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I have a sequential project with multiple steps, only the next one of which do I want to be able to see in my Contexts Perspective.

But I don't want to assign either Start or Due dates to these steps.

So how can I filter so that only the next action, the next step of about 30, is visible at any one time? The next action will appear if dated, of course; but what when there's no dates?

(I'm working my way through an online tutorial - and just want to list which chapter to read next.)

Not a problem. Bring up the View Bar (View->Show View Bar or cmd-shift-V) if it isn't already present, then select Next Actions in the Actions filter (3rd lozenge from the right). That will show you only the current Next Actions for whatever selection you have made. Note that sequential projects/action groups, parallel projects/action groups, and single action lists have somewhat different notions of the Next Action. For a sequential project it is what you would expect -- the top of the list, if it is available (context assigned, start date passed or not present). For parallel projects, the first listed of the possible actions is taken as the Next Action, on the theory that any of them could be done, but possibly you have ordered them in priority order. For single action lists, all of the available actions are styled and listed as Next Actions.

To illustrate, here are sequential, parallel, and single action projects/lists shown filtered by Remaining, Active, and Next Action:

Yes, I realize that I showed Project/Planning mode for my screen captures, but I think that makes it a bit easier to see the behavior pattern. Here's what it would look like as a Next Action view in Context mode:

Hey, whpalmer4 - thanks so much!

Trouble is, I haven't dated anything - and don't want to.

I want to present myself with the next do-able item (the next chapter in the online tutorial, as it happens) only when I have read the current one!

Since the road to… somewhere is paved with good intentions, for once, I'm not going to assign any (start or due) dates.

Because all I know is that I shall do step n+1 when I've done step n; and n+2 only when I've done n+1. And so on.

Can that be done in OF 1.5?

You don't need to assign any dates to do what you want. Just make sure that when in contextual mode that you have selected 'Next Action' in the view bar, as whpalmer4 has demonstrated in Post #3 above.
Originally Posted by MarkSealey View Post
Trouble is, I haven't dated anything - and don't want to.
The dates aren't used, except to eliminate actions from consideration. In my sequential example project (the OmniFocus tutorial), if I set a start date of tomorrow on the Getting Started action, I won't see anything listed as a Next Action until tomorrow rolls around. For the parallel project, I will still see a Next Action, but it will be the second one in the list. For the single action list, I'll see all of them except the one with the start date.
I want to present myself with the next do-able item (the next chapter in the online tutorial, as it happens) only when I have read the current one!
One use for the start date in such a scenario is to pace yourself. Putting a start date on subsequent chapters would help keep you from getting caught up in the tutorial (it's a real page-turner, I hear!) and spending the rest of your day reading the next 53 chapters instead of doing anything else that needed to be done.
Thanks, Greg and whpalmer4!

I'm beginning to see how I can do this, but…

the Perspective I usually work in is:

Remaining items grouped by when they're due sorted by Start Date.


It's then that now Nexts from the Project in question are visible.

Presumably - since I don't specify a Start Date for this Project - I can't do what I want?
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If you look at remaining actions, you're going to see everything that isn't completed or dropped, yes. Even if you set a future start date on something, it would still appear, although it would be styled as blocked. If you view available actions, instead, you wouldn't see actions with future start dates, and you wouldn't see actions that are behind the first action could do in any given sequence. And, of course, the next actions view would give you just next actions, which seemed to be what you originally requested.

But there's nothing that says you have to keep the same view options all the time, or always use the same perspective. Perspectives are cheap, and easy to modify. Remember, a perspective remembers what you've selected in the left hand pane, so you can make a perspective that not only customizes the view bar settings, but also the projects or contexts displayed. If one set of tasks is best viewed as next actions, and another as available, or remaining, make a perspective for each one. They also remember printer settings, window sizes, and so on.

So what you're saying is, Create a new Perspective - just for this - and use it as needed?

Seems a great idea.

Your help much appreciated :-)
Custom perspectives are a great feature of OmniFocus that will allow you to make the program work best for you. You may find that you only need 1-2 or you may want several, but either way perspectives are well worth exploring.

As a side note, the functionality that you are asking about is perhaps the most powerful feature of OmniFocus. You have the ability to ensure that only the actions that you can work with now appear in the context view. When project actions share the same context, this may or may not be a big deal-most of us would know not to read chapter 2 when we have not finished chapter 1.

However, when a project has multiple contexts, and most projects do, this functionality is important. As example, if I have a sequential project that requires me to:

1) Research a topic @online
2) Prepare project notes on topic @office
3) Update supervisor on topic @phone

I complete the research, begin the topic notes and 2 days later I am looking at my @phone context to see if I can make some calls. The last thing I want to do is phone the supervisor when I'm not prepared to share my (un)completed project notes. In OmniFocus, that action will be blocked from my 'Next Actions' list until I complete Step 2. All of the other GTD applications that I am familiar with will suggest that the call can be made anytime.

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