Life Reboot: Thinning Projects

Photo by sacks08

In the last article, I talked about how to figure out what your projects are. Chances are, that if you made a complete list, you will find it is much longer than you thought.

If your project list doesn’t seem do-able, it could put you off working on them; or it might prevent things from getting done in a reasonable amount of time as you try to tend to far too many things.

In that case, you need to thin your project list.

Figuring Out What Needs To Go

For each of your outstanding projects, you need to look at it closely and ask yourself:

  • Do I need to do this? Are you the one who is truly the best one for this job?
  • Do I need to do this? Is it truly necessary?
  • Do I need to do this? Is this the best thing for me to be doing to forward my goals? Or is it simply marking time? Would my energy be better spent pursuing another project?

Examining each of the items on the list with these three criteria can give you an idea of what you can take off.

Gracefully Dumping Projects

When it comes to getting rid of projects, you need to consider who will be impacted if you decide to get rid of or postpone the project. If this is no one, then draw a line through it right now!

If other people are impacted, you will need to move more cautiously. If it is something that requires special talents that you have, but are no longer willing to give, you need to find a replacement. If it just requires a body to do certain tasks, you can resign with warning to those impacted. (Remember, a ball cannot be picked up if it is never dropped!)

The Someday/Maybe List

When I first got involved with Getting Things Done, I was a big fan of the someday/maybe list. It’s purpose is to hold all those things that you aren’t ready to let go of. I liked it because it meant that I didn’t have to get rid of stuff.

It was that not getting rid of anything that caused trouble. My someday/maybe list grew to epic proportions, and when I went looking for things to “activate”, I got lost in the rabbit trails of a list of my own making. I ended up having to purge the list from about 75% of its items. I am very careful now to really commit to doing something before I put it on the list.

If you want to have a someday/maybe list, by all means, go ahead. But don’t leave it to grow unattended. You will need to have some way to clean it out from time to time.

Do you have any special way to thin down your project list? Share below.

Photo by sacks08

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  1. Scott says

    I don’t have a way to thin it out, but keeping it on index cards or a mindmap (paper or online) keeps it organized enough that I don’t get lost in it. It’s worth trying hard to have no more than 6 branches from a node….

    • LJ Earnest says

      Your idea intrigues me. I have a rather unloved Bonsai outline I have been using to track projects for years, but when I went back to paper to plan, that all got moved. I’ve reorganized my projects last night, and created a “Queued” section for those I am not planning on working on this month. But I will look at the mind mapping for my Somedays.