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This OmniFocus app question is also a request for alternative conceptual strategies that might help sort out this request!

I want to be able to create a subproject once and refer to it as a task item in a number of other projects/subprojects.
Kinda like an alias or a Tinderbox "replicant." This way, I check it off once, it is checked off everywhere it is also listed. Also, if the parent projects are completed (abandoning the subproject) I can already have that subproject grouped so I can hit it again the next project that needs to refer to it.

I often find during braindump/inbox processes that certain specific side projects keep popping up in lots of unexpected places as subordinate tasks within larger projects (these tend to be Research Then Decide projects).

Brainstorming suggests this subproject is a need -- but I only need to do this the first time I make it down through a project long enough to hit this subproject as a next item. If I could be assured that I would have time to accomplish the subproject AND the main projects, then I would probably do this research/decide project first to remove this complication. But I'm in productivity triage hell -- I'm only going to get to half of the projects I'd like to complete. (Sigh.)

Actually, I might find that I don't get to the stage of needing this subproject completed for ANY of the projects that refer to it within the timeframe available. (thus the reason I want to formalize this so that what happens/what I accomplish determines when to attempt this, not guessing on what might be needed)

Here's an example:
• I have three online collab projects, two for work and one for a freelance project. Each major projects include the task "Create quick and dirty online video tutorial about [x]."

• As soon as I write in that task, I realize -- "hey, I'll bet there is better software and workflow out there for creating this video tutorials -- I need a research subproject!" The element I need to produce is different for each project, but to be honest, my current process for doing any online support videos is "broken" -- if I get to the point in the task where I need to make a tutorial, I'm going to HAVE to do my Research/Decide subproject.

• As I only can afford to make one attempt to complete this subproject before completing the major projects that suggested that I need to do this research, all of these subproject references need to point to the same Research/Decide subproject (either located within the first occurrence of this project or in a ResearchDecide project group?) so that as soon as it appears next I'll do it, rather than need to think about it. And when completed it would be completed everywhere this appears.

• What I want is a bit like an alias or a "replicant" from Tinderbox. How I tend to approx this is to manually write out the subproject detail on each project.

• I might not complete any of these three projects far enough to need to worry about this -- the vid tutorials are a bit of a prettifying touch. If i don't get here, I might axe the whole thing. But if all of these projects are completed or abandoned and I haven't done the subproject, it still may be significant in the next slew of projects.
 
To me, that suggests a "Waiting For" action -- waiting for completion of project "Research video tutorial software". I would just put this action in each of the three projects that (may) need it, but only flesh out the details once, in the "Research video tutorial software" project.

Maybe "waiting for" isn't the best phrase since you're waiting for yourself, but my point is just that you put a placeholder.

Sure, you'd still have to check this item off in the three projects that were waiting for it, but the last action in the Research/Decide project could be to mark it done in the projects that depend on it so that their Next Actions become available.

Sure, some kind of automatic linkage might be nice, but then again, it might be really confusing and the workaround is pretty straightforward. And certainly easier than fleshing out all the details in each of the three projects that might need video tutorials.
 
Another partial workaround is to use OF internal linking. You can drag one action onto the task in a different project (across two open windows) and create a link. You can create the master task that has all the detail, and then link it to placeholder tasks in the other projects.

This does NOT offer auto completion of one when all are (though through some complex applescript, this may be possible). But at least it would help you keep track of the task and only need to put the detail in one place.

Of course if that detail isn't likely to change, copy and paste is a whole lot easier.

OF currently doesn't adopt any many-to-one relational approaches. No multiple contexts, not multiple instances of a single task.

I agree an alias type task would be cool, complete with little redirect arrow and same drag modifiers to create it as used in the Finder.

-P
 
Or you can just create a project called "Research Video tutorial software", and start working on it instead of organizing it to death.

Just a suggestion. =)
 
 


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