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-   -   Philosophy of Context (http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=19955)

jochen 2011-01-31 12:02 PM

Philosophy of Context
 
I use OF for long time.
I start without study the philosophy.

No I think I should reorganize my workflow.

Context are physical requirement to do an action, for example:

[U][B]Physical Location[/B][/U]
Home, Office, Store, Car

[U][B]Physical Object[/B][/U]
Phone, Mac, Tool

[U][B]Physical Acitivity[/B]
[/U]Email, Call, Letter, Photo, Video Editing, Web Design

[U][B]Physical State[/B]
[/U]Online, Offline

[U][B]Physical Person[/B]
[/U]Smith, Jefferson, Mayer

In which way I should use the context ?
Lot of ToDos must carry out from persons.
Lot of ToDos I must do it.
Lot of work we will do it in our office.

What should be the priority of context. I will not use all at the same time. I will use only one per task.

And:

ToDos generate output, for example:
Reports - one or two per project.
Time schedules - every month a revision.
Cost - every month an update.
Results - thats the aim of my work.

In which way I should work in future ?
What experience have other user.

It would be happy if I get some feedback ;-)

Jochen (.de)

Boneman 2011-02-02 12:28 PM

It's a tough question to answer because context is so deeply personal to you.

I worked with a guy who'd have a context for every single person he was likely to be in touch with on a > semi regular basis. That's pretty tough to manage. Having 50+ contexts for people, plus situational contexts, seemed to add a lot of overhead to his workflow.

To me, context should be something fairly simple. It should describe the best situation for you to do something. Sure, you *could* make a stir-fry while sitting on the toilet, but that context is better suited to reading the paper.

Are contexts mutually exclusive? I don't know. I don't entirely buy the whole "physical requirement" thing. I guess it depends on what you're doing. The "phone" context is mutually exclusive to the "london underground" context for obvious reasons, and my "lunch" context should (for reasons of sanity and hygiene) be kept separate from my "office" context.

For what it's worth, I keep a simple vocab of contexts. They evolve all the time. Right now I travel a lot and spent a lot of time in different offices, studies, etc. In six months, it might be more stable so my contexts would need to change...

Home (chores mostly)
Train
Study (mostly meaning libraries)
Office - Mac
Office - Phone
Shopping (becoming redundant now as I do more and more online)
Lunch
Phone
Offline - Mac (I turn off my WiFi during my most productive periods)
Online - Mac (is taking over shopping contexts)
Tube (London underground, mostly reading, consuming content, etc)

I hope this rambling brain ejaculation has been at least halfway useful. :)

whpalmer4 2011-02-02 12:56 PM

[QUOTE=Boneman;92638]
I worked with a guy who'd have a context for every single person he was likely to be in touch with on a > semi regular basis. That's pretty tough to manage. Having 50+ contexts for people, plus situational contexts, seemed to add a lot of overhead to his workflow.
[/quote]
What about it seemed to add a lot of overhead? I use a similar structure, about half as many people contexts, and it seems pretty straightforward to assign tasks into the people contexts. I could imagine it getting messy if you have trouble settling on one person as the context for a lot of your actions, I suppose. But I don't think I would notice much difference if I took 25 names at random out of the phone book and added them to my Agenda context tree. I set contexts by typing with the smart match feature, not dragging and dropping where the length of the list might be a factor. "ag <first initial> <second initial>" is usually sufficient for a unique match.

whpalmer4 2011-02-02 03:08 PM

[QUOTE=jochen;92529]
What should be the priority of context. I will not use all at the same time. I will use only one per task.
[/QUOTE]
I think what you are asking here is: "if a task can be assigned to more than one context, which one do I choose?" For example, say you had a context for Internet (tasks that can be done on any computer connected to the Internet, such as viewing a web page), and a context for a specific computer, which happens to be connected to the Internet. A task like "Post to Omni forum asking about philosophy of contexts in OmniFocus" could probably be done from any computer. It wouldn't make sense to put it in the context for a specific computer. A task like "Post response to XYZ's post on Omni forum" might merit being placed in a context for a specific computer if that computer is the only place where OmniFocus is installed and giving a good answer requires posting a screenshot.

A trickier case is where multiple conditions need to be met. I think Ken covered it better in a post long ago than I've seen anyone else do, so I'll just give you a link to [URL="http://forums.omnigroup.com/showpost.php?p=36042&postcount=128"]his post[/URL] (the whole thread may be helpful, too).

Brian 2011-02-04 01:56 PM

That reminds me - I need to put together a post for the "What do I do when A, B, or C could work, and I don't care which" situation. (My take: that's a situation when there's going to be a parent context in play.)

Boneman 2011-02-06 05:56 AM

[QUOTE=whpalmer4;92641]What about it seemed to add a lot of overhead? I use a similar structure, about half as many people contexts, and it seems pretty straightforward to assign tasks into the people contexts. I could imagine it getting messy if you have trouble settling on one person as the context for a lot of your actions, I suppose. But I don't think I would notice much difference if I took 25 names at random out of the phone book and added them to my Agenda context tree. I set contexts by typing with the smart match feature, not dragging and dropping where the length of the list might be a factor. "ag <first initial> <second initial>" is usually sufficient for a unique match.[/QUOTE]

It's a fair point, particularly given that you use the keyboard to set contexts. I'd imagine that if you're a consultant, for example, the person context becomes a de facto list of agenda items. My main point is that for me as a writer, where person isn't mutually exclusive (i.e., I'm not spending much time in meetings with one person only) the person context will either be self evident or contained within the task itself.

As for the overhead, I think in his case it became a case of categorisation for the sake of it and less about actually doing. Is it fair of me to think that's the danger of any context system. If you're a filer by nature it'll only exacerbate that tendency.

*cue the Bureaucracy Song from Futurama...*


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