GTD Project Detail Form v1

This comes after my GTD Project List Form v1 post. Take a look if you need some background on the concept of Projects within Getting Things Done and want to see the “parent” or “companion” form that goes along with this one.

Concept

I mentioned before that I had also created a Getting Things Done-inspired Project Detail Form, and here it is:

Project Detail Form v1

This fold-out page is formatted to print on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. I Circa-punch the left side and trim the bottom quarter inch off so it lines up with the other pages in my Circa/Rolla organizer. The aqua line isn’t printed — I’ve added it to the screenshot so you can see where I fold the page back.

The left side holds basic project information. In the diagram below…

Project Detail Form - left side detail sample

  • Big area for the project name.
  • A small area for the project code, which matches up with the project code I assign on the Project List form.
  • A big box to write the desired outcome and wildest dream, to help you focus on what you want this project to accomplish.
  • There are then several lines for brainstorming action items.

The right fold-out panel is a basic grid layout (1/4″ grid markings), perfect for notes, brainstorming, etc. I’ve already found this helpful for jotting down phone numbers and car service quotes for my “replace clutch” project. It’s also a nice place to write things down and brainstorm when I’m on-the-go and only have my planner with me.

Project Detail Form - right side detail sample

So how does this fit in with GTD? David Allen doesn’t talk about a “project detail sheet” in the book, but he does talk about “project support materials” that should be filed away for easy reference (either digitally, in an email folder or document folder, or physically, in a file folder or other storage unit) that are pulled out when you are working on the project. I think of this project detail sheet as a mini portable project file that I can always have with me in my planner to jot down notes, list the next few actions I think I need to take, and refer to quickly and easily. It’s not for everyone, but I think it will work for me.

I’ve deliberately stressed the brainstorming aspect of this page. As a list-maker type of person, I often get caught up into trying, first of all, to have a “complete” list, and second of all, to completely check off everything on the list. However, for some projects it’s not practical or feasible to create a complete list. This page gives me the freedom to make an incomplete list — to just look a few steps ahead, dream, brainstorm, even — gasp — write the action items out of order. I can quickly grab the Next Action and put it into my “real” to-do list (using Remember the Milk for now), without being afraid that I’ll forget an important step down the road because I already have it captured on this page.

Finally — I’m planning a follow-up post that demonstrates my current workflow using these different forms, and will have more concrete examples on how I use this specific project detail form in that post. Update: Here it is.

Download

  • Project Detail Form v1project-detail.pdf
    The PDF is editable in Illustrator, if you’re the kind of person that likes to customize things.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Usage notes

  • Print landscape on 8.5″ x 11″ paper.
  • Can punch the left side. (This was specifically formatted for a Circa/Rolla notebook but may work for other formats.)
  • Trim the bottom 1/4″ off if you want it to match the Circa/Rolla Junior size paper.
  • Fold the grid back so that it doesn’t overlap the hole punches.
  • I file mine in order by project number so that I can quickly reference them from the Project List sheet.

Feedback

If you have any feedback about my GTD forms, I’d love to hear it! Please leave a comment below.

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24 Comments

  1. Corliss
    Posted June 15, 2007 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    This is wonderful. I try to keep everything computerized. After Hurricane Katrina it’s easier to keep all of my files in OneNote, which includes my project planning. But, darn you’re making that very difficult. I’ve added this as a printout in OneNote and set it as a background image. So I can type on it. Pretty cool!

  2. Posted June 15, 2007 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Corliss – Thanks for visiting! That’s a great idea for making OneNote prettier. :) I’m glad you found this useful!

  3. Posted June 19, 2007 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    This is great! I have been using a Project sheet I found somewhere else (Sorry guys), but I have wanted to have a fold-out page so I am not flipping to the resource sheet (cut-down quad-ruled paper) behind it.

    Thanks!

  4. Posted June 19, 2007 at 6:23 am | Permalink

    Hi again, Stephen – Hope you’re able to make use of this! I like the fold-out feature myself; if I need to, I can keep it folded back and flip the [folded] page over to have the rest of my organizer as a hard surface to write on, but I do find it helpful to pull it out when I’m looking at the project as a whole.

  5. Posted June 19, 2007 at 6:31 am | Permalink

    I just printed one out to play with, and discovered that if I print one of these on the back, then I have even more space for notes. In an orderly format ;)

    Awesome.

  6. Posted June 19, 2007 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    Very cool!! That’s a great resource site link you provided — thanks!

  7. Posted June 19, 2007 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Wow, that looks awesome. I will try it out on my brand new Circa Jr. I have to clear up some projects that were started in my Moleskine before I start full bore on using the Circa. I will download and start testing.

  8. Posted June 19, 2007 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    Thanks, Michael — let me know if you have any feedback and how it works out for you!

  9. Posted June 23, 2007 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Again, a very interesting post. When I get to posting about the project section of my organiser you will see that it is not very organised or structured. However perhaps I will have time to introduce some of your ideas before I get there!

  10. Posted June 23, 2007 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Thanks for taking a look, Kate! Hope you will get some time to post about your own organiz/ser. :)

  11. Posted June 23, 2007 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes American and British spellings! :)

  12. gilda
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

    Can I just mention again, I love your forms. Anyways, after all this GTD blogs I decided to also check out David Allen’s book from the Library. I have to say “I like”. So, I went out and got a labeler (it’s just fun) and stole back some trays from Ian and got a filing cabinet from craiglist.

    I think I’m ready to really embark on the process (and hopefully this will keep my brain stressfree and organized, as baby brain has made me horribly confused all the time). One thing I’m unlcear on though is What’s the difference between the Project List and Next Action List? I think I might be putting whole Project detail lists into my Next Action Folder/Lists. Or maybe I just confuse the usage of the word “lists” with actual lists. So confused. E-mail me!! :)

  13. Posted September 25, 2007 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Hey Gilda,

    The Project List is more of an overall list that keeps tracks of your projects. There aren’t any “actions” on there. For example, my project list might have: 1) GearDesk logo, 2) Custom Shadow Box site, 3) recipes and photos. My project detail form keeps tracks of SOME of the “potential next actions” for each project (sketches, digital sketches, finalize logo). My actual “next action” list would have the full list of all next actions I’d need to take for all the projects and general stuff in my life: 1) logo sketches for GearDesk, 2) design brochure for Custom Shadow Box, 3) wash dishes, 4) call SPCA, 5) post photos.

    Some people might not have enough “projects” to really warrant keeping a separate projects list, but it’s a good way to remember what you have going on even if you’re not actively working on it at that moment during your weekly review — for example, I might not have anything related to “GearDesk Logo” on my next action list (b/c I’m waiting for the client on something, in which case something is on my “waiting for” list), but seeing it on my project list during my review reminds me that I should follow up with the client… or, if I’ve dropped the ball, reminds me that I should add something to my Next Actions list!

  14. gilda
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    If I remember correctly I think you said you didn’t find you needed seperate folders/lists for @Computer, @Calls, etc. Do you seperate these at all on paper lists? Or just keep the Project details and do your next actions of those?

    Maybe I implemented the “system” too far… because I don’t really have a separate @WORK and even though I feel like I have a million things to keep track of… after a brain dump, maybe it was only about 75. My 6 folders for next actions seem daunting and odd (with a few scraps of paper thrown in each).

    Ideas? Advice? Encouragments? :P

  15. Posted September 25, 2007 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Gilda – I actually use Remember the Milk for all my next-action stuff now. So all I have on paper are: 1) project list 2) project detail form 3) small project task cards (which overlap w/ RTM, but help me to visually prioritize projects for that week). I don’t have a separate @work action list, I just use RTM’s tags to help sort out special lists for work (which I don’t look at very often).

  16. Posted September 25, 2007 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    P.S. Here’s my blog post about RTM and GTD.

  17. gilda
    Posted September 25, 2007 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Hmm.. well I guess I’ll try what I gots. I think I want to go paper with the system. And then if I find a “grove” maybe I’ll look for an electronic gadget (and websites) to help me keep it more environmentally friendly.

    Thanks for the help. I might be back asking you more question later down the road.

  18. Posted September 25, 2007 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    The reason why I went w/ RTM is because I started having pages and pages of “next actions” that weren’t all completely crossed out. Then I would recopy them to consolidate the list on a new page. This got tedious. :) But I think paper is a great way to start out, so good luck!

  19. loom
    Posted July 20, 2008 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    Hi there,
    I would like to ask how would you organize projects that require constantly repeatable actions, for instance, studying a language.

    Thanks in advance!

  20. Posted July 23, 2008 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Loom – I think there are a couple different ways you could approach this. One way is to write down action items for each assignment or specific task. That would give you the pleasure of being able to cross off each assignment or study session as you complete it. Another way is to treat each study session as a repeatable event. In that case, I’d probably use Remember the Milk (see my workflow post for more details) to schedule a repeating action that I could check off each day, or incorporate it as a bubble in my daily tracker sheet to make it part of my routine.

  21. Sally
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    Hey Girl….

    Thanks so much for creating this… and for sharing it!

    I’m a real nerd for making my own forms for everything… and I just love this one that you made – it saves me from making something similar for myself.

    Great idea on being a fold-out.

    Write back if you happen to see this.

    Thanks again,

    Sally

  22. Magda
    Posted December 30, 2011 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Wonderful Thankyou!

  23. Isadore
    Posted April 22, 2012 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    After numerous failed attempts with software (Omnifocus, Things… God, too many to mention), I’m giving paper/circa & a version if your (and D. Seah’s) forms a shot.

    Curious – do you still do things this way?

    • Posted October 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

      Since I wrote these posts, I have been going paperless for the past few years (when I got an iPhone). I’ll still use paper for “dump lists” every now and then, but I don’t have as many projects to balance so I’ve abandoned my lovely forms (for now!).


2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. [...] has a fantastic Project Planner page that you can print out and punch for your Circa notebook: So how does this fit in with GTD? David [...]

  2. [...] Storage – blank forms for the other sections, and a couple of Project planning sheets that I got from Corrie Haffly [...]

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