Next tag vs first available

New OF user here.
I just realized for the first time that first available exists as one of the view options. Until now, I’ve been tagging tasks with next so that I can get a sense of what the next items are independent of a sequential project in the tag view.

Do people ever use both of these?
If so, is it for this reason, or another one?
Is there a reason to not use the next tag?

DA talks about “figuring out what the next action is” so often that I’m now tempted to go in and make everything a sequential project + remove all next tags to clear the dust out.

In the case of a project that’s entirely sequential (i.e., the actions must be performed in order), there’ll only be one available action at any time, so ‘First Available’ returns the same thing as ‘Available’. ‘First Available’ is useful for projects which have several actions currently available (i.e., there are parallel actions) and which you have put into an order that makes sense to you for performing them.

David Allen stressed the importance of not having an objective (a project) without any next step identified to achieve it, and when he introduced his method he was suggesting writing things down on index cards… If you are using OF, you’ve probably entered several tasks for each project. ‘First Available’ is then a useful filter to apply to a folder of projects, or any perspective, helping you pick from the most valuable actions.

To follow the ‘next action’ principle, you therefore don’t need a ‘Next’ tag at all. I’ve seen some people recommend one, but for a different purpose: a shortlist of the things you should or want to do next, across all your projects. I prefer to call this tag ‘Today’. This matches with the ‘Forecast tag’ functionality in OF Pro, where the actions which have it appear in a ’Today’ section. It’s an intuitive time horizon; if I don’t manage to complete everything today, the tasks roll over to the next day.


Very clear answer. Thank you!

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I call that tag “Soon,” on the grounds that there are days when I simply can’t get to them all due to meetings or emergencies, but I want to get them done within a week.

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Generally speaking, I make every project parallel unless it specifically calls for being sequential in nature. I never use a Next tag, so if I need to plan 10 moves ahead on a project I will make sure that the first available task is either in a task grouping within the project, or simply the first available action in the entire project, and I will enable the Sequential option within the project.