OmniFocus 3 for Mac: action status 'On Hold'


#11

My reservation remains that Projects do have such an attribute; and this is obviously the way to filter their actions en masse .

I initially replied having misread your statement :)
The project attribute is a convenient way to put aside entire projects, useful when they are sufficiently granular, you can turn them on and off. I think putting individual actions on hold is a less frequent use case.


#12

No problem!

In my case not at all, alas :-)

Example: I actually have an ‘OmniFocus’ Project (in a ‘Productivity’ Folder, inside ‘Software’ in Projects).

Since I have just upgraded to 3 (from 2), I have maybe half a dozen Actions which I can perform now. They are the result of a timely ‘spring clean’ on moving to the new version. They are all active, available Actions in a Project whose status is Active.

Ironically, the one thing I can’t actually get to it and finish is this one, the subject of this thread, settling once and for all how to prevent Actions which are on hold from appearing in the ‘Today’ Perspective. Necessarily that Action I have thus tagged as ‘On Hold’.

So now my filters (for use in Perspectives) are relying on two different sets of metadata in the OF database:

  1. the Project Status (‘Active’) as the default for the Project
  2. a(n 'On Hold) tag for only one item in the same Project to override it

Really not a criticism. Have been using OF since version 1 and - every time I have looked at the competition - always happily come back to it. Love the idea, the execution and am full of admiration for the folks at Omni.

As soon as I am sure that - thanks in large part to the help on this forum - I’ve found the best answer, I can remove that tag :-)


#13

The inverse is that, AppleScripts are easier to code to check/reset for status than to check through a list of tags and add/drop a tag.

I would rather see the on-hold status extended from Projects to Tasks.


JJW


#14

Agreed. Rosemary’s suggestion seems the next best thing.


#15

Mark,
Going back to your ‘Today’ perspective:

Shouldn’t you be using the ‘Availability: Available’ rule (rather than ‘Remaining’)? Then on-hold actions are not shown (whether due to a tag or the Project being on hold) — no additional rule required. Same thing with the built-in views such as Forecast.


#16

FWIW, I have just posted an AppleScript at this link to drop/undrop a task using a drop tag. It can be easily modified to toggle an on hold tag.


JJW


#17

Thank you, Greg!

I have always been a little unclear about the exact intersection of the Status/attributes of an Action/Item where ‘Available’ is concerned.

Which are inherited, for example.

The OF Glossary says:

Available status is derived from an item’s defer date, project type, and project or tag status.

Couldn’t that mean that if a Project was essentially Active (yet has On Hold items - the case here), there will be conflicts.

I’ll give it a try, though: I suspect that what you kindly suggest is the whole point of Availability :-)


#18

You’re welcome, Mark.

Actions are available by default. If any of these conditions are met, the action becomes unavailable:

  • action has a defer date in the future
  • there are previous actions yet to be completed in a sequential project or action group
  • the project is put on hold, or one of the action’s tags has the On Hold status.

There is never a conflict as such, an ‘unavailable’ condition always wins over the default availability of an action.

Yes, I do recommend structuring your task database so that as many actions as possible are unavailable (by deferring, putting on hold, or using sequences of actions). This makes it easier and less stressful to stay on top of tasks on a daily basis. You can still see all remaining tasks when you review things (eg. look at entire projects).


#19

How helpful!

Thanks, Greg :)

One thing you say seems particularly relevant:

This all arises because I group all my Actions into Projects - as SALs.

For those Projects whose Status is unambiguously ‘On Hold’ there is no issue, of course because I am content that all its (child) Actions are also On Hold.

It is the Status:Active Project which has one or more Actions On Hold (currently because I’m using an ‘On Hold’ Tag; but want to find a better way so as to take advantage of OF’s built in ‘knowledge’ about Status) the is… making life difficult :-)

I don’t think you’re suggesting here that the very fact that a Tag itself has a Status: On Hold can be used, are you?

If not, then really I should remove/dispense with all the On Hold Tags; and rely on the Availability of each and every single Action by itself - regardless of the (parent) Project’s Status to filter in the Today and Forecast Perspectives, should I?


#20

I am suggesting that. In OF3 that is the way you can put an individual action on hold: add to it any tag that has status ‘On Hold’.


#21

Greg,

Maybe I’m misunderstanding the purpose of tags which are made to have an On Hold status; sorry :-(

As things stand now I have a tag specifically for actions which I want to indicate are on hold. I’ve called it ‘On Hold’.

But I haven’t changed that tag’s status to ‘On Hold’, as I know I can do, because that seems like a duplication.

Nor can I really see how to use such status, because tags such as ‘Finance’, say, will have as many actions which are ongoing, available and current (e.g. reconcile a bank statement) as those which are unavailable now (e.g. file tax returns).

So I’d be reluctant either to assign any other status to tags than what I assume is the default, active.

Or am I barking up the wrong tree?


#22

Yes, the status of the tag!
39

Setting it to ‘on hold’ is what tells OF how to handle the actions that have that tag. ‘Finance’ is a topic, you can use that tag also if it’s useful to you but it’s not a good candidate for ‘on hold’; refer to my earlier post with examples.

I think you have identified all the “moving parts”. I suggest you create a test project and experiment with the different features covered in this thread.


#23

Thanks again, Greg - I’ve actually been creating and modifying test projects and tags almost continually since last week, when I upgraded to OF Pro 3. I don’t want to try your patience; but I still can’t get things exactly as I want them…

It may be that I have to rethink my data’s entire structure, which is OK.

For example, a ‘Bank Accounts’ Project. It clearly should not have a Status of On Hold because any day now I shall have an Available statement to reconcile.

Yet it will also have actions which I cannot complete within, say, the next month, like (hypothetically) ‘Change Bank’, ‘re-invest interest’. For these I might be anticipating: January and May respectively.

Because I’m aware of the folly of setting artificial Due dates, I just want them to be On hold. When I have the time and energy, I’ll either complete them, or assign a feasible Defer and/or Due Date.

If I assign an On Hold status to my ‘money’ tag as in your latest screen grab (thank you!), everything with that tag becomes unavailable - including the actions that need doing today or tomorrow, like a monthly statement to be reconciled… today or tomorrow.

When using OF 2 I created two sets of contexts: the default set and one prepended with ‘Waiting -’.

I have to believe that the advent of tags (coupled with my understanding better how Available can be made to work for me) it’s possible to arrive at a more elegant solution.

Although if I have to tag everything that has no Due or Defer date (by design) to ‘On Hold’, and that is the right way to do filter in Today and Tomorrow perspectives, I shall.


#24

OK. This is a revelation that had not sunk in fully. It is thereby worth modifying my Drop/Undrop AppleScript to add/remove an on-hold tag that has a permanent status of on-hold.

(I’d still prefer that actions have an on-hold status)

Thanks!


JJW


#25

I must admit, that seems the best thing to me, too - for the reasons I have tried to explain in my Finance examples.

OTOH, thanks to Greg and Rosemary, I seem to be close with my Today and Tomorrow perspectives relying on an actual ‘On Hold’ tag (whose status isn’t On Hold: I still can’t see why that helps since the tag applies to actions which are both On Hold and do have dates) and having Availability set to Available.


#26

@MarkSealey No problem, happy to try to help. It may also be useful to other users of OF. It’s when you become completely familiar with all of OF’s features and how they interact (statuses, dates, sequential/parallel groups, tags, perspective rules, etc etc) that it becomes a very powerful and satisfying application to stay on top of mountains of tasks.

Being able to apply multiple tags to actions in OF3 is a huge improvement for many situations.
Regarding what you are trying to do, some suggestions:

  • Keep whatever ‘subject/topic’ tags are useful to you (‘Finance’, ‘Money’, etc). Keep the status of these ‘Active’ (the default).
  • Also create one or several tags which you will use for the specific purpose of putting isolated actions on hold (so that they don’t show up in any ‘Available actions’ views). You could have just one called ‘On Hold’ or have some more descriptive ones (eg. ’Someday’, ‘Maybe’, ‘Consider next month’); whatever is clearest and easiest to apply for you. So you might have an action: ‘Do ABC [Money] [Consider Next Month]’.
  • Break down big projects into several separate projects when there are several clear goals. ‘Change Bank’ and ‘Re-invest interest’ seem like good candidates to have their own project: you can easily toggle these entire projects Active/On Hold as circumstances change. All these projects can be in a ‘Bank Accounts’ folder of projects (you can have as many levels of project folders as you need: nest inside ‘Finance’?).
  • Set a Defer Date where possible (you said January & May for some tasks). You can set a Defer Date to an entire project, like the projects mentioned in the previous point (all its actions inherit the defer date)!
  • On a daily basis, use views/perspectives that use the ‘Available’ actions filter (won’t show all the actions that you have purposefully put aside in the previous steps). On a weekly basis, review everything with ‘Availability: Remaining’ views/perspectives, and decide whether some things need to taken out of ‘On Hold’.

#27

Thanks, Greg!

Am continuing to experiment :-).

One thing I realize I still don’t really understand is the question of Tags’ own Status.

Page 40 of the OF3 User manual says:

When a tag is temporarily irrelevant or unavailable for some reason (a required tool is loaned out, a colleague is on sabbatical, or the public library is closed for remodeling), you can change the tag’s status from Active to On Hold. The tag remains in the sidebar, but when viewing Available items its actions are removed from the outline.

Does this mean that by setting the Status of the Tag itself to On Hold (per your earlier grab), all the actions which have that tag are consequently also put on hold? If it does, then I need to approach Availability differently.

Or that by setting the Status of the Tag itself to On Hold, I’m saying that I don’t require that Tag - as a tag - in the foreseeable future?

I tried this in a test project and couldn’t see any difference.


#28

Yes! This is what I was trying to explain :)


#29

And so you have. Thanks. Now I see :-)

So in fact to have a tag (which has the name ‘On Hold’ and) whose Status of On Hold puts all the Actions so tagged on hold should be enough, shouldn’t it?

Even though, as you say, I could profitably have several such tags (whose own Status is always On Hold); and call them, ‘This Year’, ‘Next Year’, ‘Sometime’, ‘Never’ etc. Or even call them ‘Swallow’, ‘Vulture’, ‘Wader’ and the effect would be the same.

But - if I really do understand - I would not have to filter in the way Rosemary suggested, would I; because OF would detect the unavailability of the Action; not by the nature of the filtered string, but because it detects the (On Hold/unavailable) Status of the tag?


#30

You got it.

Most of the time you will simply be choosing between ‘Available’ and ‘Remaining’ actions in your View options or Perspective rules. On-hold items (as well as deferred, and blocked in a sequence) will show up in the latter, not the former. OF uses some sensible defaults (which you can change in the View options): ‘Remaining’ in the Projects view (“show me everything that still needs to get done”) and ‘Available’ in the Tags view (“show me things I can do right now given a particular context/filter”).

Rosemary’s explanation of the ‘None’ rule group was in reply to your specific question but it can come in handy. For example, you might want a perspective that shows remaining actions in a project except those you’ve explicitly put on hold with a tag.