New Projects - what do you *do*?

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Sep 20, 2005, 3:16:56 PM9/20/05
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One of the loosely explored areas of GTD is the area of projects. Sure,
they're multi-step tasks that require breaking down using the Natural
Planning methodology, but how do project fit into *your* implementation
of GTD? My question is this:

What do you physically *do* when opening a new project?

Do you break out a new Manilla folder, label it and slip it into your
"pending" folder? Is it useful to fill in a templated "Project Plan"
sheet that forces you work the steps of Goals, Define Wild Success,
Brainstorm, etc? What do you consider "project support materials", and
are these materials subject to the weekly review? What is the dividing
line between project support materials and general reference filing and
how can you tell the difference?

Next Action lists are pretty clearly defined and easy to manage. Less
has been said about helping people wrangle new projects and wring the
most out of partially completed projects and their materials.

- Fatlimey.


Sep 20, 2005, 5:49:19 PM9/20/05
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I do everything paper-based, so what I do at first is just what you
said: pull out a new manila folder and label it (with "&" before the
project name, for easier identification later). I immediately put into
it one sheet of paper with the name of the project, and write on it the
inbox item that prompted the creation of the project. Sometimes I'll
immediately break down that task into subtasks and pick a @next action
(or more than one), other times I'll just leave it be for the moment
and do that when I go through the rounds of project reviews.

Generally, everything immediately related to the actions I'll be doing
goes in that same folder, unless it's a very large volume (this hasn't
been an issue so far). More general reference material that is already
filed in my general files stays there, but anything that is generated
by this project and is not yet in general files stays in the project
folder until the project is finished, or until those materials are no
longer needed by the project.

See my post under "How do contexts work?" for how I relate project
tasks to @next actions while doing reviews.

Michael Langford

Sep 20, 2005, 7:33:28 PM9/20/05
When I physically begin a new project, all I do is I write it down on
my project list. I don't make a folder for it until there is something
that needs to be filed. I don't make a project plan, because honestly,
only about 10-15% of my projects require one. Sometimes I write or do
the first next action, however that's not an always, especially if I'm
not sure what that is.

Michael Langford --- 404-386-0495
The demon that you can swallow gives
you its power, and the greater life's pain,
the greater life's reply --Joeseph Campbell


Sep 21, 2005, 8:09:08 AM9/21/05
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I struggled with this one myself.

My implementation of the GTD system is focused around my Dell Axim
Pocket PC pda. I didn't want to store anything in a place I'd have to
remember to check (to create less resistance), so something I have
found to work is to simply put a next action wherever it belongs on my
list, and keep the associated project information in the notes section
of that task. Then, when that action is complete, I just change it to
whatever I need to do next, and mark the progress I've made in the note
for that task.

As for the project list itself, and other lists, I am using
Streamliner. I decided against Pocket Think because my OPML editor
didn't immediately recognize the OPML it generated, and I find that the
rtf export capability in Streamliner is actually more productive in
that I can use MS Word's outlining features and it's easy to print
lists out if I need to.


Josh Rothman

Sep 21, 2005, 10:14:39 AM9/21/05
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I've developed a big crazy hybrid system of GTD that might not relate
to yours. But I have, in effect, two project lists: a list called
"Active Projects" and another one called "Project Watch List."

Often when I create a new project, it goes on the Project Watch List.
This is where I put projects that I'm not actively working on right
now, but that I know I need to keep track of, because soon work will be
appropriate. Usually I haven't planned out or really thought about any
actions for these projects yet.

When the fancy strikes, or during the weekly review, I will often pull
out a sheet of paper and turn a project on the Watch List into an
Active Project. This means that I've written out a sheet with a diagram
or a list of actions and goals and ideas. This happens anywhere:
sometimes I do it on the computer, sometimes in a notebook, sometimes
on a sheet of paper which I put into one of those clear document holder
files. (In my notebook, I mark projects with little flags so I know
where they are.) I do whatever seems most appropriate for that project.
In general, the idea is that it doesn't matter where my info lives, as
long as I look at it once a week. So I have projects in Backpack, in a
Moleskine, in a file on my computer, on loose leaf -- really anywhere.

My big epiphany re: projects was realizing that I could do whatever I
wanted with them, as long as I look at them once a week. The main
thing, in my case, is to keep my Active Projects list updated and in my


Sep 21, 2005, 3:06:34 PM9/21/05
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What I do is take off my shoes and stand up on my chair and announce to
the world:
Ahem am starting a new project.
Then I get down off the chair and put my shoes back on,

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