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Projects: do you use "Folders" or "Goals" for projects?



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Christian

Posted: Jan 08, 2012
Score: 2



Well, I use Folders for Projects. Mainly for the reason, that I sync and manage a lot on my iPhone and iPad with PocketInformant in GTD Style. And that's the only way as far as I know PI can do that.
WilcoBis

Posted: Feb 05, 2012
Score: 3



Goals have a different and specific destination, so I avoid it for projects. I also avoid tasks/subtasks because I see them to target action/task difference.
I see two remaining options: folders and tags.
The key factor for the decision probably is the Projects number. Folders are ok when a small number of projects is involved. In my case projects number tend to explode, so I use... Tags!
Tags have also the great benefit to allow an action to belong to two or more projects.
Lance

Posted: Feb 06, 2012
Score: 7



As a long time GTD adherant, I would sugest keeping it simple. GTD is based arround gaining confidence from using a system that you trust to make good choices about what to do next. That is, its a way of management based on intuition.

My setup is very simple.

One folder that lists all my projects; no star, status or any other settings. I do use a due date but only for those projects that actually are due on or by a specific date.

One folder for my Next Actions by context; @home, @office, @errands, @staff meeting, @agendas with a few key people having thier own context (@Tom), etc. I have a couple of standing meetings that I'll throw things I want to discuss in here as well; @staff meeting, etc.

And seperate folders for Waiting For and Someday/Maybe.

Subtasks...NOPE. I used to use them planning out every single next action for every single project (more than 2 actions) and it was too wieldy. My next actions only contain that single next action I need to take to move it forward to completion. I use Evernote for a lot of my large project plans. As for smaller ones, I just use the notes section of the project task.

I do use goals though. These are more in the 30-40k foot level. Not all of them are in TD, but a few are where there is an active project to support their accomplishment.

As you can see, its a vanilla copy of the GTD Book.
brian1105

Posted: Feb 14, 2012
Score: 2



Interesting approach Lance.

Do you have any way of linking a task in your projects folder with its next action in the Next Actions folder, or do you just have to remember that in your own head?
kazaan

Posted: Feb 15, 2012
Score: 1



As some one who has just starts using toodledo and currently reading DAllen's GTD for the first time, all your views and posts on how you have organised TD for GTD are hugely thought provoking. I commend your effort and thank you all.

i take away 2 words to guide my process - simple and intiutive.
Canyon Russell

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



So i have been using, for the last two months, the task/subtask distinction for projects. I have created a 'Projects' context into which I put all the project 'tasks'. I then create subtasks and assign each of them to a given context. This process is OK but has one major limitation. Both the Toodledo web app and the mobile app I use (Ultimate ToDo List) don't have a function for creating a task as a subtask of another item unless you first navigate to the parent task and initiate the subtask there.

For example, I have a "Repair Window" task in my Projects context. I have a subtask for "call repair man" with a context of Phone. As I'm on my lunch break, I look at my Phone list and go OK I need to call my repair man. We schedule a time to have him come over and he says 'please move any furniture you have in front of the window.' Since I can't do it now, I hit the new task button and put "Move furniture from window" and give it a 'Home' context. Now that task is orphaned, unconnected to the "Repair Window" project. I would have had to navigate to the Projects list, open the "Repair Window" task and then hit "create subtask" inorder for it to be properly categorized. The experiance with the web app, while somewhat simpler, is similar.

If Project was a data type, like folders and goals, then both the mobile app and the web app would have a drop down with my only active projects (thus the need for project status) that I could use to assign this task to that project.

I'm sad to say that this keeps me looking for another ToDo application. It's even more unfortunate that no one else handles this any better.
JPR

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 1



Posted by Canyon Russell:
For example, I have a "Repair Window" task in my Projects context. I have a subtask for "call repair man" with a context of Phone. As I'm on my lunch break, I look at my Phone list and go OK I need to call my repair man. We schedule a time to have him come over and he says 'please move any furniture you have in front of the window.' Since I can't do it now, I hit the new task button and put "Move furniture from window" and give it a 'Home' context. Now that task is orphaned, unconnected to the "Repair Window" project. I would have had to navigate to the Projects list, open the "Repair Window" task and then hit "create subtask" inorder for it to be properly categorized. The experiance with the web app, while somewhat simpler, is similar.


One workaround for your specific example is to search for 'window' and then you can drag your orphan into the parent from the search results. Of course, you need to do that right after you enter the orphan, which isn't always ideal.

The trick I use is to pre-pend the orphan with "+"... essentially a marker that says "I am an orphan". I created a saved search which shows active projects AND tasks beginning with "+" so, I can isolate everything for easy drag and drop at my weekly review. If the orphan is the active next action, I may not even make it to the weekly review. In that case, the "+" is a visual prompt that the task belongs to a project and I'll need to activate the 'next' next action.
Canyon Russell

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 1



JPR, That's a great work around, I'll give it a try.

It's just frustrating that a product that is so great in so many ways, forces us to develop these work arounds for such a fundamental part of the GTD process. It would be so easy to fix. If they would just implement 'Projects' all these complaints would go away. And with the standard ability to 'disable' any features, it wouldn't even effect people that didn't want it.

I'm just amazed that no currently available web app handles this well. Believe me, I have tried them ALL.
PeterW 

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 1



Posted by Canyon Russell:
JPR, That's a great work around, I'll give it a try.

It's just frustrating that a product that is so great in so many ways, forces us to develop these work arounds for such a fundamental part of the GTD process. It would be so easy to fix. If they would just implement 'Projects' all these complaints would go away. And with the standard ability to 'disable' any features, it wouldn't even effect people that didn't want it.

I saw a post recently over on the official Dave Allen GTD forums from one of the staff regarding project handling. It made me stop and realise that I had been dicking around for too long with poor project handling here. It simply said: Get a better tool that doesn't repel you from tracking your commitments. It was true... the tool was making it hard for me to get things done! It's hard enough already to get more complex things done (i.e. projects) so when the tool makes it more difficult, it's time to rethink.

Posted by Canyon Russell:
I'm just amazed that no currently available web app handles this well. Believe me, I have tried them ALL.

I agree. I don't think we will see any major change to this in Toodledo as it seems the vast majority of (silent) users are happy the way it is. Have you tried NirvanaHQ? Their project handling is pretty good. One problem is their lack of a mobile version (other than mobile browser) but their first iOS version is just going into beta so there's hope.

I've just moved over to Appigo's Todo Online. Their project handling is better than Toodledo's (same as it is with their iPhone app) because sub-tasks are anchored to the parent and the parent inherits the due date of the next action (shown in italics). There are more improvements that could be made but it's at least a sensible approach and is working better for me.


This message was edited Feb 22, 2012.
Canyon Russell

Posted: Feb 22, 2012
Score: 0



PeterW,

I have tried NirvanaHQ and found it good, but for me the lack of an Android client is worse than poor project handling. Only the wonderful third-party app Ultimate ToDo List (http://www.todolist.co/) brought me back to Toodledo.

From a 'pure' GTD perspective, all you need is a way to make lists. So the ability to link Projects to Tasks is a 'nice to have' not a 'must have' in GTD. BUT it's just such an easy thing to implement and it hasn't been done, by Toodledo or anyone else.

I mentioned this previously in the thread, but Tracks has the best handling of projects of any web app I've seen. It has three 'statuses' for projects, Active, Hidden, and Complete. This allows you to have a Project list (Active), a Someday/Maybe list (Hidden) projects, and Completed projects. But again, no Android client that works.

And let me Restate, The Someday/Maybe list is a Project list. This is the biggest flaw in the basic handling of projects for most GTD systems.

So let me step off my soapbox and say that if NirvanaHQ ever gets a Android App, I will check them out again.

Thanks
llafianza_1311050124

Posted: Feb 23, 2012
Score: 1



I am a far from perfect GTD practitioner, but here is what I am doing with Toodledo that works pretty well. First of all, the big breakthrough for me was to strictly work from my context lists. Not emails, not project folders, not voice mail or people walking by my desk. All that has to be processed into a quick, less than 3 minute immediate task or into a new or existing project.
In Tooldeo, my contexts are "contexts" I have a set for work & at home. Someday/Maybe, Waiting For, and Future Projects are also contexts. If something has to be done on a certain date, I assign that date to the task and put it on my Outlook calendar.
Each project gets a folder, each action is a task, assigned to a folder and a context.

Then, on my good days, I focus on whittling away at the tasks in each context and processing the new stuff into existing or new projects/tasks/contexts . . .


This message was edited Feb 23, 2012.
nathanb131

Posted: Mar 05, 2012
Score: 1



I haven't read about anyone referring to parent and child tasks being able to be in separate folders. I found that out by accident once but don't use a separate folder for my projects list and therefore don't use it. Though for those that do like to keep a separate project list in a folder then you can still have your next actions both in a different folder and nested under that project by clicking on that tree view icon. Not sure how this translates to UTD on Android.

To answer the forum question, I prefer to just have projects as the parent task in my next actions lists. I found that defining every task as either a stand-alone next action OR part of a bigger project would make my system confusing because I wanted to see all my next actions in the same list regardless of dependencies.

I used priority filters for this. Like setting a -1 priority to a project (parent) in my next actions folder will hide this from most of my views. But all the child tasks have that icon indicating if they are part of a project or not and I can just click that to quickly see the 'tree' view and all the sister tasks with it. Very often I manage really simple projects by just replacing the text of the current finished task with the next step with the list of 'steps' within the notes.

Like what would 'mow the lawn' be if your mower needed gas or a repair? Normally it'd be a simple next action but in this case it depends on one or two things. Is it really worth a goal or category designation? To me, this is what a toodledo project is, just a better defined task. I'd either put in a task as 'get mower gas:mow the lawn', or enter 'get gas' and put in 'mow' in the comments to remind me it's part of a slightly bigger picture. If it required three or more things with different opportunity windows and contexts I'd create dependent tasks.

Larger projects, like 'build a garage' or 'landscape the yard' would require their own habitat though. So that I don't constantly wonder if a project is 'big enough' to warrant a folder, I'll just link to One-Note or a document for that sort of stuff, so the 'project' is a placeholder task in toodledo with generally the current next action listed with it's title.

I'm amazed at how disciplined or organized some on here are to maintain way more organized systems than mine. I've just found that making 'projects' an informal part of my task lists (either as parents or defined in task notes) keeps my lists fluid and functional for me.

Just an FYI, my system (always evolving of course):
Folders:
Home-all non-work projects and tasks
Work-all work projects and tasks
Money-I put due dates in here, otherwise I don't want to see my monthly bill-rundown reminders amongst my general lists for personal and work tasks.
Someday/Maybe-self-explanatory
Routines-I don't want my intentions of taking out the trash every thursday to clutter up my scheduled start dates from the first three folders so this is where those non-critical habit forming intentions go. Packing lists and other checklists go here too in the form of notes.
Fitness-Same as above, specific to fitness.
Infotainment-things to add to 'to watch, to-read, to-listen etc'

I use Ultimate To-Do list for Android and really like Rapid-Fire tasks to enter some pre-defined tasks to save the time of picking categories and folders for common entries such as work-today and home-this week.


This message was edited Mar 05, 2012.
brinkleybw

Posted: Apr 05, 2012
Score: 0



I've tried using both goals and folders for projects in the past and while I appreciate the idea that finishing a project means that I've met a goal, I've stuck with folders for a philosophical reason: I use folders to manage commitments. Many of my commitments (naturally) are projects. So, my project folders are labeled with a prepending "PRJ:". My "one-off" next actions, which are essentially commitments themselves that need no "stake in the ground" as David Allen would put it, are in a folder called "Simple Tasks" that I generally ignore in Review, because they are short-lived and handled daily in context lists anyway. If this sounds weird, just remember that the basis for GTD is to manage your commitments and place reminders to perform next actions in a place where you are sure to see them when you need to -- the idea is NOT to make the next actions themselves the focus, because this is why simple to-do lists fail.
WilcoBis

Posted: May 10, 2012
Score: 0



It seems I'm the only one to use... TAGS! Wait, I'm not crazy. This is due to two main needs:
- One task may belong to more than one project. This is common, for me.
- Handling contacts.
So I do not use folders or goals (a single task would belong to a single project). I find tags to be very smart for adding/filtering and provide multiple binding.
If you turn up your nose for using the same column for both contacts and projects, you can prefix @ for contacts and # for projects. But for me, mixing contacts and projects (without prefix symbols) it's not a real problem and I find it very convenient.


This message was edited May 10, 2012.
robotii

Posted: May 12, 2012
Score: 0



To anyone that's thinking of using subtasks to implement projects, there is an Android app called "DGT GTD" that works in the same way. It's free, has no ads, and I have no affiliation with the app, other than using it myself :-)

To be honest, I was hoping that folders would work for me as projects - it seemed a more natural way of doing it. Unfortunately, using folders just didn't feel right.

I created some views under search - firstly a Projects view, which is any task with a subtask and secondly an Inbox view, which is defined as any task without at least one of context, folder or parent task.

Folders are my areas of focus, roughly. I like to make sure that the majority of my tasks fit into one of these areas, to ensure that I'm not wasting my time.

Tags, I'm not really sure how to use at the moment, but my system is relatively working for me.
vtlaura

Posted: May 22, 2012
Score: 1



Posted by WilcoBis:
It seems I'm the only one to use... TAGS!


I'm using tags for projects as well. My folders are - Next Actions, Agenda, WF, Reading, Projects, Reference and Someday/Maybe. And contexts are traditional GTD contexts.

I've found that this setup makes the project review part of the weekly review really easy. I use the All Tasks view and show just the tag for the project I'm reviewing. Then I can quickly see if I have appropriate NA assigned to the project and if I'm waiting for something. For completed next actions that I want to keep record of, I drag them to be subtasks for the Project entry (each project is in either Project or Someday/Maybe folder, preceded by "Project:" and tagged with appropriate tag).
westofmoon

Posted: Jun 01, 2012
Score: 0



Posted by WilcoBis:

It seems I'm the only one to use... TAGS!


Posted by vtlaura:

I'm using tags for projects as well. My folders are - Next Actions, Agenda, WF, Reading, Projects, Reference and Someday/Maybe. And contexts are traditional GTD contexts.

I've found that this setup makes the project review part of the weekly review really easy.


I use Tags too. When I reviewed Allen's "Getting Things Done" recently I found this: "The 'Projects' list is not meant to hold plans or details about your projects themselves.... The real value of the 'Projects' list lies in the complete review it can provide (at least once a week), allowing you to ensure that you have action steps defined for all your projects, and that nothing is slipping through the cracks."

I realized that, for this purpose, all I need is a list of my projects, which I can easily get by using "Project" as a Tag. I made a Saved Search for Tag=Project. It's sorted by Folder>Importance>Context.

I use Folders for the main aspects of my life (Personal, Home, Family/Friends, Arts, and one for each of the three main areas of my job). I also have a "Big Rock" folder in which I place all the projects and actions that contribute to my annual goals. In my Saved Search, my "Big Rock" items are displayed at the top of the list in order of Importance and Context, followed by the other folders.


This message was edited Jun 01, 2012.
dave1fletcher

Posted: Jun 10, 2012
Score: 0



Great comments all. After having the pleasure of being in the official GTD connect club I learned from ALL the coaches that GTD is really a framework to be modified and adjusted to your needs. GTD is not a religion. The posts here highlight that.

I use Ultimate To Do list synced to ToodleDo & Gmail - more options are appearing, but integrating calendars, task lists and email is simpler by having an account in UTL for Google. They all merge anyway.

My structure is: Goals are projects; Tags include Next Action, Active Projects, xSomeday Projects, Conversations. The tags allow me to start with a list of tasks related to every project (Goals); move things into focus of Next Action and review any correspondence relating to the tasks.

Everything else is in other systems as I am a professional PM and projects be my life.
tomsims

Posted: Jul 12, 2012
Score: 1



I had left for another product, but now realize that GTD needs to be flexible to new situations and most "true" GTD products are not flexible.

I have had success using the task/subtask structure for projects. The parent task is tagged "project" and the subtasks are tagged "task". Using folders for projects eventually creates to much clutter as you cannot check off a folder as "done".
thoms006

Posted: Oct 02, 2012
Score: 0



Picking up on the "tags" post by WilcoBis, they have another trait that I have found useful from time to time: a task can have more than one tag. Handy if a task applies to multiple projects!

Cheers, all!
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