Discuss all things Remember The Milk.

identify "next actions" by default with exclusion list

megan.strickland says:
This is pretty much a combination of two brilliant ideas from other people, so it's entirely likely that this has been posted before. But just in case...

Many people identify "next actions" with a tag, but I prefer for tasks to be next actions by default. (Otherwise, I worry that something will "fall through the cracks" in between my weekly reviews if I forget to tag it.) Doing it this way gives me peace of mind, so I'm not taking up brain space with worrying about it.

To accomplish this, I set up a smart list that identifies everything that is NOT a next action, and then exclude that list from my @context lists.

This is basically a combination of:

rajjan's famous sleeper tag method

chad.davis's briliant start date tag idea
(6th comment on this thread:

Here are my exclusion smart list criteria:

(tag:zzz AND dueAfter:now) OR
(tag:z1d AND dueAfter:"1 day of now") OR
(tag:z2d AND dueAfter:"2 days of now") OR
(tag:z1w AND dueAfter:"1 week of now") OR
(tag:z1m AND dueAfter:"1 month of now") OR
(tag:startdate AND dueAfter:today) OR
(tag:tickleme AND dueAfter:today)

If you use a "waiting" tag, add "OR (tag:waiting)".
If you use a "project" tag, add "OR (tag:project)".

Call the list whatever you want. I left mine named "zzz" so it shows up last in my lists.

Now, to see ALL of your next actions, just search for "NOT list:zzz". This is a good test to see if it's working---if anything shows up that shouldn't, adjust your zzz list criteria accordingly.

Then add "NOT list:zzz" to the end of any smart list you use to show next actions. For example:

list name: @home
criteria: tag:@home NOT list:zzz

And one that is a little more complicated:

list name: top
criteria: (dueBefore:"2 days from today" OR NOT priority:none) NOT list:zzz

This shows everything that is overdue, due within the next 2 days, or has a priority of 1, 2, or 3, but is not on the zzz list.

To take this one step further, I have actions default to my @computer context as well. To do that, I simply define it like this:

list name: @computer
criteria: NOT (list:zzz OR tag:@home OR tag:@out)

This way, every task ends up on my @computer list if I don't tag it. This works for me, because if I have forgotten to tag it then the REAL next action is to tag it... which is an @computer task. And I can focus on my @context lists during the week and not worry that I'm missing something.

I hope that's helpful to someone. Thanks for reading!


Posted at 8:59am on January 18, 2014
raymond.bergmark Power Poster says:
Nice method, glad you like the Sleeper tags!
Posted 3 years ago
megan.strickland says:
Thank you!
Posted 3 years ago
emily (Remember The Milk) says:
Hi Megan,

Impressive set up and use of Smart Lists! :)

You're this week's Tips & Tricks Tuesday winner, and we've upgraded your Remember The Milk account to have a free year of Pro. Thanks for sharing your tip!
Posted 3 years ago
megan.strickland says:
Oh goodness! Thank you!
Posted 3 years ago
ca_heckler says:
Hey Megan, thanks for sharing it, and congrats on a well-deserved place in the "T&T Tuesday". This method resonates very well with how I manage my tasks and actions, so I'll be sure to give it a try, it seems very interesting.
Posted 3 years ago
Log in to post a reply.