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  • Open ended projects

    I have a number of open end projects in my life. The prime example would be the fact that I maintain the website fory kids school. I keep this project open at all times, as stuff comes in my inbox, it gets dumped into that project.

    Is this the right way to deal with this kind of commitment?

  • #2
    The example you gave isn't a project; it's a 20,000 ft area of focus/responsibility. That stands along side things like your health, finances, family, spiritual practices, career, job responsibilities, etc. These are things that need to be maintained at some level. You do want to track them on a separate list from your projects or in a mind map. They never are marked off as "done" or go away unless your life changes at or above that level.

    Projects emerge from these higher areas of focus. For example, you might want to upgrade the web site's appearance or add some new features. That would be a project. Perhaps you need to set up an exercise program to improve your physical health. That's another project (an example of a "process project", in fact).

    Does that make sense?

    -Luke
    Last edited by ellobogrande; 11-10-2009, 07:58 PM. Reason: Content change

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    • #3
      Area of focus/responsibility.

      Originally posted by ellobogrande View Post
      The example you gave isn't a project; it's a 20,000 ft area of focus/responsibility.
      I agree - it is an area of focus/responsibility that you maintain. Project must have measurable, achievable successful outcome.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by apastuszak View Post
        Is this the right way to deal with this kind of commitment?
        I'm heretical because I think that projects can be open ended or recurring. Sure they fit into a larger area of focus but they are still projects in that they are multi action steps. Keep website current is a project to me even though action items will come and go depending on what's happening.

        If it's working and you aren't bothered by handling it that way leave it alone.
        If something is bothering you about that then perhaps you need to change to a more standard definition of project.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by apastuszak View Post
          I have a number of open end projects in my life. The prime example would be the fact that I maintain the website fory kids school. I keep this project open at all times, as stuff comes in my inbox, it gets dumped into that project.

          Is this the right way to deal with this kind of commitment?
          This sounds to me like a real project. A "successful outcome" doesn't necessarily mean that at some given date you will close everything down and file it away. Your ongoing successful outcome is that you keep the website up to date and include everything in it that belongs there without lagging behind. At any given moment, you will surely know whether the website is in a state of success. There's no need to get hung up or stalled on exact GTD definitions. That is counterproductive. It's the website that's important.

          Comment


          • #6
            What does it mean?

            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
            Keep website current is a project to me even though action items will come and go depending on what's happening.
            Originally posted by Day Owl View Post
            This sounds to me like a real project. A "successful outcome" doesn't necessarily mean that at some given date you will close everything down and file it away. Your ongoing successful outcome is that you keep the website up to date and include everything in it that belongs there without lagging behind.
            I do not believe in "ongoing successful outcomes" like "keep website current".

            What does it mean current? One second delay is OK? Or one minute? Or one hour? Or one day? Or one month? And so on...

            There is no such thing as "ongoing successful outcome" since you can never say that the project is done. Project can be in two states only: not done and done.

            "Keep website current" is not a project - it is an area of focus/responsibility.

            Comment


            • #7
              all are right

              Right is relative, meaning what works for you. If your way of looking at the website is not getting you the results you want, then you might try to apply the GTD paradigm more stringently. So in GTD thinking you might find that "keeping the website current" has:

              recurring tasks: so a project might be "recurring tasks are done on schedule" (and define the tasks and schedule)

              one-off tasks are completed as they come up (return call to school principal with date of big finale)

              projects: 1. "three student helpers enjoy serving as assistants each term"
              2. "we have a method for getting feedback from the content committee that we use when we put up new content and we review it"

              Subprojects: "student training module is completed by 11/15/09)"
              "student interviews for evaluation of experience are scheduled the last week if each term".

              Hope this helps. Depending on how the project fits with your experience and knowledge you may or may not have to break it down carefully and explicitly.
              Last edited by Jamie Elis; 11-11-2009, 01:57 PM. Reason: typos

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              • #8
                I agree it's probably an area of focus/responsibility.
                I can also see how it could also be a 'project' if it's fairly simple and you know all the steps etc (it ends in a year, no? )

                It may be subjective - if it feels 'overwhelming' as a project and if you often don't know what to do and where to start, where to find things, how to prioritize etc, it's probably an area of focus with smaller projects.
                The distinction between 'project' and AoF (and other horizons) was EXTREMELY helpful to me!!

                You probably have routines to eg update software (this could be an ongoing project or 'maintenance' if it's fairly simple) or keep track of things and people's plans or wishes (school calendar, events).

                A project under the 'maintain/update website' AoF might be 'move to another platform' or 'add pics from the Science day' (if someone else has taken them and you need to first identify or locate that person - anything more than one step) or 'add teachers' photos' (with possible steps or NAs such as 'get names of all the teachers' or names of any new teachers, 'get pics of all the teachers' - from teachers, school secretary or the photographer/s and maybe a checklist for this if needed - this could actually be a mini project, if you need pics from different people, or arrange for a photographer to visit first) or 'get content for the _specific part/s of the site_' if you are the one who puts it on and other people write it (if there are eg blogs that teachers/school admins update themselves it's easier)...

                A maintenance activity could be to evaluate the site each week (maybe as part of weekly review?) and see if anything needs to be done, talk to teachers/people also working on this (usually tech teachers) maybe monthly or weekly.. It's better to perhaps ask people in advance what they would like and clarify expectations than get any 'explosions' later when things weren't done the way they imagined it.. (You could ask teachers, headmaster, parents, kids.. what they'd like to see - depends again how much energy and time you have for this? And how important it is, what has been done already.. If it's new or fairly well set up, loved and appreciated and used with success?)

                Also, as stuff comes into your inbox, do you process it first?
                Last edited by Layla; 11-11-2009, 02:17 PM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                  Project can be in two states only: not done and done.
                  Not in my world. Projects can have all sort of states, done for this year, done for this season, done for this decade, done for this lifetime and yet almost all of my projects are also never done. Every project I work on will come back eventually in some form. In fact the more important projects will not be done within my lifetime at all, All I am doing is moving them forward a few actions at at time. Individual actions can take several years to finish, they are still single actions and it's still a project just a very very long time frame one.

                  I have a more traditional project that is keep ABWMSA web site current. I collect actions under that project as they come in (fix address for new BOD member, put sheep for sale ad up for member x, upload newsletter) and so on The project is never done because new actions come in all the time. It's part of my larger area of focus of Sheep Club work under my goal of Manage the Farm Sustainably. I can check it off as "done" each month when I clear all the current actions but it's going to come back again. Sometimes there are additional projects related to the web site but the main one still holds only single actions and is never done.

                  Another example is Process ABWMSA requests: It's a project that is never done as new requests always come in. Right now I have several register lambs for X requests in there for several people who have sent in lamb reports. Those are single action items under the project of process requests.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Whatever works for you!

                    I came up against this question too, so will pass on how I've approached it.

                    Strictly speaking this is an Area of Focus, aka a job responsibility. However, I think this could work in your GTD system by identifying "Maintain website" either as an Area of Focus or as a project. As others have said, the solution you choose will be based on your personal preference and perhaps the limitations of the GTD tools you use.

                    The end goal is that you are reminded of this particular responsibility during each review, which prompts you to ask "is there anything I need to be doing here?". If there is, you then need to have a place in which to capture and organise your next actions.

                    In my job I also have a responsibility to maintain our website. I use Omnifocus and have a folder called "Website and forum" (other folders include "Admin", "Market analysis", "Strategic planning" etc.). In this folder are kept the various "projects", subprojects and next actions that fall into this category. An example project is called "Newsletter" (which is strictly an Area of Focus), within which there may be either subprojects (e.g. "Publish newsletter" or "Collate articles") and/or single next actions (e.g. "Write trip report for newsletter article").

                    For me I try not to get too hung up on strict definitions except for next actions. I think the concepts of Area of Focus, project and subproject are dynamic heirarchies whose main roles are to ensure that (1) you are reminded of what you need to review for next actions and (2) you have a logical place to store those next actions.

                    I hope that makes sense!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Toby Jarvis View Post
                      An example project is called "Newsletter" (which is strictly an Area of Focus), within which there may be either subprojects (e.g. "Publish newsletter" or "Collate articles") and/or single next actions (e.g. "Write trip report for newsletter article").

                      For me I try not to get too hung up on strict definitions except for next actions. I think the concepts of Area of Focus, project and subproject are dynamic hierarchies whose main roles are to ensure that (1) you are reminded of what you need to review for next actions and (2) you have a logical place to store those next actions.
                      IMHO, "Newsletter" is not a project; it's an area of focus. "Publish November newsletter" is a project. "Draft article re: x for newsletter" would be a next action.

                      If you can't mark it off as done at some point, it's not a project. I feel it's important to draw the line between projects and areas of responsibility because if you can't mark it off as done, it will pollute your Projects list with things you can't ever finish. Then you might not want to look at it, maintain it and review it regularly because you never get to experience the win that crossing it off brings.

                      I know that I would start to attach negative feelings to my Projects list if I put things like "HOA web site" (one of my focus areas) on it. I don't have actions related to that web site every week. If I do have an update or change to make, "HOA web site" doesn't trigger the reminder of that outcome at a glance; I've numbed out to it after looking at it a few times. After getting no sense of win on those things week after week I wouldn't want to look at the list anymore. Then I'd start skipping weekly reviews and keeping my lists up to date. Eventually I'd fall off the GTD wagon altogether.

                      A GTD system is only as good as it's weakest component; don't let your Projects list be that weakest link by putting things on it that don't belong there.
                      Last edited by ellobogrande; 11-11-2009, 07:56 PM.

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                      • #12
                        So what is an Area of Focus?

                        Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                        Not in my world. Projects can have all sort of states, done for this year, done for this season, done for this decade, done for this lifetime and yet almost all of my projects are also never done. Every project I work on will come back eventually in some form. In fact the more important projects will not be done within my lifetime at all, All I am doing is moving them forward a few actions at at time. Individual actions can take several years to finish, they are still single actions and it's still a project just a very very long time frame one.
                        So what is an Area of Focus? Are there any Areas of Focus in your world?

                        "Anything you want to finish that's going to take more than one step to get there, but you can probably finish within the next few weeks or months would be a project." - David Allen (http://www.stephanspencer.com/genera...th-david-allen).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I recently moved into a new direction and I noticed some important and complex projects weren't moving ahead as they should be. What helped me the most was sitting down and really re-evaluating the purpose and successful outcome for each. It has made a tremendous difference. There is a real clarity that comes with that and I feel more confident I can take on new and more challenging things more easily and quickly.

                          I would treat "maintain website" as an area of focus. It's part of your job. If you want to have a project called that, then do so, but I recommend you create website maintenance projects for activities of more complexity or importance. There's another benefit. If you need to report to someone, you then you can pull together a more polished list than a list of small actions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                            So what is an Area of Focus? Are there any Areas of Focus in your world?
                            Yes I have areas of focus. I tend to group them in larger chunks because it's easier for me to work that way and also to see that I've got projects in all areas.

                            Maintain ties to Family and Friends
                            my spouse
                            friends
                            family members
                            Keep a Sustainable Farm
                            General Farm Work
                            Sheep Work
                            Wool Work
                            Sheep Club Work
                            Dog Work
                            Horse Work
                            Orchard Work
                            Poultry Work
                            Terror Ditch Work
                            Personal Development
                            Personal Health
                            Writing
                            Reading
                            Spinning
                            Knitting
                            Weaving
                            Sewing
                            Quilting
                            Scrapbooks
                            Photography
                            Genealogy
                            Computer and Technology
                            Keep House
                            Main House
                            Guest House
                            each of the 2 buildings we rent out
                            Community
                            Historical Society
                            Library
                            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.

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                            • #15
                              proficiency and personalization

                              I think that once a person becomes proficient in managing his or her life's work, the more his or her actual system will be individually tailored. It is like a math class. Most of us at the beginning need to learn the method as the teacher instructs and the teacher needs to find ways to teach it in its basic and essential form, including methods and principles. But once we get good at it we use short-cuts and work arounds, expansions, other tools, or individually developed methods. Of course, some math whizzes can see and use their own short-cuts right away (sometimes not a good practice because they are not rpepared for the next level, but that is another topic). So at the upper levels of proficiency in GTD we will see more themes and variations. It is worthwhile to read about these since they bring to light how people actually work their system, to understand their thinking., to see how they apply the same principles in a different way. One other observation is that the successful "personlizers" seem to have reasons that they articulate for their unique practices and the review the efficiacy of their practices.

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