Your vision’s looking pretty exciting now, isn’t it? You’ve got tags, you’ve got loads of pictures I hope, you’ve figured out which ones you want to work on first … all kinds of good stuff.

Now what? How do you link it to the runway? How do you get to projects and actions?

There are two key actions or points that help you keep your vision linked to the runway.

  1. This first technique, I have already spoken about.

It is the decomposing of each high-level horizon of the focus item into one or more nodes or an endpoint. An endpoint is something that is directly actionable. It is an area of focus or responsibility (20k), a project (10k), an action (5k), or a habit or routine (0k).

Each one of these items ends up in a typical GTD® map or artefact.

  • area of focus or responsibility = reviewed during weekly review
  • project = list manager; define outcome and next action(s)
  • action = list manager; define next action
  • habit or routine = checklist

So have the confidence level that if you can regularly break down your higher level of horizon of focus elements into these end nodes, you will be getting them done regularly.

(2) The second technique has been mentioned above already. This technique is not only the key to linking your horizons of focus vision map to your runway list manager – but it is also the key, I think, to get to the ‘black belt’ GTD® level. And that is the weekly review.

The weekly review doesn’t have to happen every 7 days. It could be every 10 days or every 4 days for instance. The weekly review occurs whenever you see your system needs to be cleared and made current.

So during the weekly review step where you review your horizons of focus, this is the perfect place to make sure that, at a minimum:

  • every 20k that has an ‘in progress’ status has been reviewed and you’ve asked yourself “is there something actionable here?”
  • every 10k that has an ‘in progress status is in your list manager and you have a “next’ action
  • every 5k that has an ‘in progress status is also in your list manager with an appropriate context
  • every 0k that has an ‘in progress status is on a checklist  you have defined the trigger for that checklist or routine

With these two techniques, the big colossal vision mindmap can easily be filtered and compared to your runway to make sure that the items in focus (or ‘in progress’) in your life at any point in time, are directly on your runway … just a context and 10 minutes of free-time away.

Give this a whirl during your next week’s review. Do you feel less disconnected from your life vision now?

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The definition of a project in GTD® is any outcome that requires more than 1 next action to achieve. This could be as complex as launching a new product line or repairing a car tire.

This variety in project complexity and size offer leads people to assume that each project has to be managed the same way in their list manager. It doesn’t have to be that way. My advice, simplify where possible.

In this blog post, I describe the method I use to manage less complex projects – repairing a car tire – in Evernote. In this blog post, I describe the method I use to manage less complex projects – repairing a car tire – in Evernote.

Let’s define the simple project

I think of a simple project as one that has all of the factors below:

  1. a single thread of “next” actions (further explained below)
  2. A  number of next actions (somewhere between 2 and 4)
  3. no more than one piece of content (completed action notes or action support material) that I would need to maintain

‘Single thread of next actions’ defined. Let me explain further what I mean by a single thread of next actions. Let’s consider two projects – Project A and Project B.

Project A depicted below, is a project that has more than one thread which means that at any one point in time there could be two next actions in the system. These two next actions are for A1 and A2, or A1 and B3 (if A2 has been completed), and so forth. But Project A is one outcome there is a single outcome defined that requires both C1 and C2 to be completed.

Project B on the other hand has only one next action active at any one point in time. It is also a single project – it has one outcome defined by action C being completed. Project B has what I call, a single thread.

No project file for simple projects

For complex (not simple) projects, I create a project folder with an Evernote notebook. For simple projects, I do not create an extra Evernote notebook – this is just too much complexity for what I need to do. Instead here is what I do.

  • “Single Items” Notebook: I keep one notebook for single next actions that I title “Single Items”.
  • ^Next Action tag: I create the first next action for that project, and give it the appropriate context (e.g. @Calls), and the ^Next Action tag.
  • Remembering thread: In the body of the note, I may document the project outcome and I usually document what would be the next action in the thread. Hence in next action A (from Project B above), I would add: “Next Action: B, C” 

Then as I complete the next action for the project, I can simply refer to the body of the note and remind myself of the project outcome and what I had initially brainstormed the next action to be. I can either complete this next action (if in the right context) or change the tags and title of the note to that of the next action B.

In other words, I am using one Evernote note to track the entire project.

Discussion Question: 

Do you prefer checkboxes to notes as your next action?

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