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  • When does a move from something that is an active project to a someday / maybe

    I mean, suppose you have a project that you start but then other things take priority or you just do a small action on every now and then. At what point does it become a someday / maybe?

    How long between planning and starting or how long between actions means that it should move from your current projects to someday / maybe list?

  • #2
    I asked a similar question a little while ago. I think I would tend to keep projects like that on the Projects list but near the bottom until I officially give up on them.

    Before my recent GTD kick, I started a file called "Back Burner" that was huge, with every little thing I ever wanted and thought I needed to do listed (with dates) but was just low priority, so kept getting buried by higher priority tasks. As I get more GTD-ized, I realize I probably should have kept up with them more in real time by making use of small windows of time to sweep up where I can. So last Friday I reviewed her, and deleted a lot, filed a lot for reference, maybe did a few 2 minute ones, and I will keep reviewing and winnowing until I feel better about it. I can't emphasize enough how freeing the reviewing process is to me. To me it is well worth the relatively small time commitment it takes.

    That brings up an interesting (to me) aside - if you keep your Projects and other lists in Windows notepad or a similar simple text program like I do, how do you order them? By priority, date, etc? In a system that can be easily sorted that shouldn't be an issue. I ask because I just started a Projects list, and it is sorted basically by due date, which is sort of a proxy for priority, right?

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    • #3
      It depends on how well you do your weekly review.

      There are really two extreme answers to this question. On the one hand you can ask yourself "if I only had that context available and I had all the time in the world, would I still care enough to do this?" If you answer no to that question then it should definitely move to your someday/maybe list. At the other extreme, if you regularly review your someday/maybe list during your weekly review then you can feel a lot more comfortable giving yourself permission to put things on the someday/maybe list cause you know you will have the opportunity to move it back to your action list next week if you are ready to act on it then.

      Between these two, I recommend the latter. If you there's no way the opportunity will arise in the following week to act on it (because the context won't be available or because you don't care enough to act on it in the following week) then move it to your someday/maybe. If you do your weekly review properly you know you'll have the opportunity to reassess the situation next week.

      I hope that helps.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by macgrl View Post
        I mean, suppose you have a project that you start but then other things take priority or you just do a small action on every now and then. At what point does it become a someday / maybe?
        For me personally, Someday/Maybe is when I won't get to any actions on that project for over a year or more. For me I have to go through a full year of seasonal issues before I know whether something is truly someday/maybe.

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        • #5
          I have a Not Yet file, which is between someday/maybe and active. These are projects I definitely want to do, but I don't cant do immediately. Often its because I don't have time, sometimes we wont have the money right now, or I cant do it because its the wrong time of year. I got the idea from GTD fast where its referred to as SDMB soon and SDMB later. Seemed easier to rename that.

          When I do the weekly review I check through and see if anything needs to be brought forward. Unlike the somday/maybe I check the Not Yet list each week as carefully as the project list. The SDMB list just gets checked every few weeks, and more carefully once a month.

          I did it for two reasons. one is that my SDMB list was becoming very long and blurred - some long term goals, some idle dreams, some things that I needed to do within the year. I don't need to be reminded that I want to learn Spanish every week. So when the weekly review came I would often skip over it because I knew there were 50 irrelevant topics for that week.

          The other reason is that if I kept all the things I wanted to do here as active projects with NAs, I'd either move them all along very very slowly, or I'd be constantly looking past dozens of NAs week after week that never changed, which would just annoy me in the end.

          In my latest job I was charged with turning around a charity that had basically been neglected for the past 5 years and so within a month I identified enough work to last me a few years. However you look at it, there are things that need doing ahead of others. Its just that those others need to be done in the end.

          I wanted to have a mechanism where I could check things at the project level without wasting time making next actions. At first I made all my projects live and would just not do them if it didnt seem fit, but the trouble is the world around me changed. What was the NA on a project one week suddenly isnt the NA the following week. The phone call to that guy doesn't matter anymore because someone else contacted me. Contacting the local government one week becomes taking advice from a solicitor the next, due to something that I learned in between. Arranging a meeting with my colleagues doesnt need doing, because we arranged one for something else and can add this item to the agenda.

          I realised that I was wasting time week after week writing up the next actions for projects that were never getting done, because I couldn't leave them indefinitely. If I left something for 4 weeks, Id do 4 weekly reviews, maybe rewrite the actions twice. Times that by 20 projects, that a lot of effort for zero output.

          So in the end I came up with this compromise that seems to work fairly well.

          The only problem is that I might miss small opportunities to move those projects on because the NA isnt defined. Thats a trade off that cant be avoided. When I do the weekly review I try and made sure there's a nice range of projects and next actions. So if all my NAs are heavy all-day jobs, I'll bring forward a dozen smaller projects and put NAs on them so theres a range of things to do. Its not ideal, but then the system cant match the complexity of life, and that trade off suits me better than having all those projects live, or in SDMB.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by macgrl View Post
            I mean, suppose you have a project that you start but then other things take priority or you just do a small action on every now and then. At what point does it become a someday / maybe?

            How long between planning and starting or how long between actions means that it should move from your current projects to someday / maybe list?
            There's no hard rule in GTD about when something should become Someday/Maybe because you've not done the next physical action. I recall David Allen saying in a lecture that he had an action on his list that sat there for weeks because he knew that he'd require six hours of uninterrupted time in a given context. He didn't feel bad about it or move the project to Someday/Maybe. All he could do was watch and wait for that opportunity to show up and be ready for it.

            As you review your projects during your weekly review you should decide if the project still has relevant value right now. If it no longer does but it might again someday, move it to S/M.

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            • #7
              Someday vs. Maybe

              I've been using Things for Mac for about a year now, after using the GTD Add-in for outlook for several years. One of the features I like about Things is the ability to Schedule a project or task. This removes the project (or next action) from your next action/project list until a specific date.

              This allows me to move projects (and next actions) in and out of my current lists on a weekly basis as I do my weekly review and plan for the use of discretionary time during the upcoming week based on what is on my calendar, and the priority projects that I have to move forward.

              Yes, this cuts down on the number of next actions I have to choose from in a given context, but I've found that by doing this I actually complete my projects faster than if I leave all of them as current/active.

              I suppose it is not strictly GTD, though in several places David does mention that the ability to say no or at last to renegotiate commitments and move things to someday maybe is a critical skill.

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