Juggling Sheep
Welcome to Juggling Sheep, Jay Perry's blog about time management and personal productivity for pastors. Learn to balance work, life, family, and personal spirituality.

Share your best practices, tips and tricks, processes, sermon planning ideas, and resources. Feel free to email me: jaylperry[at]gmail[dot]com.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Getting Things Done - Projects vs. Tasks

I finally understand why lists never worked for me before I read Getting Things Done.

My mom is a compulsive list maker. And I had a PalmPilot with a ToDo list (and priority ranking!). And I had read that some important (and productive) person wrote out a ToDo list every day before he started work, so he could be really productive (or something). So I would write everything down that needed to be done that day. I thought it would help my time management. But the opposite happened. In fact, my pre-GTD lists seemed to cause procrastination.

The problem was that I didn't understand I should be working from a task list instead of a project list. I would put a bunch of multi-step projects in my ToDo list - Do 1 Year Strategic Planning, Plan Sermonic Year, Plan Sermon Series, Write Sermon, Plan Budget, Find a New Graphic Designer, Create CD Process and Delegate, etc. - along with my tasks. So I would look at my ToDo list and freeze. I hadn't thought about the next physical action for any of the projects. So they just became an overwhelming amorphous mass of ToDo hanging over my head.

In GTD, I learned to put anything that takes more than one physical action on my "Project List." And then for each project, just come up with the one next physical action, and put it on my "Task List."

So, I ended up breaking down my projects into smaller steps so I could do them. I know, you've heard that a thousand times. But did you ever hear it applied to lists? It all just makes so much more sense now.

I can't actually just sit down and "Plan a Sermonic Year." I have to gather calendars from the church school, individual ministries, and denominational headquarters. I have to figure out which events and holidays would go on our church's master calendar. I have to sketch out individual sermon series (another 20 individual tasks for each sermon series) and place them in the calendar. I have to brainstorm possible guest speakers, prioritize them, look up their contact information, and invite them. Planning a Sermonic Year might actually be a few hundred individual tasks (read my Sermon Planning posts).

No wonder I would look at my list and glaze over and go back to playing Sudoku. I know what the next action is in Sudoku!

For sanity's sake, please separate your project list from your task list. Your brain will thank you.

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