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-   OmniFocus 1 for Mac (http://forums.omnigroup.com/forumdisplay.php?f=38)
-   -   Feature Request: task prioritization! (http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=3836)

curt.clifton 2007-07-16 08:21 AM

[QUOTE=GeekLady]As long as it doesn't force a user to do things in a non-GTD way, I don't see what harm is done by including non-GTD concepts.[/QUOTE]

There are at least two potential harms:[LIST][*] Including non-GTD features could delay the release of the software. (Or more selfishly for those of us in the sneaky-peek, delay the fixing of bugs.)[*] The art of elegant software design is largely about what to leave out. Including every requested feature results in products like Microsoft makes. "Is this GTD?" is one reasonable criterion among many for evaluating feature requests.[/LIST]
Arguments among alpha testers about what features to include is always a popular sport. We often see the selection of features as a zero-sum game. "If you get your priorities, I might not get my meta-data fields. Egads!" It's somewhat more complicated than that, of course.

That said, I agree that priorities are a reasonable feature request and can fit well within a GTD methodology, though they can be a planning rat-hole if one isn't careful.

BwanaZulia 2007-07-16 08:26 AM

[QUOTE=GeekLady]

If I'm making phone calls, and have 3 calls to make: 1) I can call to reschedule an August doctor appointment, and it's due by the end of July while they still have appointments available. 2) I can call Payflex about submitting hospital expenses for reimbursement, also due by the end of July. Or 3) I can call my friend Steven for a chat since we haven't talked for a while, and I should call him in July because he's a teacher and school starts up in August again.
Three calls, all 'next actions', all are 'due' by the end of the month, and I have the time, energy, and context for making all 3, so which do I make?

I should make the Payflex call first, it's hands down the most important. But if I have a long list of calls to make (and the phone call to Steven can easily be multiplied by 20, I'm notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people), I would like to be confident that I'm doing one of the most important things available for doing.[/QUOTE]

You set the priority and that is the point. No software is going to know which one of those calls is the most important or process that information as quickly as your brain can.

Look at a list of 5 calls and you will know instantly which one you need to do first and you will.

BZ

GeekLady 2007-07-16 08:55 AM

You're missing my point. Of [I]course[/I] I set the priority, but I set it when I process the task, just like I set the due date and time estimate. Once processed, it goes into the system. And when I look at a context, I can choose to have the results sorted in the order of the priority that I assigned to them.

It's easy to look at a list of 3 calls or 5 and know which is the most important. It's not easy to look at a list of 10 or 20 tasks associated with different lab projects and know which is the most important, especially when you aren't the person determining a task/project's priority.

[QUOTE=BwanaZulia]You set the priority and that is the point. No software is going to know which one of those calls is the most important or process that information as quickly as your brain can.

Look at a list of 5 calls and you will know instantly which one you need to do first and you will.

BZ[/QUOTE]

markbrown00 2007-07-16 02:45 PM

I personally wouldn't use a priority field, but I think it would be fine to include it as long as it can be turned off.

I try to use contexts as much as possible to help me make the decision about what action to do next, rather than other fields. I don't even use the 'time estimation' field. Instead, I have contexts that reflect the time and effort that tasks will take.

In fact, I have a 'high priority' context for tasks that I should do in the quiet couple of hours I have in the morning when I'm most focused.

For me, contexts are not just places or resources, they are 'pre-decisions' -- the most common reasons why I might choose one task over another at any one moment.

Weasel 2007-07-16 03:11 PM

I agree with GeekLady here. I see the need of having priorities after trying OF for roughly a month now. Also, as far as I understand GTD, priorities are a part of it even if only the least of it.

I want to use task prioritization in addition to other features (some things have due dates, some are repeating, etc.) to make sure that critical things do show up on the top of the list.

If having priorities means the release of OF 1.0 would be delayed, I'd be ok with a 1.1 or so goal for the option, as long as it wouldn't make me wait for a year or so.

HiramNetherlands 2007-07-17 10:01 AM

[QUOTE=Weasel][...]I see the need of having priorities after trying OF for roughly a month now. Also, as far as I understand GTD, priorities are a part of it even if only the least of it.[...][/QUOTE]

You can drag items up and down the list to assign them priorities. This, to my mind, is much more precise than giving them numeral values for priority. What does priority 3 mean? "Ignore for now"? "Not very urgent, but still deserving attention within the next ten days"? Priorities are, by definition, relative, so dragging them up and down makes a lot of sense. And you can have as much priority levels as you have items (as Ken Case pointed out earlier).

MEP 2007-07-17 10:59 AM

[QUOTE=Weasel]I agree with GeekLady here. I see the need of having priorities after trying OF for roughly a month now. Also, as far as I understand GTD, priorities are a part of it even if only the least of it.
[/QUOTE]

Priority is a part of GTD, but priorities change as circumstances change. Ignoring this reality is a certain step to failure which is why the GTD framework summarily rejects arbitrary priority numbering systems. I just see no value in trying to predict priorities ahead of time (which is all assigning a priority in OF would amount to) when I'm perfectly capable of deciding what on my current list of action items (after I've already narrowed it down by context, time available and energy available) is the highest priority right now. The whole point of GTD is to train your mind to make better choices in the moment (when most choices end up being made anyway, all planning ahead aside) so that your decisions effect your life positively rather than arbitrarily. Relying on priority assignment systems ultimately undermines that goal.

I think you're asking for OF to facilitate a broken system rather than taking the (admittedly scary) plunge into GTD the way it's meant to be used. That's fine as a personal choice. I'm by no means a pedant when it comes to pure GTD implementation, but I don't expect non-GTD-like features to show up in GTD-specific applications.

If it can be done in such a way that not only is it optional, but it can be completely hidden, then I see little harm in adding this feature to OF. I think it could be the start of feature creep. I think it could encourage new GTDers to use the priority field as a crutch that ultimately stands in the way of them really understanding the usefulness of the next action list. I think it could slow down the release of OF 1.0. And I think it's borderline pointless if you can order your tasks in the list anyway to mimic a priority feature.

But on a personal level, as long as I can turn it off, it won't interfere with me.

BwanaZulia 2007-07-17 11:12 AM

MEP hits it out of the park!

BZ

GeekLady 2007-07-17 12:29 PM

1. You can only do this ordering in Project, not in Context, so it's not useful for actually doing things. And even if can eventually order tasks in context, having to drag things around constantly is annoying.

2. Numerical systems aren't easy to read, but "High" "Medium" "Low" and "None" are reasonably understandable, even if they're not the most granular.

3. Using Flags doesn't work well, because you can only see flagged tasks or all tasks, what prioritizers want is to Sort tasks, not Filter them.

[QUOTE=HiramNetherlands]You can drag items up and down the list to assign them priorities. This, to my mind, is much more precise than giving them numeral values for priority. What does priority 3 mean? "Ignore for now"? "Not very urgent, but still deserving attention within the next ten days"? Priorities are, by definition, relative, so dragging them up and down makes a lot of sense. And you can have as much priority levels as you have items (as Ken Case pointed out earlier).[/QUOTE]

To Mr. Curt:

My quote was merely to illustrate that OF is already described not as a GTD-only piece of software, but as a more flexible productivity application. So, I my opinion, arguments about including or excluding features based solely on GTD canonicity is kinda silly. Feature-creep is another argument altogether, but task prioritization is pretty basic.

Weasel 2007-07-17 02:18 PM

Ok, I know a lot of people here is very orthodox in regards to GTD and I'm aware that most of you don't want to see anything outside the 'holy book' of GTD in OF. But there is a whole wide world of people and potential users of OF that might want some things on top of it.

As for my own case, I've been using LB for years and I was all the time looking for another solution since LB doesn't seem to be evolving and besides many good things it has a horrible interface, it is a pain to add projects/tasks and a few more issues many other users have brought forward too.

I have tried several other GTD related apps, having tried iGTD for x times (I download it about every 2-3 weeks start working with it and throw it out again after 2 days - I can't say what it is but it doesn't feel right). Some time ago I tried again kGTD and got somehow started with it. About a month ago I got the invite to OF alpha and since then I have been using it in parallel with LB (safety net).

I have during these four weeks tried many different ways of arranging my data, I have also read DA'a book and I have read almost every single post on this forum.

The best system I have come up with so far is:
on the project side:
[CODE]STUDY [I](most important thing in my life)[/I]
- Administrative
- University
-- Course 1
-- Course 2
-- .....
- Other university
-- Class 1
-- Class 2
- Single Tasks
- Books to read
WORK [I](not as important as study)[/I]
- organizing [I](all GTD and tagging related stuff incl. sorting desk, etc.)[/I]
- website 1
- website 2 [I](there are about 10 sites I'm hosting/maintaining)[/I]
- Computers
-- [I](7 macs listed by their name for different maintenance tasks)[/I]
EVERYTHING ELSE [I](exactly what it says)[/I]
- Single tasks [I](everything that doesn't fit anywhere else)[/I]
- Personal [I](from hairdresser to doctors appointments)[/I]
- Dogs
- Chores [I](anything in the house like A/C maintenance etc, mostly repeating)[/I]
[/CODE]
on the context side I have actually only two main contexts
[CODE]HOME (I'm a distance student and working from home)
DOWNTOWN (has sub-contexts by mall, store etc.)
[/CODE]
When I tried to make more contexts the thing got totally out of control. I'm also not trusting myself that I would always think about checking various configs of filters etc. allthough I do use perspectives to focus.

The point where I see the need for priorities is that I had e.g. a task to do related to one website, critical, due date set and it got just lost in a pretty list of black and purple. I also need to have e.g. the Frontline and Heartgard repeating tasks for the dogs to show up top of the list when it is due.

[B]How would I use the priorities:[/B]
If there are 5 levels of priorities, be it numbers or words, I would make 'Study' by default 2 (but books to read would be 4 or 5), Work by default 3. Then the dog meds would have 1 as well as other really important things too.

I guess there would be a way to achieve this with tons of contexts and filters, but then I will need another list (OO checklist?) to make sure I checked all possible configurations.

If everyone keeps on talking about the fail-safe system, for me a system like that allows me to [B]not forget (overlook) important stuff without making me spend excessive time on checking the various possible list configuration[/B].


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