Project planning, the forgotten chapter?

One of the chapters in David Allens "Getting Things Done" is "The five phases of project planning". To me this was one of the most important chapters in the book, and the model described for project planning is something that can be used outside of the GTD system. This is a part of the GTD-bible that is hardly ever mentioned by the lifehack community. We talk a lot about Next Actions, and that they are grouped into Projects but never about how we actually define a project.

The five phases, or The Natural Planning Model is:
  • Defining purpose and principles
  • Outcome visioning
  • Brainstorming
  • Organizing
  • Identifying next actions
Notice that "Identifying next actions" is the last step. Just realizing that we need to use more than one Next Action to accomplish the task (thus making it a Project) is not enough. Not even deciding upon the next atomic thing we need to do to move the project forward is enough. If we let it stop there we will have to decide upon the next thing to do over and over until the project is finished. Wouldn't it be better if we already had decided that beforehand?

By just Identifying Next Actions you are moving the project forward, but as a car with deflated tires. Don't skip the four very important steps that comes before Identifying Next Actions. It will take you a bit more time to organize your thinking and get moving on your next actions, but it will pay in the long run.


Anonymous Chris Marsden said...


Just last night I was talking to a friend about GTD and project planning (we work on a committee together for a convention). Every other aspect of GTD is repeated 3 times in the book with numerous diagrams of home to do it, and project planning is glossed over. I just discovered kinkless and am in the process of entering my projects, but I want to step back and using the 5 phases to be sure I don't miss anything. Wish I had a diagram like the workflow that is pasted to my wall to reference while I work. Thanks for the great observation

10:49 PM  

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