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Finding "Lost" Tasks

dillo99 says:
As you get more sophisticated with RTM it can be pretty easy to have tasks end up in never-never land. Naturally they are there but they fell through the cracks of your system and don’t show up as you expect. I call these Lost Tasks and I created a list that helps me find them. If I am doing everything right, I should never have a lost task so the list should always be empty. This is a great way to make sure your system is working and to correct yourself when you don’t follow the rules. It also allows me to just pop tasks into RTM as they come up and then sort them out later by going to the lost list. I’ll explain my system but you can easily adjust this to whatever approach you use to review tasks and what you expect from a quality task (in terms of how it is stored, tagged, dated, etc.)

For me, I expect all tasks to:

Have a due date

OR Have a location

OR have a tag (tags are people, or things like my read list or watch list

So any task that doesn’t meet this criteria is “lost”. My Smart list to find this is shown below.

((list:Inbox OR list:OOTW) AND (due:never AND isLocated:false AND isTagged:false)) AND isSubtask:false

To explain this:
1. (list:Inbox OR list:OOTW) – I also have project lists and in those it is okay (in my system) if they don’t fit this criteria so I limit my smart list to my inbox or this list I call OOTW. OOTW stands for “out of the way” and is just a place I put recurring and future tasks to reduce clutter.
2. AND (due:never AND isLocated:false AND isTagged:false)) – task has no due date, no location and no tag. This represents my “lost” criteria. You can modify based on your system.
3. AND isSubtask:false – It is okay in my system if subtasks don’t fit the criteria so I eliminate them from the “lost” list. If your system has the same expectations of sub tasks you can remove this from the smart list.

That’s pretty much it. On a regular basis I check the lost list and fix anything that is missing the appropriate data.
Posted at 4:56pm on June 23, 2020
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