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Q: Tasks (or projects) waiting on other tasks? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hello,

I keep running into situations in which several projects are waiting on a single task in OF. A made-up example might be several projects around the house that are all waiting on my renting a power-washer at Lowe's.

Now that it's winter, I'd want to mark all those projects "on hold," and create a task "Rent power washer" that's "waiting" for Spring. When Spring comes and I rent the power washer, I'd want some way to spot all the projects waiting on that. It would be even better if those tasks would come out of "waiting" and their projects out of "on hold," so the next actions appear when I have the power washer.

Is there an "official" way to handle scenarios like this? How would other OF users do it?

Thanks!
 
Set up a Project named Power Washer Tasks, or similar. Make sure it is set to be Sequential, not Parallel or Single Action.

Make your first action in the Project be "Rent Power Washer, and change Project", with a start date of March 20, 2009. Add everything you want to do with the power washer either as actions or action groups, and forget about the whole thing. You will see the Project and Next Action in reviews filtered on "Remaining", but only then.

When March 20 rolls around, the Project and Action show as Available. Go get that power washer, and promote your actions and groups to individual Projects as desired. [You included that in the first action so you would remember to do it.]
 
I had interpreted the question slightly differently. I had read into it this question: "I have several next actions in various, possibly unrelated, projects that cannot take place until after a single task is completed. How do I model that in OF?" It's problem I run into surprisingly frequently.

It's easy enough in OmniPlan or similar project management software to create dependencies between tasks. In OF, since no such dependency mechanism exists, I typically end up creating redundant next actions -- one for each project held up by the same next action. That workaround has obvious problems.

I could try the aforementioned solution (i.e. the "Power Washer Tasks" project) in some cases, except that that solution breaks as soon as this circumstance crops up more than once across different sets of projects.

Are there any clever workarounds I've missed? Am I the only one who runs into this problem?

Thanks, all.
 
LizPif's post was one workaround.

Create an action that blocks other actions from being shown until that action is completed.

-Project Power Wash house (sequential)
-- Rent Power Washer (start Jan 20, 2009)
-- Power Wash the house
--- Shut windows
--- turn electricity on
-- Return Power Washer

If other projects are waiting on the renting power washer, I usually create those items in a waiting for context.

-Project Power Wash Fish Tank (sequential)
-- waiting to rent power washer
-- power wash fish tank

The only trick with using this method is you must review waiting for items every day.
 
Yes, SpiralOcean -- but that's the circumstance that creates redundant waiting-for items. If I had five different projects that were all stymied by their own "waiting to rent power washer" next action, that's five identical next actions cluttering up context view.

That said, that's exactly what I do so far. :)

Has anyone figured out a way to handle situations like this without either coalescing multiple projects into one and without creating redundant tasks?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zog View Post
Yes, SpiralOcean -- but that's the circumstance that creates redundant waiting-for items. If I had five different projects that were all stymied by their own "waiting to rent power washer" next action, that's five identical next actions cluttering up context view.
Ahh... I understand your point now. As far as I know this is the only workaround. It would be nice to have some kind of link to the completion of another projects task.

maybe the icon would look different? A pause icon instead of a check box? And maybe that item doesn't allow you to complete it. That action is an alias or shortcut to the other projects action. If you click on the aliased action, it takes you to the task it is referring to.

When the original task is completed, all aliases are completed.

would be nice. :-)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiralOcean View Post
That action is an alias or shortcut to the other projects action. If you click on the aliased action, it takes you to the task it is referring to.

When the original task is completed, all aliases are completed.
Ah hah! An alias. Now that's a great idea.

I had only been thinking in terms of project management concepts -- a single action that has multiple dependencies before it can begin or before it can complete. But that concept begs further questions: where do you put the single action -- does it live outside all five projects? Where do you manage dependencies -- in another Inspector pane?

But an alias of an existing action would be much, much more elegant (and probably easier to implement!) within the framework of GTD and OmniFocus. All that would be required is the concept of the alias itself -- no additional complexity would be necessary in the Inspector, the project structures, or anywhere.

So how do we go about humbly begging Omni to write this feature??? :) :) :)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zog View Post
So how do we go about humbly begging Omni to write this feature?
Just use Help --> Send Feedback to submit your request. This idea has been kicked around on the boards since the beginning. More votes for the request can increase the odds of it happening.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Zog View Post
Yes, SpiralOcean -- but that's the circumstance that creates redundant waiting-for items. If I had five different projects that were all stymied by their own "waiting to rent power washer" next action, that's five identical next actions cluttering up context view.
My waiting for actions are in on hold contexts, so even if they are duplicated, they don't show up in the normal context view. I have a separate perspective for looking at my on hold contexts, which I do as part of my daily review to remind me what I might be waiting or looking for.

Another tactic is to select the project waiting for something to happen, pull up the contextual menu with ctrl-click, select Copy As Link, and paste that link into the notes field of the prerequisite. Repeat for as many dependent actions as you have. Then when the power washer is rented, you can just click on those links to open up new windows to the projects that should be revived by checking off the waiting for actions. Note that the original item can be in an active context or an on-hold context, as appropriate -- "rent power washer" would make sense in an active errands context, "receive proceeds from stock sale" would make sense in an on-hold waiting for context.

Last edited by whpalmer4; 2008-12-15 at 08:00 PM.. Reason: expand on a point
 
I donít believe there is a viable workaround, no. I think that all of the currently do-able cures described here are worse than the disease, at least in terms of mental overhead. How hard is it, really, to look at a project and know that you canít do it yet? This is something the human mind is fairly good at. We suck at remembering things that arenít in front of us (out of sight, out of mind, oos, oom), and thatís why we need GTD and a trusted system. But we are downright adept at quickly dismissing things when they are presented to us. Our ability to quickly retrieve mental data relevant to what we are looking at (associative recall) is nothing short of incredible, one of the marvels of neurology.

To say nothing of our ability to actually invent reasons not to do something yet. ;-) But I digress.

Of course, ideally, we want to use OF to hide stuff from us until we need to see it, and Iíd love to see dependencies implemented in my fantasy OF for this reason. But meanwhile, when you see a project/action thatís waiting on a power washer rental, just donít do it. I promise, it will not be long before you realize that you canít actually proceed without the power washer ó in fact, youíll realize it in about 80% less time than it would take you to implement a workaround for this limitation in OF.
 
 


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