Simulating an Action List with ToDo

I really like action lists - these are integrative lists that show you, in one place, all your current tasks.  Not all task manager apps us...

I really like action lists - these are integrative lists that show you, in one place, all your current tasks.  Not all task manager apps use action lists.  In this post, I'll describe how you can set up Appigo ToDo's focus list to act like an action list.

Most task manager apps let you organize your tasks into a variety of groups: contexts, projects, lists, etc.  They'll also try to arrange your tasks so that you'll find it easy to see just what you have to do next.  But different people have different ideas of what "easy" means.

I've found that task manager apps can be grouped by how they handle "easy" presentation of tasks.  One group defines a fixed set of views on your tasks on the basis of some rationale that tells them their way is best.  This approach, taken by apps like OmniFocus and Task PRO, usually gives you separate views for tasks that are overdue, tasks due today, tasks due soon, and so on.

Another group of apps, including Taska and Things, are built on action lists.  These are user-constructed views of your tasks.  You pick which tasks should be in the list based on what you think is important.  Most of these apps will automatically compile some tasks (e.g. those with due dates) into the action list.

Then there's a third group of apps, like ToDo and Toodledo, that give you some flexibility.  There's an optional list that is configurable, and that you can set up in a variety of different ways.

I really like action lists.  I want all my current tasks in one place; I don't want, for instance, to have to navigate to another list just to see my overdue tasks.  And I like to control what goes into the action list.  Some of my tasks have to be done, but don't strictly have to be done by a given date - they're just whatever's next in a given project.  Those kinds of tasks are nigh-impossible to bring to the fore with apps of the first type.

But what do you do if you prefer an app that doesn't directly support action lists?  Well, it depends on the app, but if you like ToDo, you can rig up a pretty good action list in just a few minutes.

ToDo has a focus list that can be configured in a variety of ways.  Here's how to make the focus list into an action list.
  1. In the in-app settings for ToDo, go to the Focus List settings.
  2. Under Show Tasks:
    • Set No Due Date off.
    • Set both Starred and Subtasks to on.
    • Set Completed to None.
  3. Under Hide Tasks:
    • Set Due After to Today.
    • Set Priority to -.
That's all there is to it.

All dated tasks will appear in the Focus List, on their due date.  And any task with a star will also appear in the Focus List.  This includes a regular task, a project, a task in a project, a whole checklist, or single checklist items.

ToDo has a really easy way to star tasks.  Choose the reordering icon (the one with three horizontal lines at the top right of the screen).  This lets you reorder tasks, but it also lets you star or un-star tasks.  Just tap the star beside a task to toggle its state.  You can also do this within the Focus List itself, so it's easy to un-star your starred tasks and get them out of the Focus List immediately.

I think this is a very nicely balanced way of managing your current tasks; it's both highly effective (giving you complete control) and efficient (it doesn't require much work to set up or use).  If you like the Action List approach and are willing to try ToDo, then you should give this technique a try.

If you come up with any variations that work better for you, please do leave a comment and share with the rest of us.



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The Trouble with Normal...: Simulating an Action List with ToDo
Simulating an Action List with ToDo
The Trouble with Normal...
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