How do you handle your stalled projects?


Inspired by the great ideas in my past thread about too many tasks I’ve put all of my then stalled projects in a TaskPaper-list and a reminder-task in OmniFocus to review this list periodically (in order to keep my OmniFocus lean with only active projects)

Then the live happened! ;-)

  • I’ve changed the status of some projects in OmniFocus from active to stalled and let them there with the intention to put the later in the TaskPaper-list. They are still there! :-/
  • I postponed the review of my TaskPaper-list with the stalled projects
  • I forgot about some projects in the TaskPaper-List and create similar projects in OmniFocus… and marked them as stalled (!!!)
  • Once in a while I wanted to search for a task and wasn’t sure anymore where I’ve put it… search everywhere in OmniFocus was no real help, because the task was… yes, in the TaskPaper-list with my stalled projects.

I thought then ok, perhaps is time to put the stalled projects back in OmniFocus… but then they popped up in the review (what I didn’t want, even if I intended to review my TaskPaper-list now and then…) and cluttered the active projects! :-(

I’ve tried then to group all the stalled projects in a big STALLED folder inside OmniFocus and put the review period on something huge (like one year or more)… but I’m still asking me if this is not only another dumb idea! :-/

So: What do you guys do with your stalled projects?
Do you let them in OmniFocus or store them outside?
How do you search within (active & stalled) projects as well?
How do you manage to review them often enough to not completely forget what you wanted to do but not to often so you can concentrate on your active stuff?

Thanks a lot for your crowd-intelligence! ;-)


By definition a stalled project is one that has no next actions either available or pending.
So, for me that means either one of 2 things.

  1. Either the project is actually completed (Yea!) and I can mark it finished.
  2. Or the project needs some more planning to figure out the next action.
    In the latter case I really want to see it at my first available review so I can either plan now or put an action in that project to do the planning.

So for example:
I had a project to deal with a nut sedge infestation in the upper pasture. I ran through the various actions like research natural controls, investigate herbicides, and more. It was stalled. I saw it in my weekly review and the next action was to call another farmer and see what she did to deal with it.

My stalled projects are only from your 2nd sort, OogleM.

BUT: I have stalled projects that

a) depend on other (active or stalled) projects - see also my question about planing projects in the big overview


b) are planned so far in the future

that I really start to think where to put them until they become relevant: inside OmniFocus (within a folder for “future plans” with long review cycles etc.) or outside OmniFocus (in my TaskPaper-list or whatever)?

I deal with this in two ways:

I change the context of these sorts of projects to “someday/maybe”
I put the entire project on hold

Then filter your perspectives to exclude projects with that status or context.

I’ll give you my suggestions on projects that depend on other projects in that thread.

For the projects that are far in the future.

Those are not stalled IMO, they are in my someday/maybe group. If they can be worked on within this season (defined as 3 months based on solstices and equinoxes) then they are just on hold and I want to still see them in my weekly reviews to see if I can make them active.

If they can only be started in another season or are things that are several years into the future then I store those in my DEVONThink system as described in another thread a while ago. I can’t seem to pull it up to give you the link but it was in response to one of your questions

I understand.

That’s what I had before.

Right now I have in OmniFocus:

  • 46 active and
  • 26 stalled


In the TaskPaper-list with my someday-maybe-projects I have 68 projects - that’s almost so much as in OmniFocus.

Put together the now 46 active projects will represent 32,8% = around 1/3 of all the projects.

That’s why I did externalize them - in order to keep OmniFocus from bloating and confusing me with to much dreams / projects in a far far away future / etc.

I think you’re right with the DEVONThink - you mentioned it already here!