Anyone use a "General" Project?

Just curious if anyone uses a “General” project and find this works, or if its bad practice? I am starting to think its bad practice, as its a place to dump tonnes of general tasks and its quite big now. Hard to prioritise when reviewing it.

To put my use into context, we have several hundred ongoing customers (we’re a web design, development and hosting company) and we get tasks from customers all the time for various things. So I put them all in General. But then other general things go in there too. Its very changeable and quite long.

I don’t think a project should be created per customer I would have hundreds of empty ones as not the same customers contact us all the time.

I am wondering if its more efficient to create a “Customer Support” project, or something like that. And then split the remaining ones in General into sub-projects, like Admin, Finance etc. (there may be very few tasks, even just one, in the sub-projects, hence having a General one).

I am just concerned about then having too many projects. I had a General one to keep the number of projects down so easier to add tasks to projects and less for reviews. But I am thinking maybe its fine to have loads of projects.

Any thoughts?


Ha, yes, -very- good question. Two answers to that:

  • A setup that works for you, is a Good Solution ™.

  • I have a different approach to my private actions (by role; parent, maintenance, spare time, etc.) and work actions (by global type, then customer, then projects). Below my -folders-:

    • Acquisition
    • Projects
      • Customers
        • project
    • Products
    • Internal
    • Knowledge

etc. In each folder for a Real World Project I have a ‘general items’ shoe box project, and then for each action-with-a-head-and-a-tail another OF project. Especially when to go from acquisition to OF project is a difficult one, as in our case this is related to subsidies and work we already do or did for them.

I like to tick off projects. Makes me feel good. So I create them probably more than others. This is a setup that works for me, and has granularity that makes me find stuff reasonably quickly amongst the 926-and-counting actions.

I don’t believe that all actions need to have a project assigned and an app shouldn’t force such an assignment. I don’t think the GTD methodology forces that either. There are standalone actions that can have a context, can be available or deferred etc., yet they are not part of any project.

So yes, I do have a “Misc” project to capture standalone actions, and I consider it a workaround for a (minor) conceptual flaw in Omnifocus.

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While I do not advocate slavish adherence to GTD or any task-management process, I think your lack of separate projects is amounting to a lack of clarity on what your obligations and goals are. The “General” project makes it seem that you have an easier list to manage, when in fact there are a number of different projects (two or more actions towards a goal) in the list. If you are familiar with GTD jargon then we can use that in the thread.

Don’t worry about review time: OmniFocus makes that part easy. You will actually speed along because each project will have its defined goal in your mind (or in the project notes). All you have to do is determine the next action needed to bump your projects along.

In your case, I would make a top-level project folder of “Clients” and make a separate project for each of your 100+ customers, if they are indeed ongoing, long-term customers. First, make a single-action project with the setting box “Complete when completing last action” unchecked. This means that your client project will remain open even if there is nothing to do for him/her today. Then, CMD-D duplicate that project as many times as you need (to maintain that setting) and rename the projects. That is the most time-consuming part of the process. In future quick entry it would be easy to Tab over to the project field and bang out part of the name to file it away. That would be a lot of projects but you would speed through reviews because there might only be an action or two for each.

Finally, I am not against single-action “bucket” projects. There are some tasks that are legitimately one-step-and-done. I have a single-action project for all my items on loan. As a teacher, I’ll loan a number of books and resources to students for research. I want them back, but don’t have a due date in the short term. Collecting them in once place keeps them from stopping up another project. I also have single-action projects for maintenance tasks around the house and at school. Yet another for student records, i.e. “Update Johnny’s transcript to show XX course hours.” In the picture below you can see by the icon which are single-action projects.

Yes I agree, and I feel this makes it harder to work and I am less productive. Why I asked this question is because I feel very lost at the moment, not sure what to work on, as the General project where a lot of things go is all one big task list and I dont have any focus. Whereas actually some projects are far more important than others. So I am going separate them into their projects, so that way I can then Focus on an important project (I could not use Focus when they are all in the same project). I found I was just picking and choosing any old task, whereas I really need to focus on my sales and marketing right now for example.

I feel better splitting it into quite specific projects, even if its one or two tasks in each.

I dont think I will create a project for all customers, some I hardly ever hear from, but I will create separate ones for the customers that do contact us often, then the other customers I may have a generic customer support project. Tasks are usually quite small, so I can treat working on all customer support tasks as one project in itself (we try to do them on Mondays), and if any turn into a large project I can create one for them then.


The one thing I do with projects that I can’t be bothered to create a separate project for is to put the next action after a semi colon, like so:

Get new tires for car; call for quote; call Jimmy Hendrix Re: place to get second hand tires.

Upon ‘completing’ that action, I delete the text back to the last the semi-colon.