GTD for Homemakers: Maintaining Project Lists

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31 Days to GTD for Homemakers & Homeschoolers

As we develop this 31 Days to GTD for Homemakers series, we will learn how to renegotiate what we are going to do on the fly, creating a reliable intuition about what is “right” at that moment, in the current circumstance.

Getting Things Done blends proactive uber-planning with reactive spontaneity: the perfect productivity approach for a mother.

Previous Post: An Effective Next-Actions List

Lists of Projects

David Allen, as is his wont, has a precise definition for “project” in Getting Things Done. In his model, a project has two primary characteristics:

  1. It is anything that requires more than one task to accomplish.
  2. It has a finish line and can be accomplished, finished, completed.

For projects, you need a master-list, an “index” of projects. Some projects might even need their own separate control system — a binder? a file folder? You need some way to handle any paperwork associated with that project. Not all projects need this, so don’t be rigid. Only go as far as is useful. Most projects will only need their own list or sheet of notes and ideas, and one paper will suffice.

I keep all my lists on Evernote now, which makes it easy to keep related notes together and see at a glance what lists I have. However, I still need a better set up for those responsibilities that require a folder of papers. If you keep all your project notes in one place, then simply paging through them will probably be enough of an index so you can track what projects you have on your plate. Only go on to the next level of complexity if it makes keeping tabs on things easier.

For some people, this will mean taking the additional step of prettifying a clipboard or binder, because they can’t use something that isn’t pretty. Some people don’t mind a utilitarian look and don’t want to “waste their time” on that. The key is to do what it takes to make it simple and attractive to you. I like a proliferation of lists and categories and sub-sub-categories. When I “cut back” and “simplify” my lists, other people still often consider them complex, but that is what keeps them attractive and useful to me. So, think of your style, and fit the list-keeping and list-making to your style.

With my lists kept electronically, I have the ability to tag them, so I can keep them in a particular project “notebook,” but tag them according to context or energy or even time. A helpful tag in my task lists has been the “5m” & “15m” tag: a reminder that really, all I need is five or fifteen minutes to get this accomplished. That can be an encouragement to just do it and then get to mark it completed.

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Next: GTD for Homemakers: Lists for Now & Later