View Full Version : new to GTD - question about projects
08-05-2005, 12:13 PM
Hello everyone! I am new to GTD. I just (this morning) finished listening to the audible.com audio version of Getting Things Done and am completely sold. I have completed collecting and processing an inbox at home and plan on starting the process at work next week (I'm a teacher and still have a couple weeks left before school starts again - it will be really nice to implement the system without having day-to-day things to worry about right away).
I'm sure I'll have lots of questions - but right now designating and naming projects is a bit confusing to me. I have a lot of multi-action projects on my list that obviously belong - like, "organize photographs," or "prepare course syllabus." These are both things that I can complete but that require a few actions to do so. But I don't know if the really big amorphous things that you can't really ever finish belong on the project list - like, "improve overall health," or "develop collaborative relationship with other teachers" belong there. Is it OK to put a project on the list that you will never check off as complete? Or should there be a separate section for those big out-there aspirations?
08-05-2005, 12:33 PM
The really big amorphous like "improve overall health" probably belong on your Someday/Maybe list. Your project list should only be things that you are actively working on. If you do a weekly review (which is when you should look at Someday/Maybe) and decide to do something about "improve overall health", you will probably think of a more concrete project like, "sign up for a gym." Then the next actions would be things like "Look at gyms in the neighborhood."
08-05-2005, 03:40 PM
That's a great question! I think most people think of topics like health and organizational climate at "higher altititudes," i.e. what Allen calls 30,000 feet or so rather than the day to day runway level or 10,000 feet short term project level. (I don;t remember which chapter of the book discusses different altitudes.)
I don't think these things themselves are someday/maybe projects since you are working on them more or less constantly, though these goals could regularly generate both immediate and someday/maybe projects. One thing to do is look at these larger goals during each weekly review and ask yourself, "what can I do in the coming week to advance this goal?" Perhaps research road races in the near future to train for, sign up for a class, buy new sport-appropriate shoes, etc. What sort of things do you do to develop collaborative relationships? Perhaps ask for a colleagues opinion on a project, schedule a meeting, make a point of just having coffee with someone? A someday/maybe goal might be compete in a triathlon or apply for a grant.
I found my tickler particularly helpful for health matters. For example, I have a note on a piece of scrap paper in the month when I need to make an appt for my next pap smear. But most of the things that make the biggest difference in our health are long term everyday habits. I let my tickler help me with this too. For me, losing a few pounds, (or at least not gaining weight) boils down to planning ahead. So every morning I look at some daily reminders that say:
"Plan well to eat well," and "Exercise today."
I decide what kind of exercise I'll do and when, and jot down a few notes about what I plan to cook or is readily available to eat. I never follow it exactly, but just glancing in the frig in the morning helps me avoid eating crap later in the day because I've reminded myself that I have healthy stuff on hand, and when appropriate I make a note that I need to take something out of the freezer to make or put something on the shopping list.
Of course, most people probably have more complex and well-oiled routines for meal planning, especially if they have kids, but this has made a big difference for me.
To get back to your original question, though, it's not on my project list, or NA list. I'm sure you'll get lots of suggestions, as everyone tweaks GTD to fit their situation.
08-05-2005, 03:50 PM
But I don't know if the really big amorphous things that you can't really ever finish belong on the project list - like, "improve overall health," or "develop collaborative relationship with other teachers" belong there. Is it OK to put a project on the list that you will never check off as complete? Or should there be a separate section for those big out-there aspirations?
I recommend a separate list for things like this -- as long as you also create projects out of them.
For example, "improve overall health." How do you want to accomplish this? Perhaps you want to swim three times a week. Okay, "Swim three times a week" becomes a Project, with its appropriate Next Actions.
I've identified ten major areas of my life that I want to address -- Health, Cooking, Finances, etc. -- but have several Projects for each of these.
08-05-2005, 06:38 PM
I've realized, as I am learning to set up my projects most effectively, that I was doing this too - things such as "improve overall health" belong at the 20,000 foot level - an area of focus and responsibilty.
The key to the 20,000 foot level is to regularly ensure that there are projects (which have concrete end points) which are set to move them forward.
projects, and next actions need to be concrete, with clear actions and end-points in order for the system to run smoothly.
08-05-2005, 07:05 PM
What Jeff K. said. If "improve health" is the only health-related item in your system, it probably isn't going to happen. Long term goals, like any other goals, move forward by a series of discrete actions. GTD in particular is a bottom-up, not top-down planning system.
So, from a GTD perspective, it doesn't really matter where you put "improve health." What matters is that you have an immediately doable Next Action that will put you closer to that goal.