View Full Version : A Better Way to Organize
I have been successfully using GTD for several years and OF for the past year. As soon as the iPhone app came out I got it but I find I do not use it that much and the reason is I have not been able to find a way to set up my OF to work with the iPhone app.
Let me explain. I am a consultant. I have quite a few clients and each may have several ongoing projects that I am managing. Within OF, I am using a folder for each client and within those folders, I have used standardized project names where I can, and so on. For me this is intuitive and has worked well.
On the iPhone app, I cannot find a way to display folders. I can only see projects and tasks and this does not work well when I am away from my computer.
Is anyone aware of a better way to approach this? I tried to lose the folders and modified each project name to include a client reference but that was a bit cumbersome.
Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
2008-11-06, 04:37 PM
I think you'll find it a lot easier if you assign each client to a context, rather than a folder.
Each of your projects would then be assigned to use the appropriate client as a a default context, so new tasks would be automatically be assigned to that context.
Then, when meeting with a client, you open up context view, tap the client, and all the actions from the various projects are presented in one view.
2008-11-06, 04:38 PM
You could even leave the projects in the folders you have them assigned to, if that helps you keep project view organized. The only change to your workflow would be looking at your tasks in context view rather than project view.
Thanks Brian. I thought about having a separate context for each client but if I do that, my trade off is that I lose the context concept of GTD, right?
2008-11-10, 10:04 PM
I thought about having a separate context for each client but if I do that, my trade off is that I lose the context concept of GTD, right?
I don't have The Book here with me right now, but I'm sure the idea of contexts was that you would do exactly this - keep stuff related to work you're doing with one client in the context of that client. Since you work on a project for a client, that project becomes a "sub context" of that client.
Other projects are more "joint initiatives" where the project is the ruling context, with the client (or specific contacts for that project) being sub-contexts.
The idea is to mould the system to keep yourself organised, not to mould yourself to fit the system! It might help you to read some of Merlin Mann's productivity porn, such as this excellent article "Simplify Your Contexts (http://www.43folders.com/2006/07/31/simplify-contexts)"
As an example, I'm a programmer and a gamer. I have a context @Arthur which is my gaming rig, which is also where I save all my photos & videos, and is also the computer at home that is best suited for web browsing and watching movies. I also have contexts @Django Workstation for when I'm at any of my computers that have a Django programming environment available (there's also a @Rails Workstation). When I'm sitting at my gaming rig (Arthur), I'll look at the list of contexts (there are a few that apply when I'm using Arthur) and pick the Next Action from those multiple contexts.
So too, I have a context for @Phone, but I also have contexts for each of my regular contacts (@People:Frank). When I'm about to sit down to make a bunch of phone calls, I'll refresh my memory by scanning through the friend contexts to see if there's stuff I need to talk to them about while I'm on the phone (I usually end up bumping into people in the street, not on the phone). The @Phone context is for irregular things such as ringing a vendor to find what happened to that order I placed two weeks ago that was supposed to have overnight delivery…
Another way of looking at it is that if I spend more than 1/Nth of your time in one of N contexts, I expect the contexts aren't appropriately granular. The big-time context probably needs to be broken down, with the small-time contexts being merged (into eg @Errands). I'm also trying to keep my list of top-level contexts to less than 10 (since that's how many fit onto the OmniFocus for iPhone screen).
Mould the system to suit you! Make it yours :)
Apologies for the sermon.
PS: having checked my list of contexts, I've followed my own advice and removed the "Django" and "Ruby" workstation contexts – every computer I regularly work with has all that stuff installed now. Apart from @Mac:Arthur I now just have @Mac and @Mac:Online.
2008-11-18, 08:56 AM
You can have nested projects, and those nested projects do appear on the iPhone. That would be my suggestion.
I wouldn't use contexts for clients. Let's say on a project for a client, you have some things you can do at a computer, some at a phone, etc. If you use contexts to capture the client, you no longer have the ability to say "I'm at a phone, what tasks for all clients can I do."
Thank you all for your responses. I truly appreciate the time you have put into sharing your thoughts.
I have taken all of your advice and have been rethinking my approach. I have been playing with a few "Dummy" projects and contexts to see where I can go with this.
I'll post again with any break throughs.
I spent the past couple of weeks considering your comments and rethinking my work and how I use GTD and incorporate that into OF.
My goal was to find a better way to be able to incorporate iOF into my workflow and as a result I have made a few changes in OF and that has gotten me to where I want to be.
I am a consultant with many clients to service. I had folders up for each and a project called "General" for each, and then all other projects as needed. As silly as it sounds, I just realized that my General projects were often over-complicated single action items. I scrapped the General project for each and substituted a single action list for each called "XYZ To Do" where XYZ is the client name.
I also went through my library and renamed each project so that it includes the client name. Going forward, each new project will be named consistently.
I also found that I could turn on the hierarchy detail in the OF preferences so that I can see the detail in the context mode.
The final lesson I learned is that I was spending too much time trying to work out of the planning mode. My usual routine had been to work out of the context mode primarily for clearing out my @email and @phone contexts. The new titling scheme has addressed that on both my laptop and iPhone and I have been much more efficient this week.
I am going to keep plugging away this way and see if I can sustain. Thanks again for your input.
2008-12-12, 04:54 PM
So, why does iOF doesn't show the folders as in OF? Why isn't this implemented? Any reason for that??
2008-12-15, 06:07 PM
Brest - I'm not sure I follow. Example; my desktop copy of OmniFocus has my projects broken out into three folders. When I open up the iPhone version of OmniFocus and open the Projects item on the home screen, I see the same set of folders at the top level.
Can you explain what you're seeing in more detail? We'll be happy to help.
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