KGTD Tutorials/Inactive Actions

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(Another section of the tutorial... further sections may become sparse as my schedule grows ever busier)
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Revision as of 00:54, 27 September 2006

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Aging and Deferred Actions

Try as we may, some things just do not ever seem to get done. There always seems to be an embarrassingly long list of things that we meant to do but just didn't get to or an even longer list of things we'd like to do but just can't commit ourselves to yet. It seems no matter how organized we get, no matter how hard we try, no matter how many Discardian holidays come and go, there's always something we're not doing that we haven't decided to completely give up on yet.

I'd love to help you stop fooling yourself. I'd love to give you the magic “purge” button for all the actions on your list you wish you could bring yourself to just delete. But that would require me knowing the secret to letting go of life's little unfinished projects. And I haven't cracked that one yet.

We can do the next best thing though. We can use Kinkless to help us manage our inactive actions, and at the very least, get them out of our minds.

Aged Actions

Sometimes, we put actions on our list and never actually complete them. We find a way to ignore them, to pretend that they're not there, and blissfully churn through our other actions as if we never wrote them down in the first place. It's easy to do, and even easier to ignore or convince ourselves that those actions haven't really been there all that long. This just adds noise to our action list, and is one more thing for us to think about that Kinkless should think about for us.

Kinkless has a built–in feature that helps us identify which actions have been sitting incomplete on our lists for too long. By default, Kinkless will underline actions that have been incomplete on your action list for a month. If the action in question is still incomplete after another month, it is underlined and emboldened to indicate that you should either complete that action once and for all or just remove it from your list and stop kidding yourself.

Figure 4-1 shows some example actions that have aged. The first action has aged for two months or more, the second two actions have aged for at least one month, but less than two. You can turn this feature off in Kinkless if you like or change the interval of time required for a task to be considered aged in the KGTD Settings section of Kinkless.

Deferred Actions and Projects

In GTD, as in life, there are often reasons to keep track of things that you are not doing right now, but you hope to be doing at some unspecified time in the future. Think of your Waiting For list or your Someday/Maybe list as examples.

So how do we go about deferring an action or project? I'm going to use the aforementioned classic GTD examples to illustrate. To create a list of things that I am waiting for, I simply create a new context called “Waiting For+”. The same with Someday/Maybe. Adding the “+” character to the end of a context's name means that all actions assigned to that context will be deferred.

So how do you create a new context? First select the Context column. Then bring up OmniOutliner's column properties inspector — the easiest way is to just hit Command–3. You'll see in the inspector window that the column type is listed as popup-list and there is a list of your current contexts, including the “Customize These!” context that Kinkless has by default. Simply edit this list to add, alter or delete contexts. You can also drag contexts to different places in the list to control the order they occur in the popup dialog when assigning a context to an action.

You can see the two new contexts that I added to my list of contexts in the column inspector in Figure 4-2. Note the “+” character at the end of these contexts.

Now I'll create some new actions and assign them to these contexts. In Figure 4-3, I've created some projects and actions to illustrate what Kinkless does with deferred actions. After syncing, you can see that the deferred actions do not show up in the Actions section of Kinkless, but are instead placed under the Deferred section categorized by context.

It seems kind of silly to create a whole project just to have every action in it deferred. You would probably expect there to be a simple way to just defer a whole project and, in fact, there is. When typing the name of your project simply add the “#” character to the end of the name. Then when you sync your document, no actions from that project will go into your Actions section.

This behaves a little differently from deferring actions individually. All of the actions under that project will be highlighted grey as inactive actions and they will not be listed under your Deferred section. I'm not sure if this is a bug or by design, but deferred projects will not show up in your Deferred even if their actions are assigned to a deferred context.

Closing Thoughts

We've seen in previous tutorials how Kinkless can help us manage the actions we need to concentrate on right now. We learned in a previous tutorial how Kinkless can help us manage tasks that have specific deadlines and starting points. And we've now learned that Kinkless can also help us manage those tasks which may or may not ever actually wind up on our next actions list. This is just one more piece of the GTD puzzle that Kinkless can help us organize and deal with quickly and effectively.

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