How to keep recurring actions separated by the same amount of time, even if deferred?

Here’s my problem: I have to do an action, X, and another action, Y, alternatively, once a week. Week 1 I should do X, week 2 I should do Y. If for some reason I can’t do the action one week after the last iteration, it doesn’t matter, I can defer it. I’ll most likely do it the next day or the day after that, and the next iteration of either X or Y should appear one week later. That means if I always complete the action on the day it comes up, say a Monday, X and Y will always come up on Mondays but if I defer either X or Y to Tuesday or Wednesday, the next iteration of either X or Y should come up on the next Tuesday or Wednesday. The idea is to do X and then Y repeatedly, at least — but not necessarily exactly — one week apart.

If I set up a project or subproject to repeating every week, with two sequential actions, the first one, X, will always appear first and I would need to remember if I did it last time to cross it off and do the other. Which I probably won’t.

If I set up two different, independent actions, X and Y, with a start date one week apart, each repeating every two weeks, it will only work if I never defer either action. If I do, they won’t be synchronized anymore and I may end up with both X and Y the same week, even the same day.

Can anyone suggest how to get around this?

Why not create a single action “do x or y” and set it to repeat one week from completion date?

That’s how it was set up until now, but I had to note which one I had done so as to do the other one the next time. I’m looking for a way to know which action to do without having noted (or remembered) which one was done last time.

I want to change it because a number of times I didn’t note what I did and then the next time I didn’t remember what I had done the previous time.

I would write two Shortcuts, one intended to be run when you have just completed task X, the other when you have just completed task Y. The first Shortcut would add a sequential action group to OF containing two actions: first to complete task Y, deferred to a week after the Shortcut is run; second to run the other Shortcut. The second Shortcut would work similarly.

This adds quite a few extra tasks, shortcuts and steps, and there would code duplication between the two shortcuts. It would be a lot cleaner if there were a way to have a shortcut run automatically after marking a task complete in OF, or alternatively a way for a Shortcut to mark a task complete. Maybe these exist for some alternative automation method, such as AppleScript?

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I do understand what you are suggesting. The problem is that I don’t know much about writing shortcuts and don’t have the time to learn right now. I go to the trouble of automating things that I do often and that are really time consuming.

But after reading your idea, I figured I could get the result I want by hand.

A simple action saying “do X then change X to Y or Y to X before completing”. It repeats every week after completion. That’s it.

Not very elegant, I admit, and subject to my obeying my own orders. But it’s better than nothing. If I get motivated to learn more automation, I’ll come back to this and do better.

Thanks for the idea.

This is a perfectly good approach. Often the best way to model your workflow is to adopt some good personal conventions when OF doesn’t have the built-in behaviour you need, instead of aiming for full automation (or insisting unreasonably for Omni to add a feature :) ).

An alternative would be to:

  1. Prepare in advance a long sequence of alternating X/Y actions. This can easily be done in a spreadsheet and pasted into the OF project. The actions will have no dates
  2. Make the project (or action group) sequential, so that only the next action is ever available.
  3. Every time you complete an action, also defer the newly available action by 1 week. This is quick to do with the ‘+1 week’ button under the Defer Until field (and the similar control on iOS). Since the action didn’t already have a Defer Date, it will be 1 week from that moment. To remind you of this, the actions could be called eg. ‘Do X (& defer next by 1 week)’

The advantage of this approach is that there is no risk of a mistake in the X and Y sequence (in case you forgot to change the name of the next action). In case you forget to defer the next action, it will be apparent that it is available and doesn’t have a Defer Date, and you can look at the completed actions to determine what the right date is. You can even check for this by creating a perspective that returns actions from that project which are both available and without a Defer Date (None -> Has a defer date), and looking at it during your regular OF review.

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Nice idea. The less I have to count on my (really bad) memory, the better. I think GTD and OF have saved (some of) my sanity.

I’ll try it out. I added one last item saying that I need to renew the list for the next n weeks.

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