Have you ever felt like you have too many projects and you just don’t know where to start? If that is you, I want you to know that overwhelm does not have to be your reality. Our goal today is to help you create and maintain a Current Projects List that is short and manageable so that your brain can rest and focus when you’re ready work on your projects.
In the podcast, we address several questions from our community about 1) how to simplify Current Projects, 2) what to do when something new comes up, and 3) how to balance personal and professional projects. Just click play above to listen in and/or skim through the show notes below!
A Focused Current Projects List
I have been a GTD’er for years and it has made a huge difference in my work life. Total game-changer. However, I really never found it to be nearly as effective at home/in my personal life. Your program seems to be that bridge. Quick question though. I am having a hard time getting my head around a total of 7-8 current projects. I have way more than 7-8 current “projects” (as defined by GTD) at work, even before I add in my personal ones. I feel like I can cut down my personal projects to well under 7-8. But work? No way! Have you had other people bring this up?(GTD® refers to “Getting Things Done,” the best-selling book/methodology created by David Allen that was part of the inspiration for our STEP program.)
Here at LearnDoBecome, we recommend that you limit your Current Projects list to 7-8 projects total. This includes personal, family and work projects. I totally get the 7-8 current project “limit” feeling hard. To be clear, this limit doesn’t mean that you will only complete 7-8 projects each month–it’s a starting point! If you get some of those projects done, you can add new ones in.
In our LearnDoBecome business/team there are literally hundreds of things we could, need, and should do. But that doesn’t work for us. It stresses me out to try to do too much, and I get overwhelmed. If it WORKS for you to do lots and lots of projects simultaneously, that’s fine, but if you’re feeling weighed down, I recommend you try this:
Create 2-3 Current Work projects for YOU. If you need more than that to be happening simultaneously (and they truly aren’t routines), then I recommend you delegate the ownership of those projects to other team members.
That way, they can still be on the BUSINESS “Current Projects List,” but they’re not on YOURS. Your brain needs to be able to rest and focus. Our team is working on 6-7 projects right now. I’m working on one.
Then put all your focus into those projects and get them done. And move onto the next ones. Or delegate if you get to a point you’ve done the heavy lifting and don’t need to manage the rest of the details.
Do you have a team? If the projects are coming from a supervisor/company owner, and the number is more than 3, I would recommend a talk with the supervisor where you say, “I am going to focus on getting projects more quickly past the finish line. Which 3 would you like me to prioritize so I can do them well?” (The book “Essentialism” has some great ideas on this!)
When New Things Come Up
I am already putting your advice into place. But I do have another quick question about limiting projects to 7-8. Let’s say I limited the list of my current projects to 8 – which I did – but all of a sudden something came up (which it did!). My wife’s jeep has a flat tire. Now, boom, we have another project – make an appointment to get it fixed, take it to the auto shop, pick it up, and of course navigate this during our current COVID reality, which does create some issues. So by definition, we have another current project. When these come up at work or in life, do you just roll with it and add it to your list?
Isn’t that just exactly how life happens? We have a plan in place–and then something comes up. You might wonder, why do I even bother making a plan? But when you have a plan in place–and know how to incorporate the things that come up–you’ll still be able to accomplish most of what you set out to do.
Some projects need you to do something about them or they’ll just sit. Cleaning the garage. Creating a podcast. Setting up a new bill-paying system…
Other projects will remind you because you’ll naturally need to go get your car (so you’ll have it to drive), or your child will need to get back to the doctor (because they are sick and right in front of you…).
When something comes up, if it is a naturally-progressing project, I just incorporate it into my calendar or Next Actions List. (Most things that come up are self-propelling.)
All that said, if there is something that weighs heavy on your mind, I do encourage you to add it to your Current Projects List and take something else off. Renegotiate!
What does this look like? Here’s a short 3-min video to give you a visual!
If you wake up feeling excited about your list, you know that your Current Projects list has enough white space.
I want you to know that this feeling is possible. You can take care of yourself, your family, and your personal and professional needs. You can live your purpose. It’s not always easy, but there is a process that makes it feel doable and exciting. And we are here to help you make it happen!
Thank you for being here with us at LearnDoBecome. We are so grateful for you!
Step-by-Step Home Organizing Party
We recently finished the nine lessons for our Step-by-Step Home Organizing Party! Creating a foundation of organization in the home will give you more space for peace and joy. Want to implement a system that fits you and your family? Come get started and work through the lessons at your own pace here!
Related Books & Podcasts
- A Deep Dive into Actually Completing Current Projects and Next Actions
- How Asana Can Manage Your Projects and Routines (Without Stress!)
- Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Free Training: How to Stop Drowning in Piles
Interested in learning more about Current Projects and Next Actions? We’ll teach you all about both in our free training! These are key to implementing a system to manage all your tasks, projects, ideas, goals and papers. Come learn more!
Valarie Gatti says
Hi April, I love your process! However, I haven’t figured out how to apply it in my situation. I have my own bookkeeping/QuickBooks business as a solopreneur with multiple clients (around 15+)…some I go to weekly and work at their office, some I do at home and meet with quarterly or on other time frames. In this context, I have multiple projects for multiple clients at multiple locations. I have one subcontractor that has specific jobs on a few specific clients, but other than that it’s just me. Any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
April Perry says
Great question, Valerie! I think the key is to think of your client work as routines and calendared appointments, rather than “projects.”
“Setting up a system for managing clients” is a project, but I am guessing you do the same types of things for each client.
For example, I record a lot of podcasts with different guests or on different topics, and each is unique, but I don’t think of them as projects. “Podcasting” is a routine. And preparing our weekly emails are routines.
Projects for you might look like “Setting up a new marketing strategy” or “Making the xyz process more efficient” or “Automating xyz routine.”
I would recommend you make sure your systems are solid for organizing client information (so everything is grouped together and easy to access as you switch from one client to another), and then you simply follow your calendar and meet with those clients, as needed. When you have client-related tasks to do during the day or week, you have them noted on your calendar/list, but you do them as part of a “client work” routine. Just think of projects as the one-time multi-step tasks you complete outside of client work.
Does that make sense?
My life is not as complicated, but your suggestion does help April and it does make sense. 🙂