View Full Version : Best GTD resources to learn how to handle projects?
04-26-2007, 11:20 AM
Right now, it's handling how to define and handle projects that's my roadblock in GTD. Can anyone suggest the best places to learn about projects in GTD literature? I'm finding the definition that a project is anything that needs more than one action to be overwhelming.
04-26-2007, 11:54 AM
Thanks for the question; it's certainly a difficult issue, and a tough one to grapple with.
Would you feel comfortable telling us more about the problem you're having? I'm afraid I'm having trouble understanding why that definition -- a Project is any work that has more than one Task -- feels overwhelming to you.
04-26-2007, 12:18 PM
I think it might help to try to answer in your project outcome statement what, when, where you/others will know that the [project is done and done right.
I did not do this when I made the error of confusing a higher level intention with a project. For example, I defined a project as "make sure that my mother was humanely treated in the nursing home." In fact that was not really a project but a guiding value that translated into several projects: visit 2x/week; attend care conferences; colaborate with other visitors to monitor her situation; provide her with art, food and music that she liked. And another guiding value would have been, "preserve my mental health while mother is in nursing home", which would then be translated into several specific projects for taking care of myself.
I think the first question is "does this have more than one step?, then draft a statement answering the who, waht, when kinds of questions, then ask is this more than one project? But, I have not figured out what questions to ask to determine how to break a project down to subprojects. It seems that one needs to have a lot of knowledge of the content area of a project to do this, experience, and a good analytic mind. But maybe there are some questions or guidelines to ask yourself to determine this.
04-26-2007, 01:31 PM
I like the definition of an entry on one's project list as "a stake in the ground"--a reminder of an open loop.
Generally, I don't worry about adding projects to my list during the week, even if they're small, two-step projects. It's during the weekly review that I check my list for overlap, missing sub-projects, etc.
I think it's very important not to overplan small projects. I would recommend developing a separate project plan or checklist only at the point when it seems necessary--whether because of complexity or urgency.
04-26-2007, 03:12 PM
I did a podcast with David Allen on managing project actions, that may be helpful for you. It should be released any day now on our public site. You can subscribe to our podcasts to get it when it comes out:
Here's also a new (free) article from David you can download from our store that you might enjoy as well:
I have a list that serves as a master inventory of all of the 46 projects on my plate right now, personally and professionally. In our experience, most people have about 30 to 100 projects that could go on this kind of list. The project is always defined for me as the outcome I expect to be true when I can mark the project off as "done." I will always have some kind of verb that describes that, such as complete, finalize, submit, research etc. Page 155+ in the GTD book gives lots of good information about defining and organizing projects.
If you're looking for a good GTD project planning tool, check out page 54 of the book which talks about the Natural Planning Model.
If I'm not willing to make any commitment to taking any action on a particular project within the next 3 months or so, it's very likely a Someday/Maybe, not a current Project. That's a great list for incubating projects I might like to get to at some point (or perhaps not at all). My only commitment to the things on Someday/Maybe is to look at the list in my Weekly Review.
Hope this helps,
04-26-2007, 10:14 PM
In the past, I had no need to elaborate projects so I have little idea how to do it. I found "Thinking Rock (http://www.thinkingrock.com.au)" a very good tool to improve in this area. We should complete exactly the same steps David Allen mentions in his book. Now, I don't write everything to every project. But in many times it helps me not only clarify but also do the actions as a recovering procrastinator.
A new version is coming soon, more complete, much better.
04-27-2007, 11:34 PM
If you work on a Macintosh computer, you can watch the Projects Tutorial (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RdHJUslWYdk&feature=relmfu) that comes with Ready-Set-Do! - a GTD implementation for the Mac (http://www.readysetdo.com). It explains -- step-by-step -- what is involved in getting clear on projects.
Typically the most overlooked elements of Projects are the following:
1. Not clarifying standards of the project (see pg. 58-59)
2. Not dividing actionable components of the project into Mission Critical, Key Milestones, and Deliverables. (see pg. 58-59)
3. Not reviewing the Purpose/Standards/Outcomes weekly during the weekly review for new ideas and fresh motivation to complete the project.
4. Not learning the vertical dimensionality of projects -- as they connect with your higher level roles, goals, and purposes. (see 30-50,000ft Review)