Large projects can be difficult to navigate for any number of reasons. When I refer to large projects, I mean those that span at least several OmniFocus projects and possibly several folders of projects.1 Here is an example from Zen & The Art of Work which had 16 video modules and other projects within several folders:
One reason large projects can be difficult is that there are so many tasks. It becomes hard to quickly know what a most efficient or impactful next action might be.
One means of addressing this is arranging the tasks in a project, perhaps setting priority tasks higher in the project itself. That way, if you are visiting the project or using a perspective with a “Sort actions by:” setting at “Project”, you will see those higher priority tasks up top.
However, when tasks are sent to projects from the Inbox, they are only added to the bottom. While it would be nice, it is not often practical to follow up each and every task to make sure it is well placed within its respective project, as it is processed from the Inbox. Unfortunately, when we later get to the project itself, there can feel like little rhyme or reason as to the order.
For example, while working on one module of the Zen course, I would have ideas about what to do with other modules, which I would dutifully add to the Inbox or even directly to their corresponding modules. After a while, though, there would be a slew of tasks added throughout, without clarity as to what had priority or what the relationship of tasks might be to each other.
Certainly, review is helpful, but I did not want to review each of these projects every day or even weekly. It would just be too much. Setting them to monthly was useful, but their reviews would easily become staggered.
Instead, a tactic I found useful was to deliberately change the review date of these specific projects to “today” on the day that I felt ready to do a solid review. In other words, using Shift or Command, I would select all of the projects I wanted to address:
then go to the Review section of the Inspector and enter “today” as the next review:
Of course, this works best when I am on top of my reviews so that there is nothing else in the way:
Leveraging the default OmniFocus review system, I could then sit and review each project in my own time:
If I reviewed a few projects and then set it aside, that would be fine. I could always pick up the process later. Meanwhile, I left the default review frequency for these projects at monthly.
- I would like to come up with a term that means large project without using the word “project”, but have not been able to come up one that feels satisfying. I’ve thought of “endeavor” and “craft”, but they don’t feel right. Any suggestions? ↩︎
In software development we use ‘Epic’ for epic/large projects
Another opportunity, very similar to this one but not changing review dates/cadence, is to use Focus. When Focusing on Projects, that transcends all Perspectives, so selecting Projects, enabling Focus, then entering the Review perspective can also accomplish this. Love the ideas here, Kourosh!
Yes! I didn’t realize that – you’re right! That’s another good way to focus the Review perspective onto a series of projects.
Have you considered using standardized terminology from the PMBOK®?
– group of projects, sub-programs, and activities
– group of programs, sub-programs, projects, and operate rations managed as a group
– aligned to strategic goals
Nope – I hadn’t. That’s a great idea. I think Portfolio could work. Hmm…