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Hello everyone -

I have been trying to incorporate the GTD and OF in my life a bit more in the last 6 months. I can definitely see an improvement in my work flow. It is no where near perfect, but continues to improve as we go. I am trying to tackle two new projects. One of them will be long-term (1-2 years) and the other will be less than a year, however these projects are never truly done.

I have created a folder for each car/truck - '1972 Challenger' and '1949 Chevy 3100'. The issue I am running into is that I do not want to get too many levels within the folders. So right now each component is broken down into a project.

Example for '49 Chevy:
Buying the 292 motor
Buying the front axle
Misc Action (1949 Chevy)

The issue I am having is I really do not know other ways of tackling a project this size. I try to step back and look at what I need to do. I have been assembling a list, however I feel like I am just in a daze because not everything matches up with a project. Like the brake lines I need to order, but I need to research on pricing and availability. The transmission has a tab that is broken off that I need to look at and figure if I can have it heliflexed or not. Again, this doesn't pertain to a certain project within the folder and I do not want to create all these levels within OF because that is what I think is the death of OF for me. Everything gets buried and lost then.

Any tips on people who have tackled big projects such as this?
Originally Posted by ambitions2o View Post
I have created a folder for each car/truck - '1972 Challenger' and '1949 Chevy 3100'. The issue I am running into is that I do not want to get too many levels within the folders. So right now each component is broken down into a project. ....
Any tips on people who have tackled big projects such as this?
I too track rather large projects in OF and I do something similar to you. Each major project area is a separate folder and each piece is a separate project under that.

What I did to do the overall planning is at the folder level I make either an electronic or paper folder with a rough timeline or any dependencies, project support material as it were, that documents the larger project.

So for example in my world we had a massive project about fences. Existing ones needed replacing and we needed additional fences for managing the farm and livestock.

I made a folder for fences and then within it each separate section of fence was a separate project. My paper folder on fences has a map of the farm, documentation of where the existing fences were and their status, i.e. how bad were they. This allowed me to prioritize which of the various segments were the most important to get done and in what order. I also put in pamphlets on the various materials we planned to use, business cards of possible fencing contractors, price quotes etc. This top level documentation was my overall guide for that whole fencing area of focus. As fences got finished their final costs and any warranty papers for the materials also are in this file.

There were also some projects that covered all of them, like "research and decide on fencing installer", "decide on locations of any new fences" and so on. As I thought or we decided on where the new fences would go I made each segment a separate project "Middle orchard divider fence", "West orchard divider fence", "Pear orchard pasture fence", "Pear orchard perimeter fence", "North Cedars fence" were all separate projects as each had specific things related to just that project and so on.

I also created some standard checklists of tasks that are common to each of those projects, saved it as an on-hold project in a folder I call templates and then just made a copy and edited it to reflect the specifics of any specific fence.

The total "project" to replace and install all the fencing is going on 7 years and we still have 2 segments to go. The last 2 are interior fences and less critical to keeping predators out so were lower priority.

My paper Fences folder is the overall plan for the set of projects. It's what keeps me on track for this massive project.
Originally Posted by ambitions2o View Post
I have been assembling a list, however I feel like I am just in a daze because not everything matches up with a project.
Oogiem has tons of useful information in his post - my only suggestion in addition to that would be to add a Single-Action List to each cars' folder to hold actions like the ones you mention which don't seem to be project-worthy on their own. Hope that helps!

As someone relatively new to OF and GTD and dealing with a lot of large/complex projects both at work and in my other "serious" activities, I agree with both of the previous posts and would mention a few things that were not obvious to me but help greatly to reduce the "overwhelming" factor.

As soon as I think of something, I found that it was a good practice to use the inbox concept to capture the idea:
- the inbox allows a kind of mini review at the end of the day about the new ideas you had, and is liberating for me in a way similar to the "bigger" project review (as opposed to filing the task right away in one of the sub-projects, which I still do for tasks that are no-brainer or don't make me "anxious");
- I sometime have to "push" myself to do it immediately but it is very liberating as well;
- if the project is long enough, and you do that systematically along with reasonably regular project review, I reach a point after a few weeks or months where I "studied" the project without realizing it, and now it "lives" in my mind (I hope the image makes sense, I'm not a native English speaker) and it's less overwhelming;
- related to the previous point, I also gain confidence that I didn't miss something important or I would have realized it by now, and if something new comes up, I can figure out quickly and confidently what to do about that.

(And I stress again the importance of taking the time to do the project review regularly, every 1-2 weeks I would say is a good pace if there's no short deadlines.)

Using a hierarchy that is as flat as possible in terms of folders and action groups. I also find for now that my projects should "fit on one screen" to be comfortable, because I can see everything at once for that section. But generally, less than 4-5 actions is too small and usually leads to be overwhelmed, and above 15-20 starts to get hard to consider/order/etc. as a single piece (I sometimes use action groups to deal with that). In other words, trying to make it logicial and easy to prioritize "between" projects (project A is more important than project B, or one is needed for the other to start) and within each project (in this project, the sequence of events is...). In relation to that also taking the time to identify the right sequence in which to perform the actions, is something that helps but that I am still struggling with in many cases. Again standard GTD but being new at it, it's something that is useful to learn and integrate.

Physical material: I realized that for certain types of tasks and thinking, it works better when I map it out physically as mentioned by a previous poster. One thing that helps me is a board where I can pin pieces of paper, so this way I can group things together and so on, and easily clean up the clutter after; all the while preserving the possibility to quickly restore my workspace, or move it around (go to a meeting, go work in another room, etc.). I can also let that board in a visible place so that it helps the above process of letting the project sync in until it is "known", and using it as a kind of inbox to pin related ideas to the "mind map".

Using the "hiding" features in OF: by setting start dates, dependencies, "on hold" contexts, or manually putting a project "on hold", you can know everything is there but look only at the useful tasks even in generic perspectives. (Learning to use contexts and trust the "available" filter was already a huge improvement for me. I'm hoping to work only with "next actions" eventually! :) )

Working better with contexts: it is covered in many posts, blogs, and so on, but it is important to mention it. Also, sometimes I will create a special variation of an existing context. For example., if I have to do shopping for such a project, it is not useful to use a standard "errand" context because I will probably want to check new equipment, talk with the vendor, etc. It's not like "oh, while I stop to buy milk, is there anything useful for project X I could shop for?" So I will create a sub-context especially for that under my errands context, because it can be useful to see it if I'm going out, but I will consider it differently of plan it eventually, and can include it in perspectives slightly different than the rest.

Whew, turned out to be a longer post than I thought... I hope this helps!

When I have similar issues, I don't do levels, I just put all the projects in parallel, maybe with a brief indicator of the very top level. If a project is dependent on another, I give it a WAITING FOR next action that refers to that project. In the weekly review, if the "waiting for" project is done, that's when I take the project off hold and give it a Next Action.

So, using your examples, the following would all be at the same level:

Project: 292 Motor (Chevy)
Project: Front axle (Chevy)
Project: Transmission tab issue (Chevy)
Project: Transmission (Chevy)
----ON HOLD WAITING FOR: Transmission Tab Issue
Project: Research brake lines (Chevy)
Project: Brakes (Chevy)
----ON HOLD WAITING FOR: Research brake lines

So, everything that can be productively worked on its own track, gets its own project. There could be three or four more projects that Transmission or Brakes are waiting for. When those lines of activity converge again, that's when I'd return to the original Transmission or Brakes projects.

The ON HOLD WAITING FOR stuff does add complexity, perhaps as much complexity as nested folders would. But it's complexity that I deal with at weekly review time, when I'm geared up for complexity, instead of whenever I'm looking at my action lists, when I'm not. When I'm looking at my action lists, those on-hold projects don't even need to be visible, and the active projects aren't buried in folders.
If, for some reason, you need a quicker response than waiting for your weekly review, you can use OmniFocus to manage OmniFocus. Continuing with the example Gardener laid out, at the end of the Research brake lines project, you would add an action that tells you to make the Brakes project active again. You can even put a link in that action to the project to make it a bit easier to find.

To make a link to a project (or action), select the destination in the outline by clicking on its row handle (the dot at the left end) or the project icon, if a project. Now do Edit->Copy As Link, go to the place where you wish to insert the link, click, and do Edit->Paste. The link will look something like omnifocus:///task/awtE5FoW3h_. Whenever you click on that link, OmniFocus will open a new window and take you to that target.

So, in our example, you finish up your brake line research, you encounter the action that tells you to take the brakes project off the shelf, and you make it active again. Might also leave yourself some instructions in this case to add any appropriate new actions to the project, based on the research.
An example that better illustrates the power of this idea would be to buy a tool that is needed for several different projects. The project where you buy the tool has links to the other projects which are on hold waiting for the purchase of that tool, and when you buy it, you instantly know which projects to awaken.

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