TaskAlot 3.2 - Functional specification

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Maybe it works better if I recreate a system myself, rather than adopting somebody's else's? At least, I have an example of what it should look like + I learned quite some bit about building Notion systems:


In follow-up to TaskAlot 3.1 - Functional specification#Tasks + some new experiences:

  • A task can be anything. It's the basic building block of TaskAlot. They can be anything: From a brain deposit item about a movie that somebody recommended, to a complete project and anything inbetween. It's important that I don't have to write anything else than just the title name, in order to keep the treshhold for adding something as low as possible
  • When tasks progress from Backlog to Next to Doing, they usually get more precise. I have the impression (and this is new - 2023.01.11), that by the time it reaches Doing or Next, that the title should pretty much say it all - that it is SMART. This is the opposite of having to open the card to see inside what it entails. But I'm not sure about this: One of the powerful features of Notion is, that you have so many formatting options for cards, that cards can easily contain complete projects (especially thanks to checkbox items or to-do-items.

Close all remaining open tasks once a project gets closed

One of the things I mostly missed in (I think) TaskAlot 2.0: The possibility to close all still-open tasks, related to a given project.

Example - Jamboree22: In the summer of 2022, I had project Jamboree22 (a family gathering) with a lot of tasks:

  • Once the weekend was over, all tasks that hadn't been finished, became irrelevant, and should be closed as well (e.g.: Check blue inflatable mattrass)
  • On the other hand, some tasks were also part of another project (e.g.: mow grass was also part of project Garden22). These tasks shouldn't be closed.

It would be nice that these tasks would automatically close, once the associated project was closed. However, given the complicating factor mentioned above with shared tasks, just a practical way of closing a lot of tasks at once (like by dragging them to another column in board view) would be good enough and probably even preferably.

No tags

By default, database tables get a property called tags. I won't use that right now, and delete those properties. I can always add them later if I change my mind.

Priority, importance, urgency, effect & impact

  • Urgency is about time sensitivity, not about effect. E.g. {critical, major, medium, minor} or {high, medium, low}
  • Impact & effect mean the same. E.g.: {high, medium, low}
  • Priority or prioritization: impact x urgency.
  • Unclear what importance means to me: Literature suggests it's like priority, but intuitively, I seem to equate it to impact.

priority matrices - Examples

       |     Impact
Urgency|   Low  |  High
Low    |   Low  | Medium
High   | Medium | High


       |       Impact
       | --------------------          
Urgency|    Low   |    High
Low    |  Ignore  | Plan it in
       | --------------------
High   | Delegate |  Do it now

Too extensive? I have the impression by the time it gets this fine-grained, that other factors, like how easy is it to transfer this job? starts to play a role - Maybe this is too elaborated:

                   |                    Impact
                   |    Low        |        Medium      |      High
        |   Low    |     Ignore    |       Delegate     |     Delegate
        | ---------+----------------------------------------------------
Urgency | Medium   | Delegate/plan |    Delegate/plan   | Plan/delegate 
        | ---------+----------------------------------------------------
        | High     |    Delegate   | Delegate/Do it now |   Do it now

Use case: How to keep a simple overview? (dec. 2022)

At one moment, I had this planning for project GrowSpurt, written down in an email:

1. Fix widgets nl_nl (oursourced - wk49)
2. Fix errors nl_nl - gSh (6h - wk49)
3. Fix errors fr_fr (outsourced - wk50)
4. Deliver de_de (20h - wk51)
5. Finishing touches eur_en (16h - wk1)

(for outsourced jobs, I didn't need to know how long they would take,
only when they are finished)

The problem

I liked how clean it looked like. In reality, it quickly became messy:

  • Some of these tasks grow until a much larger number of tasks
  • Task Deliver de_de was in the past a complete project, with 30 tasks distributed over 3 Kanban Statusses.


How to keep this clean overview? Some ideas:

  • Keep these 5 tasks: Keep these 5 items as 5 tasks. After all, in Notion you can use a lot of markup on records, so you can come a long way with managing a project as a single task. This approach was awkward, even before I realised that Deliver de_de used to be a complete project (and I would need that flexibility to move tasks among columns)
  • Use tags? I haven't used tags, but maybe that's a way to filter information?
  • Use project aliases? In the past, I figured out I would need something like project aliases as alternative views on information. This use case seems like the poster child for this → TaskAlot 3.1 - Functional specification#Project aliases?. It would crowd the project overview page, but that can probably be easily fixed with an additional view
  • Link tasks to projects: This is the solution I used here: The fifth task above, is still a task at this project. But it only contains a link to another project called Deliver de_de. Actually, there is also link to this project from another project, called TourDE (which is bigger than just Deliver de_de, just as GrowSpurt is bigger than only Deliver de_de. It solved two additional problems:
    • Quite often, I feel the need for a 'subproject' (to focus on something more specific), but I'm reluctant to do that, as it might make it difficult to keep an overview
    • Quite often, I feel the need for an additional layer in the series Category - Project - Task, but it's difficult to keep that hierarchical. Maybe this is the solution, eventhough it isn't strictly hierarchical (for after all, it's still a project database table row): The fact that it is a link indicates hierarchy; If too messy, I could add a field to Projects to indicate hierarchy, just as WordPress stores a lot in non-hierarchical structures (like table wp_postmeta & wp_options) that do include hierarchy