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Action groups and "next" actions Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I wasn't sure if I should add this to one of the many existing threads on action groups, "next" vs. "available" actions, etc. I figured a new thread might be easier to do.

I find action groups as a concept very useful for organizing what I would otherwise call “sub projects“ but for the inability to treat them fully as such. (The recent functionality to more easily change parallel/sequential, and the removal of the contexts is a great addition.)

As an example, let's say my “project“ (or, as I prefer to think of them, my “desired outcome“) is “Paint Living Room“, I would have a couple “sub projects“ or “action groups“), e.g. “Decide on colors“, “Buy Painting Supplies“, “Prepare Living Room for painting“, etc.

Each of these is a distinct “project“ that can have actions that move it along. I can set it up as

Paint Living Room (project, parallel)

[_] Decide on colors (action group, sequential)
___[_] Visit Home Center and review color combos (action, in Errands)

[_] Buy Painting Supplies (action group, sequential)
___[_]Visit paint store for tarp, brushes, tape, etc. at painting store (action, in Errands)
___[_] Waiting on color decision (action, in Waiting For)

[_] Prepare Living Room for painting (action group, sequential)
___[_] Move items to center of room (action, in Home)
___[_] Waiting on tarp purchase (action, in Waiting For)
___[_] Cover items with tarp (action, in Home)


If “next action” is “what's the next physical action I can take to move my project (”Paint Living Room”) forward, then there are three of them; in Contexts, with Errands, Home and Waiting For selected, and my filter set to Context/Project/Next/Any/All, I expect I'd see

[_] Visit Home Center and review color combos (action, in Errands)
[_] Move items to center of room (action, in Home)
[_] Visit paint store for tarp, brushes, tape, etc. at painting store (action, in Errands)

After all, I can do any of these three actions and my project has been moved forward successfully. I would have Gotten Something Done.

Instead, I only see one action:

[_] Visit paint store for tarp, brushes, tape, etc. at painting store (action, in Errands)

This suggests to me that either we need to rename next and available, change the behavior of next to match available, or (my preference) alter how action groups report their available “next” actions. There's no reason my “next” action can't be any of the three “top” items in my action groups.

Part of the issue is that actions are tied to projects, not action groups. In context mode,

[_] Visit Home Center and review color combos

is displayed with a project of “Paint Living Room” rather than “Decide on colors”. It would help, visually, to show the hierarchy, e.g.

[_] Visit Home Center and review color combos ... Decide on colors (Paint Living Room)

[_]Visit paint store for tarp, brushes, tape, etc. at painting store ... Buy Painting Supplies (Paint Living Room)

[_] Move items to center of room ... Prepare Living Room for painting (Paint Living Room)

Does this expectation make sense? Am I missing something important in how I've planned my project(s) and want to act on them?
 
As to your first question, I just use "Available" for everything, and forget that "Next" exists. But I can see the utility of a separate "Next" action, for people who want to order their available actions and show only the first. I'm not sure renaming things would be an improvement.

As for the second, there's already a "Show Hierarchy" checkbox in the prefs. Right now that doesn't include action groups, just folders and projects. Maybe there should be a second checkbox to include action groups as well.
 
Jason,

I don't have a reference to the thread handy, but this exact proposal was discussed extensively in a thread a couple of months back. The net result was that lots of people have wildly different ideas about what "Next" should mean.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
I know there is, among others, http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=4794 and I debated adding it to that, but I didn't; not sure why, though.
 
In your example, I would want to see the 3 actions instead of the one. Until this is figured out would the solution be 3 projects:

Painting: Decide on Colors
Painting: Buy Supplies
Painting: Prep Living Room

I would rather use action groups, but sequential and parallel need to work.
 
Yeah, Steve, absolutely using three separate projects would be a (legit) solution. I'd like to do that, if I could "check off" the "painting" project rather than "checking off" three separate projects.

It's a minor thing, admittedly. I could put the three projects into a folder, but this highlights the issue with folders vs. projects vs. action groups.

Plus, and this is only an issue because of the whole "mind like water" thing, I don't wanna have to do "workarounds" in my "trusted system", you know? I want it to be perfect.

Ah well.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
If “next action” is “what's the next physical action I can take to move my project (”Paint Living Room”) forward, then there are three of them...
There are three available actions for this project; the first one is the "next" one. If you want to see everything you can do to move your projects, you can look at your available actions. (This is what I always do.) If you prefer to see just a single action for each project that will move it forward towards completion, you can look at just your next (i.e. first available) actions.

It sounds like you'd prefer to always look at your available actions, as I do. Is there some reason not to just go ahead and do that?
 
You know, after some testing with the recent changes for single-actions-are-all-next-actions, and the changes to action-groups-more-like-projects, there's less reason not to jut use "available" as my default setting.

That's great.

It leaves open the question of why "next" vs. "available", but that's being hashed out elsewhere.

This comes down to terminology and font styling at this point, minor details at best. I think, as is, OF handles most of my "next action" needs (that is, "available action" needs) at about the 90% mark.

We'll leave that 10% for the problems I haven't found yet.....
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
You know, after some testing with the recent changes for single-actions-are-all-next-actions, and the changes to action-groups-more-like-projects, there's less reason not to jut use "available" as my default setting.
Excellent!

Quote:
This comes down to terminology and font styling at this point, minor details at best.
Did you know you can copy the style from next actions to available actions (or vice versa)? Just select a next action, use Copy Style (in the Format menu), then select an available action and use Paste Style. This will apply the copied style to all rows of that type.

Hope this is useful!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
There are three available actions for this project; the first one is the "next" one.
The workaround of using "available" is fine, but the problem is that your definition of "next" doesn't match David Allen's definition of "next" when it comes to parallel projects or projects with action groups (or, at least, it doesn't match how a large number of people interpret David Allen's definition, myself included).
 
 


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