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Next action for sequential projects due date? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hi,

Is it possible to make next actions for sequential projects due the day after an action in that project is completed? For example, say you have a project:

Big Project:
- Step 1
- Step 2
- Step 3

... and so on. Step 1 would be due today, but that would be the only scheduled task. After all, it might not actually get done today.

When it is completed—today or anytime in the future if it's overdue—then Step 2 would automatically be scheduled for the next day.

It seems like this would be an effective way to keep big projects moving along. Otherwise I find that major projects can just sit there in the Projects list but not get done because there's no reminder in the Due list.

Might this be something for OmniFocus 2?


Kind regards,

Albert
 
There isn't any built-in mechanism to do this. The project review feature, if faithfully used, will help you keep your projects moving along.
 
Thanks very much for your reply. Shouldn’t such a feature be built in, or am I missing the point of the GTD method?
 
The review is one of the foundations of the GTD method. Scheduling actions by assigning artificial due dates is not. In a nutshell, the GTD workflow for choosing the next task to do might be condensed to: if there's an appointment on the calendar, go do it, else choose the most appropriate next action from your available contexts. Repeat. GTD discourages scheduling long lists of items because they are unlikely remain correct for long in a fluid environment, and the time spent repeatedly reorganizing them could be better spent doing the work.

I agree that it would be quite handy to have the ability to make a due (or start) date depend on the completion of the previous task. My life is littered with tasks that must be done within a certain number of days of the previous task being completed, but there is little predictability as to when that prerequisite task (often receipt of some external stimulus) will take place. As a result, I need to be very careful that I always set up that new due/start date as soon as the gating task has completed, and frankly, one of the reasons for using a computer is that they don't get tired or forget nearly as often as we do.

As always, if you want to make a feature request, Help->Send Feedback in the app is the way to go.
 
Thanks very much for this helpful explanation. I just emailed the Omni Group with this suggestion!
 
The OP made me think that what we could really use is some tricks from PERT charting and CPM. PERT charting allows more complicated relationships between tasks that simple sequential actions of GTD or the typical Gannt chart's work breakdown (also a simple hierarchy).

GTD typically defines simple sequential relationship between actions. PERT charting allows for multiple relationships between individual actions. What a PERT relationship like Finish-to-Start introduces is lag. The ability to set the next action's start or end date n days in the future based on the actual completion date of the preceding action.

Opening the while project management can of worms isn't something OmniFocus is going to want to do. But just in case there's some interest, here's a use case from my previous work environment:

There are several next actions around a code review. Reviewers get 5 working days to review and respond. A typical cycle looks something like this:

1. Prepare the review materials
2. Publish the review (action that starts clock)
3. Send reminder to reviewers at publish+4d
4. Verify all committed reviewers comments received (publish+5d)

In practice I did this through regular reviews... typically with an action between 2-3 to schedule the next actions. What would be handy is to build that into the project when it was first set up rather than building in actions to trigger the maintenance.

Maybe another way to tackle something like that is to have a self completing wait action. That is, an action added to a sequential project which rather than becoming due, simply completes itself on the due date to enable other actions that follow to become available.

Just some thoughts... hopefully my coffee deficit is not too acute at this time of the morning.
 
It would be PERTy useful to have a PERT chart ability where you could actually build entity relationships using PERT charting like MacProject could in 1984, well before Microsoft Project or any other project management software could.

Someday OmniPlan might catch up with PERT charts, hopefully before I retire.
 
 


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