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Struggling with Contexts? Start here! Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
@garotasemfio The icon for ex-wife would be dynamite. No chance of having a non-destructive conversation with her so I just went with it. :)
 
It seems to me that allowing multiple contexts per action item would solve these problems... or what am I missing? Ok, so maybe not an arbitrary number of contexts but how about 2 or 3?

But aren't we really talking about tags here?
 
Just stumbled on across an interesting (and information dense) article about contexts. Not sure I agree with all of it, but food for thought:

http://www.evomend.net/en/what-not-gtd-context
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
A possible variation: keep the people all in one hierarchy, but insert another level in there.

Office
--Dell
--Fair Oaks
--SOB
People
--Office
----Robert
----Kelly
----Jim
--Teressa

You can put together a perspective that just selects the Office tree plus the Office sub-tree if you want to only view the stuff at the office. Of course you could also do that to see all the people in your current setup in a single view.
...
I've found that a structure like the one above is probably the most practical and the one I always return to, but I've never succeeded in liking it - largely due to the need to represent task requirements in context hierarchies with duplicate elements for example combinations of:

Place/Category/Resource
Category/Place/Resource
Category/Resource
Resource/Category
etc. etc.

For example, suppose I have an issue with my work PC that I need help with from John. Where should I put the task?:

Office/People/John/task
Office/PC/task
People/Office/John/task
People/John/task
PC/Office/task
OfficePC/task

They're all appropriate and perhaps it's just a matter of taste or personal needs.

However, I will almost certainly want to be able to view:
- Everything I can do at the Office
- Everything I can do at my PC
- All the People I need to see today at the Office
- Everything I need to discuss with John

As long as I can do that, the task won't get lost. But whichever context structure I chose, some of these things will be easy and some will require the desktop version of OF to create custom perspectives that require constant maintenance as the structure evolves.

In reality, "Office", "PC" and "John" are all available to me in various permutations that I won't have modelled with my structured contexts.

General purpose tagging could conceptually solve this problem, no doubt cause others and has been discussed at enormous length elsewhere.

But for now I seem doomed to repeat a cycle:
1. simplify my contexts and perspectives
2. become overwhelmed by task numbers
3. add more context structure and perspectives to reduce clutter
4. become overwhelmed by the complexity of my contexts/perspectives
5. goto 1

Is it just me?

Last edited by psidnell; 2011-12-30 at 09:38 AM..
 
I just accept that the list will be overwhelming in some way, and save the effort of reworking it :-)

One thing I do is to try to work on the most tightly constrained things first. If there's a collection of tasks which I need to do at the office, and two of them also require John's help, I will usually try to do those two first, all else being equal in terms of deadlines, etc. Besides the obvious benefit of getting the more restrictive tasks done ASAP (especially if John is rarely available), that means I can go up a level in the hierarchy without worrying about overlooking tasks. I usually get some extra satisfaction from emptying a context, too, no matter how narrowly it might be defined.

As for the which context issue, don't forget to use the project to accomplish some of this. For example, if John is your friend as well as a colleague, you might well have actions involving him in both personal and professional projects, which would seem to make having @People:John as the only context for him inconvenient. However, if you have all your personal projects in one folder, work projects in another, and perspectives that focus only on one of those folders, when you are looking at the work projects folder perspective, you'll only see the actions relating to fixing your office desktop, not the ones for planning the Super Bowl party you guys are going to throw, even though tasks from both groups have that same context.

Yes, there are definitely scenarios where it is awkward to make a single context work. One that comes to mind involves multiple people. Instead of waiting for an occasion where Tom, Dick, and Harry all happen to be in the same place, though, I would just make an action to set up such an event, turning it into a hard landscape event.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
As for the which context issue, don't forget to use the project to accomplish some of this. For example, if John is your friend as well as a colleague, you might well have actions involving him in both personal and professional projects, which would seem to make having @People:John as the only context for him inconvenient. However, if you have all your personal projects in one folder, work projects in another, and perspectives that focus only on one of those folders, when you are looking at the work projects folder perspective, you'll only see the actions relating to fixing your office desktop, not the ones for planning the Super Bowl party you guys are going to throw, even though tasks from both groups have that same context.
This maps onto phase 3 or 4 in my never ending cycle of doom :-)
 
I am struggling with contexts.

Do each folder and project need a context? Or are contexts only for actions?

Every time I go to Context view in OnmiFocus it lists all of my folders and projects in the "No Context" section. This is why I was wondering if contexts apply to folders and contexts just like they do to actions.
 
No, it isn't listing your folders in the No Context section, because folders don't have contexts and do not appear in the Context mode view.

Contexts are for everything but folders — projects, action groups, actions, and single action lists. You don't have to have a context assigned to anything, though the program works better for most people if actions get contexts. Contexts have two uses for action containers (projects, action groups, and single action lists):
  • Provide a default context when creating new actions within the container
  • Specify where the container will appear in Context mode view when contents are completed
The first case allows you to skip some typing if you have a bunch of actions that all have the same context. If you don't specify a context when creating an action nested within something else, the context of the parent will be given to the newly created action.

The second case is a bit more complicated. When you have a group of actions, and you complete the last one, you've got some choices to make. Are there more actions which should be added? Should the group be marked complete? Should the group be marked complete automatically? OmniFocus supports all three viewpoints. In the Inspector, there's a checkbox which allows specifying whether completing the contents of a group or project automatically marks the group complete. In the Preferences, there's a checkbox which allows specifying whether you want that other checkbox to be checked by default for newly created groups and projects. People who plan out their projects fully in advance might like the completion of the actions to complete the project automatically, whereas those who do not will want the opportunity to consider adding additional actions or completing. That's the background for the second case.

The general rule of thumb in OmniFocus is that one uses Project mode for planning (constructing projects), and Context mode for doing (choosing and executing individual actions). So what happens when you have a project XYZ with actions A, B, and C? Well, in Context mode, showing Available actions, you'll see action A. Complete it, and action B appears. Complete it, action C appears. Complete it, and now you are at the crossroads. If you've marked this project for automatic completion, OmniFocus does that for you and you're all done. If you haven't done so, it would be nice to know that you've run out of actions for that project, so that you can either complete it or add some more actions. This state is quite apparent if you are in Project mode, but not necessarily easy to see in Context mode, especially when you've got multiple projects contributing actions to the view. So, if you have the option to show Projects and Action Groups in Context mode (set at the bottom of the Data preferences in the OmniFocus preferences), OmniFocus will show you what appears to be a differently-styled action with the same name as the project or action group, and if you mark it complete, it is just as if you had switched to Project mode and completed it there. Now, here's the catch: where does that action show up in the Context view? It shows up in the context that you've assigned to it. Depending on your view settings, that may or may not be where you are looking when you complete that previous action. However, if you are looking at a view where you do see all of the remaining actions of that project, then when they are completed, you'll see the project itself pop into view. Containers are treated as not available until all of their contents are marked complete, so in a Next Action or Available action view, they are invisible until it is time to complete them or refill them. A Remaining action view will show them, but they'll be styled as unavailable.

Now, a lot of people don't make use of the second case, and that's fine. Using it does get you quicker notice that you've completed all the preplanned actions for a project or group (otherwise, you would only notice if you looked at the project in Project mode), and that's probably a good thing if you aren't doing some other systematic reviewing to bring the situation to your attention. If you choose not to use it, you may want to uncheck that option in the Preferences so that your No Contexts section only shows actions which don't yet have a context assigned (generally to be avoided, assuming you are using contexts in your practice).

I trust I've totally befuddled you by this point, but if not, let me know and I'll make it more complicated :-)
 
That is a pretty great idea. I have a whole battery of anti-distraction tools, but that's a great idea - Referring to post about creating a separate OSX user for writing with no distractions

Last edited by mnanda; 2012-05-25 at 05:32 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by psidnell View Post
Just stumbled on across an interesting (and information dense) article about contexts. Not sure I agree with all of it, but food for thought:

http://www.evomend.net/en/what-not-gtd-context rki lån

Great tips ..thanks a lot for the valuable information
 
 


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