Hi Kourosh,


… My question is about the difference between tasks and projects when studying a book. I’d like to follow the logic and the coherency of Getting Things Done and make the right decisions at the beginning of structuring my work.


I have a folder called “Learning English” with several projects inside it: “Study vocabulary”, “Exercise podcasts”, etc…  In the project called Study vocabulary, I put one vocabulary book, 100 chapters, with the corresponding exercises.


Trying to follow the logic of Getting Things Done, I’m now wondering if “Study vocabulary book“ should be considered as a project in itself, or a task? And what would be the consequences of going further in Omnifocus, with one or the other way?


I’m wondering if it could be easier to plan the study work of this book inside a project, each chapter being a task in itself, for example? Or will that clutter my OF with too many tasks?


Or at the opposite, should I use only a repetitive task corresponding to this book, but with the risk of not knowing where I stopped in the book, the last time I studied it?


I hope I have been clear with my doubt. And if you could give an advice to me, I would be very thankful! Thank you a lot.


Have a nice day,

  • Michel1

Hi Michel,

Thank you for writing.  That is a good question. I’m not following GTD in any standardized sense, but I do very much abide by the spirit of having a system to keep things off of my mind.

Let’s consider a difference between projects and tasks. Tasks are useful as parts of a project. If you are looking for a place to set aside questions and further places of study, these could all function as tasks, but they would need a place to reside, i.e.  a project. While you could have a folder of “Study vocabulary” and create projects for each of the 100 chapters, this may be overkill depending on the depth you wish to go.

Instead, you could have a project such as “Study Vocabulary”, give it a default context of @laptop or so, and then add questions as you go.

To add questions quickly, you could:

  • Call the Quick Entry window using your assigned key command.
  • Type your question.
  • Hit the Tab key.
  • Enter “sv” or a phrase to bring up the “Study Vocabulary” project.
  • Type the Clean up command (Command-k).

To access the questions, you could open the project:

  • Type Command-o
  • Enter “sv” or a phrase to bring up the “Study Vocabulary” project.

You could have an external study card program that you like to from a repeating task, too.

To further routinize the process, you could create a repeating task to study the entire Study Vocabulary project:

  • Control-click the Study Vocabulary project to bring up the contextual menu.
  • Select “Copy as Link”.
  • Create a new task such as “Continue studying vocabulary”.
  • Open the note field (Command-‘).
  • Paste the link (Command-v).
  • Set the task to repeat at the desired frequency using the inspector (Option-Command-i).
  • Add a context or flag such that it would appear in your daily paths, such as a Today or Dashboard perspective or a satellite perspective to them.

This way, you’ll see the task in your daily list, and still have a way to get to the minutia of tasks. Meanwhile, those individual tasks will they stay off the daily list and out of your way.

When you’re done working for the day, you can mark where you left off by adding a parenthetical “(page X)” in the flagged task. For example:

“Continue studying vocabulary (p135)” @Flagged (Defer Again Daily)

When you mark the task complete, it will appear with where you left off at the next interval you scheduled for the task’s repetition. When done again, just change the page number before marking it complete again.

Hope that helps,

  • Kourosh

For a detailed discussion of setting up OmniFocus for studying projects, check out Creating Flow with OmniFocus starting on p751 (PDF).

  1. minor edits for clarity