Personally, I think "Context view" makes perfect sense, and expanding it to include actions that don't have a context assigned is a bad idea. I think people are really misusing GTD and that is, in turn, leading to problems with OF for them. It is sounding to me like people are assigning projects to their tasks without ever assigning contexts and that this is a common problem.
Let's look right to the book where David Allen talks about the four-criteria model for choosing actions in the moment (page 192 in my paperback printing):
"At any point in time, the first thing to consider is, what could you possibly do, where you are, with the tools you have?... ...Since context is the first criterion that comes into play in your choice of actions, context-sorted lists prevent unnecessary reassessments about what to do. If you have a bunch of things to do on one to to-do list, but you actually can't do many of them in the same context, you force yourself to continually keep reconsidering all of them."
It's not the project part of the action list that sets it apart from other productivity systems. It's not the project part of the action list that makes GTD work. It's the context part that's the most important part. The contexts are what separate planning from doing, they are the reason people get things done instead of wasting time trying to decide what to do. If you're not using contexts consistently, effectively and universally on all of your actions
, then you might as well pick up a Franklin-Covey day planner or switch now to Entourage. That's great if it works for you, but it's not GTD.
You shouldn't find yourself in a situation where you have processed actions (that is actions, that are no longer in your inbox because you've processed them and decided what you need to do) without a context. The real problem that needs to be solved here is that OF probably shouldn't move items out of the inbox without a context, and new items created under a project without a context should be flagged in some way in project view to make them more visible indicating that they have not yet been processed and need attention. This should be fine because in planning mode, I want certain thing to be brought to my attention. In planning mode, I want to know what hasn't been assigned a context.
But in context view, in execution mode, the last thing I want to know about is contextless actions. Actions without assigned contexts are still in "In", you haven't processed them fully, you haven't taken the steps necessary to include them in your real action list, the context view. If you're looking at the context view, it's because you are in execution mode. Even seeing contextless actions in this mode requires you to drop down into planning mode to determine if any of those actions apply to the current context and then once that decision is made, you move back up into execution mode and actually do something, then when you come back to the action list, you drop back down into planning mode again. That is the opposite of how GTD should work. That just slows down the execution stage of the GTD process. That's just another way to procrastinate.
It seems the same issue has popped up in multiple threads. "OF is broken in some way," when what's really happening here is "My system/contexts are broken." In this case, OF is sticking to canonical GTD, and you have to ask yourself, "Is this not working for me because of OF's limitations? Or is this not working for me because GTD is designed as a holistic system that works so much better than each of the individual parts added together? Is messy good enough?" (listen to Merlin Mann's audio interview with David Allen for his thoughts on some of these issues Ep2
Originally Posted by LizPf
[This is why GTD software that forces the InBox --> planning --> work list flow don't work for me. I'd rather throw the action approximately where it belongs the first time and trust my subconscious to finish the planning. OmniFu lets me use my messy methods.]
OmniFu has to work for both types of people. There need to be features that let Group 1 members work effectively, and other features that make sure the Group 2 members can work at all! And all of us need to be able to ignore the features that don't fit our styles.
It's not that GTD software forces the "InBox --> planning --> work" method of doing things. It's that GTD does. That's part of what GTD is. The beauty of GTD is that each step is simplified to the point where planning doesn't take your whole life and work can get done fairly easy by making simple decisions moment to moment that ultimately lead you to your overall goals. OF may let you use your messy methods, but it shouldn't. It's a GTD app, and GTD, while extremely flexible and forgiving, is not messy. Allowing contextless actions to show up in context view (even under a different name) is a fundamental break from GTD.
OF doesn't have to work for "both types of people", and it probably shouldn't. The point of GTD is to change
your life in a positive way, not to facilitate messy and broken systems. The point of OF should be to facilitate a good GTD workflow and to encourage good habits while discouraging bad ones (to help you use and improve your own GTD system).
If you don't need to change your system to be more productive, then stop now. Stop reading GTD, stop worrying about it. You're done, you're good. Carry on.
But if you're interested in GTD, then you must feel like your system could be improved. You must feel like whatever you're doing now isn't quite working, or it isn't quite working well enough. GTD is about growth, and any GTD app should be about gentle persuasion, should be about guiding you in a helpful direction and not just letting you do whatever wasn't working for you before.
If OF supplies us with all of these easy ways out, shortcuts and quick fixes that ultimately undermine the larger goal of GTD, then it will fail as GTD app even if it succeeds in commercial sales.