Today view! Or enhanced Focus view?

Hi,

This is kind of a far fetched feature request, but it is something I have been looking for, for a very long time (10+ years), and never been able to find an app that can handle. I’ve even implemented an embryo to an Android app that can do it, but I don’t have the time or skills to do it properly. I am doing this planning in an analog form (pen and paper) on a daily basis, but there are a lot of drawbacks (and also benefits) of doing it that way.

The easiest way I can explain is to describe my daily planning routine on a high level.
1. Look at one thing I want to accomplish during the day, on a high level, without stating how it should be done:
a. “Ensure my team is aligned on Project X”
b. “Have a plan for and be prepared for my workshop tomorrow”
2. Second step is to, for each of the high level goals, define the todo’s for it. Defining the high level goal first, opens your mind into creating solutions you might not have thought about. Accomplishing “Ensure my team is aligned on Project X” could be done in many various ways (see below for examples). This moves the focus from the todo list, to what you want to accomplish (this is important!). For each high level goal there might be one or more todos needed to accomplish it.
a. “Send a mass email to the project team” or
b. “Walk around to all team members and speak with them individually” or
c. “Have a meeting where we discuss the project”.
3. For each todo, estimate the time needed (5, 10, 15, 30, 60 minutes…).
4. Now you have a time estimate to accomplish each high level goal, which makes it possible for you to draw your goals into a timeline for the day. Ie between 8:00-08:30, do “align on Project X”, 08:30-09:15 “Prep workshop”, etc.

Benefits of this:
- You focus on what you want to accomplish, not todos
- Work is batched, so context switching is limited.
- Clear prioritization, if someone asks for something during the day you know what you prioritize against (since you have the timing as well).

How would you suggest doing this in Everdo?

One might argue that you could use a “project” to set the high level goal. There are several issues with doing that:
1. I typically on a day to day basis want to set my goals for the day. The threshold to use projects for this is too high, it’s too much hassle. Oftentimes a daily goal would use tasks from existing projects as well.
2. I can “favorite” a project in Everdo, that brings the entire project into the “Focus” tab though, not only what I want to do today. It doesn’t show the tasks for a project in the focus view either.
3. Most of the time (almost always) I won’t be able to finish a specific Project I have in Everdo in one day, just pieces of it.

What I would love is some place (the Focus view? Or a new “Today” view?) where you easily could create new “mini-short-term-daily-projects”, and populate those projects with either new tasks, or tasks that already exists in Everdo (maybe drag and drop of tasks in the focus view to one of the “mini-projects” to add it to that project). The way the “Next” view works today, grouped by Project would probably work great, with the added possibility of rearranging the projects in the view.

I’ll attach a photo of my daily plan, the numbers correspond to the steps in the daily planning routine above (never mind my handwriting or what it says…). I also added the mockups for the app I started building, but never finished. :wink:

Thoughts?

Best regards,
Tobias.
dailyplan mockup

Hello Tobias,

Thank you for a clear presentation! I think I got a reasonable idea of what you are after.

I wouldn’t suggest creating “magic” daily projects disjoint from your actual projects. However, what is wrong with just picking the individual actions of the projects that you want to do today? You could mark every action you aim to do with a star, while creating any missing ones in the appropriate existing projects or as standalone. Why do you want these actions to appear specifically under a daily goal? What is the meaning of a daily goal as opposed to just focusing on Next actions, or at least focused actions? Is it just for the time management?

When it comes to time management, let’s assume you have starred all your items for today. If they can be partitioned by a context/Area, then you can filter your focus list by context/Area to estimate the total time for each one. You can then create a time block in your calendar to work on each area.

Your suggested solution has the benefit that it partitions the items and aggregates the time estimates as part of the view. It also allows easily tracing tasks to daily goals (why?).

In general as I understand, GTD doesn’t acknowledge daily goals as something meaningful. A goal is a goal regardless of the day, until it’s done. If something is indeed day/time specific then it belongs on the calendar. Everything else you pick “in the moment” depending on the current context and environment. Personally, instead of creating daily goals, I create time blocks in the calendar dedicated to the tags/areas I want to focus on. When focusing on a particular tag, I simply do all of its next actions according to priorities. I believe this is how GTD is supposed to work, so this is also what’s easiest to do in Everdo.

What do you think?

Hi Andrei,

Really appreciate you taking the time to read and respond to my message! This might just be a matter of me having to tweak the way I work with GTD, rubber-ducking really helps my thought process. Might give you some new perspectives as well I hope.

I wouldn’t suggest creating “magic” daily projects disjoint from your actual projects. However, what is wrong with just picking the individual actions of the projects that you want to do today? You could mark every action you aim to do with a star, while creating any missing ones in the appropriate existing projects or as standalone. Why do you want these actions to appear specifically under a daily goal? What is the meaning of a daily goal as opposed to just focusing on Next actions, or at least focused actions? Is it just for the time management?

The main thing is that I want to move focus from the todo, to what I want to achieve (the goal). Let’s try it on a made up example.

Project: Build a shed to store my bikes in
Next actions:

  1. Decide which color to paint the shed in
  2. Take measurements
  3. Calculate how much wood I need
  4. Go to the store to buy wood
  5. Build the frame for the shed

I won’t be able to finish the project in a day. “Starring” number 1-3 in this project, and point 1-2 in another project, and 1-6 in another project, would give me a list of todos (in the focus view), without purpose. Just a long list of tasks that I have to tick off during the day.

My approach gives me purpose, on a daily basis. In the above example maybe my goal for the day would be: “Make sure I’m ready to start building the shed when my friend visits this weekend :)”. Much nicer to tick off than the todos in 1-3 above. It also, on a daily basis challenges me to think the project through; maybe I should ask my wife of color choices, or maybe I realize I need to create a concrete foundation for my shed as well. I know GTD does this in the weekly review (I do as well), but focusing on the goal helps me defining the tasks needed, at the day I will do them.

When it comes to time management, let’s assume you have starred all your items for today. If they can be partitioned by a context/Area, then you can filter your focus list by context/Area to estimate the total time for each one. You can then create a time block in your calendar to work on each area.

Well sure, but I want to create the blocks according to “project” (goal), not context/area. The time thing isn’t super important (even though it would be very nice to have, but it’s a very specific use case so I understand if it doesn’t make sense to add). Just having the goals/project in an ordered list, with tasks associated with respective goal/project underneath would be super helpful.

Your suggested solution has the benefit that it partitions the items and aggregates the time estimates as part of the view. It also allows easily tracing tasks to daily goals (why?).

Why: Because it feels good to accomplish a goal.

In general as I understand, GTD doesn’t acknowledge daily goals as something meaningful. A goal is a goal regardless of the day, until it’s done. If something is indeed day/time specific then it belongs on the calendar. Everything else you pick “in the moment” depending on the current context and environment.

The thing is that my daily plan isn’t day/time specific, it’s just that in the morning I sit down and look at my plan for today, and decide which goals I want to accomplish (typically 2-4 a day?), and what is needed to accomplish those goals. I mix those goals with specific calendar-meetings. My blocks of work not in the calendar are more “soft”, and I can easily adjust during the day given updated priorities/colleages needing my attention etc.

Personally, instead of creating daily goals, I create time blocks in the calendar dedicated to the tags/areas I want to focus on. When focusing on a particular tag, I simply do all of its next actions according to priorities. I believe this is how GTD is supposed to work, so this is also what’s easiest to do in Everdo.

I totally understand that. I don’t have a super good idea on how to incorporate daily goals + batches of next actions to Everdo, without adding concepts outside of GTD. It is however something I will continue to miss. Moving focus from a list of todos to goals on a daily basis have changed a lot for me.

Best regards,
Tobias.

I just noticed that next actions are actually sorted under projects in the focus view. Is that a very new feature? I weren’t able to get that to work when I tried when writing the original post.

/Tobias.

It’s almost seems like the main benefit of daily goals for you is motivation or clarity of focus. Do you think this is accurate? If so then could it work to just write down the goals corresponding to your today’s tasks on paper? Or you could have a starred Everdo note for each day where you check-list your today’s goals. I used to do this, but stopped because too often my focus naturally changes during the day.
2020-10-14-11:32:44-select
Sure these are all workarounds for you, but unfortunately I don’t see how to fit your actual request into the existing design, as it arguably goes in a different direction from GTD.

Clarity/Focus + being able to batch work during the day.

Thanks for the tip about notes/checklists.

I believe my best approach is probably to just create projects with my goals, and then next actions for everything to be done in those. This leads me to realize I really underutilize “projects” in Everdo, mainly because there’s a threshold to use them because it takes so many steps.

Is this the fastest way to create a project, with two next actions in that project? Starting off in the “Focus view”:
n
This is a project : p (without the space. will create a parallel project even though I have sequential configured as default)
enter
use mouse to click on “0 Actions” (or alt+j a bunch of time to tab down to my project)
n
Item 1
enter
n
Item 2
enter
6 (to go back to focus view)

Doing this, gives me something I believe is not a correct state, I have “Group by project” turned on, and it looks like this (blurred out project title + next action of the second project):
image
The first one isn’t a stand-alone action, and should be displayed as the second one? Ah! I figured it out. When I created the project it got starred, but the next actions didn’t. If I star those they show up as they should. This is not obvious, but I don’t have any suggestions of a better way to do it though.

I would really love if there were some super fast way to go from creating a project, to creating the items in it. Is there a way? I bet this is something that most of your users would do at least a couple of times a week. Like hitting a hotkey when a project is in focus.

One useful shortcut I tried, but didn’t work is alt+left arrow. To go back to where you previously where. For example if you hit alt+enter to open corresponding project, and then want to go back to your previous screen (of course would work to just hit 6 or wherever you where as well).

If you fix a fast way from creating project to creating next actions in it I would be super happy.

Thanks for the exchange,
Tobias.

I made a search in the forum and see that it was previously discussed here: Inbox item to Project

I would definitely go with option one in there:
“1. a checkbox in the editor, which would trigger another creation dialog with pre-populated project field as suggested by manu”.

There could be a global setting if the checkbox should be checked or not by default. I would LOVE this. Would make me start using projects a lot more.

You seemed to like option 3:
" 3. a global setting to automatically create “Plan project {title}” action in all newly created projects"

I’m curious; how would you navigate to start editing this new next action after you’ve just created a project (using colon-p for example)? If it is super fast/easy, then it should work as well.

Best regards,
Tobias.