Quick entry to sub-tasks (or do I need to think about this differently?)

I’m keeping a garden this summer. Yay! So I make a sequential project called “Keep Garden” and plant a couple seeds:

  • Prepare Garden
  • Plant Garden

I’m not quite sure what comes next, but that’s a good start.

“Prepare Garden” isn’t directly actionable, so I think about what that entails. My garden plan is taking shape!

  • Prepare Garden
    • Prepare the soil
    • Plan growing areas
  • Plant Garden

I fill it out a bit more and end up with this project plan:

Keep Garden (sequential)

  • Prepare Garden (parallel)
    • Prepare the soil (sequential)
      • research tools I need
      • ask friend if I can borrow tools
      • dig up the weeds and clean the area
    • Plan growing areas (sequential)
      • brainstorm everything I might want to grow
      • research what grows well in my area
      • draw a map of what I want to plan where
  • Plant Garden (sequential)
    • buy seeds
    • plant seeds

In researching what grows well in my area, I learn something new: it’s not just what to grow where, but when and how to grow it! I want to plant tomato starters in June, and spinach seeds in July.

I pull up quick entry and type: “draft growing schedule” which I want to add to the end of “plan growing areas…”

First question: Can I use quick entry to add a subtask? (I don’t think so)

If not, should I be thinking about this project plan differently? I know I can use a folder for “Keep Garden,” but that doesn’t seem like a good fit to me. “Keep Garden” is actionable (look at all those actions!), and with a folder I lose the sequential relationship between “Prepare Garden” and “Plan Garden.” I could create a final task in a “Prepare Garden” project: “Activate Plan Garden Project”, but it still feels off.

I feel like this is a limitation in OmniFocus, but I’m willing to consider the possibility of a better approach for planning this project.

How would you approach this?

This sort of thing happens to me a lot. I have a project that has sub-projects within it. e.g. “Celebrate cousin’s wedding” has tasks “adjust suit arms”, “plan travel”, etc, all of which have their own sub-tasks. I don’t have a solution that I like.

I find myself in this situation sometimes too. I have to stop myself getting caught up in the logic and focus on how I can make sure it just gets done.

For this situation I would probably make ‘Keep Garden’ a folder called ‘Garden’ and treat it as an area of responsibility, at least until everything is in the ground. Afterwards I might just keep a single action list with recurring reminders to do the weeding or fertilising.

I’d get rid of ‘Prepare Garden’, then make the groups into full projects. Once the planning and research are done I’d have enough information to make projects or actions for planting: defer dates for when to buy seeds/seedlings and when to plant. Thus your ‘Plant Garden’ project isn’t necessary yet.

More generally, though, I can’t expect everything in OmniFocus to be automatic. I might need ‘activate … project’ meta-actions sometimes if I can’t expect myself to remember to do it or won’t catch it in a review.

There are perhaps other creative solutions to be found using the power in OmniFocus 3, too. You could have everything tagged with garden then build a perspective showing you those items. You could put stage tags (planning, planting, waiting, maintenance) on things there and then, assuming you group by tag, collapse the irrelevant or redundant ones. If you don’t want them there at all, exclude them from the perspective until later. (You can also temporarily disable or enable a rule in a perspective if you want to quick change in view.) just as an example:


Perspective, combined tags:

Perspective, collapsed tags:


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