I´m not using projects so much - heresy or can it still work?
I've been using GTD for around 2.5 years now and like to think I'm okay at it.
I've developed a habit over that time of always thinking of the next action for a project if I finish the last action and writing it down either in Notepad (Palm), Outlook, Keysuite Tasks (Palm) or a note in the intray.
Also with time I´ve also seemed to have stopped writing a complete project list. Those on the list tend to be the sort of project that are slow burning move forward irregularly and therefore are more easily forgotten. Many projects never make it to the list. They start as an action and then just carry on with subsequent actions on the action list. I seem to have got pretty good at predicting when I need to have that "stake in the ground" as DA calls it and when I don't.
I´m not saying I never make a mistake and forget to write the next action, or fail to remember a current project but it happens rarely and the extra work in keeping a complete project list seems a lot compared to what I gain from it.
Is this heresy? It´s ironic because in the past the project list has been the thing I most raved about. Now it seems not so necessary to me. Has anyone had a similar experience using GTD?
What is the purpose of the project list?
Is an incomplete Projects List Heresy? It all depends on what you see as the purpose of the Projects List. If you only see it as the place to keep the "stake in the ground" to remind you that there is still something left to do to complete something, and you work your system in the way that you describe, where the NA list itself often becomes the stake in the ground for most projects, then it would be a waste of time to maintain a complete Projects Lists, as you have discovered for yourself - it would be extra work with no payoff.
However, there are other possible purposes to maintaining a complete projects list, one of them being having an objective inventory of your current work load (at the level of projects), which can be a useful tool to have for deciding whether or not to take on a new project at the moment (or if it is time to park one to make room for a new one). I, myself, have a workflow situation which makes this valuable, as I suspect is the case for David Allen, and many other users of GTD.
The Project List also helps me to evaluate and evolve my workflow in terms of the higher altitutdes - it becomes a very valuable reference point in terms of reviewing how well I'm allocating my energy and resources in terms of reaching my longer term goals, visions and higher values.
The bottom line is to only use the tools and techniques which have a purpose that serves your purpose. As David Allen says in Ready For Anything, "Chapter 28. Form and function must match for maximum productivity. ...The difference between structures that support and those that constrict is simply their alignment with the purpose. Meetings scheduled too frequently for what they are trying to accomplish will be unattractive and unattended...."
So, not using a complete Projects List is not heresy, as long as your methods, tools, and techniques align you with getting your things done with the minimum amount of friction and resistance.
internalized = back in the head?
Originally Posted by Brent
If "...you've completely internalized the Projects list" is a way of saying "your head is successfully holding all of that again", then this isn't a particularly successful technique.
However, if the purpose of the Projects Lists is being addressed by another application of an external system, then it is not beneficial in the long run.