ForumsGetting Things Done®Using All, Starred and Focus (or Hotlist) Lists

Using All, Starred and Focus (or Hotlist) Lists
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Posted: Mar 10, 2011
Score: -1 Reference
I'm implementing GTD using Toodledo and ToDo for iPhone and iPad, more or less following Proximo's set up -- with Actions, Projects, Someday and Waiting as my only folders, and Next Actions getting starred. I like this because all of my folders fit on a single iPhone screen with no scrolling.

I'm wondering, though, how to get more value out of the All, Focus, and Starred Lists. I guess I have two specific questions:

1. What is the difference between the Starred and Focus lists? (The Focus list on ToDo corresponds to the Hotlist on Toodledo.) I don't just mean the technical difference (though I'm confused about that too). Do people have ways of getting differerent value out of the two lists? Since I'm designating Next Actions as starred, the Starred list is a handy screen to work from. But then, what can I do with the Focus list that's any different?

2. In a system like this where the entries in my various lists include both actions and projects, is there any value to the All list? Any ideas on what to do with it?


Posted: Mar 10, 2011
Score: 1 Reference
I've spent more time with the Focus list, and it's really, really confusing. (I'm using ToDo 4.2.1)

Here's how it seems to work:

By default, the list includes all Dated items. That is, if you turn off all of the toggles under "Show" and don't exclude anything under "Hide," the list will include all Dated items. You can screen out some future dated items by adjusting the "Due after" filter, but so far as I can tell, there is absolutely no possible way to screen out a task with a Due Date of Today.

If you turn "No Due Date" to On, then the list still includes all Dated items, and will also include all Undated items. In other words, this setting includes all tasks. You can still screen out future dated items by adjusting the "Due after" filter, but this will have no effect on undated items.

If the Star toggle is set to off, then starred tasks may or may not appear on the list, depending upon whether they qualify under the above rules related to date. In other words, the Star is simply irrelevant.

If the Star toggle is set to On, then starred tasks appear on the list unless they are filtered out by the date criteria.

The Subtasks toggle seems to work like this: If the toggle is Off, and if a subtask would otherwise qualify for the list, then the Parent task is shown, not the subtask. If the toggle is On, and if a subtask would otherwise qualify for the list, then the subtask is shown, not the parent.

Finally, the Priority toggle filters out tasks that would otherwise appear on the list if they are below the set priority -- except that the null priority setting (i.e., the dash) exempts items from this filter. In other words, items with a null priority are not filtered out.

There may be some underlying order to these various rules, but if so I can't see it. It just seems like a random mishmash of criteria for what gets on the list and what doesn't.

But the upshot seems to be this:

If you want the focus list to show all starred items plus all items due today or tomorrow, then set for No Due Date = Off; Starred = On; Subtasks = On; Due after = Tomorrow; Priority = Null.

If you want the focus list to show all high priority items plus all items due today or tomorrow, then set for No Due Date = On; Starred = Off; Subtasks = On; Due after = Tomorrow; Priority = High.

Posted: Mar 10, 2011
Score: -1 Reference
I'm using a very similar setup (although no iPad at present). Here's how I have mine setup:

Appigo Focus list:
Show Tasks:
No Due Date = OFF
Starred = ON
Subtasks = ON
Completed = None

Hide Tasks:
Due after = Today
Priority = Low

List Filter = None

Toodledo Hotlist:
A due date within the next 1 days
A star

(I have setup my own Hotlist in Toodledo on the Search view but it does the same thing.) This setup means that the Appigo Focus list shows the same as the Toodledo Hotlist.

I also star tasks to make them 'next actions' and thereby get them onto the Hotlist/Focus List but I don't do that if the task has a due date because that will also get it on the Hotlist.

I don't bother using the Starred list - for you it will be the same as your hotlist but for me it would exclude tasks with due dates so it doesn't do anything for me. Note that the hotlist can be auto-emailed every day.

I only use Main - All list when doing a weekly review. Aside from that I rarely look at it. I spend most of my time on the Search view (where I have Inbox, Hotlist, Waiting for, Someday and Next 7 Days) or the Folder view - Projects tab.

Posted: Mar 10, 2011
Score: 1 Reference

Thanks so much for the reply. I've learned a lot from reading many of your other posts on this forum, so thank you.

Your response gives me comfort that, at least for a setup like mine, I'm not missing anything to think that the Focus and Starred lists are redundant and the All list isn't terribly useful.

I'm still a bit confused by the logic design of the Focus list. After some further experimentation, it seems that the Starred toggle functions differently than the other three Show Tasks toggles. No Due Date, Subtasks and Completed all determine whether those types of tasks will join Dated tasks in the initial "pool" of potential Focus tasks. That initial "pool" is then filtered through the Hide Task criteria regarding Due Afterdate and Priority. But Starred Tasks seems to bypass the Hide Task criteria altogether -- if Starred = ON, then all starred tasks are on the Focus List regardless. It's odd . . . but on reflection I suppose that's actually how I would prefer the list to work, so now that I've got it, I'm happy with it.

You are absolutely correct that my Starred and Focus lists, with your suggested settings (which I like), are identical. Seems like a wasted opportunity, but I can't think of what else to do with it.

Thanks again.

Posted: Mar 29, 2011
Score: -1 Reference
For anyone who may read this, I found a way to make the Focus list and Starred lists separately useful. Sort of obvious in retrospect but it took me a while to realize this could be done:

Any actionable item gets a priority, and I have my Focus list set to capture any priority above none. So Focus is a list of all actionable tasks (which can then be filtered by context, etc).

That frees up the Starred list to be used as a Today list or other temporary holding spot for special tasks that I can quickly create by just starring items.
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