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dealing with hierarchical lists is so difficult compared to rivals Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
After ten years of using other hierarchical todo tools, I am struggling very hard with OmniFocus for iPhone.
It feels like iPhone version is only made for completing items added on Mac, but hardly for capturing and organizing further actions as I go with my projects. While, as for me, on-the-go usage is one of the most productive in organizing thoughts in an actionable way.

My previous experience is mostly with Bonsai and, to less degree with MyLifeOrganized. Both had/have a smartphone version which is much more hierarchies-friendly.

Here are some cases when dealing with hierarchies is most frustrating and time-consuming:

= after adding a new item to Inbox, it takes too many steps to move it into a right place inside a project (given the project have hierarchy of items): (1) assign an item to the right project during initial entry to inbox; (2) exit item entry only to find the project I just placed the item into; find there the item I just moved to that project; (3) open the item only to move it under the right parent item; (4) move under that parent, tap Edit to put the item into the right order against its siblings

= when browsing a project, adding a new parent action with several child actions is also hard: (1) tap (+) to create the potential parent item; (2) tap (Save+) to proceed to creating first potential child; (3) exit editing the potential child, find it again the list, re-enter editing it--only to move it under the item from #1; (4) open the list of children for parent from #1 to create second and further children

= when decided what to do with a next Flagged item (which can be, beyond "mark as complete": make it parent for new items I am about to create; make it one of childs for a parent I am about to create), it's relatively easy to switch from that flagged item into its place in the project, but (a) again multiple steps to make it parent or child, and (b) to switch back from the depths of the particular project to the list of all Flagged items (yes, I am aware of long-tap on left upper corner--it doesn't help that much)

= last but not least, it's impossible to view my project as a tree of nested actions on a single screen--only to browse one level at a time. Miss it a lot every time I need to see what was recently completed and thinking about the next action--and how to restructure a project as my understanding of it evolves

I love OmniFocus for how helpful it is in focusing, flagging and deferring--but for hierarchies alone I tend to use MLO, even despite its Windows-only desktop platform.
 
And, given Apple's plans to introduce larger-screen iPhones this fall, a full-fledged manipulation with hierarchies will become both much more sought-for by users, and easier to implement with a larger screen estate.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yurkennis View Post
After ten years of using other hierarchical todo tools, I am struggling very hard with OmniFocus for iPhone.

It feels like iPhone version is only made for completing items added on Mac, but hardly for capturing and organizing further actions as I go with my projects. While, as for me, on-the-go usage is one of the most productive in organizing thoughts in an actionable way.
And for me, the iPhone is what I use most often for capturing and organizing actions. I think that the difference is that I don't like deep hierarchies.

I essentially never have subtasks, and my folders are rarely more than one deep. (That is, one line of folders up under "Library", and several projects per folder. Once in a while, I'll have a folder under a folder.)

I also tend to cut off planning at a certain point and move the associated data to some other software. For example, OmniFocus may have an action, "Choose book from reading list", but the actual reading list will be in Reminders. OmniFocus may have "Make sewing shopping list" as part of "Prep for trip to Portland", but the sewing shopping list will come from my OmniOutliner Sewing outline, and will be entered into Reminders.

I'm not saying that you should do this, I'm just saying that this is why OmniFocus on the iPhone works just dandy for me.

Edited to add: My lack of hierarchical organization doesn't mean that I always have flat, simple projects. It just means that I don't care about seeing the complexities in the layout. So where someone might have a project "Create vegetable garden" with a bunch of sub projects and sub-sub projects, I'd have:

Folder: Gardening
Project: Complete spring seed order
Project: Get ground prepped
Project: Research growing blueberries
Project: Rabbit fence around garden

and so on and so on.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardener View Post
....
Edited to add: My lack of hierarchical organization doesn't mean that I always have flat, simple projects. It just means that I don't care about seeing the complexities in the layout. So where someone might have a project "Create vegetable garden" with a bunch of sub projects and sub-sub projects, I'd have:

Folder: Gardening
Project: Complete spring seed order
Project: Get ground prepped
Project: Research growing blueberries
Project: Rabbit fence around garden ...
Compared to dumping the four projects as groups in to one big project, this approach has an advantages that you can pat yourself on the back far more often for achievements along the way and you can abort with less guilt. Nice idea!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gardener View Post
I also tend to cut off planning at a certain point and move the associated data to some other software. For example, OmniFocus may have an action, "Choose book from reading list", but the actual reading list will be in Reminders. OmniFocus may have "Make sewing shopping list" as part of "Prep for trip to Portland", but the sewing shopping list will come from my OmniOutliner Sewing outline, and will be entered into Reminders.
I think that's the difference between different people's use. some like to put every single action into OF, and others use it at a higher level (10,000 - 20,000 feet)

I personally work right at Ground level in OF.
 
 


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