Project tasks that are no next actions

I’m not sure if everyone agrees, but as far as I understand the way GTD means you to manage projects, any given one consists of a task list and these tasks get placed on the next action list once prior steps are completed. It doesn’t make sense to have tasks that depend on completion of earlier tasks to be placed in next actions, but there doesn’t seem to be a place holder for them. I’m putting them in Waiting (for myself) for now, but this doesn’t convince me. How do others handle tasks in projects that aren’t yet ready for next actions?

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I use one of the following options.

If an action depends on some of the other next actions, I make the project sequential. This way only the top next action is added to the next list.

If an action doesn’t depend on anything, but I’m not ready to go with it for some other reason, and I want to keep the project parallel, then I move it to Someday.

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Yes, that works well for me, thanks. Now that I am set up with syncing between computer and phone, I have moved from paper to Everdo and if I manage to get rid of all doubts and fears, I will get Pro shortly. My compliments on a job well done!

Nice! Auto-sync is coming out on mobile in a few days, and some other nice improvements as well.

I’ve started using Everdo and it looks really good however I also agree I need to be able to add items to projects without them becoming a next action or requiring workarounds. Someday is not appropriate as this implies these actions are somehow optional. Similarly, only the top action being next is not usually correct either as often there will be multiple actions I can tackle next and I’d like to see all these listed in the Next list. Without this issue I would definitely be buying a pro license.

I understand you argument. What could be the solution?

Possibly when you create an item within a project it should have no list selected and the user can select Next, Someday, etc. only if they want to. Tasks created with no global list could be grouped in the project under the title “To Do”? You would implement a rule that only items in Inbox or a project can have this blank list type so items would always appear in at least one list or a project.

Another possible workaround: I created a “contact” named @On_Hold and assign the task to this “contact” in order to know that this task is an action waiting to be performed and NO a next action ready to work on.

But how is this any better than using Someday, or even the bottom end of Next? Just seems like complicating things with nothing to show for it. What benefits am I missing?

The tagging solution certainly works. Makes it easy to exclude non-actionable tasks from the global Next list. However, most of the time I find myself using Someday or Sequential just to keep things simple.

It’s just more closely following GTD. The Next list should only show things you can actually do next. Your Someday list should only show things you might want to do some day, not things you are definitely going to do as part of a project. It might be more complicated to develop but it would be simpler to use. If you have another look at GTD book you will probably see the differences I’m referring to.

I would like to point out that the concept of another list for non-actionable items is not present in the book. Here’s the official diagram, which explains the whole workflow.

You can see there’s folder called “project plans”, which you periodically review to identify more actionable items. So I would argue that (by the book) a non-actionable item doesn’t go on any list at all. It should be derived from project plans when the time comes. At least based on the book.

If we were to introduce another list, that would break GTD workflow because there’s now a bucket with poorly-defined meaning to accumulate stuff, instead of going by the flowchart linked above.

It’s not really about that. Almost anything is complicated to develop. So we much choose carefully.

Apologies, I don’t think I was clear, I’m not proposing another list. I was just suggesting that items that are in a project list do not become next actions until they are actually next actions and don’t have any other type until they are. Everdo really is a very good product and I’m sure whatever choices you make will be good ones.

One possible way, only actions with an assigned context (tag with “@” in the software) would appear in the “Next” area. This is more close to GTD, where an “action” is the required physical step to accomplish the goal of the project, but the “next action” is the action you can make right now IF the context is available. Agreed that another list would be overkill.

That would be great, agreed. Just don’t see a good solution for now.

That would mean tagging every single action… Can you really trust a system where you won’t see an action unless it’s been manually tagged? I think it would be easier to just tag blocked actions instead, then exclude them from “Next” via negative filters at the top.


Why not adding a character before task title ? Like #Task_Name or !#Task_name ?

I too would REALLY like this feature because my Next list tends to become incredibly overcrowded…

Here’s a simple idea: what if you added another option to projects under the parallel/sequential selector & above due date that says "Treat Project as Task"

This would make it so that only the project itself shows up in “Next Actions” and the tasks underneath the project do not.

This is a feature that would really be awesome because I plan my week with my next actions. Often I have a project with many steps that I want to get done that week, but I just want the project name in the next action list rather than all the sub steps.

The only work around currently to get similar results is to just create a task with subtasks in the note - but obviously this is very limited.

i usually have lots of projects with lots of actions in them. Now my Next list already become incredibly overcrowded.

Some times i need projects go sequentially, or say, none of actions in certain project show in Next list. Some times i need certain actions not show in Next list, to make my Next list nice and clean.

Really need suggestion / solution to my current situation.

I’m going to assume you are seeing a lot of next actions that are not relevant to you at a particular moment. If this is the case, then the following should help.

  1. Make sure you only activate projects that are relevant within a short period of time (say a week). The rest should be either “Scheduled” or sit in “Someday” until next review.
  2. Utilize tags and areas to increase the relevance of actions you are shown at any given time.

If I understand correctly, you would achieve exactly the same behavior by just having a task called “Plan the project” at the top of the sequential project’s actions. It would then “represent” the project in the Next list and it would even make sense from the GTD standpoint as opposed to having the whole project appear in Next.

thanks for your suggestion.
that makes sense and will be helpful