Which of your projects need space, and which need focus?

Productivity
Takeaway: Divide your project list (if you keep one) by which of those projects require focus, space, or a combination of the two. This is a great way to briefly see what you’re working on and what you should be both thinking about and focusing on.

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minutes, 30s.

There are plenty of ways to organize your ongoing projects. I personally keep two files on my computer: one that lists my personal projects and another that lists my work projects. (A project is a level above a task on your to-do list: a collection of tasks that leads to some outcome).  

Recently, my list has ballooned. To help, I’ve started divvying up projects based on another dimension: which ones require space, focus, or both.  

We all have projects underway, some of which we’re actively working on, others which are on the back burner. Active projects require focus, whereas back burner projects need space. This space allows us to unearth new insights, brainstorm solutions to impasses, and encounter related ideas as we go about doing other things.  

Then there’s the projects that benefit from both focus and space—namely long-term projects. Writing a book is a good example of this: the only way to tackle a project like this is to hunker down and write, but a book also requires extensive and innovative thinking about an idea. Designing the blueprint to your eventual dream home is another example of a project that requires alternating periods of space and focus. 

I highly recommend keeping a list (or lists!) of the projects you’re working on, especially if you have a lot on the go. Then, do some thinking about which of these projects require focus, space, or both. Be sure to review these lists every week in order to keep tabs on what you’re focusing on and thinking about.  

This is one of my favorite tactics to quickly scan what’s on my plate and do as David Allen has written: zoom out from my life to see it from 10,000 feet. 

Written by

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity, and is the author of two books: Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in 20 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site, and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive, without hating the process.

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