Lucas Brenner » Articles » I Underestimated Project Lists

The concept of project lists is very simple: you list all the projects you are currently working on in one document. A project is an undertaking for which there is a specific, desired end result and a deadline or time frame. A project can therefore be completed and checked off once the end result has been achieved. Projects range from planning the launch of a new product to redesigning your kitchen.

This definition comes from Tiago Forte and is deliberately broad, as we work on many more projects at work and in everyday life than we realize.

How to Write a Project List

A project list is intended to raise awareness of the projects we are actually working on. The process is very simple: take ten minutes and write down all the projects you are currently working on from memory. Once you get stuck, pick up your to-do list and calendar and add the projects you have forgotten. Using this simple method, I “discovered” five projects that I am currently working on, but that I have not treated as such. That may not seem like a lot – but only until you consider that, according to Tiago Forte, each person works on an average of ten to fifteen projects at a time.

Why It Is Important to Recognize Projects

At first glance, it may seem irrelevant whether you recognize the projects you are working on as such or not. It seems as if everything is fine as long as the tasks at hand are completed and you don't miss any deadlines.

However, it makes a big difference to your mindset whether you see a project as a whole or just keep ticking off individual tasks. If you are aware of the project context, you can not only think and work more long-term, but also approach the tasks with a different attitude. You can work much more effectively if you are aware of the project you are working on and the desired result

A project list also makes it easier to plan deadlines and tasks. The project list allows you to see your commitments at a glance, ideally with the associated deadlines. This allows you to prioritize projects and tasks more quickly. At the same time, you ensure that no projects are forgotten.

But probably the biggest advantage that a project list offers me is mental clarity. Once I realized that I was working on five more projects than I thought, an underlying feeling of stress immediately faded. It doesn't really matter whether the relief was triggered by being able to see all my projects and tasks at a glance, or by adding new tasks to my to-do list for the projects I previously only kept in my mind. The main thing is that my project list gives me mental peace, which I don't get from an endless to-do list without context and project connections.

I underestimated the power of project lists. If you don't have one, invest ten minutes of your time today and create a project list. Whether it makes you less stressed or not, this list will improve your time planning and task management by making you aware of what exactly you are working on at the moment. Bonus points if you keep such a list not only for professional tasks (where projects are usually more obvious and are often already written down anyway), but also in your private life. As we usually write down and plan our private tasks less meticulously, there is great potential for avoiding stress with a project list.