I was asked about using GTD to manage projects – I think this probably depends on what is meant by a “project” ?
In GTD terms it’s anything that takes more than a single action to complete, so could include writing a report or paper that needs some research or setting your budget for next year or getting a repair carried out on your car. These would be Minor projects. Most people will have many of these in progress at any one time and they may just involve one person (yourself) in the main for most steps to be completed.
In many people’s eyes or definition a project is a major undertaking. Could be designing and launching a new product, restructuring an organisation or building a new factory. They would be Major projects. For some people, they may only be involved with one or two such projects at a single point in time or maybe just one; it could be all you are really working on. If you are a consultant then you possibly have several open at any stage but for for multiple clients. Such projects usually involve several people or teams who are fully engaged with them most of the time.
Whether major or minor they can all be included in GTD but realistically major projects will have other support material possibly hosted outside the GTD environment that your system at least needs to point towards, especially if there are many other people involved day to day and working with that material.
Whatever system you use for GTD, either paper based, Evernote, IQTELL and so on, you can still have a list of your main projects that you review each week or more frequently, to prompt you to think of next actions.
You will also have project support material that you likewise review. If it’s a major project I don’t think you can rely on such tools in GTD alone. You will have actions lists, business plans, specs, Gantt charts and so on that are often shared with the rest of your team and need to be regularly referred to and that will contribute to decision making etc. At least your GTD system can point to these and remind you efficiently where they are located and not to forget about them. I don’t think that GTD alone or the tools people adopt for it can be used to manage major projects to the exclusion of all other conventional project management tools but major projects and next actions, calendar items etc. for them should still be part of the GTD system or the concept of a single system where you can find everything breaks down.
I generally have numerous minor projects open at any time rather than one or two major ones and the project part of my GTD weekly review is almost the climax that the weekly review is building towards or the meat in the GTD sandwich, after many other briefer sources have been covered and captured. These projects are the main stay of what I am doing week to week after all.
A major project is likely to generate and require multiple or a sequence of next actions with similarly high priority and you can’t wait for another week to review them and decide what the next one is, they need daily review or more frequently often. One way to consider major projects and next actions for them within GTD is with a unique context just for that project. So rather than thinking I am in the office and ready to make phone calls for the next hour what’s on the list, perhaps you then say I need to work on project X for the next hour, what is on the list under that context alone ?