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I have been using GTD for several years now but I still find it difficult to manage projects with obvious sub projects that roll up into them. These are usually longer term projects with hundreds or possibly thousand of next actions to complete them. How do I properly track my projects with sub projects?

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What do you mean by "rolling up"? Does a longer term project fill up with tasks which you can only later divide into sub projects? What about identifying the sub projects when you create a new long term project? Are you making your tasks too small? – Tom Wijsman Sep 18 '11 at 23:33
The definition of a project is anything that requires more than one next action to complete. This works fine for small projects but for epic projects that require more planning it is hard to know how to represent the levels of subprojects – Jeremy E Sep 19 '11 at 20:46
up vote 6 down vote accepted

I'm not sure if I got your question right, but I give it a shot given the amount of tasks...

Don't split up later big tasks until you are near the moment that you need to start on them.

This will keep the amount of tasks in your GTD system low, so you don't suffer information overflow...

For example, a book writer has the following tasks:

  • Think about the book.

  • Write the book.

  • Publish the book.

Of course, these tasks aren't really actionable in for example an half of an hour. That's why we need to split them up in smaller tasks according to the GTD system and The Pomodoro Technique; now, don't do this for the later big tasks to prevent an overflow of tasks.

  • Think about the book.

    • Think about the environment.

    • Think about the personages.

    • Think about the plot.

  • Write the book.

  • Publish the book.

Some days have passed, the general idea has been noted down.

  • Write the book.

    • Write the prolog.

    • Write the first chapter.

    • Determine how many chapters the book will need.

    • Write the remaining chapters.

  • Publish the book.

Some days have passed, the book has been written; and so on...

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I usually define project name as "Project/Subproject" and it works fine for me. I use MyLifeOrganized for projects/tasks tracking. It has pretty good dependency and next actions tracking.

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Longer term projects are defined as short term goals in Toodledo. If you have even bigger projects, I use the long term goals but that's never really needed.

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I use goals for things like "Learn French" or "Write book" - that is, multi-year goals. There are sub-tasks available, but that's a Toodledo Pro feature. – Mei Sep 26 '11 at 15:16
Yes, that is a decision you should make yourself. To me it is worth the money to use the toodledo pro features. – Roel Sep 26 '11 at 15:18

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