It’s a good question, and one that I continue to explore. I suspect you know this next bit, but it always helps me to try to clarify underlying principles when trying to work through these sorts of questions.
Agenda provides a pretty fixed hierarchy: Category -> Project -> Note -> Line. It can filter notes within that hierarchy. It cannot break the hierarchy. So if you have a layout that is something like:
- Category A
- Project 1
- Note A
- Line 1 within Note A
- Note B
- Line 1 within Note B
Agenda will never show you
Line 1 within Note B above
Line 1 within Note A. Your only option is to move the line higher in the hierarchy: add it to
Note A on a higher line; move
Note B above
Note A within
Project 1; move
Note B into a new project above
Project 1; move
Note B into a category above
So that’s the core principle that we have to understand and accept. From there we can develop a few strategies, which have been illustrated in this thread:
Strategy 1: Filter notes, adjust hierarchy if necessary
@robbie07 does this with the Eisenhower method. Tags, search terms, OTA flag, and date assignments all provide ways to filter notes. These notes and their content all have the same hierarchy - you’re just looking at a subset of the hierarchy. Then you search within the displayed notes to find the information / action items you’re looking for.
- it’s pretty simple, and consistent
- data lives in only one place
- easy enough to adjust the hierarchy to suit your needs
- complete overview - select all of your projects to see everything in Agenda
- it still might be too much information
- data can be spread out, when you’d like it to be grouped
- to change how you see things, you have to change the hierarchy
Strategy 2: Index your data
This is the case when you want to view Agenda data in multiple hierarchies, essentially what you’re asking about. We already have a few different approaches suggested here:
- create a new note, and link to other notes, or move/duplicate action items
- create reminders for specific action items
- define time blocks to work on specific projects / notes
All of these have one thing in common: they serve as indexes to the content that lives in the Agenda notes. They let you organize the items in the index however you want, without disturbing the underlying Agenda note structure.
- flexible - we can index the content we want, order those indexes how we want, even have multiple indexes
- can focus only on the data you index
- more moving parts, more complex
- data lives in multiple places, possibly requires work to reconcile
- by nature an incomplete representation - you only see the data that you’ve indexed, you may miss something (flip side of the pro above)
So essentially, this strategy provides value when you want to view a subset of Agenda data, in a different order than Agenda presents it.
My approach: combine the two
I realize I wrote a lot above, and it’s not a direct suggestion of what to do. But I’m still continually learning this stuff, and that’s at least the mental framework that I use. I personally benefit a great deal from zooming in on things and ordering them how I want. GoodTask has an amazing feature called “Next” where it will show you the single next item in your list. So I use
\remind to produce a list of reminders for the day, organize them in GoodTask in the order I want to work on them, and work straight through the “Next” view. Of course I get lots of interruptions, new things take priority, whatever. But I can always get back on track by checking out “Next”, reordering things if I need to.
So what it looks like in practice for me is I have a bunch of stuff that is (dis)organized within Agenda, in a hierarchy that serves as a useful starting point to me. Then I have a couple main notes
Actions that hold one-off checklist items (possibly with sub-items or supporting detail), or link to other notes or projects. These links serve as one level of index in to the work. To come up with my list of actions for the day, I review that list and
\remind things I want to work on, possibly clicking through to other notes and finding action items there to
That’s a lot, I hope it’s helpful. Agenda has its constraints around hierarchy, but other than that doesn’t push you into a specific workflow, so it’s really up to each of us to come up with something that works for us.
edit: one thing to add, it’s pretty common for me to add the detail I need only when I need it. So for my “draino the bathroom” item, if I decide that I’m going to work on that today, I’ll add a sub-item “buy liquid plumber” and then
\remind(today) it so it appears in GoodTask.