KGTD Tutorials/Projects and Actions

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[edit] Using the Projects and Actions areas

Now that we're familiar with Kinkless's major sections (from the Kinkless Tutorials Introduction), let's learn how to use some of them. Select all of the projects and actions created by the default Kinkless install and delete them. Then click on the Sync button in the toolbar.

In your now empty Kinkless document click on the Projects section in your Utilities drawer. Now click anywhere in the main screen and a new empty line will appear waiting for you to type in it. Type the name of a project here. I'll use the project, “Write tutorial”, in my example (Figure 2-1). Hit the return key and you've just created a project. That was pretty easy.

Now let's put some actions in that project. You'll notice that after hitting return, you have another empty line waiting for input. Hit the tab key and this line will indent underneath your new project. Type the description of your action now. I'll use “Write introduction”. Now instead of hitting return, hit the right arrow key on your keyboard to move the cursor over to the Context column of the document.

Use your mouse or the keyboard (spacebar) to select a context from the list of contexts available in this column. You can see in the screenshot that I've selected the “Mac” context because I know this task will be need to be completed at my computer. After selecting the context, move the cursor somewhere else in the document window (or hit return to create another new task).

You've just created a project and an action within that project. Now hit the Sync button in the toolbar to see how Kinkless organizes your actions in the other sections.

If you look at the screenshot (Figure 2-2) you'll notice that two things have happened here.

1. Kinkless changed the color of the action to purple. This indicates that this action is the next action in the project. By default, the next action in any project is the topmost uncompleted action in the list of actions.

2. Kinkless also modified the Actions section of your Kinkless document. There is now a heading for the “Mac” context under the actions section and the “Write introduction” action is listed under that context.

Let's add some more projects and actions in the Projects area now to get a better idea for how this works and how we can use it.

As you can see in the screenshot (Figure 2-3), I've entered two more projects and about a dozen or so more actions. I've also already hit the sync button in the toolbar so you can see what Kinkless does with these lists. You can see that I've added notes to a couple of my actions with Command-'. An action can have a note attached to it just like any other line in an OmniOutliner document. These notes are great for adding extra info to an action and there are other uses for notes that I'll discuss in later examples. You'll notice that the next actions have been highlighted purple by the sync script as well.

Now look at the next screenshot (Figure 2-4) of the Actions section of my Kinkless document after I hit the sync button. I've enlarged the Kinkless window a little so you can see the whole thing.

After syncing there's a heading for each context, and under each context is a list of all the actions that occur within that context. The next actions for each project appear at the top of their respective context action lists. The remaining actions are sorted first by project and then by the order those actions are listed in their respective projects.

So let's make some changes now. I'm a grammar nazi so that one action under “Calls” needs to be edited in my opinion. Let's change it to “...challenge Dvorak to a duel of curmudgeons” (adding the “a”). And for a far more useful change, I'm going to click the checkbox for the “Write introduction” action because I've completed that action already (the introduction precedes the tutorial you're reading right now). It's important to note that I'm making these changes under the Actions section. I could make these changes under the Projects section if I wanted to, but I'm doing it this way to illustrate how Kinkless synchronizes everything.

Now I'll click the Sync button again and you can see the results in this screenshot (Figure 2-5). In the Projects section, the “Write introduction” action is struck out and checked off and the action where I issue a challenge for a duel has been altered to reflect the changes I made in the Actions section of the document. In the Actions section, under the “Mac” context, “Write introduction” is gone and the purple next action has changed to “Write examples”.

For the completed action, Kinkless makes a note for that action indicating when it was checked off as completed. After 24 hours have passed, that action will be removed from the Projects section and into the Archive section when synced. This way it won't eternally clutter up the Projects page, but you can still find a record of it in the Archive if you need to.

[edit] Using the Twin Button

Now you've probably noticed a couple of things so far: 1. Actions other than next actions are not always sorted in the most optimal way imaginable, and 2. It's sometimes difficult to get a grasp on the sequence of events necessary to complete a project while you are looking at the Actions section.

Well, this is where the Twin button in the toolbar comes in handy. Returning to my example document as it stands so far, let's say I'm looking at my contexts in the Actions section and I see that I have two errands marked as next actions. I read the second one, “Take PDFs to Printer for hardcopies”, and I can't make heads nor tails out of what that means. What PDFs? Do I have something to take to the printer's right now and I forgot about it?

I could look at the Project column and see what project this is from, and then click over to the Projects section of my document and find that project and then take a look at this action in its proper context, but that's like two clicks and possibly a scroll. Seems excessive.

So instead, how about I just select that action with my cursor, and then hit the Twin button in the toolbar. Now you can see in my screenshot (Figure 2-6) that Kinkless has found all of the actions related to that one project and displayed them in the proper sequence for me.

If I hit the Twin button again while selecting the same task in this section (which is just a subset of the Projects section), it will bring up all of the actions for that particular context, in this case, “Errands”.

And that's what Twin does. When used from the Actions section, it will show you what project your selected action is in and all of the other actions for that project. When used from the Projects section, it will show you the context of your currently selected action and all of the other actions associated with that context. It's basically a quick way to navigate back and forth between the two sections without having to scroll through a long list of actions just to get to the one project or context you are interested in right now. This comes in very handy when your action lists start to grow to several pages or more in length (if your action lists ever get that long).

[edit] Using the Context Button to Quickly Edit Actions

Now let's say that you have a complex project involving a lot of actions. Due to the nature of your project most or all of these actions share the same context. It seems silly to have to select the context individually for every single action when they're all going to wind up being the same value. There should be a way to just assign a context to a whole project or to a large selection of tasks simultaneously, and luckily for us, there is.

You will see in the next example, that I've created a new project and have populated it with actions. If I haven't assigned a context to any of those actions and then I hit the Sync button, nothing useful really happens — none of the actions will be synced to the Actions section because there is no context to list them under. I already know that all of these particular tasks share the same context, “Home”. First, I'll assign the “Home” context to the first action of the list, and then I'll select all of the actions in the list (Figure 2-7).

Once the topmost action is assigned a context and the list of actions is selected, just hit the Context button in the toolbar and voila, you've just assigned that context to every other action in the list (Figure 2-8).

[edit] Creating Actions Outside of Projects

We've seen how to create complex sets of actions within multi–step projects, but what about those simple tasks we need to perform that aren't part of a larger project? Kinkless has us covered here too.

We can create new actions from within the Actions section of Kinkless and then assign a project to those actions much the same way we assign a context to an action from within the Projects section.

As an example, I'll create a new action under the “Errands” context in the Actions section. Let's say I need to buy bread. Once I type in the description of the action, I'll move over to the Project column and select a project from the list there. You'll see in the screenshot (Figure 2-9), that there is a project at the top of the list called “!Single Tasks”. This project is created by default in every Kinkless document and it's what you assign to an action that is not part of a project. Which is exactly what I'm going to do with the action I've just created. Now hit the Sync button and let's see what happens.

First of all, you'll notice in the Actions section (Figure 2-10) that our new action is highlighted blue, has the value “Errands” assigned in the Context column and has moved to the top of the list of errands. The blue highlight is used by Kinkless to clearly indicate that an action is not associated with a project. This helps when looking at your contexts and determining what action you want to do next — essentially to help you prioritize your actions. It is moved to the top of the list because every singleton action is technically a “next” action and next actions always sort at the top of a context's list of actions. The “Errands” value was assigned to the Context column automatically because that's the context under which we inserted the new action before we synced the document.

Now, you'll also notice that in the Projects section of Kinkless, a new project has been created, called “!Single Tasks” unsurprisingly. This is where all singleton actions can be found when working in the Projects section. You can add singleton actions to your document from here as well as from the Actions section.

You can add tasks to actual projects from within the Actions section too. Just follow the same steps as above, but select a project name from the dropdown list in the Project column instead of “!Single Tasks”. Then when you hit Sync, that action will be added to the bottom of the action list of the appropriate project in the Projects window.

[edit] Using the Inbox

Actions can also be added to your document from within the inbox. It is possible to add actions here without assigning either a context or a project to those actions. This is handy if you want to note some upcoming activities but you are not yet ready to sort these actions into contexts or projects.

I'm going to head over to my Inbox section in my Kinkless document and I'm going to add a few new actions to it. You can see (Figure 2-11) that one of my new actions has a context assigned to it but no project, the second action has a project assigned to it but no context and the third has neither a context nor a project assigned to it. Let's sync this document and see what Kinkless does with it.

Now two actions remain in the Inbox and one has been moved. The action with a project assigned to it is now listed under that project. You'll notice in the Projects section that the text of the new action is shaded grey. This indicates that the action is inactive. It's inactive because it does not yet have a context assigned to it so it can not be listed in the Actions section of your Kinkless document. Basically, you can't complete the action until you know what context it fits in.

The other two actions remain in the Inbox (Figure 2-12) because there is not yet enough information to move them anywhere else in the document. Since I left the project blank on the “Clean shower” action, it still hasn't been moved out of the inbox — it still requires further processing. And the final action doesn't have anything more than a description right now, so there's nothing Kinkless can do with it.

You'll also notice that after we synced the document, the name of the Inbox section was changed to “Inbox (2)” indicating that there are two actions in the inbox that still require further processing. This is an easy way for the user to tell that they have actions waiting for further input no matter what section of your Kinkless document you are currently working in. If I wanted to move these tasks out of the inbox, I would have to at the very least assign them either to a project or to “!Single Tasks”, and ideally, I should also assign a context to both actions.

[edit] Closing Thoughts

So already, we're starting to get a glimpse of how Kinkless can eliminate some of the grunt work normally involved in using a GTD-based system for organization. We can add new actions from virtually anywhere in the document and they will be correctly synced with the rest of the document. We can modify the content of actions or mark them as completed from anywhere in the document and that change will also be synced with other sections, and completed actions will eventually be moved to the archive. We can also add actions to the inbox for processing at a later time.

In following tutorials we'll see how we can associate dates with actions and create recurring actions, customize our context list and other Kinkless settings, create actions or projects that are deferred (think of the “Waiting For” context as an example context for deferred actions) and synchronize our Kinkless task lists with iCal or quickly add to them with Quicksilver.

In the end, hopefully, you'll have some idea of how powerful Kinkless can be and you'll be able to integrate it into your workflow in the best way possible.

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