We often talk about "projects" as a categorising system for your to-do lists, but with so much focus on the "to-do" items, many people neglect to see how many overarching projects they've actually committed to. Here's how to fix that.
Photo by Matt Grover.
Productivity guru David Allen says that if you never have a clear idea of what you have "to do", you'll always over-commit and get run over by all of them. Most of this clarity is lost at the "projects" level. While it may be more conceptual and less actionable than your to-do list, it's just as important:
I have a radical definition of a project: anything you're committed to finish within a year that requires more than one action to complete it. Given that broad designation, most people have between 30 and 100. Where's your list? How complete and current is it?
People complain about "too much to do," and yet most couldn't give you, in the moment, a complete and accurately defined inventory of what they've committed "to do" if their life depended on it. Sure, they may have a strategic plan somewhere; they've got a calendar with appointments they need to keep; there may be a crude, incomplete, and still unclear to-do list. But additionally they have myriads of additional things they feel like they should handle, about which they know they need to think and decide and do something about.
If you've gotten so caught up in the day-to-day actions you need to act on, you've probably let your project list fall by the wayside — or, you might not even have one. Take some time to sit down and look at everything you need to do this year and make a project list. Once you've done that, you can integrate it with your to-dos in a way that doesn't crush your soul and overwhelm you. Hit the link to read more.
The Elusive Inventory of Your Projects [The Atlantic]