Hit a Wall in Reminders; Any way around, over, or under it?

Apple Reminders and Notes are my two most used apps. I’m constantly linking them with each other and with email messages. That has been working fine. There are, of course, some frustrations and friction points but that is true of nearly app and workflow I’ve tried.

However, I have hit a wall. I’d like to find away around, over or under the wall as I’m loath to change my default minimalist workflow using as many default and non-subscription apps as feasible. Staying with this workflow saves money and complication.

Nevertheless, I have a large project (developing a five-year strategic plan). It has multiple levels of tasks and nested subtasks, see screenshot below. My problem is that when I export the SP from MindNode to Reminders, or manually replicate it Reminders, I hit the limit of two levels of sub-task nesting, see second screenshot. However, in OF (which I still have), I can export directly from MindNote to OF and all levels are available, see third screenshot.

Any suggestions on how to work around the Reminders limitation? I don’t want to use two different task managers, e.g., one for the SP and other complex projects and Reminders for the others. I realize I can’t change Reminders. Any suggested workarounds? Any other thoughts in general?

Accept that you will use the tools that work and if that means two reminders apps, then so be it. Use simultaneously or something. Focus on the project.


As long as you only need one additional layer of nesting beyond what Reminders provides, you could make each top level heading in your mind map its own list in Reminders (SP January, SP February, SP Areas of Focus, etc.)


This forum sometimes draws a line between project management and task management. Maybe you can keep your Notes/Reminders dynamic duo but add a project manager for the Strategic Plan?


I’m considering it but I’d want a light weight project manager, nothing too complex. Any suggestions?

My thinking is similar. Concatenate your layers from MindNode into 2 groups, and then show them as that in Reminders.

As others have said, you’re trying to use a lightweight tool (Reminders) to solve a fairly heavy project management problem - the opposite of the sledgehammer to crack a nut analogy!

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Omnifocus given you’ve already proved it works?


As @karlnyhus and @ChrisEdwards suggests, a tool to help you manage your project, which on a task level, appears and you report as too complex for “Notes/Reminders” duo. I agree fully.

For helping you, or your delegates/team, keep track of the project, there are other tools, of course. They sometimes are called “Project Management” tools, but always remember that people manage the projects, not the tools.

Think through how you visualise the project tool to be integrated into your process and team. Are you computing cost/schedule/criticalpath/resources, or just tasks/assignments/tracking? Do you want people assigned to tasks to be also participating using the tool, or just the “leaders”? Looking to integrate the project basis documents and/or deliverables in the tool? (Plus more questions you need to consider before embarking on picking a so-called “Project Management” tool).

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Yes, I’m afraid as others have pointed out, and my experience is confirming, that some of my projects and related notes and materials are becoming too complex for Reminders and Notes. I believe I have probably pushed Reminders and Notes as far as anyone. I’ve done so because there is value to limiting the number of apps and subscriptions. There is also value in deep system integration. But I suspect @MacSparky is correct when he says that Apple’s scope (I’m not sure I’m using the exact verbiage David uses) for its default apps is limited and that on a 10 point feature scale most of them fall into the 5-7 range. I’ve been attempting to push Reminders and Notes up that scale. I’ve come close, even on the strategic planning project. As seen on the screenshot below (smart list on the left, project list on the right) by using tags and dates, I can create a smart list and get close to what I need but it is clunkier than using OF.

I’m going to ponder on this for a while. I don’t want to react out of frustration due to initial friction, I want to thoughtfully respond.

If Reminders and Notes are too simple, I think project management tools are too complex for my needs.

Again, I’m open to suggestions!

It’s the projects that generally are complex, not the so-called “project management tools”.

Without knowing the answers to questions I posed (and I normally ask a whole lot more when setting up project systems), impossible and premature to give any recommendations. Sorry.

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This is what I have to do. (Hah, pun!)

2Do can handle my “tasks,” and I love it. But for a project with any complexity whatsoever it just comes up short.

With regards to what app you could/should use for that @Bmosbacker - I rarely find two people who can agree on the same choice.

SmartSheet is the easiest but has limitations. I’m not sure those limitations would matter for the project you describe. I think this is your best bet.

Pagico (especially if you already have SetApp) is worth a shot. Fun app. Responsive developer. It’s a little too finicky for the volume of projects I’m trying to handle in a given day, but for a few big projects I suspect it’s excellent.

If neither of those scratch the itch, Monday and Zoho would be the next two I’d look at.

I’d give you the advice that there is no way your plan will remain unchanged for 5 years. You don’t want to put so much detail into any task manager. I think it is appropriate to keep it in MindNode and/or Notes and only add this level of detail to a task manager 1 or 2 quarters (at most) in advance. Then it will be easier to change your plan along the way, and only export a small part of it at a time, where you can probably have a flatter structure in Reminders.


In the later years of the twentieth century we used Gantt charts to plan projects. It uses tools most of us already own, but it may be too simple for what you’re planning.

First, if you need Omnifocus, just use Omnifocus.

But let’s circle back to the project itself. You have several levels of organization here, happening over five years. And putting them into a task manager logically means that they’re your deliverables.

I’m guessing that’s not the case for a large number of these.

So…let’s say you have a branch called “market research”. YOUR task is likely “meet with Amy to clarify vision and objectives for market research for the 5-year plan”. Everything else under that “market research” branch logically gets handed off to Amy, with your follow-up tasks being biweekly/monthly check-ins and helping with anything in your domain that surfaces naturally in those meetings.

Figure out what parts of this need to be delegated, and plan accordingly.

And at this point, even if you do have more than two levels of tasks for yourself, most of them aren’t likely to be currently actionable. So, again…give yourself whatever sub-branches contain actionable tasks, work on them, then refer back to the larger plan as those tasks are completed. As others have said, the larger plan is likely to be constantly in flux depending on how those actions go anyway - so getting it into your system just gives you another layer of stuff you have to re-do when it changes.

Just my thoughts, of course. :slight_smile:

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Why not leave it in Mindnode and pull out the actions for the next period? This would allow you to review the project in Mindnode regularly.


Firstly, I admire your approach to this project, we’ve just been through a 5 year planning exercise and it had nowhere near this quality of approach or thought.

It feels like while there are a lot of consultation & collaboration elements to this project, it’s ultimately you synthesising those inputs along with your own research to sit down and write this magnum opus. Given that, I think a ‘full’ project management tool is overkill.

I’d be tempted to go with a more powerful task manager (e.g. OF) but one risk there is that re-planning might get very tedious if things move around during the year of writing this, as they inevitably will.

The other option I’d explore is maintaining the plan in a notes app and moving only actions for the next couple of weeks at a time into my task manager. Additionally, if you outline the actual strategic plan document in the same notes app a side benefit could be that you can hold actions within that document outline and move them over to your Task Manager as needed. Something like Craft, with the scripting to move actions into OF for example.

Thanks everyone for the great advice. I’m still tweaking the prices but I have figured out a way to work around the “wall” in Reminders. As shown below, I’ve done so by using tags, flags and smart lists. I may also create groups for each of the major parts of the SP process.

In some ways this would be easier in OF but I am striving to adhere to my commitment to minimize the number of apps I use, maximize the potential of the default apps, and minimize subscriptions.

Thanks again everyone–as usual–you have been generous in offering solutions, much appreciated!

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All good points, and ones with which I’ve been wrestling. It may be that I’m trying to bust a bolder with a claw hammer when I need a sledge hammer. I’m just loath to change my applications. If I go with OF I will also want to change to Craft because of how seamlessly they integrate. Changing apps generally is a bad and unproductive habit to fall into—one I’m trying to avoid, perhaps in this case to my detriment.

As to OF, I thought they were moving to an annual $100 subscription. Am I misunderstanding this? Can one purchase an upgrade from 3 to 4 and use it for as long as it works with the OS?

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Definitely. Ken confirmed it again last week:

The non-subscription pricing model will be a shift from version 3, since version 4 will be a universal purchase which gives you all the apps for a single purchase (rather than the “a la carte” model in v3 where the iPad, iPhone, and Apple Watch apps are a combined purchase but the Mac app is independent). But, much like when we combined the iPhone and iPad apps into a single purchase, the overall pricing will be in line with the pricing from v3. And we will offer a 50% discount to existing customers who purchased licenses to v1, v2, or v3. (Purchases of v3 made after the v4 TestFlight began will receive a free upgrade to v4 when it ships.)


Thank you for this; it puts my mind at ease regarding the subscription issue. I admit, given the complexity of several of my projects, I’m sorely tempted to use OF. I’ve used it before so there would be no learning curve for me. I dislike the idea of abandoning the default app. If only it had a few tweaks here and there…