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Projects and day-specific next actions Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hello! I'm new here and figure I should take a moment to introduce myself - but before I do that - want go give the Omni Group kudos for putting OmniFocus out there! I just installed it yesterday and really pleased so far!

I've been implementing GTD since taking David Allen's workshop in Feb 2003. My implementation has gone through plenty of incantations analog to digital, lightweight to heavyweight, simple to hyper-experimental. I also bring experience using the original Netcentrics Outlook Add-in which segue ways into the topic I'm posting...

I've taken the time to read through 3 posts I feel that straddle this topic:
  1. http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=5089
  2. http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=8210
  3. http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=4641

I'm going to do my best to shed some light on this matter in as integrated of a way as I can while being aware I'm a newbie looking for ideas.

So where I'm coming from is being in agreement with many of you - you'd like OF to be your GTD portal for all 5 phases of his workflow - external links (URLs, files, events, etc.) are fine and most of you don't seem to expect OF to be the kitchen sink which is good.

To cut the chase, having traceability from a project to day-specific next action is critical. In the context of OF, not being able to visibly see a link from OF to an iCal event (not todo) is something that is currently missing for me in my GTD implementation on OF.

To explain further: there are circumstances where you have a project where the next action is in iCal [as an event]. For example, I have a project to write a book and my next action is to "discuss revision of chapter 2 with my editor" - this occurs as a meeting next week on Monday. I'm clear between now and next monday, there are no other next actions to take. I also want to be clear that this date is distinct from my deadline for the project 4 months from now.

So during my week review, say Friday - I should be able to review all my projects, check that all my projects have next actions and for the instances of projects like the example above, I should clearly see a next action exist as an event. (I intentionally do not get into other aspects of a weekly review for purposes of keeping this discussion focused)

This was done very well in the official Outlook Add-in. I've stopped using this add-in for many reasons that OF clearly addresses quite well and again, request to have any comparative conversations on a separate thread.

My current workaround is to have a dummy next action and context of "Calendar" - a simple reminder the project has a next action that exists on my calendar.

I hope this clarifies the situation around the need for projects to visibly link to day-specific next actions implemented as events on iCal.

Would love to hear people's thoughts on this specific facet of GTD and if you've discovered another way to solve/workaround this issue, [please share!]

Let's hammer this out quickly before the iPhone launch! ;-)

Chinarut

Last edited by chinarut; 2008-06-28 at 08:59 AM..
 
I'm not really sure what you asked here, but just for the sake of trying to answer something, the way I understand it is that you want to see your next actions in a clear way in iCal.

Well, to use GTD properly, you're really not supposed to use OmniFocus items synced to iCal to do that, but use OmniFocus itself. It shows all your next actions in purple, which is rather clear.

I so hope I'm not making a fool of myself by answering this after drinking, but there you go. And yes, I type clearly regardless of how messed up I am, just takes longer :P

Last edited by MJK; 2008-06-28 at 09:44 AM..
 
ha ha - had no intention to confuse - I think you got my intention to pose an inquiry to the community :)

in regards to next actions - you are correct, OF does indeed show next actions in purple. what OF does not show are next actions that exist [as] events in your calendar.

perhaps you should try reading the post again in the morning ;-)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinarut View Post
ha ha - had no intention to confuse - I think you got my intention to pose an inquiry to the community :)

in regards to next actions - you are correct, OF does indeed show next actions in purple. what OF does not show are next actions that exist [as] events in your calendar.

perhaps you should try reading the post again in the morning ;-)
That might be :P

But OmniFocus only syncs To Do items, not Events.

I did send a feature request that would allow actions with due dates to become Events instead of To Do's, since I want it to work that way.

But no, OmniFocus doesn't track iCal Events if that was the question.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinarut View Post
in regards to next actions - you are correct, OF does indeed show next actions in purple. what OF does not show are next actions that exist [as] events in your calendar.
Maybe you've already seen this one, but here's a pretty good thread that highlights some of the pros and cons of displaying items as iCal events:

http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=7931

-Dennis
 
hey thanks for the extra input.

I skimmed the thread and must be missing something - what did you feel was a valid reason not to create a next action as an iCal event?

I just got the impression that people are muddling up David Allen's intention behind a "day-specific next action"

David's intention is look at a list of projects and be clear about which ones have next actions and which ones dont. This includes next actions that are scheduled on your calendar.

I want to see something new in this so I do invite you to enlighten me!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinarut View Post
hey thanks for the extra input.

I skimmed the thread and must be missing something - what did you feel was a valid reason not to create a next action as an iCal event?

I just got the impression that people are muddling up David Allen's intention behind a "day-specific next action"

David's intention is look at a list of projects and be clear about which ones have next actions and which ones dont. This includes next actions that are scheduled on your calendar.

I want to see something new in this so I do invite you to enlighten me!
Well for me the main reason is simply enough the fact that I refuse to make an action in OmniFocus and then open iCal and manually recreate the very same action there, then when I finish that action, check it off in OmniFocus and then open iCal again, find the day it's scheduled to and again manually mark it as finished. No sync, no thanks.

So until OmniFocus can sync items as iCal Events, I won't do it.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MJK View Post
So until OmniFocus can sync items as iCal Events, I won't do it.
You've just pointed out one of the technical hurdles with respect to sync'ing items as iCal events: unlike iCal tasks, iCal events have no notion of whether they've been completed or not.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
You've just pointed out one of the technical hurdles with respect to sync'ing items as iCal events: unlike iCal tasks, iCal events have no notion of whether they've been completed or not.
That is a good point indeed!

Mainly I want OmniFocus to sync to iCal just in order to get a visual calendar-like view of the month, week or whatever coming up. Of course it would be even better if OmniFocus itself had a view like that instead of syncing info to iCal.

I love OmniFocus either way, this would just be a nice addition, know what I mean?
 
The thing that troubles me about exporting OmniFocus actions as iCal events is how they would be displayed in iCal.

1) Would they show up as "all-day" events or as events with specific start and end times?

2) Would only OmniFocus items with *both* start and due dates be posted to iCal? If the action only had one date (start or due), how does it determine the other date? For example, suppose you have an action with a start of 6/30/08 9:30 AM but no due date. The item gets rendered in iCal as a lozenge at that time, but what is the event's duration? iCal doesn't support zero-length durations.

3) For actions that span several days between the start and dues dates, should iCal stretch an event across the entire calendar indicating this? Brian's post in the thread I mentioned earlier does a great job illustrating the problems with this approach. And if the OmniFocus task is displayed as an "all-day" event with a "ribbon" across the top in iCal's week view, how does it indicate start and end times?

-Dennis
 
 


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