Calendar Actions

I have mentioned this before, but only indirectly as a spin-off of another suggested feature (future start dates for all kinds of actions), never as a feature in its own right.

It is practical to be able to see very easily which actions are calendar actions, e.g. appointments, and which ones are normal list actions (next etc). For example, on the Focus list I usually have a few calendar actions with a fixed time, and I also have a bunch of normal list actions. Even within projects there can be project meetings etc mixed in with the other project actions.

Calendar actions are special in many ways. One is that they typically live on your calendar, but you may want a copy (synced manually or electronically) in your list app. They are typically only a tiny minority of all the tasks that have a date of some kind, and they can easily drown among the others. It is important to be able to locate these if/when you need to double-check them against your calendar.

I suggest you have a special list type or flag or other visual marker for calendar actions. This will have immediate value for the likes of me, who, for example, import all today’s appointments from my calendar into my list app to avoid having to flick between list and calendar all day long.

This feature will also be handy one day if you decide to implement calendar integration of some kind (which can be neat, but not a must-have). Typically, apps that have such integration make it virtually unusable due to the fact that they sync all dated tasks, including tasks with due dates and start dates etc, and thereby totally clutter up the calendar.

One way it implement the suggested calendar action feature is to use the already existing scheduled feature for it (blue color), and to “move” the scheduled feature out by allowing tasks of all kinds to have a start date. This would have the additional benefit of making scheduled a more versatile tool. For example, we could schedule Waiting for tasks (e.g. a report expected at the beginning of every month) or Inbox items (delayed processing; GTD tickler file items).

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Good ideas on how to implement the calendar function. Thanks for the suggestions. This is a little farther down on our list than some other items, but it is on the list. I agree that we don’t want to crowd the list with too many items. So I was thinking of just putting the items with due dates on the calendar, but we will need to think through how we could maybe also put items with start dates.

Thanks for considering these things.

Let me emphasize, though, that my suggestion here is NOT about calendar integration or calendar visualization of due dates or any other such future additional features using external or internal calendars.

The suggestion here is about fundamentally, from the outset, having separate “looks”/“types” for actions that have a definitive “doing date” (e.g. appointments, called “calendar actions” in GTD) and those that just have a “start” date (i.e. an “earliest” date; called “tickler file items” in GTD), which is the much more common case. (Side note: Scheduled does not exist in GTD; but all apps have this, and none of them manages to keep a clear distinction between tickler and calendar actions. Here exists an opportunity for GTDNext.)

The reason for my suggestion is that these “calendar actions” need to be extra visible and distinguishable from other actions:

  • on the Focus list it is very useful to be able to see clearly which actions have been fixed (agreed with someone) for this particular day (often a specific time) and which ones are a bit flexible and have been focused more as an aim or intention.
  • on the Scheduled list (ticklers + calendar actions) it is very useful to be able to see the calendar actions as these require manual double-checking (manual “syncing”) against your external appointment calendar (as a part of your daily/weekly reviewing)
  • in the individual projects it is very useful to be able to see project meetings, sales appointments and other “calendar actions” (actions with an agreed time) interwoven with, but visibly different from, the various Next and Waiting actions that together constitute the bulk of the projects.

The easiest solution I can think of is to:

  • rename the current Scheduled action type (in the edit pane) to Calendar (keep the blue color)
  • implement a future start date feature for all types of actions (Next, Waiting, Calendar …) (A start date would be compulsory for calendar actions, and optional for all others)
  • on the Scheduled list, show all actions that have a future start date - Next, Waiting, Calendar … in their respective colors. Blue will be the Calendar actions, whereas green, yellow etc are “tickled” items that are too early (not yet relevant) to show on their respective pre-designated lists - too early to do, too early to keep an eye out for etc. (Alternatively, if you want to be really true to GTD, you could replace the Scheduled list with two separate lists for Calendar and Tickler, but for me personally it is sufficient to keep them easily distinguishable within one single list.)