Blog Post Feedback: Half the Year is Gone. How are your goals going?

Creating this post topic for feedback on today’s new blog post.

Great post. I hadn’t really thought about goals as such. But I could definitely see adding some. This is part if gtd that I’ve never really focused on but perhaps I should!

This blog post inspired me to ask, what are your plans on supporting multiple hierarchies? E.g. have a projects hierarchy, separate goals hierarchy, and then “cherry pick” some projects and attach them to goals (so they end up in both outlines).

It’s an interesting idea and I can see how it could be handy in some instances. However, I can’t say we are really thinking about doing it that way. At least not right now I have seen in other apps (Asana for instance) where you can assign a task to more than one project, pretty slick. But right now we are pretty committed to the outline structure we have. I suppose you could use tags if you wanted to provide another level of grouping for goals/projects if you really find that to be good way to view your projects and goals.

Thanks for the ideas!

A very good blog post. It gives users some solid alternative ideas.

I agree that user preferences always play a big role. There are also vast differences between goals and goals, and how you actually can deal with them:

  • Some goals are like long-term projects, where you define projects and actions specifically for that goal. Examples: Start up a new business, relocate to a better country. These kinds of goals can also be thought of as “super-projects” or as “areas”. Using the project hierarchy for these is what I do:
  • Some goals are more like general qualities, where you do not necessarily define any special projects or actions for the goal itself, but need to pay attention to how you go about doing the projects and actions that you will be doing anyway. Examples: Be a generous person, speak calmly. These kinds of goals cannot really be represented in a project hierarchy, because they can affect all projects and actions in it, but they can be represented using tags or even more elaborately in a tag hierarchy as suggested earlier by @Elurven:

The way I see it, GTDNext already has a good project hierarchy. For the first type of goal I personally prefer this approach. But for the second type of goal I think tags are a solid approach, and probably the best further improvement to that would be to simply implement hierarchical capabilities for these tags. This obviously can have many other uses (reducing tagging work for contexts, keeping your context lists tidy etc) and would work very well for the second type of goals, too, I believe (e.g. for “quality” goals). I am not sure how I would use an entirely separate “goals hierarchy” mechanism, so I would feel a bit disinclined to second that suggestion without first understanding better how it would be used.

@Folke what I had on my mind was not an entirely separate mechanism just for goals. Rather a general possibility of defining multiple hierarchies, maybe through cross linking items between hierarchy nodes. It touches on a subject of one task being part of multiple projects too. As I recall you had advocated for that in the days of Nirvana forums. There’s a discussion on Workflowy blog regarding this too and devs are thinking about it seriously. In the case of GTD software I think it’s a decision you have to make early on, because it defines core data structures that other functionality is built upon and you don’t want to mess with that later when you have lots of users.
I suppose @James would ask us for concrete examples of use and “general quality” goals is just one more.

Yes, I agree that such cross linking would often be useful, and it is true that I have advocated this before, even quite recently here at GTDNext:

One of the main use cases for such cross linking is agendas and batches, where you plan to do - in one fell swoop, e.g. at an upcoming meeting, or at an upcoming occasion when you will hire a van or plan to set up some photo equipment - several carefully selected actions that belong to totally different projects but would be well matched for getting done on the same occasion. This is what the above thread is all about.

Another use case is simply that many of the things you do really serve multiple purposes. If @James and @sergio need to “Buy a new program compiler”, this task might be vital for both their “Dazzling UI” project and their “Backend throughput” project. When reviewing either of these projects it is practical to see everything that needs to get done for that project - including the need to buy the new compiler. At the same time, when looking at the Next actions list it is practical to see this as one single task, and to be able to see, next to it, the names of all the projects that now depend on this task getting done.

In both of the above cases I think the expression “cross-linking” is good. These cases relate to cross-linking within the projects hierarchy, which for me is the most important application of cross-linking. The exact same type off cross-linking is possible also within a Tags hierarchy, totally separate from the projects hierarchy, for example to let Mary belong to both Marketing and Golf, or let Honesty belong to both a Solid Sales Skills goal and a Solid Love Relationships goal. This type of cross-linking within a Tags hierarchy would probably sometimes be handy, too, but is nothing I have given equally much thought as cross-linking between projects.