Batch and Agenda Projects

Here is a thought I wish to share with you.

We all have meetings, we all do errands etc, and quite often aim to do a well selected subset of our possible actions as one “batch” (to be done in one single errand run or in one single meeting)

  • say you have 30 @Errands on your next list, and you decide that 5 particular ones of those would be very good to do in one single trip sometime in the near future because they are all to be done in the same far-away place - and by limiting it to just these five it still won’t be to much to do in one run.

  • say you have a big bunch of things all in all to discuss with @Accountant or @John or @Staff, but want to narrow it down to a nice set of issues to bring up for discussion during the very next meeting, which perhaps has not been firmly booked yet but is expected to take place soon, and you prefer to have the issues identified now already.

It would be extremely nice, and useful, to be able to manage these actions in several ways at the same time:

  • keep them in the original project where we need to have them in order to be able to review the project
  • also keep them in a “batch project” where we can have them handy and review what items we have chosen so far
  • be able to see the whole Batch item on a single line on the Next/Focus lists, rather than drowning in a bunch of individual actions for each errand or agenda point
  • be able to see the whole Batch item as a separate Project in the left menu (if we want to)

What would be some possible ways to deal with this? What would be the ideal way? Here are some different approaches.

Using Projects
The ideal way probably would be if I could create a new project for this, which I could plan or schedule or whatever, just like any other project - which would be logical particularly if this “batch” would have been defined as a project if it were not for the fact that the actions already belong to some other projects. So, an action would need to be able to have more than one parent. But this is probably a bit complicated, especially with deep hierarchies and advanced project logic.

Using Tags
Obviously, one workaround is to invent a new “event tag” for each such batch or agenda instance, and make it a habit to filter for such special temporary tags etc. But being able to see these “projects” directly in the project list, and have them come up as a “project with sub-actions” etc on the next/focus lists would be awesome. Besides, it is messy to fiddle with tags in that way (I have tried). It is doable, but not very convenient and has limited uses…

Using Subtasks
Perhaps the most realistic solution would be if we could create Actions whose subtasks are in fact “linked copies” of selected other tasks. Like this:
All the various errands or whatever stay exactly where they are, in their respective projects. We create a separate Action for the batch task, e.g. “Meeting with John” or “Drive to Suburb65”. When creating subtasks to this batch task we somehow manage to select and link the various real tasks (but without moving them). They get represented (in the batch task) as subtasks with their original name and project, and are clickable (should we want to see additional info in the original task). The original tasks should all remain in place etc, but it would be good to have some (clickable) icon etc indicating that this task has been selected for a certain batch/agenda. When we check off the batch task all the individual subtasks automatically get checked off within their respective projects.

I think this last (third) approach would be fully viable, but don’t worry. No one has such features. It is just something I always dreamed of. If you will be the first to have it, you might benefit greatly from it, because I am sure many people would just love it when they see it in action in a smooth easy-to-use way. But if you don’t implement it nobody would know that the possibility even existed, so you’re quite safe.

1 Like

@James and @sergio

Sorry if this was one of those long-winded posts that was hard to understand.

This is a feature I would strongly recommend you to consider implementing, because 1) it would be very useful very often for many people, and 2) it is totally unique (except, of course, to apps such as Wrike that have a tag-based project hierarchy)

I happens to me (and others) all the time that I have focused a whole bunch of errands to do today, or a whole bunch of things to discuss with my accountant etc. These bunches can easily drown everything else on the Focus list. It would be really convenient and more easy to read - and less easy to miss something - if I were able to group them together as one single task (“Meet John at Cindy’s”, “Drive to Capricorn Mall” etc) with the “real” (original) actions listed as subtasks to that task, such that I do not need to see them all unless I want to but once I get around to doing that overall task (the errand run or meeting) I can just open it to see the full list.

But that is only half the story. Very often it takes some deliberation at an earlier stage (days or even weeks earlier) to decide what things to plan to bring up and not bring up at an upcoming meeting, or what errands to do once you make that drive all the way to the Southwest suburbs. In my lists (Next and Waiting, primarily) I may have tons of tasks belonging in many different projects that would be good to “batch up” for this “event” (meeting or errand run or equipment rental etc), but since I often cannot expect to have time to settle them all, and since some are similar and go better together than others, and some are more urgent, some of them can be sensitive (cause reactions), some are things that I need to remind others that they must do for me (Waiting) etc etc, I want to mindfully select a subset of well-matched agenda items (actions) among all the possible ones well in advance. And when doing this I do not wish to have these tasks removed from the various projects where they actually belong - I need to see them there as well when I review my various projects.

So, being able to create/improvise an “association” between tasks, create cross-project batches of related work, would be a very powerful feature to have. Of all the possible methods to implement it I think the subtask method seems the best.

This also means that we will never have to Focus or schedule all the individual tasks when we are moving closer to doing them (as a batch). All this can be managed by simply focusing or scheduling only the batch task (the parent of the subtasks).

In the UI, to set this all up, I imagine you would create a new task for “Drive to Capricorn Mall” and then when you start to add subtasks there would be an easy way to “copy name & link”, such that when you have performed this operation on a suitable errand task somewhere in your hierarchy, you can see the name of the original task as a subtask under the batch task, and you can click this subtask to get to the original task and see all the details and comments, and when you view the original task in its home position you can see (maybe through an icon? edit pane?) that it has been “batched” (to the batch parent “Drive to Capricorn Mall”), and you could even click that link get to the batch task and see the whole batch.

And in the UI, when you complete one of these batch/agenda items it could get completed in both places automatically - both the subtask (within the batch task) and the original task (in its original place/project).

I hope this was clearer (albeit not much shorter; sorry). Cheers :slight_smile:

I know that you can do this with Asana - which is pretty cool

I understand what your saying. There may be a hybrid approach of sub-tasks and tags. With Tags you could convert a Tag into a project. You just tag all the items you want, whereever they are and then right click the tag and choose 'convert to project". Give the project a name an voila - all the tasks with that tag are now under the new project. They also stay where they are in the outline too. Not saying we will do this anytime soon, just brainstorming approaches.

Yes, that would be a very cool feature!

Would it? Let’s hear it people, would this be useful? It seems a bit of an edge case actually. For example if I had 20 errands on my list, why wouldn’t I just filter by the tag “errand” and then choose the ones I want to do today and put them on my focus list… How would this solution be much faster or better? I like the idea actually, just wondering if we would be adding complexity where a simpler solution would be almost as good and keep things simple… thoughts?

I could see this also working for topics for 1 on 1 meetings at work. I have 50+ active projects at any one time and each project can have 1 to 40 actions. While there are some are active, some I’m waiting on people to complete, some are scheduled, etc, I tag them with a person’s name when I know that the topic they deal with is something that I want to discuss with an individual I work with. While I can simply click on the tag to see the laundry list of items that I need to speak to “@John” about, I may not want to actually speak to John about all of them at any given point in time. If I’m preparing for the meeting with John, I could create an Action Item of only those topics that I want to speak with John about on this given date/time or specific meeting. Using Folke’s suggestions, it may be helpful.