Getting to grips with Reminders in Agenda

First things first, I’ve been circling agenda for a while and it’s getting closer and closer to a tool I can see using exclusively as task/project/life management system in the next year (sharing extension is a hangup but it seems like you’re really invested in that and iOS 13 provides some decent workarounds in any case.)

The iOS reminders integration is a huge step, but I do want to nudge on the utility of allowing undated reminders. Here’s my system and why this is a bit of a friction for me. I capture input throughout the day in a general inbox in one of three forms (notes—including photos of hand written notes), events, and reminders. I use dictation to Siri for a lot of this—events and reminders especially, and dictate to the native iOS apps because otherwise dictation to Siri is clunky at best.

In the evening, or whenever I next get a chance, I go through that general inbox and extract action items, ascribe whatever tags, projects, contexts, due dates are appropriate. But I also keep a rolling undated list of reminders—an “if I still care when I get a chance” list. If Agenda isn’t capturing the undated reminders I dictate to Siri that whole reminder category is lost (It’s still in Reminders, but the whole appeal of agenda is getting notes, calendars and reminders in one place in an intuitive way—if I’m flipping back and forth between apps, agenda is not accomplishing what I need it to). The clearest workaround I see is dictating to Siri something like “remind me tomorrow to add an item to my someday-maybe folder saying undated: reread Jane Eyre‘”, and then when I sit down to process my input, convert that reminder to an note/checklist item on a list in my “Someday-maybe” folder. But as you see it’s a bit clunky—I’d rather just be able to add an undated reminder to my someday maybe list without the intermediate step.

If there’s some workaround I’m entirely missing, or plans to address this, I would be curious to hear it.

Thanks everybody, perhaps time to evaluate and ask a few questions from our end.

The main reason for using undated reminders seems to be that at the time of creation it’s not yet clear when you would want it to be due:

  • you are in a meeting and don’t want to think about a due date yet.

  • you simply don’t know when you have time or it fits your schedule, but you do know it needs to be done.

It does sounds that ultimately at some point all those reminders would receive a due date or is there a reason for these reminders to stay undated. And if so, what would then be the use case of how those are used in combination with Agenda?

The main thing issue I see is not with creation, it should be relatively simple to let you create undated reminders, I can see the use case and we should probably add it.

Instead, the issue we are having is that we would have no way to display these undated reminders in any other place than the note itself. They can not show in the Timeline in the related panel as we have no date to place them on. We also don’t (yet) have an overview of some sort where you could see all unchecked reminders, including any undated ones.

I would be curious to see what the expectations would be regarding finding these undated reminders, and/or whether it would be sufficient if they would only be accessible in Agenda from the note where they were created.

Reading with interest.

For me, a view of unchecked tasks is the missing element.

Part of what I like about Agenda is the utility of calendar integration, the insistence, in a way, on productivity that assigning notes to particular dates and times brings. I believe that is what @trebso identified in the mapping out of tasks in the calendar. It’s a huge productivity boost because it focuses as it maps out your day. It hooks thoughts and actions into lived experience and pulls us out of the cerebral and into the concrete.

What the Agenda/Reminders integration with dates and times brings is the potential for managing your tasks within a rich context of a set of notes and thoughts.

If you had a view of unchecked tasks not set as reminders, people could have a task list which they could work through assigning as reminders with dates and times, mapping out their day or week.

To note - One inspiration Ive had was the Bullet Journaling book where the process of writing out tasks repeatedly forces you to evaluate repeatedly, do I still want/need to do this? It’s a built in filter, forcing action or decision. A little bit of that is a good thing, finding the right friction level is key. Too much ease aids bloat and you end up carrying a lot around with you. I’ve a Things database that is too much, I can add and sort through it filtering really quickly and easily, and it still scares the pants off me, I am aware of how much is also there despite the ease of working it. So, my point is, there’s a related issue of Archiving and offloading in short, letting notes go back into the ether. It might be solved with views, hiding notes that are over a range of time. I hide manually. I’ve a hidden section with a category of Archived notes that I move notes to when I’m done but I’d love some automation here including outright deletion after time, especially as I regularly add other files as attachments.

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Interesting idea – though I find that if I type #remind then press space the create-reminder dialog box opens. So a different tag should be used. For example #todo. If later, one searches for #todo (or has a saved search), then click that tag in a note, the tag dialog opens. Overtype “todo” with “\remind”. Press Return, and the reminder dialog will open.

Nice.

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From my perspective, you’re right that undated reminders would either eventually receive a due date or be processed in some other way—added to a checklist for a project etc. and taken out of “reminder“ form. For my purposes if undated reminders automatically appeared as notes in the “on the agenda” view to hang out until they were processed that would be sufficient for me, or if they just carried over from day to day until they were processed. I know the obvious answer is just to create notes rather than reminders in the first place, but the ability to capture reminders quickly with Siri is critical for me.

For my purposes if undated reminders automatically appeared as notes in the “on the agenda” view to hang out until they were processed that would be sufficient for me, or if they just carried over from day to day until they were processed. I know the obvious answer is just to create notes rather than reminders in the first place, but the ability to capture reminders quickly with Siri is critical for me.

But this is exactly the direction we don’t want to go, now we’re essentially just trying to replicate the reminders app, which is not the goal. If you want that view you go to the reminders app, just like for a month overview of all your events you would still go to the calendar app.

Indeed what @konetidy suggests I raised earlier as an alternative, if you’re anyway using a two-step “quick reminder, then schedule later” method, why not use a tag instead for the first step, and replace it with a reminder on second instance. Possibly from a smart overview of the #todo tag so you can instantly find all items that still need to be scheduled a reminder for.

All-in-all I think it does makes sense to add the ability to create an undated reminder that just stays as a kind of label in the note and creates the reminder without a date in the reminder app. Later we’ll add a way to overview unchecked list items and incomplete reminders etc, but this in a way a different issue. What we don’t want to do though is to make Agenda a full replacement for the reminder app where you could see all your undated and dated reminder in order of due date etc.

I’m realizing in the course of this that what I’m really getting hung up on is a Siri/dictation issue, which is fundamentally an iOS problem not an Agenda problem. “Hey Siri remind me to x” is the quickest way to capture items that may or may not be actual “reminders,” just items to process that, once captured could be treated in different ways, and I’d like to use agenda as my “capture” tool. I’ve got a couple of ideas I’m going to play around with and if any of them pan out I’ll circle back.

Yes, that’s what I mentioned above as well, I have the feeling it’s in a way more about the lack in Agenda of a quick way to capture ideas, via a share sheet, or via Siri, that the use of the Reminders app is sought to be a workaround for. Once we have a sharing extension and direct Siri support “Add abc to my Agenda” the need to go through Reminders would probably be a lot less.

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By golly I think you have verbalized it for me in a way I could not.

Looking forward to it! Until some of the other functionality, especially dictation to Agenda, arrives, this will really allow a workflow based around Agenda and Reminders.

Why not date all reminders, but have your “undated” reminders all sync to a specific Reminders list and date. You could even create a list in Reminders called ‘Undated’ and use that, all tasks could have Dec 31 as their due date. That would allow Reminders to be the place for the overview Agenda doesn’t have yet.

Messy workaround (for me at least) because the so called ‘undated ‘ reminders will still appear in Agenda and Reminders based on the date associated with them - today by default.

I wondered why I could not create an undated reminder within Agenda. Reading the developers’ rationale, as well as arguments for and against, has been very interesting and helpful.

Conclusion: I would like to have the ability to add undated reminders. As @mekentosj suggested, I make my plans in Agenda, and I execute those plans as specific tasks that I view and manage on lists in Reminders (via GoodTask). I only put due dates on tasks that are due on a particular date.

For me, The undated tasks in Reminders do not need to appear anywhere in Agenda other than in the Project notes where they were created. They do not need to appear in the timeline, nor have a special “undated tasks sent to Reminders” view in order to be useful. I have no need for full task-management features within Agenda. The clock icon would tell me which tasks I am actually working on now when I review the project notes each day.

My goal is to make a clean separation between actionable and non-actionable items. Actionable items (for me) are specific tasks that I am committed to do now or as soon as possible. I keep that list short, 2-3 days worth of work at most, which is refreshed daily. Reminders(and GoodTask) keeps me focused on my next tasks, while Agenda enables me to plan and track my projects.

Being able to add undated reminders from Agenda would be helpful for my particular workflow.

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I must respectfully disagree with this comment:

It’s not possible to create an undated reminder, as this is basically the equivalent of a general checklist within Agenda itself.

For my integration of reminders and agenda, I am using agenda as my project management later. All of my next actions go into Reminders. If they are part of a project they originate in agenda so I have a follow up on my project information. If they are a single action, they go directly into Reminders. The comment you made above puts me in a position of having to master list of things To accomplish.

For me, the thing that’s missing is that there’s a difference between a “Due Date” and a “Do Date.”

Example: I have to deliver a report in advance of a meeting on Tuesday. If I don’t, I will make work harder for a lot of people, and they’ll be pissed at me. That report has a “Due Date” of Tuesday.

I also want to clean my garage on Saturday, which is when I think I’ll have time to do it. The exact time doesn’t matter – it could be in the morning or afternoon. And if I don’t do it at all, nothing really happens. Cleaning my garage has a “Do Date” of Saturday.

So I want to assign the report a due date of Tuesday, and have some red alert mechanism showing me that it’s coming up and that I need to have it done. I want to assign cleaning my garage a do date of Saturday, and have some casual mechanism showing me that it’s coming up and I plan to do it that day.

You’ve suggested using tags to indicate that something is “todo”, but afaik tags apply at the note level, not at the checklist or line-level. So my options in Agenda to mark something as “todo” are to 1) create a whole new note specifically for that todo or 2) view the entire note in my todo saved search.

Maybe I’m missing the point of reminders, and my request is really just about check-list filtering. But, it seems to me like that really starts to move in a direction of re-implementing a task app. Because for example, I really like using OmniFocus to be able to view all the calls I need to / can make, chores, work-related tasks at my computer, etc. I would love to be able to create items in Agenda and have them show up in OmniFocus so that I can tag and filter them there, and have them be checked off in both places regardless of where I check it off. And I’m really skeptical of Agenda being able to provide me a perspective of “Next actions that I want to do today organized by tags," without getting super bloated / taking a really long time / being a mediocre duplicate of what OmniFocus already does (which I know you don’t want to do anyway).

So maybe this is a long-winded way of joining the chorus who desire undated reminders, and eager to see what you come up with :slight_smile:

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@Pat_Maddox, I use the Calendar app to record activities that I plan to do on a particular date. These “maybe” events are entered into a “Planned” calendar, color-coded yellow. Hard commitments (appointments, deliverables, etc.) are entered on another calendar, color-coded blue. This scheme allows me to better manage my time by block-scheduling, while ensuring that I do not lose sight of the hard commitments. If something comes up that requires me to re-structure my calendar, I can quickly drag the Planned events to new time slots, making room for a new commitment.

I share your yearning for one time/task/small project management application to rule them all. Having excellent calendar, task manager, notes and file management in one app would be great. I’ve never seen it happen in a way that was compelling to me. If Apple would build tight integration among Notes, Reminders, Files, Calendar and Contacts, that would probably be enough for all of us, but they always stop a few steps short.

I like the approach that Agenda is taking. The notes app becomes the task/time management hub, with good integration with Calendar, Reminders, and Contacts. That makes sense to me. I don’t expect Agenda to include all of the other apps’ functionalities, but I would like to see workflow-friendly links to the external apps that self- update when a change occurs on either side of the link. I agree that adding the ability to link undated tasks to Reminders would help to smooth the integration workflow.

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For capturing random thoughts in Agenda, you might want to use a diary project with a note for each day. If you name it so it’s the first project of the first category (mine is in the category “0. Planning” and project @Diary), it’s always easy to find. At the end of the day, you can review those and create notes in the appropriate projects to elaborate on the thought or simply create a dated reminder about it.

In my case, since I use Omnifocus (OF), if I want to capture a task and I’m in a note about it, I copy a link to the note, usually using cmd-shift-L, then use the global quick entry shortcut for OF to type a quick task thing and put the link to the Agenda note in OF notes field. I find that fast and quite effective.

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One of the core differences you and I seem to have in our approach is your assumption that everything I put into reminders will at some point have a date. That reminders are always date driven. This is not true, for me at least. I have location driven reminders and true, undated reminders that I want to address when opportunity exists. For example, I might have a list of things to talk to my boss about when I see him. No specific date but I would like the common list. Yes, I could tag each note in Agenda with his name, but then I need to read through each note to find the item I need to speak to him about. Yes, I could create a separate note in Agenda with his name, but now I am doing double entry in Agenda and making things even messier. I look at Reminders as my “in the moment” list to take advantage of opportunity. Agenda is great for capturing the time sensitive information, but until I have line level tagging and a way to summarize those tags it’s still nice to have the rapid access to a list of items, undated that share a common theme (place, person, activity, etc.)

Does that help?

Yes and no, I think there are a number of alternative ways to keep such a talk list within Agenda, in fact that exact type of “next time I see my boss I should not forget to discuss ABC” scenario was even wat led to Agenda in the first place :smiley:

I think we can make some improvements still that might be sufficient for your needs, but there’s also a chance this kind of workflow simply doesn’t fit too well in Agenda as it is. In the end of the day it’s finding a way that works for you, which might mean some experimenting with alternatives if we don’t go all the way with date-less reminders.

Fair enough. I know you have talked about summarizing. If you ever get to line level tagging, having the ability to create a tag summary note that listed the lines a tag was in (with a link back to the underlying note) would go a long ways to solving this entirely within Agenda. Actually it would totally solve it and be way cool (newly invented technical term) as well.

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