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The Importance of a Central Project List

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The Importance of a Central Project List

I can’t escape the fact that having a real centralized project list for the things I’m doing is helping. I want to believe that I have tons of excess capacity in my brain. I want to think that I remember everything I’ve got on the go. But I don’t. And maybe you don’t, either.

I’ve recently started using the Mac program iGTD as a central repository. It does a great job of sorting out contexts and projects such that I can sort things by project or context and get whatever done that I can. I’m sure you can recommend the PC or LINUX equivalent in the comments section, right? But to me, it’s not about the software. It’s about the way one uses the product to create a workflow. Here’s what I’ve been experimenting with:

30 Minutes in the Morning

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I wish I could use less time to do this, but I find that if I give the first 30 minutes of my morning towards wiping out my inbox and either turning the mail into projects or acting immediately, it goes a long way on improving my day. So that’s what I do.

  • Open email
  • Process mail into a project –> add to iGTD or
  • Act on mail immediately: respond in a way that closes the loop with the other person.
  • Close email and try to forget for an hour.
  • Try to nail some action on a project, hopefully in order of deadline.

Nothing magical here, but getting into the rhythm of it is where the power comes in. I’m starting to come to my iGTD project list to look for what needs doing. And when I identify that something’s not there, I put it on to add it to my active queue.

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Perform Project “Blasts”

Instead of focusing on any one project, I scroll through my project list and try working on closing out the ones due next, and/or the ones I think I can complete in short order. I try to do a mix of these and a few swipes at tasks on REALLY BIG projects. Because I’ve got this set up as projects with tasks underneath, it’s as easy as working on Next Actions. This requires discipline. I find that if I don’t break a project into tasks, then I don’t dig in as quickly to take a next action on something.

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Daily Review

I do a weekly review, but I also do a daily endcap to see if I’ve moved the ball forward on enough of my projects. Because my particular work is almost always scattershot, I look to see that what I’ve done has had any impact on a daily basis. Thus, I can try and influence my next day more.

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Your Thoughts and Improvements

This is the system I’m using to manage my workload right now. How are YOU working? What are you doing differently? Have you tried a program that you like more than iGTD? Talk about it. We’d love to hear.

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Chris Brogan blogs at [chrisbrogan.com]

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