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Adding a preference: allow SALs to show Next Action Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
When filtering by Next Action, both sequential and parallel Projects show a Next Action; parallel Projects' Next Action is essentially either arbitrary (whatever action happens to be at the top is seen), or intentional/virtual -- the user moves to the top of the list what s/he feels is an Action that would bring the most (or at least as good as any other) value towards successful moving forward of that project. Single Action Lists (SALs), OTOH, show all the Actions contained within (unless other filtering is in place, of course).

I have, as I believe many others do, a large number of available Actions in SALs. During the course of the day, when reviewing to see what actions might bring the most value, and using the Next Action filter, the numerous Actions that are displayed in SALs makes it hard for me to quickly scan my inventory and narrow things down -- it numbs my brain.

I realize that GTD generally suggests to review all one's project lists (abnd at least next actions for each, IIRC) at least once a week, and also that all available actions should be reviewed as well at an appropriate interval, but probably not at intervals throughout the day when simply looking for a next action.

I propose the addition of a preference option (keeping the current behavior as default), which would allow SALs to have the same Next Action behavior as parallel Projects -- that is, only one Action would show when filtered thusly.

An alternative preference option that I'll throw out, would be to, instead, simply not show an SALs when filtering by Next Action, but I like the former better.

Before petitioning OG for such a preference option, I wanted to find out if others might find this useful.

Bob
 
I could be overlooking something, but isn't the feature of SALs that you are asking to change the only thing (along with a blue-style text) that differentiates a SAL from a regular project? Why not create regular project(s) and use those for your SALs?
 
Greg, I was wondering much the same thing :-)

Another option would be to simply create a perspective or two that didn't include the SALs contributing all of the "noise" to the view. I find that most of my SALs contain stuff that needs to be done periodically, but isn't usually particularly time-critical, and thus screening part or all of it from view when I'm hard at work isn't a problem. Something more critical will likely have its own project and better visibility.
 
@Greg Jones: AFAICT, you are exactly correct, that all I'm asking for is a preference option to have SALs show the top Action only when filtering by Next Action. Why not create regular Projects? Because SALs are independent Actions that don't lead to an outcome. You are correct that doing so would be a workaround, but I very much like the separation of SALs from Projects, conceptually. It is an important distinction.

@whpalmer4: "create a perspective or two that didn't include the SALs contributing all of the "noise" to the view." I may be missing the obvious, but how would one systematically filter out SALs from view in a Perspective? If that is possible, you may have the winning ticket. Thanks.

Bob

Last edited by omnibob; 2009-02-20 at 07:12 PM..
 
Simply select everything in the sidebar, then cmd-click on the SALs (or anything else) you don't want to include. Now save the perspective, and you're set. The obvious advantage here (besides not needing Omni to deliver a change) is that you can pick and choose what you include. You could have a parallel SAL for high priority items and only include that in your view, and put the low priority actions in another one that isn't included in the perspective you check during prime time. The ability of perspectives to remember and show only a subset of your projects or contexts is quite useful!
 
OK, that is certainly a workaround, and I do appreciate your explanation very much. And I do have quite a number of tweaked Perspectives. But I'm looking for a systematic change (in the app, as an optional preference); I *don't* want to have to keep updating my Perspective(s) every time I add a new Project, so that they are included in my Perspective(s) that have Next Action filtering.

When filtering by Next Action, parallel Projects only show a (single) Next Action; and that is, philosophically, in my book, reason enough to at least allow the same behavior (as an alternative option) in SALs. But even if I could persuade with this line of reasoning to allow it as an option in the app, if there aren't a good number of people interested in this, it will not get added. I do thank you for your input.

Bob
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by omnibob View Post
@Greg Jones: AFAICT, you are exactly correct, that all I'm asking for is a preference option to have SALs show the top Action only when filtering by Next Action. Why not create regular Projects? Because SALs are independent Actions that don't lead to an outcome. You are correct that doing so would be a workaround, but I very much like the separation of SALs from Projects, conceptually. It is an important distinction.
Conceptually, there is a difference between SALs and Projects-no disagreement there. But in practice with the technology, I still don't see why it should matter. Perhaps the Omni folks will weigh in on this, but as a user the only reason I can tell for the inclusion of SALs in OmniFocus is to show every action in a Next Action list, because the actions in a SAL are totally unrelated to one another. As I said in my first post, I may be overlooking something but aside from showing all SAL actions in a Next Action list (along with the default blue text/folder icon), a SAL functions in every way just like a parallel project.

Since you mentioned the topic of conceptual, I hope you will not mind if I make the observation that only displaying the top item of a SAL in a Next Actions view does force a relationship among tasks that should be unrelated. I would be in effect is saying that I want to do task A before task B on my SAL with no regard to the contexts of the tasks. If I have, during my daily review, determined that task A is the most important (top) item on my SAL and takes 1 hour to complete, then until completed I would not be presented with task B that takes 10 minutes, which I could do if I had 15 minutes available before my next appointment. I would not be able to make a value judgement during the day as to which actions would bring the most value, given my available context, if all my available tasks were not in front of me.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Jones View Post
... as a user the only reason I can tell for the inclusion of SALs in OmniFocus is to show every action in a Next Action list, because the actions in a SAL are totally unrelated to one another.
You may very well be right on that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Jones View Post
Since you mentioned the topic of conceptual, I hope you will not mind if I make the observation that only displaying the top item of a SAL in a Next Actions view does force a relationship among tasks that should be unrelated. I would be in effect is saying that I want to do task A before task B on my SAL with no regard to the contexts of the tasks.
I disagree partially here (perhaps it depends on the use of "relationship", in my intended use, at least). For me, it is more of a distinguishing of what I want to see when I run a "Next Action" Perspective (*or* simply to just have a single arbitrary Action show, ala parallel Projects, when I'm not moving any Action to the top). So yes, when done intentionally, it is prioritizing a single Action to look at with the NA filter, and violates Context, but it is not relating Actions by linking them (I realize you didn't say that).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Jones View Post
If I have, during my daily review, determined that task A is the most important (top) item on my SAL and takes 1 hour to complete, then until completed I would not be presented with task B that takes 10 minutes, which I could do if I had 15 minutes available before my next appointment. I would not be able to make a value judgement during the day as to which actions would bring the most value, given my available context, if all my available tasks were not in front of me.
That is an excellent point, and certainly a very good way to determine what to do next in many instances. That said, I find myself quickly running through a number of Perspectives (Next Review, due soon, flagged, etc.); during my weekly review. Similarly, during intra-day review / execution phases, although not so much as my weekly review, I find occasionally pulling up Perspectives with different criteria sparks some good ideas, and I often see Actions I otherwise had missed, or see them in a new light. I use Planning mode a lot during my day job because the vast majority of the time my context is @computer. This is where being able to quickly find next actions, and delegate work or do it myself, pays off for me, hence my desire to have a programmatic way to show only one next action in a SAL (or filter out SALs entirely).

I appreciate your input, and would say that while my desire to see only one next action for all projects *and* SALs is rooted in GTD spirit (although perhaps not SALs explicitly), your explanation of filtering by context and time available is spot on in terms of GTD. Thank you for that.

I realize I'm being overly long, but wanted to repeat that my desire for the preference option is so that I can have a clean list of (single) next actions across the board for all three kinds of containers. OF has strong foundations in GTD, but has its own spins. Since parallel Projects' NAs are arbitrary or virtual (intentional), I don't see (outside of pure GTD, that is), which SALs can't have a non-default preference option for having the same behavior. This is so that I can, when running with this filter, blot out the hundreds of screaming single Actions. Those of us with very large lists of SAs do, however, need to face the music and give each and every one of those Actions a review, at appropriate intervals, no debate there.

<tomato ducking>I'll toss out a related idea. When I do a text search, I often end up focusing for a moment on an Action that I hadn't focused seriously on for a while (it may not even be the Action I was searching for). Sometime this triggers valuable output (2 minute rule; mark as already complete; delete; revise the project; etc.). This triggered the idea of some sort of random function to focus on a random action or project. Specifically this, or even a linear rotation mode, could be applied to Next Actions in parallel Projects, and SALs (if my original idea is ever implemented), so that a different Next Action would appear every time the Perspective is run.</tomato ducking>

Bob

Last edited by omnibob; 2009-02-21 at 09:37 AM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by omnibob View Post
<tomato ducking>I'll toss out a related idea. When I do a text search, I often end up focusing for a moment on an Action that I hadn't focused seriously on for a while (it may not even be the Action I was searching for). Sometime this triggers valuable output (2 minute rule; mark as already complete; delete; revise the project; etc.). This triggered the idea of some sort of random function to focus on a random action or project. Specifically this, or even a linear rotation mode, could be applied to Next Actions in parallel Projects, and SALs (if my original idea is ever implemented), so that a different Next Action would appear every time the Perspective is run.</tomato ducking>
You should check out the omnifidget widget.
 
 


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