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I'm looking for a way to create a context list in Remember the Milk such that only next actions show up, but when I complete a task its successor task automatically shows up in the list.

Is there a way to link tasks to achieve this effect (or perhaps mimic it using smart lists and meta data fields)?

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You're looking for a list with only one item visible at a time, or simply a list sorted by "linked tasks"? – jrdioko Jul 15 '11 at 5:00
If you can't figure out how to do what you want to do, you can at least suggest the idea. – jrdioko Jul 15 '11 at 5:00
@jrdioko Neither actually. I'm looking for the ability to have a context list (probably implemented as a RTM smart list) like @work that shows all next actions across all of my projects. But when I mark an action (e.g. review budget with program manager) as completed, I want the next action that was "linked" to it (e.g. incorporate budget redlines from PM meeting) to show up on my context list since it is now the next action. Ideally, there'd be some other view where I could see/define linked actions, but that would be for planning, not execution--where I'd use context lists. – Adam Wuerl Jul 15 '11 at 13:37
@jrdioko Looks like I don't have to suggest the idea (#1, #2). – Adam Wuerl Jul 15 '11 at 13:47
Voted. Also, linking my related question. – jrdioko Jul 15 '11 at 16:08
up vote 6 down vote accepted

No! Is that a valid answer?

RTM treats every task as separate item and the only group operation is automatic sorting by dates/priorities, etc.

What you seem to be asking about on the level above pure implementation is how to get Actions that are not Next Actions to become Next Actions at the relevant moment (after previous Next Action is done). Normally, this is handled by Weekly Review when you look at all your projects (which by GTD definition is anything with more than one action and therefore matches here). But perhaps you need to do it more frequently.

For that, there might be a couple of techniques:

  1. You could write your description of the task "Do X, in order to do Y", which will remind you to activate the next task just as you are checking this one off.
  2. You could put a due date on the next action reasonably after the first one, so the next one shows up even if you forgot to promote it
  3. You could use priorities and have next action marked as priority 1, all next-after-next marked with priority two. This way they will automatically sort in the order of their 'nextness' and you learn to ignore the ones you are not ready for yet. Then, periodically, you redo the priorities.
  4. You could tag all your actions with the same tag (project tag say) and write something through RTM API to find the next actions and make that active. Of course, it is not clear how would you pick the next action if you have several waiting.
  5. You could tag predefined next actions for the week with "na" then begin the name of the first task on the list for that project with a 1, followed by the second with a 2, and so on. (If using more than one project add a letter before the number for the name of the Project as well) tag should pull them all out into a useful, ordered list.
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If no is the truth, then no's an acceptable answer! And you've perfectly summarized exactly the functionality I was looking for. Lastly, thanks for the work-around ideas. I am looking for a higher velocity than the weekly review and so probably can't use that or dates, but both task descriptions and priorities could help. (I'm not a programmer so the APIs option is probably out.) – Adam Wuerl Jul 15 '11 at 13:41
Good point that "linked" actions don't really exist in GTD. There's a project somewhere ("stake in the ground") and a next action, plus other next actions that get added in future reviews. – jrdioko Jul 15 '11 at 16:17

Monk To Done: This method was designed explicitly as an answer to your question, and it was designed explicitly for Remember-the-Milk.

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I like the link. It acknowledges that RTM doesn't have built-in support for sub-tasks, but he explains the work-around of using lists and tagging anything that's not a next action. The tasks still can't be made to show up automatically when their predecessor is done, but his work around of tagging with a due date seems like the best that can be done given the tool's current limitations. – Adam Wuerl Jul 28 '11 at 2:00

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