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Quick question - sequential and/or parallel? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I just wondered how others deal with this within GTD and specifically OF:

I have a project, "quote acme". I have actions "e-mail enquiry to supplier" and "call re technical question", which do not depend on each other, but I also have "enter costs into estimate" which does depend on "e-mail enquiry to supplier", and "prepare report" which depends on "call re technical question".

I'm not sure whether to deal with those as sequential action groups within a parallel project, or as parent/child actions? In fact, I can't even work out how to create parents and children (in OF that is, I have plenty of experience in real life!!!!).

What if I have one action that depends on two other actions, but those two don't depend on each other? E.g. "email enquiry to new bookkeeper" and "call existing bookkeeper", then "appoint bookkeeper for next year". Is that a sequential project with parallel action groups?

I don't want to spend longer setting up each project than actually working on it, so I'm very interested to hear what other do.



Last edited by MacBerry; 2008-08-02 at 08:39 AM..
It sounds like you should make the group parallel and have two action action groups in it marked sequential.
Lucas has the right idea for your first project. Here's how I would set it up:

Quote Acme [parallel project]
-- estimate costs [sequential action group]
---- email enquiry to supplier
---- enter costs into estimate
-- report [sequential action group]
---- call re. technical question
---- prepare report

Your suggestion for the second is fine:

Get a bookkeeper for next year [sequential project]
-- Gather information on bookkeepers [parallel action group]
---- Email enquiry to new bookkeeper
---- Call existing bookkeeper
-- Appoint bookkeeper for next year

Note that the action groups will not appear in your context lists. However, the action group "Gather information..." does not have to be checked off in order to unblock "Appoint bookkeeper"; all that is necessary is that its children be checked off.

One important thing to keep in mind: an Action Group is not a subproject. It lacks many of the features of a project, such as a review date and frequency, and it does not appear in the sidebar. It is also not an action; it will not appear in context mode. It's something in between. When structuring action groups, you need to keep that in mind: in particular, if you think that you might need to add something to an action group, it's a good idea to make the last action in the group something like "verify that this action group is really complete."
Thanks. I've got it set up like that now, and it works a treat.

I thought I'd read somewhere about child and sibling actions, but can't find anything specifically about that. Does that just refer to actions in and out of groups?

A sibling would be an action at the same hierarchical level as another action or action group. A child is an action at a lower level. An aunt, meanwhile, is an action at a higher level. (Why not uncle?)

OmniFocus has several ways of creating projects, action groups, and actions. The Outlining commands (Edit >*Outlining) use traditional outline-speak (child, aunt) for these. Adding a child to a project creates a new action in the project, while adding a child to an action turns the original action into an action group with a new action in it. Adding an aunt to an action group creates a new action at the same level as the group, while adding an aunt to an action that is not part of an action group creates a new project.

You can use OmniFocus productively without worrying about the kinship system of outlines, though! :-)
Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
..... adding a child to an action turns the original action into an action group with a new action in it......
That kind of sums up my issue I think. If I could add an action as a child of another without turning the parent into a group, I could create sequential and parallel hierarchies without having to think about groups. The hierarchy would just define which action follows which other.


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