Implementing Repetitions within a Single Action

I’ve been trying to handle trivial repeated tasks nicely in Everdo, but struggling to have it done elegantly. For example, let’s say we have a regular action - “Do five sets of pushups”, or “Review ten flashcards”. If we want to track progress in these, currently one needs to use checkboxes in the text body or write progress down manually.

This makes these relatively minor actions take up a lot of screen real estate. One could also implement these as multiple identical actions, but this also takes up a lot of space and adds organisational overhead. This means it’s hard to handle multiple identical small actions in an elegant way.

My suggestion is to implement some dedicated way to show this sort of repetition - a possible implementation would just be setting an integer number of repetitions and iterating a counter when the checkbox is clicked.

This would aid management of many types of actions, especially practice routines, which otherwise disrupt Everdo’s simplicity.

First thing I would like to point out is that it’s possible to collapse and expand notes - with keyboard shortcuts or by clicking. Then the checklists won’t take a lot of space all the time.

When it comes to the specific use cases you listed, I’m not sure. Tracking every training set and every completed flashcard might be too granular for a GTD app. Maybe I’m misunderstanding something, or there are better examples?

That’s certainly true, the space can be hidden. However, that’s more of a symptom rather than the core, I think. For instance, it’s hard to answer a question like “How close am I to finished?” - such a question entails counting up individual check boxes, or manually numbering them all, which quickly grows untenable. The problem does have work around, though they start to add up.

I can absolutely understand your suggestion that it’s very granular. Perhaps some use cases are best kept on paper or other systems! Your commitment to a focused approach is one of the reasons I like Everdo, so I do understand. For me, it’s helpful for actions like “call 5 clients today” that are necessary next actions, but are spread across the day.

What do you think would be the ideal GTD way to handle this?

Perhaps the most aggressive example I can imagine for this would be something like a project for repainting a house, where different surfaces and rooms require varying numbers of coats of paint.

While this can certainly be accomplished using checklists or other work-arounds, it’s a pretty time consuming thing to do and visually confusing. It’s not quite so trivial as something like training sets where the task will all be done at once - there are significant waiting times between repetitions, but getting the quantity correct and clear is still important. This can get even more complicated if, say, each coat of paint has its own subset of steps (e.g., preparing primer, getting the right size brush) - in which case, using checklists to keep track of quantity would not work so well at all - and instead, you’d want the task to repeat for some predetermined number of times.

One possible way to do this without bloating the interface too much would be to extend the “Make Repeating…” feature to trigger on completion for some set number of times, rather than triggering when the date changes.

You may argue that this example is still too granular, in which case, well… fair enough. It’s possible I emphasise a greater deal of granularity than most would need because it helps me manage my mild ADHD, so perhaps this is not really something that needs a dedicated feature for most people. Still, I hope to start a discussion about managing this type of thing more naturally, even if it’s within the current featureset!

If keeping track of the number of calls made is important, then I would have to update a counter within the action. Like for example write something like “call 5 clients today, progress: 3” as a title of the action. The title is easy enough to update. I’m not sure it’s necessary to have built-in counters for things like this.

In my opinion this case deserves a supporting / reference file to track the overall progress of the project. At least that is what I would do. I would only add specific, self-contained actions to Everdo - things that must be done in one go, like a single coat of paint. I think this is appropriate, since GTD acknowledges the need for project support files. Then I would link to a project-specific note in my reference system, where I keep track of big picture.

It’s not necessarily too granular, it’s just that Everdo is for keeping track of “tactical” level actions. It’s not great for keeping track of the overall progress of a large project like the one you suggested.

I hope I understood your examples correctly and my suggestions make sense.

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Andrei, I see you mentioning those external supporting / reference files in several threads. As I’m still at the beginning of my GTD journey and haven’t figured out an optimal way that works well for me yet, I’d be interested in some examples.

  • How could those reference files look like?
  • How do you manage them in the file system?
  • Do you just use spreadsheets for them or do you include tools like Obsidian, Joplin, or Evernote?

Perhaps, this could even be worth a blog article?

Of course, I’m interested not only in Andrei’s way of doing things, but in everyone’s. I feel like I need some inspiration. :smiley:

I’m using Obsidian for both reference and project support notes, as it makes it very easy to write and cross-link markdown notes. (I’ve been using VS Code for years, but migrated to Obsidian about six months ago, finding it much better).

It also allows exporting a local link to a specific note, which looks something like this obsidian://{note_title}. Everdo can parse this link and navigate to the note correctly.

When it comes to organization, I use a single directory and create index notes that refer to other notes (with actual content), for example I have a note [[Project Support]] which refers to individual project notes, like [[Project A]]. Within each note I can create headers, nested checklists, add pictures and links to other notes as required.

After this discussion, I’d also started looking for ways to keep better notes and came across Obsidian. So far, the hardest part is keeping the notes fresh and making them part of the system in a GTD way, mostly because my notetaking skills are pretty rough.

However, on topic, I’ve come around to agree - a dedicated repeat is probably not a necessary feature. At small numbers it’s simple enough to do manually, and at large numbers you’d end up just writing down the progress in a note of some sort anyway.