GTD & project management software

A GTD implementer asked: Can I use project management software for my GTD lists?

Coach Wayne Pepper: From our perspective, project management tools are good for Project Support, not necessarily Next Action lists though. In other words, if I have a project that is so complex and intertwined that it needs to be broken down into several sub-projects–many of which are contingent upon one another–then that kind of tool is a really good tool for supporting that project by capturing all those moving parts and pieces, and identifying how they relate to one another. Those tools are not as good however, for capturing and contextually categorizing all the discrete, granular next actions which support all those moving parts and pieces. A simple list manager is often a better central hub for organizing ALL of your Next Action–related and not related to your projects.

Watch the Webinar Wayne did for our GTD Connect members on Organizing Project Plans.

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  1. I find that I have very few standalone actions and almost all projects in the GTD sense as I understand it.

    Example: apparently simple atomic next action “phone to make appointment” easily morphs into a project if I get voicemail and leave a message asking for an appointment. Now I have to set a follow up at a date appropriate for the time scale, in case they don’t get back to me which is a second action and it’s now become a GTD project. If I have to follow up I want to know when I called originally so it’s not enough to create a new simple action, I have to keep an audit trail.

    So I think the question is deeper than it appears or there are different definitions of project in the question and answer. Of course it’s also entirely possible that I’m not fully understanding GTD!

  2. @GregK
    I think you are grasping GTD just fine.

    Using your example it could very easily be a project if you define is as one, however I’m not sure it fits the definition of a Project.

    I would say you have a project if the steps to get it done are not obvious. For example, I don’t setup a project “brush teeth” because I know the actions to accomplish that. Also, I don’t have a Calendared item telling me to mow the lawn – it’s obvious when it’s time to mow the lawn. (these are examples from one of David’s seminars)

    Back to your example, since your phone call leads to leaving a voicemail… you may be doing enough by setting up a “Waiting For” and then reviewing that list weekly.

    Hope that helps.

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