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Getting to the to-do list: fluid project planning (Read 7136 times)
Rob Forsyth
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Getting to the to-do list: fluid project planning
Jul 21st, 2008, 3:59pm
 
I'm on the brink (potentially) of a large piece of work (more precisely a work theme that will run for several years). At this stage there are many unknowns in terms of its precise goals and scope. I spent some time looking at project management and "productivity" software failing to find something that would help in the brainstorming of what this work would involve, long before you're ready to draw Gantt charts or indeed your GTD "next tasks". There's a lot of general "thinking aloud" involved, from which some specifics may emerge such as "known unknowns", and concrete actions.
In many ways this strikes me as an almost archetypal TB application, and while I'm conscious that details of individual circumstances will differ I wondered if anyone had experiences of this sort of thing they could share?
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Paul Walters
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Re: Getting to the to-do list: fluid project planning
Reply #1 - Jul 21st, 2008, 8:47pm
 
There are some interesting files in the Tinderbox Public File Exchange.

In my experience, most important thing would be to just write.   Clues about your structure will likely emerge from your brainstorming, once you have your notes captured in TBX.  Exploit maps, adornments, containers, links, etc.

Also, read Mark B's book and blog for more examples and advice.
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Mark Anderson
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Re: Getting to the to-do list: fluid project planning
Reply #2 - Jul 22nd, 2008, 4:15am
 
If you're worried that consolidating the emergent structure will make for a messy TBX structure (i.e. things not fully retrospectively implemented throughout - e.g. prototypes only used by some notes of a common type), there a couple of things to bear in mind.
  • Data can be transferred between TBX files (the main consideration is to make sure the receiving TBX file has all the user attributes, macros, templates, etc. that the newly added notes will expect to use). See more.
  • As emergent structure reveals itself in your main TBX you can be building a second empty TBX alongside it that totally implements said structure.
Software generally punishes the user for not setting every setting exactly right before starting. However, Tinderbox is more forgiving, and offers mechanisms to capture structure as is emerges recognising that it's not always self-evident before you start assembling the data. Whether, having found structure you wish to encode, you backtrack to implement it from start is probably as much a matter of personal approach (planning vs. spontaneity) as it is one of the nature of the task. Thus, for a big project that will run for a while and where the structures implemented in TB may be key to retrieval & analysis, it may pay to have one or more design re-starts each with more pre-encoded structure (agents, attributes, etc.) pre-implemented. Indeed, this is why keeping a secondary empty TBX that encapsulates your structure may help as it's a logical start point for a do-over.

The previous suggestions are also endorsed. One other idea, if the data's not sensitive and may be shared you might consider asking some other user to take a look and suggest structural improvements. Experience suggests most of use find a mature TBX too personal to share, but it is worth considering this approach as Tinderbox users are a pretty helpful bunch.
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« Last Edit: Jul 22nd, 2008, 9:17am by Mark Bernstein »  

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Rob Forsyth
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Re: Getting to the to-do list: fluid project planning
Reply #3 - Jul 22nd, 2008, 7:06am
 
These comments are greatly appreciated. I am as Mark A suggests the possessor of a very messy (and unfortunately privileged) TBX document that I'd like to impose some structure on. I wondered if anyone had identified particular prototypes and/or attributes they'd found helpful in this kind of situation? I don't know what you call this pre-project-management process ("project scoping"?) but it must be a fairly generic one. One prototype feels as if it should be "known unknowns" - things I need to find the answer to - but there may be others?

Thanks for the pointer to the Public File Exchange. Ryan Holcomb's GTD-on-TBX is impressive but as I was trying to convey before, for a much later stage of the process when the agenda is clearer.

Thanks in advance for any ideas!

Rob
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Stephen Chakwin
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Re: Getting to the to-do list: fluid project planning
Reply #4 - Jan 16th, 2010, 10:03pm
 
Rob -
I saw your post about a large project. I'm working on a large project of my own, one involving tracking many, many different things over time. I wonder how yours came out. If you would contact me off-list: schakwin at gmail (dot) com with anything you care to share, that might be helpful to me and I might have some insights that could help you if yours is still going on.
Best,

Stephen
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