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Difference between Groups, Projects and Folders Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Folders are an organizing tool outside of the ability to complete the stuff within it. DA might refer to these as "areas of responsibility" (work/finances/etc) or "visions" (30-, 40- and 50-thousand foot views, e.g.).

A "project", in GTD terms, is "a desired result with more than one step to completion". "Call Bob re:painter" is a single action, unless you first need to find Bob's phone number, in which case it might become a project that includes "Search email for Bob's number".

NickM, are all your projects "active", i.e. they're all things you're actively working toward completing? Or do they include things you've put on hold, or are pending, or even already completed?

Also, how many projects are we talking about? (The number seems to have been lost in your post.) I have somewhere around 70 active projects, and the hardest part is finding a project in the list, as once the project is entered, I spend very little time in the project pane.

What has been frustrating you?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
NickM, are all your projects "active", i.e. they're all things you're actively working toward completing? Or do they include things you've put on hold, or are pending, or even already completed? Also, how many projects are we talking about? (The number seems to have been lost in your post.)
This is a complicated subject to talk about because I am abusing the notion of "project" in my database. My hierarchy has 4 levels. I have one level of folders (3 of them), a next level of projects-that-can't-finish (12 of them), a next level of action-groups-that-are-really-projects (about 60-70 of them) and then each of those has a small number of actions.

If I were going to implement this as recommended, I would promote my second level of projects to folders and my level of action groups to projects. I've been deleting completed items because they are cluttering up the interface for me when planning, typically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
I have somewhere around 70 active projects, and the hardest part is finding a project in the list, as once the project is entered, I spend very little time in the project pane.
So, I do spend a lot of time in the project pane. I don't find that I'm able to enter a project and forget about it. Usually, I need to re-prioritize things or restructure my plan as I move along. I just can't deal with having the 60 or so items in the project pane... but maybe I should and just never expand those folders... I think in the end it would be the same thing.
 
With your current setup, you'll find yourself fighting against OmniFocus on a semi-regular basis and you'll probably grow even more frustrated with it.

Why not have two levels of folders?

Also, if you use projects as projects, rather than action groups as projects, you don't have to delete completed projects, you just need to view only your "active" projects. This hides completed projects from view, but keeps them available for historical purposes.

Finally, I don't "forget about" my projects because I don't spend much time in the projects pane; I don't spend much time in the projects pane because I spend most of my time in Context mode. That's where I complete my actions. If I need to do any planning on a project, then I bounce to Planning mode. I also have perspectives set up to handle my project reviews, which, while in Project mode doesn't use the project pane.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
With your current setup, you'll find yourself fighting against OmniFocus on a semi-regular basis and you'll probably grow even more frustrated with it.

Why not have two levels of folders?
As I said in my original post, the problem is that I find working with dozens of projects in the sidebar frustrating. Also, when I do it that way I'm not sure what to do with single-action projects... it seems silly to create a project that has a single action. I like having all my true projects and groups and then the single action ones can mingle along with the multi-action ones. It's one frustration or the other.
 
If the filled-up sidebar is really troubling you, what you could do is have folders where you've currently got projects, and projects where you've currently got action-groups. That way everything works as it’s designed to. However, what you can then do is collapse the folders so that all you see in the sidebar is the list of folders, and not the individual projects! If you click on a folder in the sidebar (whether it be collapsed or uncollapsed), the content pane displays the contents of that folder, in the same way as it would currently do when you click on one of your mega-projects…

You can set up a singletons project for each of the folders if you like, in which you can store single actions (duh). If you systematically call your singletons projects <folder name> single actions, it’s easy to find the right bucket to throw actions in when you’re using Quick Entry.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Flynn View Post
You can set up a singletons project for each of the folders if you like, in which you can store single actions (duh). If you systematically call your singletons projects <folder name> single actions, it’s easy to find the right bucket to throw actions in when you’re using Quick Entry.
Just a bit of translation from the alpha version to today. The "singletons projects" are now called Single-Actions list. Their icon is a file/shoe box, as opposed to the index card used as a project icon.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton View Post
The "singletons projects" are now called Single-Actions list.
As an aside, what is the purpose of these? Are these projects that can't be completed because they're never done (i.e. there will always be single-actions that need to live somewhere)?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NickM View Post
As an aside, what is the purpose of these? Are these projects that can't be completed because they're never done (i.e. there will always be single-actions that need to live somewhere)?
I view single action list as a collection of small often trivial (but not always) projects that require only one task to complete.

-P
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by NickM View Post
As an aside, what is the purpose of these? Are these projects that can't be completed because they're never done (i.e. there will always be single-actions that need to live somewhere)?
In Canonical GTD™ you track outcomes in the form of actions. Take out the trash; call John about the widget; file bug against OmniFocus re: missing... you get the idea.

If you need more than one action to complete a particular outcome, you roll those up into a project. A project is nothing more than a set of related actions that together will lead to the completion of that outcome.

In OmniFocus, the assumption is most of what you track are these projects, and so the project is the focal point of OF. But many people still need to track these single-action outcomes.

Instead of treating these single-action outcomes like projects (i.e. listing them on the sidebar at the same level as projects, which may clutter up an already full list), Omni created a separate structure, called single-action items, which allow you to group your single, unrelated actions together.

There are some advantages and downsides to this. The primary advantage is that your sidebar isn't cluttered with dozens of these single actions. The primary downside is you lose all of the project-based management actual projects get (like dropping the action).

The functionality we have was a compromise. There are several threads on the topic if you feel like reading all of what went into the decision. Searches for "singletons" and "single actions" should find most of them.
 
Wow, very nicely put, jasong. That has got to be the best explanation of and reasoning behind the Single-Actions List I've seen yet. Thanks!
 
 


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