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Identifying "lurking" projects Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
One of the things taking most getting used to as a switcher from LifeBalance is the way that a project can lurk quietly and potentially forgotten in the outline once all its subsidiary tasks have been cleared. In LB (as has been extensively discussed elsewhere on these forums I see) there's no distinction between a project and a task - a project is simply a task with subsidiary tasks, and once the subsidiary tasks are done the "project task" itself appears on the to-do list in its own right, either to be checked as fully complete, or to have further subsidiary tasks added. Is there any way in OF to search for projects with no remaining tasks or is this simply a question of thorough weekly review?

Thanks

Rob
 
Yes. Go to project view and in the sidebar, select "Stalled". Stalled means no available next action. Then in the view options in the other pane of the window, select "Ungrouped", "Unsorted", "Remaining", "Any Duration", and "Any Flag State". This will show you which projects do not have available next actions. You can take a snapshot, and make this a perspective, then put the perspective in the toolbar.
 
Curt Clifton has a nice script to do the search for projects with no Next Actions, called Verify Next Actions, which actually goes through and adds a prefix to the names of projects and action groups that don't have any available Next Actions. You can also use the Stalled projects selector in the sidebar to get a view of projects (but not action groups) that don't have any Next Actions at the moment, although this will show you projects which have future Next Actions as well.
 
Great. Thanks. This leaves one query. My use of Action Groups betrays my LifeBalance background. How do you convert what was a parent item in an action group hierarchy whose children have been completed into a single action item itself so that it will appear as "available"?

Last edited by Rob Forsyth; 2008-11-18 at 08:25 AM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Forsyth View Post
Great. Thanks. This leaves one query. My use of Action Groups betrays my LifeBalance background. How do you convert what was a parent item in an action group hierarchy whose children have been completed into a single action item itself so that it will appear as "available"?
The short answer is that you can't. Single action groups remain parents items for their completed children (necessarily, since you can view completed actions). I also came from Life Balance (via a homebrew OmniOutliner solution). I had to change my habit of using the parent item of a group as the last task. Now I use a couple of different habits:
  • Before completing a task, I'll often double click its "handle" in context mode to reveal the task in a new project-mode window. This lets me see if I've identified a subsequent action or lets me check off the parent group or project.
  • Every evening I run my Verify Next Actions Exist script to make sure I haven't left any loose ends.

Hope that helps.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Curt thanks - OF has so many hidden depths it's helpful to have an old hand confirm something can't be done. Does seem to necessitate a rather convoluted workflow though...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Forsyth View Post
Curt thanks - OF has so many hidden depths it's helpful to have an old hand confirm something can't be done. Does seem to necessitate a rather convoluted workflow though...
I agree. The handling of parent actions in action groups was debated extensively during the early stages of version 1 sneaky peek. The current design strikes me as an uneasy compromise.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by abh19 View Post
Yes. Go to project view and in the sidebar, select "Stalled". Stalled means no available next action. Then in the view options in the other pane of the window, select "Ungrouped", "Unsorted", "Remaining", "Any Duration", and "Any Flag State". This will show you which projects do not have available next actions. You can take a snapshot, and make this a perspective, then put the perspective in the toolbar.
Alas, the stalled filter could be used to alert users to lurking projects. Unfortunately, stalled also includes projects whose next action is in a future date. To me, this is not a stalled project, because there is an action that is waiting to be done. I frequently use the start date to put tasks in the future, and so I have quite a few projects that are listed as stalled when they are not stalled.

Also the Stalled filter does not show you sub-projects that have no action.

Last edited by SpiralOcean; 2008-11-19 at 06:30 AM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiralOcean View Post
Also the Stalled filter does not show you sub-projects that have no action.
Of course it doesn't -- OmniFocus doesn't have sub-projects! :-)

It doesn't show action groups without a next action, either, and that's where Curt's script really pays off.

I don't find the inclusion of projects that only have actions in the future to be a big problem. I expand all the rows when looking at stalled projects, and the projects with no rows are quite apparent. That said, I'm not sure I have any objection to the behavior changing to not include such projects.
 
Fair enough whpalmer4.

Here is a situation that I often run into that I believe treating the parent items as sub-projects (if we want to label it that) would help.

Often, I am working on projects where I don't know what the next step is. Example.

project: get SNMP traps working with vendor hardware
-set up vendor hardware to send SNMP traps

I start working on that task. But am having problem that I don't know how to deal with. In order to complete this task I find other tasks I can do that will move me forward.

-set up vendor hardware to send SNMP traps
--are SNMP traps being sent from vendor hardware
--is SNMP server set up correctly to catch SNMP traps

These are research steps that I need to complete. And those items are not actionable. This usually turns into:
-set up vendor hardware to send SNMP traps
--are SNMP traps being sent from vendor hardware
---send email to vendor hardware to find out how to verify SNMP traps are being sent
--is SNMP server set up correctly to catch SNMP traps
---contact support to verify how to set up SNMP server to catch traps


Once I have completed those two tasks and verified whether or not they are working I'm back to my original parent.
-set up vendor hardware to send SNMP traps

I then need to brainstorm about what the next troubleshooting task is and create children.

OF becomes part of my troubleshooting process.

One thing I would like to see in the iPhone is the ability to add children to a parent task that move it toward completing.
 
 


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