Scoping Projects to Manageable Size

I recently put together a tutorial on how to get started with Kizby. Part of the tutorial digressed into what makes a good project or task. I thought I’d pull it out here as it’s something that I continually push against.

4.1 A Digression on Projects and Tasks

Projects and tasks are the primary work structures in Kizby, and Kizby is designed to support creating and using thousands of projects and tasks. Kizby requires that a task must be associated with a project.

Ideally a task should represent a concrete action, something that can be achieved as a logical step. And ideally a projects represents a desired outcome or goal, whether that be an end-product (sometimes called a deliverable), an event, or even an interim step to the larger outcome.

It should be possible to ask of a project: “When will this project be finished?” If the answer is “uncertain” or “never”, then the project is likely poorly defined.

That said, it’s often useful to have one or more catch-all projects. Such projects serve to group single-step tasks that simple enough that they do not warrant being made into full-blown projects. For example, deposit payment cheques is unlikely to be sufficiently complex to warrant being made into a separate project! Such projects are better thought of as checklists. Kizby can be used entirely with catch-all projects, effectively becoming a checklist manager.

You may want to create checklist-style projects to correspond to different contexts or themes in your life. For example: “work”, “home”, “renovations”, or for particular clubs or hobbies.

When I feel like I’m not making progress on something, it’s almost certainly due to an ill-specified task or project. Going over such projects and tasks easily repays for the time.

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3 Responses to Scoping Projects to Manageable Size

  1. Tony says:

    Seems to me that the answer to “When will my PhD project be finished” was always marked “uncertain” and “never.” Guess that means it was poorly defined. That sounds about right.

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