Single-action-lists as inbox-in-disguise


I have a lot of single-action-lists in my OmniFocus, one for my each Area Of Focus / Responsibility / Accountability.

Recently I discovered that they evolved in a kind of specialized inboxes. :-(

I process daily my normal inbox and distribute all the tasks into projects or single-action-lists.
In an effort to reduce the number of tasks in OmniFocus I exported all of the someday/maybe projects into a TaskPaper-list… but here I have a lot of someday/maybe single-actions living happily in the single-action-lists! :-(

So I started re-filtering the single-action-lists now and exporting the someday/maybe-actions in the TaskPaper-list (in a single-action-list :-)…

How do you avoid single-action-lists evolving in multiple inboxes for unspecific actions?


1 Like

I’m right there with you. It is satisfying to get items out my primary Inbox…by simply throwing them into a given Single Action list. However, that is a way I cheat GTD because I am not really asking “what is it?” but instead treating most SA lists as Area of Focus inboxes.

It comes down to not defining projects when I am processing the Inbox. Rather than send a task “Reorganize filing cabinet” to an SA list, I need to (1) decide if that is an outcome to which I am committed and (2) is it going to take two or more actions. If I defer those questions, I end up with SA projects/actions in my SA lists.

Until I kick the habit of clearing my Inbox in this way, I simply have to police my SA lists more frequently for shadow Someday/Maybe actions. For this reason I set the Review period on SA lists shorter than those of most projects.

Clearing the Inbox is a means to an end (clarified, completed projects in line with my mission and vision), not a goal in itself. Sometimes I trick myself into believing that a cleared inbox earns me a gold star.

1 Like

Items in my someday/maybe lists get reviewed only weekly, during my weekly review. If I think that SA task is something I want to accomplish in the coming week, I take it from my Someday/Maybe list (in OmniFocus) and put it in my Projects/Single-Action list (in OmniFocus) and give it a context. Six days a week, I don’t see these tasks, as they don’t have contexts while in Someday/Maybe (so they don’t appear while I’m working on tasks in any given context like Errands, Office, Home).

I wouldn’t want to keep them in a different application, as the reintegration as an actual task would be too much effort.

1 Like

regarding the reintegration: As nice as TaskPaper (= the place, where my someday/maybe lives now) is, the reintegration is not only copy & paste or similar :-(

I agree. Definitely someday / maybe is a better 'secondary Inbox, than SA lists (= projects). Sometimes you don’t want to even spend the clarification effort if you now you’re not committed in this moment and is a way of getting it off your mind too.

I am still learning how to organize with OF: I will throw considering using other applications to my Someday / Maybe folder for now.

Yes, that’s slowly the conclusion for me too.

The Someday / Maybe - tasks remain a complex area for me.
I have:

  1. active projects with a start-date in the future
  2. inactive projects (whitout a start date at all)
  3. masqueraded Someday / Maybe - tasks in the SAs (the topic of this thread) and
  4. the “real” Someday / Maybe - tasks that I’ve put in the TaskPaper-list (and want them back now)

1 is not really a Someday / Maybe, but it’s not active yet.
2 are actually also not really Someday / Maybe, but I catch myself in reviewing those by dealing with them as with the Someday / Maybe - tasks.
About 3 I talked already too much :-)
And for the projects from 4 I plan to bring them back in OmniFocus, make them active, put a start date far in the future and reviewing them as appropriate (this is much better possible in OmniFocus - with a specific review cycle for every such project - than with a generic recurring OmniFocus-task “Review the Someday / Maybe - tasks in the TaskPaper-list!”).