Filtering by multiple tags

I’ll start off by congratulating you on this great app, it seems like it will stick.

One question though: Why can’t I filter my tasks using multiple tags? If I click #a and #b I want all tasks containing both #a and #b to show, not every task with either the one or the other. Am I missing something here?



That is intentional. There are good uses for both these variants, and also for a third kind.

AND filtering, i.e. what you are asking for, is useful if you have very long lists with actions that have many tags that are very frequently used. Then you would want to narrow down the choices exactly the way you describe. It answers questions such as “I am currently sitting with John and Alice and a Supercomputer that I have borrowed and I want to make the best possible use of these three rare resources that I happen to have at hand right now. What should I do?

OR filter, i.e. what GTDNext currently has, is useful if you want to make a list of several kinds of possibilites that would appear particularly feasible right now. It answers questions such as “I am now sitting in an office with a Desk and a Computer,and I have seen Alice and Peter and John here today, and I am also prepared to work Solo or run some Errands. What might I do?

NOT filter is the inverse of an OR filter. Instead of listing the contexts that are feasible right now, you eliminate those that are infeasible and get a “complete” list of all actions that are truly possible right now, e.g. exlude Errands if it is raining, exclude conversations with John if he is ill etc.

Personally I would like to have all three of these (in any combination), but if I had to rank them I would pick them in the reverse order. First a NOT filter, then an OR filter, and only lastly an AND filter.

Got it, thank you for elaborating! Hopefully all of these rules will be implemented in the near future.

Yes, I agree.

The reason why I am so interested in NOT filtering (elimination) is threefold:

  1. It allows me to reduce tagging work. For example, if I have a lot of Indoors tasks and some Outdoors tasks, NOT filtering allows me to get away with just tagging the relatively few Outdoors tasks. I can always get to the Indoors tasks by filtering for NOT Outdoors.

This principle holds even if there are more than two “positions” for a (set of) tags, for example, if I want to classify my tasks by whether they require Low, Medium or High Energy. NOT filtering allows me to devise my tags such that the “default” alternative (say Medium) is tag-free. I only need to tag the exceptions Low and High, because I can always get to my “medium” (untagged) ones by filtering for NOT Low NOT High.

  1. It would allow me to have many more specialized tags, if I would like to. For example, I could introduce a whole carpet of “luxury” tags, such as Silence or Tuxedo etc, that probably only apply to a few percent of the tasks. I would not need to tag all the others with NoSilenceRequired or NoTuxedoRequired, as I can get to those anyway by filtering for NOT Silence and/or NOT Tuxedo if I want to prune my next actions list of irrelevant tasks.

  2. It would also allow me to set up a “sticky” (semi-permanent) Next actions list that is “true” this particular morning, this particular Sunday or whatever. I could rule out all the things that are definitely not relevant or appropriate, and thereby have a smaller, but still “complete” and fully relevant list to work from. Such a list would often remain relevant for several hours. But it would then also be useful to be able to “freeze” (temp save) that basic filtering such that I can get back to it quickly if I have to make some other temporary filtering during that timeframe.

Is NOT filtering something that is in the plan ATM? It would seem like it would be easy to implement in a way similar to areas of responsibility, with a “not tagged” option and an inverting button.

Thannks @leo we try!

Right now it’s not on top of our list, but if enough people wanted it, we could look at moving it up.

Thanks for the suggestions and interest!

Friendly advice:

There are obvious benefits to being responsive to majority customer requests, as you are. So that is good :slight_smile:

But at the same time, since most such requests will tend to be for recreating the obvious, ordinary, ubiquitous features that most other apps already have and which many people therefore have seen there (e.g. mobile apps … ) you will never be outstanding by just being responsive.

You have proven that yourself by launching this very app with a couple of features that were beyond standard. I am talking about the unlimited hierarchies and the flexibility to make any number of project actions active next (visible on the next actions list). This was something “extraordinary”. It was proactive, not responsive. And it paid off for you :slight_smile:

So, reverting to the particular discussion at hand here, we all know that many people struggle with ways to attack their long next actions lists. All apps already have filters of some sort (like yours) and many have areas in some form (like yours), and still people struggle. And neither users nor developers seem to have very clear ideas about how to deal with this. By being inventive there would seem to be an opportunity to create an app that is the first to have a “full set” of features to attack a long next actions list and really help people get on with their day. Being able to prune the list by eliminating tasks that are temporarily irrelevant I believe would be one of the simple core features of such an effort. Other core features might be automatic grouping and having colored priorities. Combined, a few simple features such as these could constitute a formidable arsenal for attacking your next actions list.

But obviously there needs to be a balance. Much of the “standard” stuff also needs to be there, well rounded, well polished, e.g. mobile apps etc etc. You will get plenty of excellent feedback from us users on what we have seen and have grown accustomed to when using other apps, things you can just copy or emulate, so obviously you should listen to this, too. I am just trying to say that majority habits and requests are not necessarily the complete recipe for success :slight_smile:


Hi @Folke - Sage advice as usual.

Here is how I look at the developing features after doing it professionally for many years. In some ways I think of features in terms of buckets. One bucket contains a standard set of features that I think we should develop. Some of these our competitors have, some they don’t. To us they just make sense to add to our app. We have a pretty defined set and order that we are thinking of for these features.

Another bucket contains enhancements and nice to have features. We track these as well and I do like to get feedback on these and it seems there is always many opinions from users on the best way to do these or which are the most important to the user group. They can also act as “crowd pleasers”. We of course always want to keep our users super happy, so sometimes adding in something from this bucket is a good idea regardless of where we are currently on other features we are developing. I’d count how we do filters as part of this group. AND vs OR vs NOT or all of the above.

A third bucket contains features we want to add that really push GTDNext to the next level, separates it from other apps and hopefully really makes a difference in people’s productivity. We have a whole host of ideas around this that we will drive into the product over time. I think this is the area that you refer to when you say "you will never be outstanding by just being responsive. I agree with you and it’s one of the reasons I think in terms of these buckets. This bucket is one that really excites me and I can’t wait to eventually show you all the different things GTDNext will be able to do.

There are a few other buckets as well, competitors new features, complementary apps, new UI developments etc, that I keep track of as well, but you get the idea. Different features fit into different buckets and we think about those buckets separately and balance our dev work across them independently.

Thanks again for the input and friendly advice. While I think we have a pretty logical approach, it’s always good to hear feedback and think through it again. Take care!

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Thanks for an excellent answer, @James :slight_smile:

I can certainly relate to the bucket metaphor. And something in it also sparked an idea for how I could perhaps better explain something that I believe in very strongly and which I have had difficulty expressing in a concise and coherent way.

It is Saturday, nothing critical on my list, so I’ll give it a shot:

I could agree that NOT filtering etc can be seen as a minority nice-to-have - extremely useful for those few who know how to use it and appreciate it, but probably not a “crowd pleaser”. The same goes for many other features that I have suggested in other threads, and even for some of the special features you have already implemented.

So, let us look at the third bucket, the “next level” stuff that makes an app stand out. I believe that these “killer features” are in fact often made up of a well coordinated set of “nice-to-have” features. Isolated, they are just nice-to-have, but combined they can take the app to the next level if they cover and satisfy a whole “problem area” that is deeply felt by many users.

I believe a very hot “problem area” for GTD folks is overwhelm and pre-planning. Pre-planning in general is an overused method. Many people put dates on more or less everything, which you and I and most other GTD fans find utterly counterproductive. On the other hand, GTD just teaches us to separate our next actions by context, and that’s it. Almost all decisions about what to do next are to be made “last minute” based on using the well-known four-criteria model with our gut while reading a long list of actions. This requires an immense amount of reading and interpreting and assessing of everything in that list. And this needs to be done over and over. Many people reject GTD altogether because of this and stick to regular scheduling. Other people favor the GTD approach but struggle immensely with the problem of having these long lists and trying to quickly find what is relevant and not miss anything essential.

I believe there is a middle way between non-GTD date planning and the core GTD principle of leaving the whole decision until the very last minute. The solution, I believe, is to use whatever hard facts are available, no more, no less, to reduce the number of items to look at and choose from and make them easy to see.

A good example of this principle, that you have already implemented a feature for, is sequential actions. Just because we usually cannot date-plan the actions does not mean we cannot at least say something “hard” (objective, factual) about them. In the case of project actions we can usually say quite objectively whether a certain action can only be started after certain other actions have first been completed. That’s still a hard fact, even if it has no hard date. So it is OK by GTD standards, I would say, and so would you, I know, to have a feature for indicating precisely that kind of sequential dependency, and that is what you already have. This little feature alone (a nice-to-have, I would say) helps reduce clutter on the main list, primarily the next actions list, and thereby it also allows you to brainstorm projects a long time in advance, if you like.

But if we now look at the whole “problem area” of seeing and pre-planning what we have ahead of us, perhaps especially for the very near future, and aim to grasp and structure this as firmly as possible while remaining both objective and flexible, I think there could be a whole set of further features that individually are only nice-to-have but which together could address the whole problem of overwhelm, long lists, lots of reading and fear of missing something.

Possible additional features for this portfolio might be:

Batching - being able to flexibly pre-group (and re-group) actions from all over the outline into sets (batches, agendas) that you quite objectively can say will be very sensible to get done at the same time. Examples: a number of selected errands to be done in a certain part of town; a number of issues you will bring up at the next meeting with someone; a number of calls and emails and calculations that all require you to gear up with some particular mental state and get some particular set of facts straight. By being able to manage the whole set of related actions as a one-line item we get a more manageable Focus list, Next actions list etc. And we could even schedule the set as a whole (e.g. a meeting with agenda items). These batches could take down the size of the lists quite substantially.

Attention (“priority”) - when you sit in the morning (or evening before) and look at your calendar you see who you have promised to meet, and where. Similarly, it is very useful to quickly be able to identify any critical items in your long list, things that you might decide to aim to do today. Colored priorities help you see these “high attention” items. Conversely, it is useful in your morning quick review, to be able to ignore all the “low attention” tasks - those that just sit there until an opportunity comes along, for example a non-critical errand that will just have to wait until you have other business in that part of town. You will see that task often enough anyway - in your weekly review and whenever you filter for errands.

Elimination filtering - being able to reduce the next actions list to what is possible and relevant and desirable this morning etc. I think I could probably, at any one time, e.g. in my morning review, rule out at least half of what is on my list and still be perfectly safe with that smaller set of choices for several hours or even the whole day. For example, if I have no critical errands and it is raining or I just don’t feel like going out - eliminate errands. If I don’t want to even consider working on certain projects or areas today, just rule them out. Eliminate tasks that require the presence of people that are sick or away or who you could not stand talking to today. Or rule out all people if you have a sore throat. And so on.

Grouping the lists - as a complement to filtering (which requires constant clicking), it is convenient to have a few grouping/sorting modes available - group by area, group by project, group by context, by deadline … You will typically have a few modes that you use more than others, and can often leave the setting for many hours or even days or weeks.

I have a feeling that those little individual nice-to-haves, when taken as a whole, including the sequential actions feature that is already there, might together constitute a “firm-enough” pre-planning super-feature that mitigates or eliminates most of what causes people to feel overwhelmed and lost.

Oops, that was a tad long. Still not concise enough :wink: