Tracking Open Items

So one of the biggest pain points I still have with coming to terms with using Agenda as the key workflow app is the inability to find open action items unless I go through the added step of remembering to tag those notes with something special.

Ideally I’d like to have a search/filter option that would allow me to bring up all notes with open items which could be used in conjunction with other search elements. Failing that, I’m curious how other people are handling this today. I can’t trust myself when things are busy to always remember to tag/untag notes just to find things later. That means that my best case today is as part of a weekly review going back through all the notes to find items, then transferring those items out of Agenda into Reminders so they don’t get lost. I can’t use the Reminders link for those items because of the requirement that they be dated, and I can’t just leave them because out of sight/out of mind.

I’m curious what solutions other have found to ensure that they don’t lose open loops. I’m open to trying other approaches as the current method introduces a lot of friction, but it’s been the most successful thus far.

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This is a really good point. If you aren’t using the “On the Agenda” feature, you could just leave anything that is an open action on the agenda. These items are easiest to filter in Agenda’s search. Of course, that’s not satisfactory if you’re using “On the Agenda” for another purpose already. Have you tried pinning these items to the top of their respective projects? I’ll be interested to see what other solutions people have. One suggestion for the developers would be to include another search filter for unchecked items that appear either off or on the Agenda.

I use Agenda with OmniFocus. I paste links to my daily tasks into an Agenda note every day in the morning, then I use OF3 to track open tasks. I realize this sounds a little redundant, but I mainly use Agenda to reflect on my progress at the end of the day and plan ahead for tomorrow. OF3 is really great for tracking tasks, but poor for any kind of metacognitive reflection. Agenda fills that gap for me.

My workflow isn’t completely satisfactory but here it is:

First, i use Agenda for all sorts of (mainly) work related items. Many notes don’t have a task associated with them, eg notes of a meeting that has provided background information, ideas etc that I may need to refer back to, but there’s no specific action.

I find that many notes will have one or more actions written in them. These may be meeting notes or notes where I’m (alone) thinking and planning. These notes may refer, sometimes with links, to the other sort of notes (above).

So I don’t think of notes as being open v closed, but rather:

  • Needing attention
  • Relevant
  • No longer relevant

I use Reminders app to keep track of, and give me an overview of, actions and deadlines.

I get stuff into Reminders in several ways:

  • using \remind in Agenda. I use this mainly in ‘planning’ notes, when I have time write a sensible ‘action sentence’ to send to Reminders.
  • Meeting notes, I’m usually trying to write at some speed in the meeting, so don’t have time to craft a sensible action sentence. In this case I try to capture (my) actions with [ ] open bullet. At the end of the note I add \remind: “review note”. When I come back later I tidy up and create any relevant actions using \remind.
  • I also get actions into Reminders completely separate to Agenda, when I remember I need to call someone for example.

Depending on the time pressure, I either craft the \remind carefully, editing the date and folder, or I just accept the defaults and send it to my Inbox folder in Reminders.

When I review Reminders I move items from Inbox and edit due date as necessary, including setting no due date. I would love to be able to create a reminder within Agenda without a due date. And to be able to make that my default.

I’ve set Agenda so all new notes get put On The Agenda.

So when I review my work and plan my day/week, I review Reminders and On The Agenda. On The Agenda generally consists of recent notes with ideas that need to be filed and followed up sometime, and meeting notes I’ve not yet reviewed.

I’d love to use On The Agenda to line up my work for the day. I’ve tried several times, but I’ve never got it into my routine. It’s been a while since I tried properly. Perhaps it’s time to try again. Part of the problem is that I need to scan notes to decide on my plan for the day, and that would be much easier if Agenda allowed more than one window open at the same time.

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Having written the previous post, I’ve been mulling this over as I walk the dog.

One reason I don’t use On The Agenda as an overview of “things I need to work on next”, is that I can’t find a way to create and save a search: “On the Agenda AND in Category X”. Plus perhaps (AND NOT COMPLETED)

This would be brilliant. At the moment notes from different categories and projects are all shown and it’s distracting. Or perhaps I’m missing something?

EDITED TO ADD:
I’ve just looked again at the dropdown that appears when you click on the title ‘On the Agenda’. It would be great if one could click on the category or project name in the dropdown to filter the projects in view. At the moment, one can only click on a single note to jump to the note.

I’ve kept on mulling, more off topic, in Actions versus Goals.

I assume that with “open items” you are referring to unchecked checklist items correct? We indeed would like to add an overview for these in a future update. In the mean time one alternative method is to leave a specific tag like #todo or #incomplete in your notes and have a smart overview to show you all notes still containing this tag.

Hi I had the same issue, but discovered that you can set reminders behind a task. I synch those reminders with Things 3 and have my todos in Things3 with a link back to Agenda

Works pretty good … however if it could be a built in feature would be even better :wink: