Parallel tasks project, please explain

Hello, I feel the parallel project concept is making confusion in my approach to project management. What is a parallel project? The icon says there may be some priority relationship between tasks (parent-child? before-after?), but not between others. And they cohexist in the same project. What is this link after all? In real life, for the sake of semplificy, tasks are either all of the same value, or they come as a sequence. For the sake of semplicity. Hybrid priority takes cognitive power, and this kind of instruments should be simple, otherwise they get in the way. Is there some technical constraint or benefit that happens when you choose parallel over single actions? Can you link somehow two tasks so that the they have a special relationship unlinked taslks do not have?

Thank you very much.

You should see three different ways of assigning tasks: Sequential, Parallel, and Single Action (only available for tasks just under the Project level).

Sequential is an ordered completion of the items: task one completed before task two before task three. (ie. I need to put postage on an envelope before putting it in the mail).

Parallel means the tasks may be worked on at any time and completed in any order. (I can toast bread or pour juice at the same time I am making eggs)

Does this help. I think that is what you were asking.

Thanks ScoutsHonor,
as far as I know also Single Anctions may be worked on at any time. Is there a technical difference between the two? Why choosing one instead of the other, beside the theoretic approach?


In a Single Action List, all actions are “Next Actions” in the GTD sense. In a parallel project, only the first one is a “next action.”

In a parallel project there is an implied (but not explicit) order - whereas a sequential project has an explicit order. Does that help? :)

From the help manual:

—Sequential projects have actions that need to be completed in a predetermined order; the first item must be finished before you can move on to the next. In a sequential project, there is only ever one action available at a time. (this is also, by definition, the project’s first available action).

—Parallel projects consist of actions that can be completed in any order. In a parallel project, all incomplete actions are available, and the first available is the first one in the list.

—A single action list isn’t a project in the traditional sense; it’s a list of loosely-related items that aren’t interdependent (a shopping list is an example of this). In a single action list, all actions are considered both available and first available.


Thanks guys, sorry I do not get the knack of it, looks to me like neither fish nor fowl.

  • Actions that can be completed in any order: single action mode
  • all incomplete actions are available: single action mode
  • the first available is the first one in the list: sequential mode, but contradicts the first point of this list

Is there any practical benefit of using the parallel mode, instead of either single actions or sequential?
What is the object of parallelism? Maybe nested lists?

Sorry I’m just trying to have that ‘aha’ moment, but this subdivision is not making things simpler for me.


The aha moment comes when you have a perspective showing first available tasks, and you have both parallel projects and single action lists in that perspective. The perspective will show one task from each of the parallel projects and all of the tasks in the single action lists. That is the only practical difference between parallel projects and single action lists. I have a perspective showing some parallel projects where I just pick the first available task and one single action list where I like to pick the tasks more freely. To me, that’s convenient, but if you don’t need that kind of perspectives, you could just stick with parallel projects.

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A key thing to understand is that a Single Action List isn’t technically a “project” - i.e. it doesn’t have a defined outcome. Instead it contains a list of related items, typically tied to a specific area of life/responsibility. For example, I have a Single Action List called “[Admin-Personal]” for one-off actions related to my personal admin. Quite a few of the actions in these lists are repeating (e.g. A monthly action to “Transfer money from Account A to Account B”).

Another subtly is that a Parallel or Sequential Projects with no remaining action(s) is considered “stalled”. A Single Action List to have no remaining items isn’t considered stalled as Single Action Lists don’t have an objective - it may simply mean that there’s currently nothing to be done related to this area of life/responsibility.

On a side note, it’s possible to create a “Projects - Stalled” perspective that shows stalled projects. You’ll find instructions here:

I’ve also gotten into the habit of naming Single Action Lists in square brackets (e.g. [Friends & Family]). Among other things, this visually distinguishes Single Action Lists from Parallel/Sequential Projects and makes it possible to create a perspective such as “Projects – Active” that shows active Parallel/Sequential Projects, omitting Single Action Lists.


Single Action is similar to Parallel…until you get to nesting. Single Action only works just under the “Project” level; Parallel can be nested to any depth you desire…and a group of Parallel actions can be placed under a Sequential group.

Does that make sense?

Best thing I found to do was just try building a project and seeing what options you can select at various levels. Once you start to dabble with something, a lot of things often get clearer. But I have gotten a lot of help from these groups, too.

The benefit of parallel vs single action is, when you set up a perspective to show “next available,” parallel shows the one first available action vs all available actions in a single actions list.

The benefit of parallel vs sequential is, when you pause the first available action via a hold tag or defer date, a parallel project will make the next available action the first available, vs a sequential project which has no available actions until the first one comes available again.


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