Have you ever wondered whether something was a goal or a project? The difference between projects and goals is the timeframe. Projects are the intermediate step between goals and daily actions. The process of planning them is the same. For the majority of projects and goals, knowing the next step (or next action in GTD) is sufficient.


Recently, I have begun using a free online mindmaping website called mindmup to map out my projects. Then I make an image of the mindmap and make it the screensaver on my laptop. I also add it to Google Drive to access it anywhere.

Project Planning

I do use yellow legal pads a lot for thinking and planning. You can simply list the name of the project on the left side, and the next step on the right side. These do tend to get a little messy.

Another option is to keep a list of projects in Google Drive and print out a copy for the paper planner for the weekly review.  I keep current project files in a wire step desktop holder.

You can use a printable Project Master List (pdf).

Project Master List

Project Master List

Some projects have what I think of as dependencies. (I believe David Allen would call these waiting for!) For example, my garage project depends on good weather, and has therefore shifted to the back burner. Sometimes we may not be able to proceed until someone else has accomplished something, or we get a reply to an email. The key question becomes: “When should I look at this project again?” and then making a reminder entry in your calendar.

Other important skills

  • Recognizing a project that is one of the 20% that require planning beyond the next action.
  • Recognizing a task that is too vague, and knowing how to make it specific.
  • Recognizing an incoming task, and knowing where to put it in your system.
  • Deciding what tools to use to capture ideas and manage projects.

It takes thought

20% of projects require further planning

Project plans can be simple, and a sheet of paper, a page in a planner or a 4×5 index card may be sufficient. Whatever format you use should allow enough room to think in as much detail as you need.  A folder to gather materials in may be needed for larger projects. Vertex42 offers a free Project Schedule Template for more complex projects.

See also Evaluating Ideas and Projects, with my free Project Evaluation form, and my Project File setup.

Project File

Project File

Additional Reading

Delicious Links about Projects

I enjoy finding great information, combining it in new ways, and packaging it creatively. I'm highly interested in the areas of goal setting, time management, and skills to improve life.

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12 comments on “Projects
  1. […] Set goals and keep them visible. Choose a system to capture and execute tasks. List repeating tasks. Determine peak time and use it well. Eliminate time wasters. Remind yourself. Manage email. Plan weekly.Plan daily. Plan projects. […]

  2. […] Yes-Make a project plan […]

  3. […] you spending your time on projects that really contribute to your […]

  4. […] of Projects list on a yellow legal pad and to-do list in leather index card […]

  5. […] use a yellow legal pads for planning projects, with a list of projects down the left side, and the next step on the right side. I also keep a […]

  6. […] up a system to manage your projects. Learn more about the Action Method at 99u. Organize visually. Create a work space that allows […]

  7. […] Consider items from your calendar, weekly plan, repeating tasks, and action steps for goals and projects. If there is time available, add more tasks from these lists. Select about 10 tasks from the  to […]

  8. […] your value statement or unique selling proposition, your projects and […]

  9. […] focused: Review your Unique Value Proposition and Projects, pick your priorities and keep your goals visual and […]

  10. […] Review goals & projects. […]

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