What am I going to work on today?

I’m a long time Agenda user, and I’ve tried various workflows over the years - partly as my work has changed, partly trying to find ‘the’ approach that works for me.

The one thing I’ve never cracked to my satisfaction is creating a list of the things I’m going to work on today. My basic premise is that I have various projects and notes at differnt stages of completion, and some of them contain tasks in checklists. Every morning I like to scan my notes, look at my calendar and quickly check my email - and then plan my day. I use tags and due dates to draw my attention to particular notes.

I’ve tried marking Notes as On The Agenda, to signify those I’m going to work on today - but that doesn’t allow me to place them in the order I plan to work through them. It also doesn’t account for the fact that one note may have tasks that I want to today and tasks for the future. I sometimes mark notes OTA that I want to use as reference today.

I’ve also tried creating a daily note, where, as I review, I write down a list of stuff I’m going to do. I sometimes add a link to relevant notes. But this approach involves lost of retyping, and seems inelegant - especially when OTA could sort of get me half way there.

I suppose I’m looking for something like OTA, but with the ability to drag notes and tasks around into the order I want to tackle them.

I’m wondering if anyone else has found a good solution to this?

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I do exactly the same. And to make my todo list for the day, I add reminders through my notes as I scan them in the morning. I have a keyboard shortcut so when I type “remListname” it insert \remind(all-day: today, list: Listname) and make that process easy.
Now, in the reminders app you can rearrange the order of the list as you please.
What’s nice is that when you mark an item as complete in the reminders app it will also tick the bullet point in Agenda.

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So, if I understand correctly, you want to prioritise and time your notes.

I haven’t changed much to my system I wrote about here Eisenhower. The things I did change moved in the direction you described.

“Project main” is still the home for every project and they’re still not dated but tagged with a due-date. They hold the project’s planning, links to resulting notes and documents.

I used to tag the items on the planning checklist with dates so I could use saved overviews to see what was up today, tomorrow and this month. Didn’t really work for me; too many overviews and details.

So now I put the notes that are important on the agenda and from those I assign the ones that have some kind of urgency, to today (tomorrow, next week etc). I use the jump menu’s in OTA and “Today” a lot more than I used to. They’re really a great help.

If some sort of picking order is necessary, you could try and adept the project order in the sidebar and the note-order within projects.

Hope this was of help,

Rob

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I work as follows:

  1. Create projects.
  2. Projects consist of at least the following notes: Actions, Sources, Ideas, Results (influenced by Zettelkasten and OKR ideas).
  3. Action notes are internally structured by Checklists for “Today”, “Week”, “Backlog” (influenced by Kanban ideas).
  4. Actions notes to be worked on during the week are “On the Agenda”. Reviewed each Sunday and assigned to days during the week.
  5. Actions notes to be worked on today are on “Today”.
  6. To achieve a sequence of the action notes of a day I create calendar entries for the projects, that contain the action notes of the day. I try to have larger blocks per project to be able to dive into the projects, driven by action notes, but also taking into account ideas, sources, results. But that depends on circumstances.

Beides Projects I also created sub-categories for Clients and Topics, that both can interrelate with Projects. The Topics / Projects connection is created by tags.

It is the combination of Agenda with Calendar that makes me most effective.

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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 Category A.

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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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.

Pros:

  • 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

Cons:

  • 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 Objectives and 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 \remind.

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.

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A brilliant thread outlining the various options and approaches, great write ups all! Like @Pat_Maddox I too use both approaches. Ultimately I believe the key is to just find the ways that work for you, and that could mean one way for certain kinds of projects and other approaches for others.

Exactly this!

Thanks everyone, really helpful food for thought.

One thing I’ve started doing since starting this thread, is to create a note listing my 90 day goals, like this:

  • Goal 1: some business development goal
    • some project supporting goal (linked)
      • next important action
  • Goal 2 etc

This gives me a handcrafted overview of goals and next actions. As I write my daily ‘plan for today’ note, I can see the goals above the note, and type a task like “draft next ‘important action’, or simply ‘work on goal 1’. When I get to that task, the links to the details I need are in the goals note, which is always at the top of OTA.

This is part of my attempt to ensure I make progress on long term goals that otherwise get swamped. I was using STAR to tag actions supporting long term goals, but without the context it was too easy to postpone them.

For other tasks I use #priority #soon and #sometime

For me, so far at least, my Goals note is fulfilling a function that I find difficult in Agenda: a visual overview of important stuff I need to do, and how it fits together. I’ve used a whiteboard or PostIt notes on a wall before, but difficult to carry around!

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These kind of overviews of the higher level outline or goal is indeed what I also use, for example for a certain major release. I like to pin these at the top of the project as my go to “card” for the major overview of a project.

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