Single Action List or Parallel?


#1

Sequential projects, I understand and use often.

I also have projects that are strictly Single Action lists because the actions as such doesn’t relate…

But can someone explain the difference between Single Action List and Parallel?


#2

The difference mainly comes down to Getting Things Done methodology. GTD is a set of principles that inspired a lot of OF design choices.

A project, by definition, is usually a certain goal or outcome that will ultimately be fulfilled. The steps and take you there can either be done in no particular order or even simultaneously (you would set the type to parallel) or they would have to be performed one by another (you would set the type to sequential).

Single action lists, on the other hand, are for cases where there is no clear and final outcome. They hold miscellaneous tasks and help you to structure everything that does not fit the description of a project. They have no end and no beginning, use them for ongoing groups of tasks. For instance, I have one for grocery shopping, as I don’t think I can ever finished grocery shopping as such.


#3

The difference resides in the ‘First Available’ view option.

In a Parallel project, this option returns the topmost/first action in the list of currently available actions. This is a GTD technique: assuming all the actions of the project are already ordered in some useful way, just start work on the next thing in order.

A Single Action list is for when the actions have no order at all — all the currently available actions are returned by ‘First Available’.


#4

Thanks @MultiDim for adding that very important piece of information. (Since historically there is no color-coding for first available on iOS – where I do most of my work – I forgot about that important distinction.)


#5

I agree that the distinction is “list” versus “project”. A project is “completable”. In constrast, I often use lists of ongoing or isolated tasks relating to a particular area of responsibility. For example, I have projects for each client matter, but I have a list of “Admin” actions for each client too (e.g., “Send holiday basket,” “Send invoice,” “Update CEO on project status”). None of these are really part of a project, but I want to capture, process, and do them.

Often, an action lands in the Admin list for a client, only to move into its own project with a few new actions while I am reviewing or processing my system.


#6

I published a free video a while back that goes into detail on the different types of projects, and where groups fit into the mix.

https://learnomnifocus.com/tutorials/omnifocus-2-mac-creating-projects-groups/

This video was created with OmniFocus 2, but the same principles apply for OmniFocus 3.

I hope this helps!