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This distinction between folders and projects is making me a little crazy.

I understand a folder as a collection of todos and projects that are related to particular area of reponsibility, but don't have a completable goal. Unfortunately, I can't put todos in a folder, only projects - so I end up having a Miscellaneous bucket in every project. So my request is: allow individual todo items to be kept in folders.

I would also like to see hierarchical projects. I often have projects where it makes sense to break them into a number of subprojects. This concept exists in OF in the child/parent stuff you build in - so for small subprojects I can just create a parent with a few actions. But often subprojects can be substantial - and it would be nice to see them in my left panel. I can workaround by turning the parent into a folder and then pulling out the subprojects - but it would be better to just be able to have hierarchical projects.

Don
 
By "Miscellaneous bucket" are you referring to a Single-Action List? If so, then I have to disagree. I prefer to keep my project panel as clean and compact as possible, and Single-Action Lists help with this.
 
Don: this issue was debated ad nauseam on the forums over the summer. One of the early threads discussing it was this one. This thread and this one are also illuminating.
 
Thanks to brianogilvie for the thread pointers. I read all three (though skimming over some areas) and if I am not mistaken the whole discussion was always mainly about whether single tasks should be forced into a "project" or simply not appear at all in the projects view. I must support donbkatz here because his two requests are exactly the two things I would like to see improved in OmniFocus and they seem not to be discussed in this form in the linked threads.

I also consider folders as larger (higher-altitute in GTD speak) goals and there are projects and single actions that need to be done to accomplish these goals. I am forced to create singleton buckets in every folder that clutter up my project tree. And I wouldn't want to see all the single actions as nodes in the sidebar tree (as depicted somewhere in the threads brianogilvie linked) - rather I would consider the folders to combine the functionality of the current folders and the currently implemented singleton buckets (i.e. folders should be "Single Actions" lists with sub-projects). Then the project list is still nicely clean and clicking on the folder lists both single actions and projects in the main pane. There is another very useful application already pointed out in the earlier threads: If you only have one singleton bucket in your library you can't focus on a particular area of your life - you can focus on the folders "Hobbies" or "Work", but you cannot discriminate between the singletons associated with hobbies or work in a central singleton bucket. The solution is to add singleton buckets to each of the folders - but then, as stated above, I think this should be a functionality of the folders that I don't have to add manually to each of the folders.

I also feel to agree with donbkatz regarding the hierarchical projects. For example, I am currently working on getting my diploma (that's the German equivalent of the Masters degree). For sure, this is a thing that will be done sometime - so it should be a project rather than a folder. Then this project holds general organizational tasks I have to do (like schedule oral examinations, get some paper work done, etc.). But I also have to write a diploma thesis which is a huge project by itself. It does not seem appropiate to have the thesis as "just" an action group inside the "Diploma" project.

To illustrate both points with a real-life example from OmniFocus:

This is an excerpt of my current library ([F] Folder, [S] Single Actions, [P] Project):

[F] Career <- This is the overarching life area
-> [S] Misc <- Singletons regarding career issues
-> [P] Diploma <- organizational diploma stuff
-> [P] Diploma Thesis <- general stuff on thesis
-> [P] Thesis: First draft <- Outline of thesis (each action corresponds to a section to write)
-> [P-onhold] Thesis: First revision <- sending thesis to friends, process comments etc.
-> [F] Chicago <- Next step in my career: PhD in Chicago
-- -> [S] Misc <- General things to prepare for getting to Chicago
-> [F] Institute <- Current step in my career: the institute I am working at
-- -> [S] Misc <- General stuff to do for/in my working group
-- -> [P] DPG Meeting <- Some conference my working group is attending

This is how I think the library should look like:

[F] Career <- also contains singletons
-> [P] Diploma
-- -> [P] Diploma Thesis
-- -- -> [P] Thesis: First draft
-- -- -> [P] Thesis: First revision <- on-hold not necessary, because "Diploma Thesis" would be sequential
-> [F] Chicago <- contains singletons
-> [F] Institute <- contains singletons
-- -> [P] DPG Meeting

I hope the point is clear.

I think the above implementation would be more elegant: At the moment, OmniFocus provides folders that can hold folders and projects, projects that hold actions, and singleton buckets that hold actions that are all next actions. With the new approach, folders and singleton buckets are merged into one type, leaving us with two instead of three atomic structural units: Folders and projects that each can hold projects and actions. The only difference is that folders can also hold folders and that all actions in folders are next actions. For those who don't appreciate this approach, will still be happy by not putting single actions into folders and having a single folder labeled "Misc" or "Single Actions" at the top of the library. So, the proposed implementation is backwards compatible and providing some powerful new structuring possibilities.

All that said, I am new both to OmniFocus and GTD, so I am happy to get any critical feedback - maybe I am just too fanatic about structure and should organize things differently?

- Christian
 
I see your point, Christian. I agree that OF should work as you describe. I also think that deeper hierarchies would help with more complex projects. However, I would choose to use project management software for such complex projects; but it is also clear to me that such software is totally inappropriate to your needs. OF should be able to do what you describe.

I choose to leave high level stuff out of OF, and instead use folders to logically group projects. In my case, I'm keeping it simple, and I only have Household, Personal, Professional and Work folders. I actually like the Single-Action Task list in each folder as I perform my weekly reviews asynchronously on a per folder basis.

That said, if you use significantly more folders, I can see how a Single-Action Task container in each folder is going to be a pain; and I agree that being able to nest projects would solve this problem.
 
Thank you Christian - your post expressed so much more clearly than I could what I would like to see. Your example was spot on!

Don
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ct181 View Post
If you only have one singleton bucket in your library you can't focus on a particular area of your life - you can focus on the folders "Hobbies" or "Work", but you cannot discriminate between the singletons associated with hobbies or work in a central singleton bucket.
My solution here is to use Contexts. I have only one active Single Action list, containing both 'Work' and 'Home' actions. But those actions have different Contexts, so when I am actually trying to do some work I switch to the appropriate Context view, and I have my necessary focus.

JP
 
Christian describes exactly how I feel about this. Having worked with OmniOutliner so far I am trying out OF now. I like the general idea, especially contexts and syncronisation.

Unfortunately I cannot get used to the Single-Action lists, prohibiting me from seing everything at a glance like I always could in OmniOutliner.

Hopefully Christian's ideas will be implemented in OF 1.5 or earlier.
 
I agree with this approach as well.

I am however curious about the contents of your single-actions lists.
Sometimes when I get multiple single-action lists inside a folder that are named differently I might realize that I am actually staring at a project or another sub-folder. Are you sure you cannot turn your single actions into projects with a real GTD action (first action you have to take to complete that)?
 
 


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