Importance of Reminders with no date or time

Hi,

Every GTD application supports Reminders with no date or time.

There is a need to be able to do the same in Agenda. Currently the Reminder modal forces time or date to be set.

It precludes a very significant note taking ability of simply setting reminders / tasks as action items for further pprocessing - which is a daily practice of any GTD process.

Reminders can be items to follow on daily as a routine (and you do not want it to populate the TODAY list in Reminders) or simply represent action items taken during a meeting that have not yet been assigned with a due date and tiime but are important to appear in Reminders to be addressed later.

Will be great to have this option opened in Agenda reminder function.

1 Like

We debated this quite a bit but decided against allowing undated reminders to show in Agenda. In the end of the day an undated reminder is just a normal checklist item. It sounds like you want to use Reminders as those would give you an overview of all the open task. It’s true that this kind of overview is currently missing, but high among the list of things we’d like to add.

Thanks for that.

  1. True, I am coming from the point where it was your decision to make Apple Reminders your GTD engine and interface of choice so I am commenting on where this integration does not support in full general workflows

  2. HOWEVER, regardless of the tasks overview function, an UNDATED task is a key workflow item in any GTD workflow above and beyond a simple shopping checklist.

Tasks change status. They move from URGENT to DELAYED and to FOLLOWUP as an example.

This is one of the key principles of Trello Kanban as an example. So by removiing the UNDATED tasks from your options, you essentially do not allow FOLLOWUP tasks to exist.

They do not have a start or a due day, but they have an important purpose as you must see them in the total GTD list and they ARE related to a certain PROJECT or NOTE , and they simply need to be followed daily (as an example) as higher level tasks above the dated ones.

So, I respect very much your wall-gardened approach where you do take responsibility over minimizing functionality (like the Styled approach vs. fully formatted one) but in this case you may want to think about this again.

Agenda provides one of the most common daily uses for business people: The ability to take meeting notes and related action items.

Such action items will be spread around multiple notes and across many dates.

But as a matter of workflow, many times you will not have an immediate date associated with a task as you pencil in the “ACTION ITEMS” during a meeting or you will not need one as it will be a daily FOLLOWUP status with an unknown Due Date (such as “Check FDA Regulation Status of 510k” etc.).

Anyway, my 2 cents about that.

Thank you for listening.

But for this kind of use case, much more than cluttering your reminders app and relying on a different app, it makes much more sense to use tags like #followup in combination with a smart overview that groups those notes together in a single place. You can be more specific about why you tag them and you can have multiple of such overviews for different reasons. The only thing that you cannot yet do is to only show the lines in the note that contain the tag without showing the rest of the note, this is something we’d like to add in the future.

Indeed you are right.
If you turn Agenda into a full fledged GTD without reliance on an external app - there is no question as to the efficacy of your suggestion.

But until then, even your Tagging suggestion will have shortfalls against Remiinders or Things in terms of UI like prioritizing within a list etc.

Anyway, again, I really appreciate the reply and attention.

Sorry for nagging about this but the issue of non-dated tasks has become clearer to me in terms of Agenda use.

To elaborate, it all comes down to the integration with the Calendar and Reaminders.

You are right that non-dated tasks as simply a list of tasks and can be represented as a styled bulleted list in Agenda.

HOWEVER, becase these are not general notes buut followup tasks or daily repeating tasks that have an indefinite TASK LIFE EXPECTANCY, they do need representation as TASKS.

As such, one of the strongerst features IMHO of Agenda is that when you create a reminder it will populate into the Calendar and sync with it when marked DONE while also populating into Reminders and have a Follow-up lists on its own (as an example) you can review or even put as a FOLLOW-UP widget on your home screen so it is there in both your daily calendar view and other functional views.

If you do not allow for non-dated tasks to exist as reminders, none of it will be possible, and such tasks will neitehr be synced with the calndar nor will they apear in Reminders…

So, bottom line, while it is a viable tasks category (and not just a list), it all comes down to your calendar sync and views.

I know you are working on an aggregated reminders view in Agenda which will provide a solution to this and I wanted to point out that if you simply alow for such general, non-dated reminders or any other notes for that matter to sync with the Calendar and apear there -> this will be the ideal workflow solution.

It is very common for example, to have a task in Trello that has certain date but moves into “To Watch” list after achieving a certain milestone and become a daily, repeating, “to watch” item (such as daily, weekly progress reports at a given hour, or security audits evety month etc.) and have to be aggregated / synced into a calendar etc.

We are a company that works with over 30 customers per year frm Pharma, tech, Fintech, Banking and other sectors.

They all, without exception are using non-dated tasks in various GTD applications they use and I hope you will accept a treatment of those as well.

That’s it. I hope I am not boring you with insistance. I just like your prooduct and believe it can become an example of notes/GTD done right.

1 Like

I also wish this was an option… I like to add my next tasks to a reminder list such as “This Week” but not add a hard date as I like to flexibility to move items on my calendar around if needed and only add to the calendar by dragging from my “This Week” reminder list.

My workflow is to look at my projects on agenda and pick the next task that I can work on and put it on a reminders list. I may get to it tomorrow or later in the week but I may not have a specific day and time yet in mind. When I’m planning my calendar week I look at just the reminder items and my calendar to choose what I want to work on and when. I don’t want to wade though my projects again to pick items as I have already done that previously and all my tasks are listed in reminders already. It makes planning simpler for me as I just need to drag from reminders to my calendar to finalize my day.

A non dated reminder function would be very much welcome. Right now I’m just adding a random meaningless date to my tasks to get them on a reminder list. I then have to go back and update the dates when I decide to do the work. It makes things messy and is unwanted extra work.

Please reconsider.

1 Like

You could try making a “this week” list holding the to-do’s you might (?) want to get done and go from there? List could be “on the agenda” (or not, it’s a free world).

Another way might be to tag a note (with your to-do’s) with a date - in your case the last day of the week. You can then make an overview for the tag AND the date you entered.

Yet another way could be to make to-do lists within the main project-note. That is what I do.

Hope it helped.

Rob

All this is true but these do not sync with the cfalendar or reminders and thus loose significant part of the Agenda functionality.

Am I understanding correctly you want to sync tasks without dates? Because in that case I can’t help.

Rob

I also wouldn’t mind the ability to allow undated reminders integration. While having the ability to gather to-do tagged entries together in Agenda would solve a lot of the current friction, reminders offers a nice workflow that integrates well across the Apple ecosystem. One thing, for example, is the ability to easily link an email to a reminder. While you can drag and drop mail on mac and ipad into an Agenda note, it’s a little cumbersome sometimes, and of course you cant drag and drop like that on an iphone but you can still link an email to reminders on the iphone. If you did allow undated reminders, one more thing needed would be the ability to jump directly to the reminder from the item in the note itself so you could actually get to the reminder with that linked email since the reminder wouldn’t be visible in the calendar view in the right column.

And as long as I’m in suggestion mode would also love an option to have the calendar view like a traditional calendar with hourly blocks so I could easily see what breaks I have between appointments to get tasks done.

2 Likes

More thoughts… Apple Reminders functions as a todo list as well as a dated (scheduled) reminder list. To not be able to integrate Agenda fully with Reminders with both dated and undated tasks feels incomplete.

I already use Reminders for some tasks, primarily those tasks and items that don’t warrant a whole Agenda note or being added to an existing Agenda note… Example being “Buy Milk”. Agenda is better suited for Planning (in my use case) then a place to put simple tasks, as Apple reminders already has that covered.

Since I already use Reminders, it only makes sense to be able to integrate the Agenda tasks that I choose (dated and undated) with Reminders. I don’t wish to make Agenda a replacement full fledge Todo App (eschuing Reminders) as I already have a good one with Reminders (or Things or OmniFocus).

The work that the Agenda team is making for search that allows listing out of tasks sounds like a nice feature and I know many will be interested in it… as am I for certain use cases. But I still would prefer to use a dedicated todo app like Reminders to hold my task items that I will be working on next. Dated and undated.

Agenda is a wonderful app, and I love it. One of it’s great features is how flexible it is for different work flows and peoples work styles. Please keep that flexibility and allow undated reminders as an option. There are customers that will use that Reminder option in their work flow to get things done.

I’ve been through similar loops trying to decide how best to manage tasks in Agenda. I’ve found that keywords really works for me. This thread might be useful: The Time Sector Method

Why not? Apple Reminders supports it …
Agenda is already integrated with Reminders so can sync undated task if you allow it in the interface.

I use undated reminders as well, and see an important distinction between them and open checklist items in Agenda. I have a lot of lists with sublists, and I don’t want to consider all of those unchecked items as “tasks” to be seen in an overview.

Example:

- [ ] Grocery shopping
    - [ ] Eggs
    - [ ] Milk

For me, “grocery shopping” is the task, and I would add a reminder for it. The link will take me to the note that includes it, and I would then check off the individual items. I would not want to see eggs and milk in an overview of incomplete tasks.

My current approach for undated reminders is to create them from within Agenda, and then in GoodTask I have a quick action to remove the date. This works for getting undated reminders out of Agenda - the only problem being that Agenda stops tracking them.

3 Likes

Thanks for the additional posts. And yes, Agenda does stop tracking them, though one thing I’ve found is that if you leave the reminder indicator in agenda with grey x, but then later edit the reminder and add a date back to it, Agenda picks it up again, and you’ll see the reminder icon change back. Kind of cumbersome to work that way, but thought I’d mention it.

1 Like

I share the desire for undated reminders. For those interested, I’ve found two approaches that help me achieve a similar workflow in Agenda today:

Solution 1: The “Anytime” list

Create an “Anytime” list and move reminders on that list into the future. When I check them off in Reminders, Agenda will still check off the corresponding checklist item. They don’t show up in in the Agenda sidebar (unless I navigate to that point in the future of course), but do show up in Reminders.

I prefix actions with emoji to represent context, and set Reminders to sort by title so that actions are grouped by context. I set a date of 9/9/2099 which I find sufficiently bizarre to indicate that the reminder isn’t actually scheduled for that date :slight_smile:

image

Solution 2: Will Do and Might Do

Over the years, one of the things I’ve found very important is to distinguish between what I commit to do today vs what I aspire to do today. Confusing the two has a pretty clear symptom: I end up with a todo list 30 items long, get through some of it, feel overwhelmed at the rest and avoid it for the rest of the day - something I’m sure never happens to any of you!

So I keep two lists: the Will Do and the Might Do. A common approach in task manager apps is to flag Will Do actions, and either focus on them or sort them to the top. It turns out it’s very simple to do this in Agenda:

Just prefix your reminder with *. This will sort them to the top.

image

In this example, I’ve prefixed “Call Mom” and “Update schedule” with * to indicate that I Will Do them today, and move them to the top of the list. Below that are the Might Do actions, which are grouped by context because Agenda sorts all-day reminders alphabetically. Below that are my calendar events for the day.

The * indicator distinguishes the two groups of actions enough that I can mentally skip over the second group while I’m working, and only focus on them when I want to work in a certain context.

Why we want to work this way

Hopefully this next bit will help inform Drew and Alex as they refine their Reminders integration, as well as build up the Overview functionality.

I believe these three (simplified) notes illustrate the core issue that we’re discussing in this thread:

image

The GTD approach says “group your tasks by context and work on them together.” The Agenda approach is “group your tasks by note and work on them together.” Task managers are good at grouping by context (even the basic Reminders.app is if you use emoji and title sort!).

If all of my tasks are one-off things, I don’t even need Reminders - I can just make a single note and organize my tasks by context (represented by the Today note).

If all of my tasks are part of a project that requires deep focus, then I can add those tasks to a single note and work directly from it. I don’t have a “deep focus” project represented here, but I could just as easily decide that I want to focus on getting indoor plants, and complete those two tasks even though they’re in different physical contexts.

Where Agenda falls short - and where I and I believe the others in this thread see the potential to get a lot of value - is in the in-between area. It’s the tasks that are spread out across multiple projects, that don’t necessarily require much focus or lead directly to the next task in the project, and might benefit from the GTD context approach. It’s when I’m sitting at my computer and think “What are some constructive actions I can take that will advance my current projects?” and then knock out as many as I can given my available time and energy.

I understand that you have planned Overview improvements. Given my experience with Agenda so far, I am intrigued to see what you come up with. Part of me is optimistic that you will come up with an approach that is more effective than anything else out there. Part of me is skeptical that your understandable resistance to creating a task manager will result in an approach that still just doesn’t quite fit.

Most importantly though…

I submit for your consideration that Reminders already provides a sufficient overview of tasks.

It provides two built-in mechanisms for doing so, and one “hack”:

  1. Search
  2. Separate lists
  3. Emoji prefix + title sort

I can find all of my calls by searching for “Call”, adding tasks to my “Calls” list, or prefixing them with :telephone_receiver:.

That’s Apple’s Reminders app out of the box. If you use it as a database and use GoodTask as a frontend, you get insanely powerful smart lists - the kind of thing that Agenda probably won’t even try to match.

In closing

  1. We want to group open tasks, possibly by context or other criteria
  2. Reminders already does that, we don’t really need Agenda to do it.

All that said, I’m looking forward to what you come up with :slight_smile:

3 Likes

Thanks Pat! Very detailed and useful description.

As you know, we try not to make Agenda fit into a specific system, such as GTD, but instead give you the tools to “build” that system in the app yourself. It sounds like you have done that quite effectively in very creative ways.

One of the cornerstones of our envisaged search improvements is what I would call note summarization. That is, you will have the ability to not show full notes in the results, but just the matching paragraphs/items. Eg. many ask to be able to see “just the unchecked items” across all notes. That would be a classic example of a case where you would want note summaries, not full notes.

Your system also sounds ripe for use with note summarization. You could include GTD contexts as tags (eg #supermarket, #office, etc). Then you setup a summarized search, which will show you only the items across all notes that have that tag attached. You could search on the fly, or save the search as an overview. Seems like that would pretty much tick the GTD box, but let me know if I am missing something.

1 Like

I agree, and I’m confident I will make good use of your implementation.

I suppose the underlying question is, what should be the source database for tasks? With Agenda as the source, we’re limited to Agenda as the only frontend, and whatever functionality you build. With Reminders as the source, we can use any frontend (Agenda, GoodTask, and I think maybe 2Do?), and use all of the features they provide. As an example, here’s a view I put together in GoodTask today:

image

That’s a really simple custom view that provides OmniFocus-style tag grouping (or GTD-style context grouping).

Will I be able to do something similar with Agenda overviews? Maybe, maybe not. Probably not as quickly or flexibly - I’m imagining having to create a single saved overview per tag, as opposed to this single smart group in GoodTask.

Agenda is fantastic at storing longer-term action items, and feeding them into the task manager when I want to make them more actionable (if I even need to - because lots of times I want to and can work directly from a list in Agenda). I believe the note summarization will provide an effective mechanism for just jumping right in and getting going. It’s also my experience that Reminders serves as an effective database for action items, and that if Agenda somehow supported undated reminders - at the very least by tracking their state the same way it does dated reminders - then we would be able to decide when we want to use Agenda’s built-in functionality, and when we want the power made available by using Reminders as a database.

2 Likes

Interesting ideas. I’ve tried using keeping track of tasks in Agenda only, Agenda+Reminder and Agenda+Reminder+GoodTasks in various ways.

I’m currently sticking with Agenda-only. Mainly because I find it so much easier to review and plan in one app (which works because it includes my calendar).

I’d love to see some of the ideas being explored here make it into Agenda. At present I use 3 overviews, and I sometimes miss important stuff because I’m not rigorous in looking over OTA and the overviews. A solution in Agenda which allows a slicker solution would be great.

2 Likes