Project Organization Strategy: Baselayering

Hi everyone,

I’ve been using a new strategy in OF to fit my mental model of how to get things done and wanted to share. I call it “Baselayering.”

Right now, I sort my projects thusly:


For many of my main folders, I’ve also created a project called Baselayer. This project receives all the misfit tasks that don’t fit into a pre-existing project and are not new project-worthy.


When I create a misfit task, I put it in the relevant “Baselayer” project. These projects are distinguishable from each other because I also use emoji to visually assign color to various areas:

This has been a huge help to me because it’s meant less GTD-style management of my tasks. I can capture ubiquitously (a feature of GTD I like) without spending so much time managing the categorizing of everything and figuring out how I’d frame a “next action,” which is often too granular for my project management style.


Super clever use of colored emoji there! I have been using emoji in my OF tags for a while, but honestly, they are more of a distraction than truly something useful. In light of how you did this, I am going to think about revising my emoji codes.

Relatedly, I do something very similar, but I set my “Baselayer” apart by wrapping it in {{Double Curly Brackets}} like so. Works well to find things from a list and to filter out everything simply by hitting “{{” when autocompleting a project.

I wonder how many names people have come up with for the miscellaneous single action lists you need to include in different areas of focus. I’ve used To-Dos, Misc, Single Actions, maybe one or two others, haven’t really liked any of the names. Baselayer is a new one. (I’d guess you are into hiking or climbing?) Color coding my emojis for them was a great discovery: right now I’m using ✅and ☑️ as I only have two primary single action lists.

Yes, I feel like the need to patch the system with this sort of project is an opportunity for design.

I’d considered “Misfits” as well. Both hiking and misfitting resonate w/my own personal experience. ;)

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naïve question: how do you add an emoji?

On a mac, type Control–Command–Space and you’ll get a little pop up with them. You can also download apps, like Rocket, that search for them by name using a keyboard shortcut. More from Apple here:

I do the same thing, but in order to make it easier and faster to find when assigning, I just take the folder name and create a Project with the same name in [ brackets ].

For example:

In your example above, your Baselayer in Teaching folder would be: [ Teaching ].

That way instead of having a bunch of projects named Baselayer, it finds only that single one, which is where Miscellaneous tasks go for the Teaching folder.

Make sense?


If you prefer the mouse there’s Emoji & Symbols in the Edit menu in most Mac apps.

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I like the idea of colour-coding my projects with coloured symbols.
Unfortunately, the symbols in the Emoji/Symbols window are not very attractive to me. What I’d like, are just simple circles or squares, possibly flags, in different plain colours. Does anyone know a way to get those in a project title easily? I guess I have to download a font somewhere with the desired symbols and then make textexpander shortcuts?

Have you found a way to change the font? The Preferences just lets you change font size. FWIW the Emoji & Symbols box does have some simple shapes and flags (⚫️🔷🔻🏳️🏴🚩 etc.).

@Matt78: What I was trying to say is that the symbols in that box are not good enough for me. I would like to use just one type (e.g. flags), but need that in at least 6 different colours (plain). For flags, there’s just a white and a black plain one. The books that Beck uses are available in 4 different colours, but that’s still not enough for me (and they aren’t plain enough for me either…).

In that case I think you are out of luck. The reason emojis work is that they are recognized as characters by the operating system, so a smiley face 😀 is similar to typing the letter ‘a’. It’s treated as text. But there’s no functionality to include real pictures with project headings. They do offer color-coded icons for custom perspectives (Pro version), but there’s no way to get those into a project heading that I know of. You’d have to make a feature request (

Hm, then I guess I have to find a different solution.
Thanks for your replies!

I too was exploring different color emojis to categorize projects. I considered using the heart emojis, since there are a lot of different colors available. But I just couldn’t be happy with seeing hearts on my projects and would rather have a more emotionally neutral series of colored emojis.

Ha! This is the method I use. It’s great because in search, I can just press the left bracket and all my “Baselayer-type” projects are listed and I can pick the right one. I still write up the task as a GTD next action. GTD contemplates “no project” next actions.

In fact, in the GTD OF guide, it recommends creating a project named “—” to track all the next actions that don’t need to belong to projects. The GTD recommendation does decrease a lot of overhead in connection with task management; however, it wrecks havoc on having separate domains for tasks (e.g., work and personal).

I use these separate Baselayer-type projects, so I can have perspectives to filter the misfit tasks into appropriate domains. Thus, when I’m working, only my work-related misfit tasks will surface. I don’t need to see “buy dental floss,” when I’m trying to get work done and I don’t want to have to scan down a list of tasks I can’t do in a particular environment to find one I can do. Contexts are helpful but not perfect because I still don’t want to be doing an “anywhere” personal task while I’m looking to be productive at work.

When I have OF set up and working properly, when I’m “doing” I do not have to think about what to do next; all I have to do is look at the next thing on my list and do it. This is because I already decided at another time the things I need/want to do and configured OF only shows them to me when I can do them. For me, though, it’s a moving target that needs periodic tweaking.

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