I am done! I have learned German! "
                  Most of us haven't even fully learned English!

                  Anyway, yes, if there are a variety of recurring actions or recurring mini-projects, then they belong in an Area.

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                  • #54
                    Really useful discussion..

                    This has been a really interesting discussion..because I would not have put something like "website maintenance" into an area of focus. I will be re-visiting all my focii (focuses?) after this.
                    It has really helped clarify this because I found myself struggling with the stuff I do every day...e.g. social media stuff...daily/weekly tweets, FB postings etc. I now see they are now part of an area of focus called "marketing" and I need to treat it as such.
                    Also have to say about the granularity thing....I have to get it granualar to work for me. "do social media stuff" gets left on the list (because of course it's not a NA) whereas: write 5 scheduled tweets...does get done.
                    Useful learning all around!
                    Thanks to everyone for contributing their knowledge.
                    Anne

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by annewalsh View Post
                      This has been a really interesting discussion..because I would not have put something like "website maintenance" into an area of focus. I will be re-visiting all my focii (focuses?) after this.
                      It has really helped clarify this because I found myself struggling with the stuff I do every day...e.g. social media stuff...daily/weekly tweets, FB postings etc. I now see they are now part of an area of focus called "marketing" and I need to treat it as such.
                      Also have to say about the granularity thing....I have to get it granualar to work for me. "do social media stuff" gets left on the list (because of course it's not a NA) whereas: write 5 scheduled tweets...does get done.
                      Useful learning all around!
                      Thanks to everyone for contributing their knowledge.
                      Anne
                      I agree. I'm just starting to use OmniFocus again (moving back from paper in small steps) and as I entered each project I wrote (as a note in the project heading) what the successful outcome would be. I had that written on the paper that was the support material for the project, but when I entered them into OF, I realized that the title of the projects weren't indicative of them being projects with outcomes. They were blobs. Now that I've more carefully defined them, I can envision them being completed AND I can be more honest with myself which should be active, which should be waiting in the wings (on-hold), and which are being held up because I'm waiting for something (waiting for a response, waiting for a check to clear, etc.).

                      I'm keeping my Areas of Focus in an outline for now (OmniOutliner) and reviewing that will be part of my review process. I'm feeling much less overwhelmed with my system now. They still need some work, but they're 'down' and they're not preventing me from getting things done on my current projects/actions.

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                        Which is my point, those are projects, they are never really done although I guess you can think of a single set of them being done, but they are not areas of focus, they are projects.
                        Yep, I largely agree. I just can't handle the idea of a project that never ends, so for me there would be a repeating series of identical projects, whereas for you it's the same project. But functionally, it sounds like essentially the same thing.

                        I think that it may be about the farming mindset, as I think you suggested in one of your posts. I think that mindset may mean that long, _long_ term goals feel infinitely more natural for you than they do for me.

                        My maximum comfortable planning unit of time is about a month, maybe less - if a project that I'm actively working on is going to take much longer than that, I'm likely to break it into subprojects. In place of that month, sounds like you're perfectly comfortable with multiple years, and reasonably comfortable with a lifetime.

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                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                          My maximum comfortable planning unit of time is about a month, maybe less - if a project that I'm actively working on is going to take much longer than that, I'm likely to break it into subprojects. In place of that month, sounds like you're perfectly comfortable with multiple years, and reasonably comfortable with a lifetime.
                          Probably is a farming mind. I grew up on a farm, dealing with seasonal things then got jobs in a high tech world, where you measured things in terms of nanoseconds. Now that I'm back farming I find it much more relaxing.

                          Very few of my projects finish in a month. I do tend to think in terms of years for most of them. And yes, even lifetime projects are not a big deal, I just try not to have too many of those at one time.

                          My biggest initial frustration with GTD was trying to fit my life into the timeframes suggested in the various books. When I let go of the timeframes and just focused on the behaviors, clearly defined projects, clear next actions, context based and complete capture I finally made progress in my GTD practice.

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