Moleskine Retro PDA Part6 - Project Pages
The Index is constantly added to during the week. (see flickr.com/photos/mrmole/2915490506/in/set-72157606467254...
Every Monday morning I undertake the all important GTD "Weekly Review" (WR) which is 30 minutes to an hour where I do nothing but process my thoughts and tasks for the week. One part of the WR is to process my INBOX and one of the options I have for a task is to move it to its own project. A "project" is something which contains one or more subtasks in order to complete it. I have based this loosely on GTD terms although I normally call projects an actual project that I am undertaking at home or work and then list tasks and break them down within. Here, a task may have many subtasks which in GTD terminology would be another project; which I suppose this all still stands in a way. I have a project (project X say) which contains a number of tasks that need to be completed in order to achieve the goal of the project (which is normally to get all my commitments to the project done and so work out of my way).
One of the tasks may be, for example, to complete a Test Plan document. So I take this from the INBOX (if indeed it started life in there) and move it to the Project X page that I either create or have created. The big thing then and what I believe is what makes a lot of the GTD idea make sense, is that you don't simply leave it like that. The aim of GTD is to empty your head in order to allow you to actually think about what you are doing instead of it being crammed with what you should be doing or what you will be doing. So to "complete a Test Plan document" is quite a big task and just that itself brings up a lot of questions in your head. How will I start it, what shall I include in it, when shall I put the requirements cross references in, who will peer review it? By putting this one task onto the project you have filled your head up once again with everything and you need to do something about that. So, thinking in a GTD way, you need to ask as soon as you have written that task down "what next?". What needs to be done in order to have that one task complete? If it turns out that all you need to do is that one task then everything is fine, but if you find yourself straight away thinking about how you would approach the task and you have to do x, y and z in order to tick it off the list then you need to split it up, create it into its own sub-project of the main project.
We see then that a true task must be a single item, it must be able to be started and finished without needing anything else. If that is not the case then you must split it up. Everything looks a lot more manageable when split up into small chunks, both in your head and, more importantly as you wish to get things like this out of your head, on paper.
Each task on the project page is written with a dash in the front in the format "- write test plan" for example. There is no real idea behind the dash, it just seemed to evolve with how I write lists, but in fact it makes a good marker and spacer in order to allow further marking up. One such mark would be to put a tick through the dash to show that it has been done. I could have had make this dash into a little box that could be ticked, but dashes make a block of text look more like a list when done in my handwriting!
The project pages are the main home for tasks, taken from mostly the INBOX page and they stay there until complete. There are "one or many" project pages within the Moleskine book, these are grouped into three sections. Each project has at least half a page to itself, if I believe it will be a bigger project then it has its own page. The first pages of projects are "personal" projects, such a finance, home, school, car, diy... just general personal type things that can all be turned into projects in the GTD sense. The next projects are all work related and take up most of the room, it is a sad fact that work takes up a lot of ones life and it is when having things under control pay off the most. The last collection of projects are things I am doing for friends, and scripts that I said I would work on or articles I said I would write for friends and various "free time" groups that I am a member of or help with.
At this point, we still only have a list that has gone from a big big list to a number of sublists on different pages which themselves are split further into smaller sub projects. A future post will explain what happens next, how do you get all this information into something you can handle on a weekly basis?