I’ve change my project structure many times over the years to fit my needs. It evolves over the years to meet current demands. But sometimes I wonder if there is some area that I am not covering. Now I have to ask “how do you organize your task manager’s project structures?”
There has to be a method to the madness in how we set up our project structures. Everything has its place in your life (or not). We capture random items on a daily basis into an inbox and eventually ends up somewhere in our productivity ststem. It could be an FYI that needs to be saved for future reference. I might get a call from my wife to pick up some groceries on the way home. I can get inspired by blog post to try out a new workflow. But I don’t want these items ending up in a big catch-all inbox.
I’m curious about some users who like to use the task manager’s inbox as a catch-all place and work from their inbox. Many productivity systems tell us to go through our inboxes and move everything out into its final destination. I make a new folder, project, or single action list to hold new inbox items as needed.
My Project Structure
After many permutations, I’ve settled on a basic structure that fits my workflow.
The Admin Actions folder contains a group of Single Action Lists (SALs). A single action is a one-off action that occurs in my daily life. I get many requests throughout the day and will file single one-off actions here.
It can also be called the Maintenance folder because most of the actions placed here are geared towards maintaining my life. These actions keep my overall life running. Items such as Fix leaky bathroom faucet, Buy light bulbs are used to make sure my house life is in working order.
The Admin Routines folder is the place I use to hold all of my routine maintenance tasks. I keep repeating items separate from the Admin Actions one-off group. I can go to the Admin Routines folder to find repeating tasks such as Submit weekly sales report or Buy 2 bags of dog food. I didn’t want to mix my single one-off tasks with repeating maintenance tasks.
I discussed working on administrative tasks here:
Big Rock Projects
The Big Rocks contained within these folders hold projects that have a specific goal. They are not maintenance in nature. Here is a sample screenshot of some Big Rock projects:
I have three to five projects active that I am currently working on. All of the other projects are either deferred to a future date or the project status is set to On Hold. The only projects I want to work on are active projects. My Big Rocks strategy was discussed here:
I have a folder for each Area of Responsibility: Home, Personal, Side Business, Office, etc. All of my Big Rock projects go here. Big Rock projects have a goal and a measurable result that will hopefully improve my life.
My Lab Experiments folder used to be called Someday/Maybe. This folder contains half-baked projects that still need some fine-tuning. I keep my projects in this incubator as I am still working on it during the early stages. If I think a project is starting to gain form, I’ll move it into one of my Special Projects folders.
I also have a single action list called Someday/Maybe (for example, Office Someday/Maybe or House Someday/Maybe. These lists contain a single entry for a possible idea. I move a lot of inbox items to one of the Someday/Maybe lists to explore later. When I review the Lab Experiments once a month, I look at some of the Someday/Maybe lists and see if I can actually create a project out of one of the items.
I also keep a **Project Templates **list here. It contains action groups that I can copy and paste as a new project. In the future, I’d like to explore using OmniJS, Drafts, and Workflow as a way to create project templates. That’s in my Someday/Maybe list!
Re-organizing my folders
I slowly evolved my project structures over time. When a folder contains too many projects or lists, I try to find new ways to organize them and break groups of projects into other folders. I have started to take a larger role in the marketing department at my work. I had to move several marketing projects out of my Office folder and into an Advertising folder.
I believe in putting projects and tasks into its own storage bin. I try to keep it one level deep. I don’t like to have multiple sub-folders and drill down just to get to a project.
I am curious to see what you have done with your project structures. It’s an interesting journey to see how we break our lives down into different folders/categories. Let’s share our project structures and gather up ideas that can help us re-organize our lives. I look forward to seeing what you can show!