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« SF Tips - #1: Work Little and Often | Main | What's Next? - Progress Report #1 »
Tuesday
Feb222011

What's Next? - Progress Report #2

I was surprised yesterday that none of my eagle-eyed readers spotted that, in spite of my saying that I hadn’t taken any action on the What’s Next List, I had in fact started work on Item 16:

Daily log of a major Column 2 project

The major Column 2 project being the What’s Next List, and the daily log being these Progress Reports.

Today though was the first time that I actually took some action on the task “What’s Next List”. I want to describe how it worked in some detail because the relationship between time management and project management is a difficult one for some people to grasp.

My favourite mantra about project management is:

“”A project should managed to the extent that it needs to be managed, no more and no less.”

So when “What’s Next List” stood out for me today as the next thing to take action on, my first step was to ask myself:

“How much does this project need to be managed - and how?”

My answer was that I would keep the task “What’s Next List” purely for review purposes. In other words, this task consists of nothing but reviewing the project list of 16 items, thinking about the progress made so far and deciding what specific tasks need to be put on the SuperFocus list for action now. Since this is quite a limited definition, the task will normally be finished every time it comes up. Therefore it will be re-entered in Column 1.

As a result of this, I’ve made progress today on revamping the website, drafting the next issue of the newsletter, writing daily tips, and keeping the progress reports going. I’ve also put “Write E-Book Outline” on the SuperFocus list but haven’t yet started work on it. So far the only Column 2 entries resulting from today’s activities are the Newsletter and the Daily Tips.

What I want to draw your attention to is that I’ve structured this project so that a series of tasks flows from a relatively easy and unthreatening review progress. This is precisely the degree of management needed. To overmanage a project of this nature would make the management process itself onerous and prevent the free flow of action. On the other hand, to undermanage it would result in a lack of direction and wasted effort.

The other thing that I want to draw your attention to is that this structure suits this particular project. Other projects will require a greater or lesser degree of management.

Reader Comments (7)

Thanks Mark, this is very helpful! This "progress report" will definitely have to be linked to from within the Superfocus ebook, and also from the main Superfocus page on the new website configuration.
Now, i hope further journal entries (or a chapter/paragraph in the ebook) will indicate us which kind of projects would need a greater or lesser degree of management, and what these "degrees of project management" could look like.
February 22, 2011 at 20:45 | Unregistered CommenterDaouda
Very interesting. My first thought was that you would keep the project as an unfinished task in column 2. It seems that SF can feel very different depending on how you "chunk" your tasks. It may be tempting to keep big tasks (say a dissertation) in column 2, ensuring it is touched a couple of times a day. What was your experience with "War and Peace"? Large task or small project? Did the constant presence in column 2 pose a problem ("not again")? Would it be preferable to split it up into chapters? How important is linearity? Handle a linear project like reading a book as one unfinished task, but split up projects which can be tackled from different directions (like your "What's next"-list)?

[Disclosure: I was tempted into moving a couple of big tasks into column 2. Works so far, but there is not much of "superfocus" going on; just (focused) working on projects with some "stuff" interspersed between.}
February 23, 2011 at 1:47 | Unregistered CommenterOlaf B
OlafB:

<< It seems that SF can feel very different depending on how you "chunk" your tasks. >>

This is absolutely correct. With SuperFocus you really have to think about what you put into it. The balance between the two columns is vital too.

With "War and Peace" I treated it as one unfinished task because I wanted to read it fast. It didn't pose any problem because War and Peace is a good read. Breaking it into chapters would have definitely slowed it down.

Although the way I read War and Peace was pretty fast, I could have read it even faster by constantly re-entering it onto the same page as as an urgent task. But I think that method needs to be kept for emergencies - or attempts on the world record!
February 23, 2011 at 11:59 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Previously i suggested to put the link to Superfocus on the main page. I didn't say Autofocus should be moved away. Mark, can you please create some archive page, where all your free systems, such as Autofocus, DWM, 3T, DIT or whatever i have no idea about, will be stored in universal format - i mean, there will be a list of these systems with comment and links to appopriate discussions/blogposts if possible. This link may be not on the main page, so newcomers won't be distracted from Superfocus, but still this is a necessary thing.

Please, at least put your free systems in one place, many readers will thank you for that :)
February 23, 2011 at 18:15 | Unregistered Commentersindikat
Mark, although this was helpful, I m still craving a little more details about how you do it! (sorry)
How do you (if you do at all) keep record of the tasks done relatively to the project (What next list)? Do you also write them outside of SF, as an adjunct to the project list, and cross them out when done?

I guess something like that would be necessary if you want to "review the project list of 16 items, thinking about the progress made so far and deciding what specific tasks need to be put on the SuperFocus list for action now."

Its seems that leaving those "done tasks" to scattered, crossed out SF entries lost in a sea of other tasks would make that process difficult.

I guess this is what i would do, but could you be kind enough to tell us how YOU are doing it? Thanks!
February 23, 2011 at 21:20 | Unregistered CommenterDaouda
sindikat:

<< Mark, can you please create some archive page, where all your free systems, such as Autofocus, DWM, 3T, DIT or whatever i have no idea about, will be stored in universal format >>

Try the Blog Archive link in the top menu, especially the category "Review of the Systems".
February 23, 2011 at 23:24 | Registered CommenterMark Forster
Daouda:

<< I guess this is what i would do, but could you be kind enough to tell us how YOU are doing it? Thanks! >>

This is the sort of project which I find I can keep in my head very easily. So I don't see any real need to keep any records at all, apart from the drafts etc which I'm working on.

As you may have gathered I am very against overplanning projects.
February 23, 2011 at 23:28 | Registered CommenterMark Forster

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