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New to OF - some questions Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hi, I am new to OF, moving over from Things. i just installed the software yesterday so I am very caught up in the learning curve but can already tell I'm going to love it! I have a few questions. Actually I had a ton of questions but I wound up figuring most of them out once I started typing up the questions and messing around with OF more:-)

Here is a basic overview of my setup:

I manage multiple properties spread out over different locations. Call them property a, b and c. I have many projects going on at each property as well as other projects at work, home, etc...

I have set up project folders for work and home. Within work I have subfolders for each property so I can quickly look at property specific projects and I have a few other sub folders to narrow down other aspects of my work.

I have contexts of
Errand
Home
Office
Property - (with subs for property a, b, and c. {for things I can only do while at a certain property})
Contact - (with subs of all the people i regularly communicate with)
Waiting - (with subs of all the people i regularly communicate with marked 'on hold')

This way if i have an action such as email, call or talk to bob about x I make the context Contact:Bob. If i call and get voice mail (that never happens does it?) I leave a message and now I'm waiting for bob to call back, so i just make a note of time I called and change context to Waiting:Bob

OK- so a couple of questions


1. Lets say the manager of property a calls me just to give some info about something thats going on. Maybe he calls and says, my kid is sick with swine flu and i wont be back at work until monday. This is not an action but something I want to document, and something I want to remember on monday, to make sure manager a is indeed back at work. So I make an inbox entry of manager at home with sick kid, back to work on monday. Then what? Set a due date for monday? Can I set a reminder for monday but not a due date? Is there a better way to handle this?

2. I have a lot of project actions that require an email to be sent and I like to keep links to those emails within the project for reference as the project progresses. So if If I have an action of "need to contact Jane about x" I would go to mail and send Jane the email, then go to my sent items folder in mail and drag a copy into OF and drop it into the notes section of the action "need to contact jane about x". Then would change the context to waiting until I get a reply from Jane. Is there a better way that Im not seeing? Anyway to launch mail from within OF?

3. Once a project is complete is it archived forever? Say 2 years from now I want to go back and revisit the whole project. I want to see all the actions within it, all the notes, file links, email links, etc.. Surely I can do this? How?

tafn
 
First off, welcome aboard. Always nice to meet a new customer. :-)

On to the questions...

1. I'd handle this by making a "check that <foo> is back at work" action with a due date of Monday, and then assign it to their context.
(Arguably, this is a bit of a hack, since the person isn't actually required to complete the task. In practice, assigning a ton of stuff to a "self" context isn't helpful in my experience.)
Side note: some folks like to use a "Waiting For" context, but other folks leave the action assigned to a context then use the start and due date fields to control when an action shows up on the active task list.

Personally, I'd handle the "see if person is at work" task by assigning it to the context for the person. Have it start before work on Monday, and be due at some point that morning. I'd take a similar approach for the "email from Jane" action as well.

Your mileage may vary, but that works well for me.
Currently, there isn't an option for reminders separate from due dates/times, but I know we've got a request open for that in the development database. If you'd like to add your vote for that feature, send the support ninjas an email and they can do so.

2. There is indeed a simpler way. :-) I'd suggest checking out the "Clipping material from other applications" topic under the help menu for the basics on the Clipping feature.

Once your clipping shortcut is set up, you'd just select the message in mail, hit the shortcut and then finish up the action in the quick entry window. (The advantage here is that the Quick Entry window doesn't make OmniFocus the frontmost application.)

Additional benefit: if you're using Mac OS 10.5 or 10.6, the clipped mail message includes a link which you can use to launch Mail.

3. Completed actions aren't removed from the database; they're just hidden. The simplest way to show them is by selecting
Perspectives -> All Items
and then using the toolbar search field to search for the items by name.

Hope this helps!

Last edited by Brian; 2009-10-15 at 03:44 PM.. Reason: Add the "email from jane" item to the side note in answer 1.
 
Thanks Brian, those suggestions/answers helped

OK Next Question:

Why cant I drag an action onto my ical calendar to create an event. Right now I am reviewing projects and have several actions that I would like to complete tomorrow. I would like to put them on my calendar so I can better plan my day. Any way to do this?
 
Happy to help! I wrote an AppleScript which you can install and use as an "export this to iCal as an event" toolbar button.

The thinking behind OmniFocus 1.x's approach to working with calendar data is summarized in this post. The approach may change in some future version of the app, but only once we're confident we can do it in a way that isn't confusing and/or hard to use. :-)

Last edited by Brian; 2009-10-21 at 01:02 PM.. Reason: add a bit more detail to my answer.
 
Thanks again, Brian. I actually found the script last night and have been using it successfully. Yea!

Just to add my .02 To why i think OF needs this feature. I MUST have EVERYTHING associated with a project documented in one place so that months or years after completion, I can easily review it at a later time. You've probably been through countless similar examples but here goes. Lets say i have a simple project titled get the house painted. And the actions were....

1 Call painter and schedule meeting time.
2 Meet the painter at the house(during scheduled time)
3 Wait for painters bid
4 Review bid and decide if im going to use the painter
5 Call the painter and schedule to to have it painted...
etc.....

So using the current logic of OF, I would put #2 on the calendar and not as an action in OF. I want it in both because I need to see on the calendar that I have an appointment to meet the painter at a certain time and I want it in OF because if 5 years from now I am having the house painted again and I want to go back and review the project from last time, i am going to want to see everything that the project involved.

CC Things allows me to mark an action as scheduled and then enter when its scheduled for. All scheduled items drop off the list when reviewing because they are not actionable until the time they are scheduled for, similar to On Hold. I would like to see a similar item in OF. Maybe its more complex than this but I would think you could add a "scheduled" option to the inspector that would set the item aside similar to the way On Hold works and a pop up would say "would you like to add this action as an event to iCal?". The only difference between On Hold items and Scheduled items would be that items marked scheduled MUST have a start time and OF would automatically change status from Scheduled to Active at start time or x number of days, hours, or minutes before start time.

Anyway, just my .02. I will say that this feature is not a deal breaker for me but I am really glad that i found the script you wrote. Not quite what i would like but it helps tremendously.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hd28cat View Post
CC Things allows me to mark an action as scheduled and then enter when its scheduled for. All scheduled items drop off the list when reviewing because they are not actionable until the time they are scheduled for, similar to On Hold. I would like to see a similar item in OF.
OmniFocus actually is more powerful, and flexible, than Things in this regard. In OmniFocus you schedule tasks and projects by assigning a start date. Things does not (currently) allow you to schedule tasks that are contained in a project.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by hd28cat View Post
CC Things allows me to mark an action as scheduled and then enter when its scheduled for. All scheduled items drop off the list when reviewing because they are not actionable until the time they are scheduled for, similar to On Hold. I would like to see a similar item in OF.
Unless I'm misunderstanding you, this is essentially what OmniFocus does when you set a future start date on an item (actions or projects). The item is put into the pending state (similar to "on hold" except that the state is not indefinite), it can be hidden from view by setting your status filter to "available", and when the start date arrives the item automatically becomes available.

To view all pending projects, switch to planning mode and set your Project Filter in the view bar to "Pending".

To view individual actions in a pending state, switch to context mode and set your Grouping and Sorting filters to "Start". Then collapse the sections that you're not interested in (e.g. items starting in the past or that start any time).

The only thing that's missing is a button to add the action to iCal. But it sounds like Brian's script does that quite well. Add the script to your toolbar, and you're all set.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hd28cat View Post
Lets say i have a simple project titled get the house painted. And the actions were....

1 Call painter and schedule meeting time.
2 Meet the painter at the house(during scheduled time)
3 Wait for painters bid
4 Review bid and decide if im going to use the painter
5 Call the painter and schedule to to have it painted...
etc.....

So using the current logic of OF, I would put #2 on the calendar and not as an action in OF. I want it in both because I need to see on the calendar that I have an appointment to meet the painter at a certain time and I want it in OF because if 5 years from now I am having the house painted again and I want to go back and review the project from last time, i am going to want to see everything that the project involved.
Why wouldn't you put it in OF as well? That's exactly what I would do in this situation.

The mechanical details of the appointment itself would go in iCal (start time, end time, alarm, location, maybe a URL to my related OmniFocus project). These are things that are probably not important to remember years from now, so I don't need to save them. But if I do want to save them, I might jot them down in the note field of my OmniFocus action.

All other relevant info about the meeting would go in my corresponding OF action (details about the contractor, a list of topics I want to cover, a link to the contractor's vcard in Address Book, and maybe some notes about the meeting's outcome for future reference).

-Dennis

Last edited by Toadling; 2009-10-21 at 03:47 PM..
 
 


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