According to David Allen, a project is grouped tasks that should be done either sequentially, or in parallel. These tasks usually share a common goal. Examples include: Hire a new assistant, Launch an ad campaign, Get a tooth fixed, etc.
With this definition, the role of the project is basically to be an umbrella that groups all the steps required to complete a goal. So, there could be many situations when a project needs to be repeated. For example, each time you want to clean your house, the series of steps involved are the same. So, you might want to create a template that holds all the steps and then use the template to create a new instance of the project.
It’s worth pausing here to remind us again that any line in the Outline can potentially be an area, a project, a task, or a sub-task. The Outline does not distinguish these. What matters in the Outline is whether a line has any sublines. So, if you have a line in the Outline that has 5 sublines, you can consider this line a project and the sublines to be the project tasks.
The template method works well when you want to replicate a template and probably amend the planning of the project or some other small tweaks. However, if you have a number of sub-tasks that repeat regularly (e.g. daily, or weekly), you should be using the recurring plans instead of the template method.
How to Create a Project Template
To create a project template:
- Create a branch in the Outline to represent Project Templates
- Under Project Templates, create a parent line with sublines to represent a project template
- Each time you want to re-use this template, use Duplicate from the menu option of the parent line.
- Rename the duplicate project to represent the new instance of the project
- Move the project under the right parent.
Dependencies in Templates
If your project has sequential steps, you should be using a sequential plan.
If some tasks in the project depend on the completion of other tasks, do not add those dependencies in the templates. If you add dependencies in the template, duplicating the template will keep the old dependency targets.