Recurring Tasks and Forced Next


I may have had too much festive cheer but am sure that repeating Tasks are now behaving differently from before.

I created a scheduled activity to run every Friday.

This then did two things that I think is different to previous behaviour:

  1. it created a Project for the Task and then had a child task for the next event. My other recurring events do not have that, and
  2. it set the Force Next flag for the project and the child Task. I don’t want these forcing to be Next. They should just come into my view when they are due.

Has this changed or am I losing my marbles?


I’m seeing more strange behaviour now and am wondering if this is:

  1. the same as the post I have just seen about someone losing 63 items in Inbox, and
  2. related to the recent changes for syncing multiple devices.

I have been trying to correct the recurring Task issues I mentioned above and have noticed that the changes are not being applied consistently.

For example, I created a “Test Repeating Item” task to see if I could recreate the issue. I then deleted that Task and added some real ones.

These were then appeared to get stuck trying to calculate the Next Event date so I logged out and logged back in again.

My new items had disappeared but the “Test Repeating Item” has re-appeared, despite me having deleted it earlier.

I am now unsure whether I can trust these Tasks to remain in place.

Is anyone else seeing strange behaviour?

At the risk of having a conversation with myself here(!) I think I have discovered why the recurring actions sometimes show as projects and sometimes as stand-alone actions.

If I set an action to recur weekly, it then creates a Project and an initial child action for the first occurrence below it.

If I set an action to recur monthly, it does not do so, and simply re-uses the same action record (or maybe spawns a duplicate when completed) by the looks of things.

I’m not sure why there is a distinction but this appears to be the case and is also the reason why I haven’t noticed it previously as all of my other recurring actions have been monthly ones.

Is this correct James?

I’m still concerned that I managed to lose actions and also have deleted actions resurrected for no apparent reason however.


I’m still confused by the repeating actions and cannot get them to behave consistently. Some appear as Projects with a child task for repeating whereas others don’t.

Also, when a repeating Task hits its Due Date it doesn’t automatically set to Focus which I thought it should do.

I’ve read through the forums on this and there is a good discussion about how it is planned to work but I cant find a release note or tutorial explaining now it was actually implemented.

Please can someone point me in the right direction?

Hi @thealbs and sorry for the tardy reply.

Here are some general guidelines for working with repeating tasks.

  1. Repeating tasks do create a child item and this does make the “master” repeating task look like a project. It’s not really a project. The idea behind this design is to have one master spot where you can update your repeating task details and schedule. The upcoming active, not scheduled, task will not always display right away.
  2. When a repeating task is scheduled to start it will “spawn” a new active action. This action may or may not be a “next action” depending on where it is in a project. If it is a single, stand-alone action then it will always be spawned as a “next action” but if it is, for example in a project and is not the top action of the project it will not be “spawned” as a next action. You can over-ride this by clicking the force next box in the master repeating task.
  3. Repeating actions do not automatically become “focus” items and appear in the focus list. You can make them focus items by clicking the focus box in action details panel of the master repeating task. Then when the item is created as an active task it will also have the focus set.

Hopefully this answers your questions above. Let me know if that is not the case and I can clarify. Also, we have noticed a few inconsistencies with recurring tasks. (and so have others) In other words, we know there are some bugs, but we haven’t been able to reproduce them, so haven’t fixed them yet. If you notice some problems please give us the steps to reproduce them and we will add to the fix list. Thanks!

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I hope it is OK for me to bring up some old friendly critique here. I assure you it is definitely not my intention to be nasty or anything, but just to remind you. I sincerely want to help you and I pray that you will understand. I truly believe you could make the app more easily accessible to more people.

The “Project” approach
Yes, as you say, you have implemented repeating actions such that they look like projects, and you have stated your reasons for doing so (“one master spot where you can update …”). The alternative approach, much more common, would be to let users add subtasks etc to repeating tasks just as they can for non-repeating tasks. Not only does this provide a more consistent UI. It is also a fact that many users find it extremely valuable to have repeating checklists. Conversely, I wonder how many users have any need for the “one master spot” for editing what is usually just one single action currently in play (the others have been completed). I honestly believe you would have many more supporters for being able to repeat entire checklists than for being able to look at tons of past instances.

It is a neat “luxury” that users can select whether they want the next instance to arrive “silently” on the Next list only or arrive more visibly on the Focus list, too. Presumably some people want them to arrive silently. I have the impression that even more people (definitely I) always want to see them in Focus and then simply unmark them (because we want to see the “news” that there are new items available). It is nice of you to offer users the choice, but:

  • I think it would then be useful to have “auto-focus” as a preference option for the likes of me (probably the majority) who do not want to have to click it “on” for every single repeating task
  • I think it would be less confusing if you had a separate checkbox etc for this “programmed focusing” and left the regular Focus marker available for its normal use (which is to bring the item to your Focus list IMMEDIATELY). Again, this is a matter of UI consistency (easier to understand), but also of convenience and flexibility. I sometimes focus even scheduled and someday and other tasks in order to review or double-check them more carefully later on today (without having to take the trouble to write a new action for doing this review)

The word Active
I think the word Active is used very confusingly in GTDNext. It seems to mean “will become, or is already, a Next action”. It is confusing both that dependent actions, which are impossible to do now and in that sense are “inactive” (and therefore not even shown on the “current” lists), are referred to as “Active”. Conversely, it is also confusing that the term active is not used consistently for other current (“active”) actions that are not in any way blocked by any task dependency. Example: a delegated Waiting For action can indeed be very “active” in the word’s regular sense. The people are working like mad on it and I may even have the results delivered to me today. Very “active”!

I would recommend you to adjust the terminology such that all actions are called by the “type” (Next, Waiting etc) that they are predestined to be, and that a descriptive word such as “dependent” or “subsequent” or “inactive” be used consistently across the board to describe those tasks that have not reached their destination list yet due to task dependency. (The term “active” or “current” could be used to refer to all things that are not dependent on anything and therefore fully visible/available right now on their respective main lists.)

Thanks @James

I understand your explanation. A couple of points, one for clarification and one observation.

Clarification: How, if at all, does the Due Date function on repeating tasks? The scenario I have is that I have a Task which needs to commence around the 10th of each month and becomes due on the 15th of each month. I would want it to become Active / Next on the 15th, then behave the same as any other task with a due date for the 15th. Is the Due Date defunct on repeating tasks or have I misunderstood it. In those where I have set an initial Due Date they are showing as Overdue in the Task lists despite me having completed it for this month (i.e. the Due Date does not appear to be incrementing).

Observation: I agree with @Folke that the master / project task is the man point of confusion from my perspective. Add to that the fact that the child Task does not immediately populate with the next action when I complete one, and I have found my level of trust in this reminding me at the correct time next month to be reducing somewhat. I have in fact recreated my recurring Tasks several times to try and regain that confidence level. It isn’t helped by the need to reload the browser list (more frequently than I ever have in the past) to get a consistent view.

As you know I left and returned to GTDNext, and am sure the repeating actions were less confusing in my first stint over this side…

Thanks again for the earlier clarification


I have found an issue and can recreate it. Steps are:

  1. Create a new Task in the Inbox
  2. Change it to have the following:
  • Focus
  • Force Next
  • Repeat weekly on the current day of the week

Issue: although I added Focus to the Action, the spawned ‘child’ action has not inherited the Focus. As a result, I have a task to complete today which I expected on my Focus list but it is not there. It is on the next actions list but that is lengthy and the item can be missed.

Also, and I am trying to reproduce this one but definitely witnessed it this morning:

  • when a repeating action DID appear on the Focus list
  • I checked it off as being complete for that month
  • this actually had the effect of Completing the entire ‘project’ and no further repeating items were generated.