Originally published on 18 February 2007.
One thing I am very good at is making projects that never end. But in terms of GTD, these are not actionable. I find that when I set up a project, I need to know when it is done. I can only do this by asking some questions.
In this post, I will take you through the setup of one of my projects.
Deciding on the Name
My daughter wants to take piano lessons. Out of this, I know I must set up piano lessons. So the first thing I need to do is define a project for this. “Sign X up for piano lessons” is the first draft of the project name. But is the project done when I have acquired a teacher? No, my daughter must actually take the lessons.
But the next question is, when is it over? When she goes to college? No, again, I have to limit this. The next draft is “Sign X up for three months of piano lessons.”
This isn’t ideal either, because I like to incorporate the action inside of the project name, to a certain extent. What I want to happen is my daughter take three months of piano lessons, and then I will evaluate the teacher and my daughter’s desire to continue.
The next draft of the project name becomes “Complete 3 months of piano lessons for X.” I can live with this.
The 3 Basic Questions For Any Project
The next thing I do on all of my projects is to answer three basic questions:
- What is the purpose of this project?
- What is the desired outcome (or how will I know it is done?)
- What is the basic brainstorming of next actions?
Here are my answers:
- Purpose: To have my daughter take three months of piano lessons
- Outcome: We have assessed the teacher and X’s interest after three months of weekly lessons
- Find a teacher
- set up lesson
- go to lesson
- set up practice routine
- evaluate project
This thinking about the project sets me up for the next actions. The first thing is to find a teacher. And the first step in this is to locate the phone number of the neighbor who gives lessons; and the next action out of this is to call a long-time neighborhood resident for that number.