Projects vs Folders

Hi all!

I hope I’m not being a pain. I was wondering how you all felt about Projects and Folders (Projects vs Folders) and when and why you use one over the other. Currently, I’m only using OF for iPhone. I’m using mostly as a student and was using Projects for my classes instead of folders; but I posted here earlier and it was recommended I create folders for my classes and projects instead them - I like this a lot better surprisingly.

I still have projects for some things currently like multi step application processes and that’s working well. I have a project going for my blog as well I throw things in from time to time, however I’m not sure if that’s the best approach for this item. I also kept the miscellaneous project that was defaulted I believe that I throw a lot of errands and other things in; but I’m still looking to clean up OF and use it better and so I’m looking for some examples. (help?)

So what do you use (projects vs folders) and when?

I teach. So from the other side, here is my approach.

  • I use folders from my courses, not projects.
  • For any given course, I have (three) sub-folders to contain collections of homework, exams, or lectures.
  • Any specific assignment, exam, or lecture session is itself a project.
  • I regenerate the entire folder, sub-folder, and project structure for a given course over from new every semester, even though the course may be the same.

As to why … Because a course is an adventure with many paths to explore and an uncertain overall outcome, while a homework assignment, exam, or lecture is a focused achievement with a graded result.

Search in this forum and you will find others who have struggled with similar questions to yours.

Update Added: Here is one example …


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The GTD rule of thumb I use is: “How do you know what “done” is?” To make a project, you have to define the finish line. If you have more than one finish line, it’s not a project, It’s a folder of projects.


In my spare time, I’m a seamstress. I have many different projects that are sewing related (Make a sweater, Cut out those jeans), so I have corralled them all in a folder called Sewing. This works well for me so I can drill down to my Sewing folder to see those sewing related projects quickly and easily.


I generally agree with @anamorph, but do have a few projects that are single action lists without a definition of “Done”.
For example

[P] Maintain Household
     [A] Change porch lightbulb
     [A] Declog bathtub

I will be done with all the stray random chores when I move to assisted living, I guess.
And it’s not worth a whole project for a 5 minute action.
So a project of single actions (so that they’re all considered “First Available”) collects them together. I can put that whole project on hold if I’m out of town or generally feeling behind on life. And I can review it to help me think of more stray things that want doing, or admit that “Declog Bathtub” needs to be its own project including some actions about buying supplies or researching plumbers.

Yeah, David Allen talks about both these aspects.

Your single actions fall under the “Two Minute Rule,” which he points out can be anywhere from 2-10 minutes depending on your tolerance. It’s just a short task that’s esentially frictionless. If a 10-minute task can be frictionless for you, it’s a 10-minute rule for you.

The whole project/done/finish line thing is a way to overcome overwhelm, resistance and friction. DA talks about most to do lists being “incomplete lists of unclear things,” and that being the cause for mental stress and confusion. His real goal with projects is to break them down into small enough mindless tasks that you can do them without emotional resistance. You may balk at doing your taxes, but you can turn on the computer, right? You can find the tax folder without stressing, yeah? By the time you do each tiny step (What Mr. Allen calls “grinding widgets”) you’re doing your taxes without any emotional stickiness.

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