The definition of a project in GTD® is any outcome that requires more than 1 next action to achieve.
This could be as complex as launching a new product line, or repairing a car tire.
This variety in project complexity and size offer leads people to assume that each project has to be managed the same way in their list manager.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
My advise, simplify where possible.
In this blog post, I describe method I use to manage less complex projects – repairing a car tire – in Evernote.
Let’s define the simple project
I think of a simple project as one that has all of the factors below:
- a single thread of next actions (further explained below)
- a few number of next actions (somewhere between 2 and 4)
- no more than one piece of content (completed action notes or action support material) that I would need to maintain
‘Single thread of next actions’ defined
Let me explain further what I mean by a single thread of next actions.
Let’s consider two projects – Project A and Project B.
Project A depicted below, is a project that has more than one thread which means that at any one point in time there could be two next actions both in the system. These two next actions for be A1 and A2, or A1 and B3 (if A2 has been completed) and so forth. But Project A is one out become there is a single outcome defined that requires both C1 and C2 to be completed.
Project B on the other hand, has only one next action active at any one point in time. It is also a single project – it has one outcome defined by action C being completed. Project B has what I call, a single thread.
No project file for simple projects
For complex (not simple) projects, I create a project folder with an Evernote notebook. For simple projects, I do not create an extra Evernote notebook – this is just too must complexity for what I need to do. Instead here is what I do.
- “Single Items” Notebook: I keep one notebook for single next actions that I title “Single Items”.
- ^Next Action tag: I create the first next action for that project, give it the appropriate context (e.g. @Calls) and the ^Next Action tag.
- Remembering thread: In the body of the note, I may document the project outcome and I usually document what would be the next action in the thread. Hence in next action A (from Project B above), I would add: “Next Action: B, C”.
Then as I complete the next action for the project, I can simply refer to the body of the note and remind myself of the project outcome and what I had initially brainstormed the next action to be. I can either complete this next action (if in the right context), or change the tags and title of the note to that of next action B.
In other words, I am using one Evernote note to track the entire project.
Do you prefer checkboxes to notes as your next action?