Clients as Projects?

Hi all

After a bit of advice really. I work in a social/charity context and work with around 20 clients. I have regular meetings with each (calendar, check!), but then have to do work outside of these meetings looking for activities/clubs/opportunities for these people to take part in.

Therefore would you treat each client as a project, and then have tasks associated with them, or have projects under clients, or clients as projects and tasks as sub projects....

Sorry, my own brain is going to explode trying to work this one out, so if anyone (who is not connected to the work) can look at objectively for me, and help me structure it, I'd be very, very grateful!

I'm happy to supply any other information about my setup, but not about my clients, obviously!


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Clients as projects

I am thinking I would set each client as a project and put the individual tasks under each client/project. I would simply name the project Jane Doe, Robert Smith, etc. The way I remind myself a task under a specific project is due, I put the project name in my calendar on the due date. So your calender could just have an JD or RS on due dates so you don't forget to check your task lists under each of those projects...

just one possibility! :)

Keep it simple

As I undertand it, part of the GTD idea is to keep separate lists, with no attempt at linking them. Projects under clients sounds like linking, you should probably have separate clients and projects lists. The part about your brain exploding suggests you might be resisting some part of the system. I would say, anything you are resisting is a project that needs an outcome and a next action, with any dependencies clarified in separate lists(project plans & waiting for).
So clients as projects and tasks as sub projects makes the most sense to me, except they should be in separate lists (sometimes I do use keywords for linking, but not so much anymore).

I am constantly fighting the tendency to settled for having clarified things in my mind, because that clarity will not be remembered later without a clear outcome and a next physical and single action. sometimes my tasks are projects in disguise.

It sounds to me like some of what you do can be helped with a tickler file, in addition to a calendar.

I hope that helps some.

I infer that each client has

I infer that each client has an outcome associated with him/her such as learning a skill, finding employment etc. so your clients are the main projects. Within each client project there will be sub-projects, tasks or steps that need to be done in order to achieve the desired outcome. Each step in turn has actions on you, the client and third parties. These actions then need to be placed in context. This is what I think is doing your brain in.

You must do a weekly review in order to manage all these actions and contexts.

I would set up contexts for your personal actions such as @Computer, Errands, Meetings, In the office, Waiting on, phone etc. Some actions in these contexts may be associated with your clients or they may just be for you such as an expense return or booking a car service. Under each client project I would set up further contexts including an "Actions on Lucy" and of course a "Waiting on". At the weekly review (or other time depending on the situation) you would move the project "Actions on Lucy" to the personal contexts such as phone or meeting and add a waiting on Lucy to the project contexts. When the action is done, uppdate the contexts and determine the next action to be done to advance the project and put that action in its context.

Initially there will be some trial and error so be prepared to change things as 20 clients is complex. I would advise fewer rather than many contexts initially so as to keep it simple. Make sure you do the weekly review for it is here that you will pick up on things that are slipping, recognise actions that can be combined such as meeting XYZ Corp on behalf of clients A, B, F and R and getting the car service done at the same time as it is on the same street.

Hope I have undersrtood your situation and hope this helps.

Bob H.

projects and actions

Before I comment I must confess that I do not use 'pure GTD' and use bits of it in a hybrid process.

GTD is very good at organising things but not as good at 'scoping' them, in my opinion. So while you can organise a project that you can analyse easily, it's much harder to organise how to interact with a person who will have their own opinion of what they want to do (or doesn't know what they want to do or can do).

I think that having a project page for each client is a good idea. If I were working with clients with different needs I'd also add extra categories to my actions, eg - @community liaison, @social clubs, @client meetings, etc.

I'd also include a collection page for opportunities - listing opportunities, their dates, what action category they fit into (eg @social clubs), etc. And a second list of dates that your clients are/aren't available to take up opportunities.

P.S. It may sound strange but I suggest you ask a Real Estate Agent how they organise their paperwork and thinking. Matching people to homes in some ways would be very similar to matching people to opportunties. Both involve emotions and lots of uncertainty in the clients

Thank you

I want to thank you all for taking the time to read and comment. Having always worked in small charities, I was skeptical about the whole GTD thing to start with, thinking it would only work for 'proper' professionals in big corporates.

But I managed to get it working in my previous role, which by working from scratch was easy to adapt to the work I did. However this was only great until the nature of what I do on a daily basis changed, and now I'm trying to fit the work into the system rather than the other way round.

I will try and impliment some of the suggestions, mainly going with the project/sub project and contexts ideas.

Thanks again