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"Projects" view + "Contexts" view are slightly mis-named / misconceived Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
To expand on a point made in another thread, the perspectives on our data which we are calling "Projects View" and "Contexts View" are really a Planning view vs. an Execution view.

This is why the "Projects View" does (and should) include lists which do not contain projects, such as the Inbox, and the currently discussed list(s) of singletons.

HOWEVER the slight misconception of the execution view as a "Contexts View" is leading to a gap (which has also been mentioned in another post) - namely, the "Contexts View" lacks (and should certainly have) a list of actions with "Context Unassigned".

The basic point is that everything on our radar should be visible in both the planning perspective and the execution perspective.

The planning view needs the Inbox, and the singletons list(s), as well as projects. (Perhaps its name needs to shift from "Projects".)
Similarly, the execution view needs a built-in "Context Unassigned" section in addition to all the user-defined contexts and sub-contexts. Possibly its name could also be adjusted.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobTrew View Post
To expand on a point made in another thread, the perspectives on our data which we are calling "Projects View" and "Contexts View" are really a Planning view vs. an Execution view.
True, but GTD uses projects and contexts as part of the terminology so I suspect that's why Omni used them.

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This is why the "Projects View" does (and should) include lists which do not contain projects, such as the Inbox, and the currently discussed list(s) of singletons.
Actually, I'd have put 3 icons in the toolbar: Inbox, Projects and Contexts and completely separated the 3 views. YMMV.

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HOWEVER the slight misconception of the execution view as a "Contexts View" is leading to a gap (which has also been mentioned in another post) - namely, the "Contexts View" lacks (and should certainly have) a list of actions with "Context Unassigned".
Now this I completely disagree with. An item should only appear in your context view when it's actionable. If you haven't decided what resources you need to do it, it isn't actionable: you've not deferred it appropriately so it shouldn't appear on your list of things to do.

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The basic point is that everything on our radar should be visible in both the planning perspective and the execution perspective.
I also completely disagree with this. IMHO one of the strengths of GTD as a system is that it separates the phases of collection, processing, organising and doing. When you're doing (i.e. working off your next action lists, which in OF are the context view) you should only see the things you've already collected, processed and organised.
 
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Actually, I'd have put 3 icons in the toolbar: Inbox, Projects and Contexts and completely separated the 3 views. YMMV.
I would STRONGLY second that!
Shanana
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_f View Post
GTD uses projects and contexts as part of the terminology so I suspect that's why Omni used them
David Allen also uses the simple terms "Planning" and "Doing". The concept of 'projects' is subordinate to the activity of planning, and the concept of 'contexts' is subordinate to the activity of doing.

The bottom line is that users are reporting losing track of actions to which projects but not contexts have been assigned. This is an expression of an architectural flaw in the current draft.

The Planning and the Doing views are just orthogonal perspectives on the same data. Neither should have blind patches. Singletons should not be missing from the basic Planning view, and tasks awaiting contexts should not be missing from the basic Doing view.

Any personal preferences, such as those you report, about what should be showing at a particular time, can be handled with custom Perspectives. That is not a reason for building compulsory blind patches into the base views.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RobTrew View Post
The bottom line is that users are reporting losing track of actions to which projects but not contexts have been assigned. This is an expression of an architectural flaw in the current draft.
You can see them in project view if a project is assigned. There is a search function if you forget exactly where you put something. How is that a problem?

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The Planning and the Doing views are just orthogonal perspectives on the same data. Neither should have blind patches. Singletons should not be missing from the basic Planning view, and tasks awaiting contexts should not be missing from the basic Doing view.
I'd argue that they aren't looking at entirely the same data due to the processed/unprocessed nature of actions with/without contexts. However, I can see we're never going to agree about this, so probably best to leave it here.

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Any personal preferences, such as those you report, about what should be showing at a particular time, can be handled with custom Perspectives. That is not a reason for building compulsory blind patches into the base views.
Can you explain why what you're suggesting is any less a personal preference than what I'm suggesting? As far as I can tell we just disagree about the "right" way to do this, which doesn't automatically make one of us right and the other wrong. :)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_f View Post
There is a search function if you forget exactly where you put something. How is that a problem?
Search is not too useful if you don't know what you are looking for. Users report losing track of context-unassigned items when they have forgotten to assign a context, or when a context has been inadvertently deleted.

It is a good idea to offer the option of hiding unassigned actions from the "Contexts" view. It is bound to create redundant effort, however, (and some weakening of trust / confidence in the system) if a blind patch is made compulsory.

Last edited by RobTrew; 2007-08-17 at 06:02 AM..
 
As I said elsewhere, I also like re-naming the two views Planning and Working.

Canonical GTD has us using our system to "empty our heads". Once I enter an action into OF, I feel free to forget about it completely until it shows up again in its proper place. [Inbox for things I need to plan more, on the proper Due Day, during a Review, etc.] If an item drops off the list of places in OF that I will look at, it's as if the item was completely forgotten.

An Unassigned context would at least contain these lost actions, so I could add "look at Unassigned Context" to my Weekly Review.


I think a lot of this debate is showing that there are two grops of people using OF:

- those whose work is primarily project oriented, so every action fits into a hierarchy of Folder --> Project --> (action group) --> Action. Everything in planned, pigeonholed, and neatly sorted. Things that aren't fully planned stay in the InBox.

- some of us (me) have much fuzzier lives. Some things can be fully planned, but others are very fuzzy and will stay that way. We're not likely to spend 20 minutes developing a project hierarchy for all our tasks, so we end up with a lot of singletons, actions without contexts, actions without projects, etc. Someone in the first group would run screaming if s/he looked at the database of a second group member!
[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.

--Liz
 
@Rob:
Well, I'd think people would pick up the lost items in their weekly review, but I can see how if something is time-critical it might cause problems before that.

@Liz:
I think what you're saying with your groups idea is probably spot on i.e. Al = nerd, Liz = normal. :)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by LizPf View Post
I think a lot of this debate is showing that there are two grops of people using OF:

- those whose work is primarily project oriented, so every action fits into a hierarchy of Folder --> Project --> (action group) --> Action. Everything in planned, pigeonholed, and neatly sorted. Things that aren't fully planned stay in the InBox.

- some of us (me) have much fuzzier lives. Some things can be fully planned, but others are very fuzzy and will stay that way. We're not likely to spend 20 minutes developing a project hierarchy for all our tasks, so we end up with a lot of singletons, actions without contexts, actions without projects, etc. Someone in the first group would run screaming if s/he looked at the database of a second group member!
[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.

--Liz
Consider me part of group 2, with a splash of group 1; sometimes in order to empty my head of a potential project I have to throw down a plan (especially if I have to delegate to others). But otherwise I look at my context lists and decide to do what I feel I can do.
 
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 & Ep3)

Quote:
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.
 
 


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