After assessing my priorities first, the next thing to look at during my reassessment were my projects. This took some time as I’ve got many projects in various stages of completion, and the tough part was making sure I placed them in one of the following categories:
- Pursue: Keep moving forward on the project.
- Pause: Put the project on hold for a period of time.
- Punt: Toss the project altogether.
(I find I work better using patterns in these sort of evaluations, so The 3 P System is a good fit for this exercise.)
One problem I have when I don’t reassess my projects every once in a while is that too many of them end up in Pursue and not enough of others get moved to Punt. The other problem is that too many of them stay in the Pause category for longer than they should when I don’t take a deeper look at them in the proper perspective (beyond my usual Weekly Review, of course).
I’ll go through some examples of projects that needed to be moved to other categories after assessment.
The Productivityist Video Series
I’ve had my share of podcasts, and I’ve never had much of a problem shelving (or abandoning them) when they either don’t fit any longer (Eventualism) or will encroach upon others I’m doing (ProductiVardy). A few months back I started to map out an ongoing video series for Productivityist, and it was progressing nicely. I’d planned a few episodes, had done some shooting, and even decided the best ways to deliver it. But as time went by I realized that I’d been delaying the effort consistently during my Weekly Review process every week once all of the aforementioned stuff was done.
When I took a closer look at all of my projects (both surrounding Productivityist and projects separate from the site), I realized that the timing wasn’t right and I could find another way to make video happen down the road if I decided to rekindle the project.
So I moved all of the project files as notes into Evernote (under a notebook called Productivityist Videos) and deleted the project from OmniFocus. That way I still had the work stored somewhere but the bandwidth that project took up every week just by seeing them was eliminated along with the project itself.
Essentially, this project went from Pursue to Punt because I removed it completely from the task manager I use.
Various Comedy/Fiction Projects
I’ve spoken about my comedy background on several podcasts — most recently The Better Guy Show — and I still had a slew of them sitting in the Pause category in my task manager. In fact, all of my creative pursuits revolving around fiction still sat there, doing nothing other than reminding me that I wasn’t moving forward on them.
I’ve never said I was going to give up comedy altogether — but it’s certainly not my focus any longer. Yet by leaving projects around comedy and fiction writing in the Pause section brought it forward every week to steal some of my focus — focus that is needed elsewhere. So I did the same thing with these projects as I did with the video series one mentioned above. And things became a whole lot cleaner…and clearer.
These projects went from Pause to Punt because they’d been in holding for a while and hadn’t seen the Pursue category in ages.
Remember when I was going to build my outdoor studio? Well,…that still hasn’t happened. And it never will.
I realized that my time is (currently) better spent becoming more proficient at what I do here and elsewhere — write, speak, and podcast. I know that eventually we’ll have more floor space in our house, so when that happens I’ll get my office. By focussing on my efforts with my own work — work I already do well — I’ll get even better at it and earn more money at it. That means we’ll take over the rest of our home sooner, meaning that I can have my office by simply working at becoming a better “productivityist” instead of a better handyman.
Valden has gone from Pause to Punt as well — and it went from Pursue to Pause very early on in the process. This time I only kept decor ideas and moved them to Evernote because nothing else was really relevant based on my new plans.1
An Array of Products
The Productivityist Workbook has done very well, and I’d like to make more products. Workshops, more books, and so on are ideas that have come to mind and I’d like to get them started sooner rather than later.
But not all of them are going to be pursued at once. So the ones that are in progress now are staying Pursue, the ones that are up next will be in Pause until the current ones are completed (basically as one is finished another will begin), and the ones that don’t fit the scheme of things anymore are being “punted” after this assessment.
When I first started assessing my projects — Personal and Family ones included — I had 31 projects altogether. Here’s how they were categorized:
- Pursue: 23
- Pause: 8
- Punt: 0
After the assessment, here’s how things were sorted:
- Pursue: 12
- Pause: 11
- Punt: 8
I’ve essentially cut my current project load in half by doing this assessment, and cleaned a good chunk of “dead” projects from my mind altogether. Based on the fact that several of the projects are ongoing ones (Productivityist.com, Mikes on Mics, Foster Beer Garden, etc.) I feel that I’ve still got both a manageable workload and a project list that will propel me forward in all of my life’s priorities.
Next up: Assessing Workflow
1 I have yet to create a project called “New Home Office” in OmniFocus because it’s still too far away to be in any category other than Pause. I’ll likely add it to my projects as of November, when it’s more than just a blip on the radar.