ForumsQuestionsSubtasks - what does it buy you?

Subtasks - what does it buy you?
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Posted: Mar 05, 2012
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I'm wondering what subtasks buys you that folders does not.

I ask because I often have a dozen or so projects running. I create a folder and populate it with tasks. If the project completes, I close the folder...or it becomes ongoing and I move the tasks or rename the folder.

Toodledo lets me arrange folders and if I wanted to, I could identify project folders by calling them "Project: Something" or whatever...I haven't had the need to do that. I have a dozen or so project-related folders and a few general/personal ones.

One benefit is that folders are perfectly supported on iOS, whereas last time I looked there were still some subfolder limitations.

So what would subtasks give me that this doesn't?


Posted: Mar 05, 2012
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Subtasks give another level to your hierarchy, that's all. If you don't need it, you don't need it.

I use folders to separate the different areas that I touch during my day. I have a folder for all the things that I do that are for the division, then folders for a large project I'm involved in, and folders for the various work groups on that project that I do work for. In theory, I could use at least two more levels in the hierarchy, but in reality, it wouldn't add anything except confusion.

As to the subtasks, I have parent tasks for the work groups broken down into more detailed subtasks. For example, I set up meetings for 2 of the work groups on a regular basis. So I have a list of all the things I do to set up a meeting, like setting a date, getting a location, taking minutes, etc, as subtasks (about 16 in my master template, some of which aren't necessary for some meetings).

I also have a parent task called "Weekly Review", which has about 10 subtasks (mostly reviewing other lists of tasks, broken down by contexts and tags)which I do on Monday mornings to prepare for my week.

I also have a Saved Search called "Projects" which filters for parent tasks, which I use to see the status of each of these projects, and to select "Next Actions" for each to go on my Hotlist (not the TD hotlist, my own saved search).

I'm sure others have entirely different schemes using the subtask feature.

Posted: Mar 05, 2012
Score: 0 Reference
FWIW, I define projects in the GTD sense. Generalizing here, but I would say the more projects you have, the more benefit you get from subtasks. If you only have a dozen or so projects, folders can be a nice solution. For projects, I like parent/subtasks over folders for the following reasons:

• projects can have many more attributes (due dates, start dates, tags, note field etc. etc.)
• you can manually sort subtasks
• project names are searchable
• you free up the folder field for something else. I use folders for Areas of Focus, and 'super projects'. Some use folders for "Status".
• you get one click access to the parent project (and other siblings) from any view of a subtask.
• converting a single task into a project is simple. Same for "Someday/Maybe" projects if you are into GTD.
• the subtask feature is also great for repeating checklists.

The biggest drawbacks are:

• when adding a task, you no longer have a nice drop down list of projects names, so you have to find the project first and then add the subtask, or search later and drag the task into the project/parent.
• you have to deal with new Show settings for subtasks: Inline, Hidden, Indented. This seems to frustrate many. I personally don't have a problem with it. I try to keep my Show settings for each view fixed. I keep most views Inline, two views Hidden, and one (Search) Indented. Also the "Pemanent Link" feature is your best friend for isolating a project when using the subtasks feature. I use it constantly.
• when viewing a subtask 'Inline' the project/parent name isn't visible, and requires a click to view it.
• I'm sure the anti-subtask crowd can pipe in and add some more...

Regarding iOS, I assume you mean "subtask limitations", since there are no subfolders anywhere in TD. Subtasks are fully supported in the iOS app. One big complaint with the iOS app is that it requires at least two taps to get to subtasks. One tap on the parent, and a second on the Subtasks button. There are third party apps that do it in one tap.
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