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Parent projects and sub projects


Hi, I really like todoist but there's one thing that bugs me. I have a project called "Next Actions", and in GTD style this contains sub projects called "@home", "@calls", etc. which are indented. Each of these sub projects has its own tasks/subtasks.

When the disclosure arrow next to the "Next Actions" project is pointing to the right and only this project is showing, the number next to it indicates the number of TASKS contained in all of the subprojects. I think it would be much better if this number showed the number of sub projects, not the number of tasks. Is there any way to achieve this?

Also, when I click on "Next Actions" and all sub projects are displayed on the right hand side, why is the main parent project (Next Actions in this case) shown as the same size and font as the sub projects? Shouldn't this be larger to indicate that it's a header which contains all the sub projects? Also, why does this header have the option to "add task" in this view? Is there any way to turn this off?

Thanks for your help.

All responses

David Trey  staff
Replied on Jan 05, 2014 - 21:09 UTC

Hello Anthony,

Unfortunately, that's not possible. These counters always show the number of tasks within a project and if you collapse a project structure, the numbers get added to show you how many tasks you have in this structure.

Regarding your second question - when you click on the name of the parent project, then you will see all of the projects in this structure listed with tasks below them. On the right, the project structure itself is not shown, only a list of tasks below the projects' names. It's not possible to show the structure without the name of one or multiple projects.

Best regards,

Anthony Bee
Replied on Jan 05, 2014 - 22:57 UTC

Hi David, thank you for your reply.

I think my problem stems from the fact that my "Next Actions" parent project, is actually not a project at all. At least, not in the way I'd like to use it. my "Next Actions" list is just a place-holder, which itself holds other place-holders (sub-projects in todoist speak) like @home, etc., which finally hold tasks. I'd never need or want to add a task to a place-holder, since it's only the deepest sub-projects which contain the tasks.

It's possibly just a conceptual difference, in the sense that todoist seems to assume by default that every list is a project. In the GTD literature "Next Action" lists are simply stand-alone lists containing single tasks.

This makes using todoist for GTD a little confusing, since, for example, in my list of projects on the lhs, I have a project called "Projects" :)

David Trey  staff
Replied on Jan 06, 2014 - 12:40 UTC


In that case, you can use labels for next actions and projects for something else (context?). To do so, click on a task and type @next within its name - this will create a label and if you click on this label or type @next within the search bar, you'll see a label-based list.

This way you could use projects for different purposes and labels for others. Try it out and see if it works out for you :)

Best regards,

Anthony Bee
Replied on Jan 06, 2014 - 16:25 UTC


Thanks for the suggestion, I'll try that and see how it works out. The problem I foresee is that these labelled tasks are then left in the "inbox". In the GTD philosophy the inbox is simply a repository for unprocessed 'stuff', and should be cleared as often as possible. It doesn't contain next actions, which are single tasks arising from the process of thinking about and refining the ideas/thoughts/etc. in the inbox.

I suppose could create another project called 'labelled', in which to move these next actions. But I find this unsatisfactory, since 'labelled' or 'processed' is just a 'folder' or place holder, it's not a project.

It's not a huge deal or anything, and I don't think it will prevent me from renewing my premium subscription. But defining every item as either an "inbox" item, or as a project, seems to be somewhat at odds with the GTD philosophy (at least that espoused by David Allen).

Having said that, of course I'm aware that not everyone using todoist will want to apply this approach.

Anyway, I'll try using labels and see what happens. Thanks

Replied on Jul 04, 2014 - 19:59 UTC

Anthony, I wonder if there is a better way to implement GTD in Todoist. I also am a GTD user, and find Todoist works as below.

In GTD style
1. Each item that you dump into your inbox is either a task, or a project, though that may be decided later when you process your inbox (as you know, a project is anything that will take more than a single step).

2. When you process that inbox, many of the "tasks" will then become projects, so that solves part of your issue.

3) the other tasks are single-action tasks, meaning they only need 1 step, and they aren't part of a bigger project. Therefore you create a project called "single action" (or whatever wording makes sense to you), and dump them in there.

4) if a task is a next step, you can use the priority fields in Todoist (priority 1), use the scheduling feature, or use the labeling feature (@next)

5. You can then use labels as contexts (@calls, @computer, @errands, whatever).

Let me know if this is helpful.



Lori Reed
Replied on Jan 22, 2015 - 00:54 UTC

Will it hurt anything/confuse any database fields if I have a project with the same name as a label?

For instance if I have a Work project for these tasks that are unfiled for work, but I also have a label with the same name.

Brendon Wadey  staff
Replied on Jan 22, 2015 - 02:49 UTC


No, there should not be any issue with doing that :)