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another Single Action List vs Project question Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I'm still having issues figuring out when/how to use a Single Action List (SAL) vs a Project with Parallel actions. Especially for things that a 'kinda' related but don't have to be.

Say for instance, I keep a list of songs and bands I would like to listen to and investigate before I decide to buy the album. For example, a constant list of 5-20 bands, that come and go off the list quickly as I jot them down, assess, and delete or buy. There are no other actions, just the song/band name. (I know I need to find it, listen to it, decide on it, for each one) It could be 'software shareware' to look up, download, assess, and buy or delete, or DVDs, or anything that has a general similar group, no urgency, yet are not related and can be done one or all at a time. I don't need to review this list every week/month/etc. it is more of a corral to keep track of similar items.

Is it just a matter of what logo/icon I like SAL vs Project icon? Or is there any benefit for choosing a Parallel Project vs a SAL in function or sorting, etc

thanks
 
In my workflow, there are two primary factors that determine when to use a SAL and when to use a project with parallel actions. The first factor is related to the project/planning mode. I view true projects (parallel or sequential) as a group of related actions that, when completed, leads to a specific outcome. In other words, projects are not open ended-they are anchored with an initial task and a final task, and the name of the project will often contain a verb in its description ('Launch new client website' or 'Develop 2010 marketing plan'). The end date of a project may be unknown at the start, but ultimately the project will be completed or else it will be stalled or dropped.

SAL do not have the same (self-imposed) restrictions. I have various SAL for tasks that are related to a specific role/area of my life (work, family, house, etc.) yet the tasks are not necessarily related to one another. Also the SAL is open-ended, assuming that the role/area of my life does not change.

The second factor is related to context/working mode and how I want to view my tasks. All tasks in a parallel project are considered available (if not blocked by a start date), but the actions do have ranking based on where they appear in the project. If I am viewing my contexts by 'Next Action', then only the very next unblocked action in a parallel project will appear. SAL do not have this limitation as every item in a SAL is considered a next action.

Given your example and the question asked, I would think the music list would appear in a SAL. I'd probably go a slightly different direction and keep the list in a text file outside of OF, and make a SAL task of 'Review Music List' myself, but that's just a personal preference of mine to keep most project support materials out of OF.
 
Greg, very helpful, thanks.

I used the lists for groups of things I want to remember and look at and assess at some point, then buy or delete: Music, Shareware, Wines, Books.

That way with some free time, I have these lists all together; I can then do some quick searching online for the product, read some reviews, download a sample (except the wine!), and decide to buy or not, the item.

I need to get a better handle on "available" vs "next action" vs "remaining" with the Status Filter.
I don't quite get the subtle differences.

For reviews, I'd like to not see all the items on these lists, but rather just the main title of the topic "Music" "Books" etc. when looking at ALL my topics and deciding what to work on.
 
This might help with the Status Filters:

Remaining
SAL: All uncompleted actions displayed
Parallel: All uncompleted actions displayed
Sequential: All uncompleted actions displayed

Available
SAL: All uncompleted actions not blocked by a start date displayed
Parallel: All uncompleted actions not blocked by a start date displayed
Sequential: Next uncompleted action in the list not blocked by a start date displayed

Next Action
SAL: All uncompleted actions not blocked by a start date displayed
Parallel: Next uncompleted action in the list not blocked by a start date displayed
Sequential: Next uncompleted action in the list not blocked by a start date displayed

Basically, the difference between Available and Next Action with respect to parallel and sequential projects is that Next Action makes actions in a parallel project appear the same as they would if the project was sequential.
 
And one additional detail to Greg's excellent list:

Similar to actions with future start dates, actions with an "on hold" context are also unavailable and block subsequent actions in sequential projects.

-Dennis
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Jones View Post
I'd probably go a slightly different direction and keep the list in a text file outside of OF, and make a SAL task of 'Review Music List' myself, but that's just a personal preference of mine to keep most project support materials out of OF.
I'm finding OF MUCH more useful/friendly to me now that I have all these sorts of things in lists outside of OF. It was very free-ing to get these things (places I want to travel, recipes I want to try, etc.) out of OF, and in my case into OO.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by malisa View Post
I'm finding OF MUCH more useful/friendly to me now that I have all these sorts of things in lists outside of OF. It was very free-ing to get these things (places I want to travel, recipes I want to try, etc.) out of OF, and in my case into OO.
I've gone back and forth on this issue over the past year, migrating these kinds of lists between various apps and formats (plain text, OmniOutliner, OmniFocus, Yojimbo). Similar to viewpoint, my lists consist mostly of books, music, and movies.

My current feeling is that they actually fit best in OmniFocus as "on hold" SALs, primarily so I can have ubiquitous access to them on both my Mac and my iPhone. I keep finding myself at the library or at the bookstore and wishing I had my lists with me.

There are, of course, many ways to get a plain text file onto the iPhone, but the ease of use and MobileMe synching of OmniFocus is hard to beat. Plus, it makes it even easier to promote an item off the list into an active action or project in OmniFocus.

Greg/Malisa: Do either of you face similar situations? If so, how do you handle them with your external list formats?

-Dennis
 
One more addition: instead of "not blocked by a start date" in the SAL cases, it should read "not blocked by a start date or an incomplete prior sequential action" because it is possible to have action groups in SALs, and if the action group is sequential, the first action blocks subsequent actions from being considered available or next actions.







 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
Greg/Malisa: Do either of you face similar situations? If so, how do you handle them with your external list formats?

-Dennis
Yeah, I started to write something about the bummer being the question of where/how to digitally capture stuff. I do most of my capture at home and at work on paper, so no big deal with that to transfer from paper to OO vs. OF. But when I'm out and about (or even sitting at my computer) it makes sense to use my OF inbox for capturing. But when it's something that doesn't end up 'living' in OF it seems kind of weird to capture it there, then record it somewhere else and delete it from OF. And like you, I thought of using Evernote (similar to Yojimbo, right?) because of the ability to use pictures as well as type or voice. And I do take my pictures from within evernote if I think it's something I'll want to hold on to for reference/project support etc. But then, it's ANOTHER inbox. So I use it for pics when out and about and clipping things on the web, but I don't treat it as an inbox.

I also don't find the inbox on the OF iphone version as my go to spot, but I do find the desktop version's when I'm on my computer. I tend to just use the built in iphone 'notes' app in the same way that I use physical yellow pads around the house and at work. Yellow pad=list to review later to get into 'the system'.

Kind of a ramble, but that's where I'm at right now.

I've been back using OF for a couple months. Before (twice) I let it get over-run by lots of repeating actions for maintenance type stuff and lots and lots of lists. This time...projects only. (And no more than 5 current house chores.) I may add more back later, but this is working for now.
 
Thanks for the response, malisa. Lots of food for thought there. :-)

-Dennis
 
 


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