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Working around a single context/Tags Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hello all,
I've been a lurker for some time, and a user for over a year now. I was semi-dependent on tags in Things, but migrated to OF anyway. I don't want to start another thread about requesting tags, merely looking for suggestions to accomplish my workflow goals within the current confines of what's available in OF. I like many features of OF, and opt to use it daily over things for a variety of reasons, but this one missing piece I'm too stupid to figure out on my own despite many trials and much research.

I support a small team of 5 sales folks, and two engineers. We also have a number of back office individuals that help us as well. Each rep will have 20 or so partners, and each partner will have roughly 5-25 accounts.

My issue is that I will have a number of discussion items come up when a phone call comes in, but I don't always know when that phone call will arrive or from whom.

For example, Brad the sales rep is working with partner X on the Acme account. There might be one engineer, brad, a service delivery person and project manager assigned to acme. When one engineer calls me, I want to be able to filter all 'waiting for' items specific to that engineer...which would be great if my original context was "Waiting For: Engineer." However, that conversation could encompass work on Acme, and 4 other 'Acme's.'

But, if I'm talking to Brad, or the project manager first, I might want to discuss Acme and 3 other 'Acme's that they're working on.

With tags, I would just click Brad, and every Acme type project would pop up that he's working on.

In OF, I'll set the main context: "Waiting for" the the sub-context: "Customer" because at the time the next action item was originally "Waiting for the Customer." But, Brad (or engineer or PM) may call me first as the customer reached out to them with a new item to work on.

So far, the only way I've been able to handle this, is by 'tagging' Acme in the notes section with the 4-5 people assigned to it. That way, when someone calls me, I go to my projects active perspective, and type in the search bar for the person that called so I can 1. Talk about Acme 2. Talk about any other items they may be tagged on to see if there's an update there as well.

Our engineers are often very busy with many billable projects, so if they have an issue, they'll call me directly and want to reference their specific problem. But, while I have them on the phone and they're free...I'd like to cover other potential open items they may have insight into, but isn't top of mind for them.

I feel like this is inefficient, and I'm missing something...but I can't put my finger on a solution.

Does this make sense?
 
Happy to help, but my initial suggestion sounds like something you've tried and decided not to do. Specifically, assign the questions for each person to a context created for that person. So in your "Brad" example, you'd have one or more items assigned to them, probably with the customer names captured in the action title.

Each action would be a specific topic you needed to address. (Example action title: "Get status update on Acme project".)

Oh, wait, I think I'm beginning to see what's going on here - during a phone call with Brad, you want each and every project they're working on to appear? Is that right? If so, my first recommendation would be to reconsider that.

In my mind, it's better to be able to click on Brad's context and just see the actions (from any number of projects) that you needed to consult with him on. Trying to show the entirety of every project he's working on is going to get overwhelming really fast - you're going to be seeing a bunch of actions assigned to other people, for example.

If I'm not understanding what you're trying to do, describe things a bit more and we'll be happy to help.

(Side note: I personally don't find Waiting For contexts useful in my workflow. Instead, I just have a single context per person and use the Start Date field to defer actions temporarily until I want to check back in on them. YMMV.)
 
If you do want to bring up all the projects in which Brad has some assigned involvement, bring up the Brad context. Select all the actions. Now right-click on one of the row handles (the dot at the left end of the row) and choose "Focus in New Window" from the popup. You'll get a new window with all of the projects involving the selected actions in the Brad context. When you're done with the discussion with Brad, close the window and you'll be back to your previous state.
 
Let's say the customer is OMNI.

If Brad is assigned as the context for the next action for the OMNI project, and he calls, it's easy to filter by Brad's context.

The problem lies when Brad is assigned to the context, but I'm talking to Jim. Jim's the engineer for Brad's deal with OMNI, and 3 others with Brad, also 6 projects with Susan.

Even though I was initially waiting on Brad for the OMNI project, if I filter by Jim and see he's on the OMNI project too, I can ask him while I've got him on the phone: "Hey, I was waiting on a quote back from Brad for OMNI, do you have any update?" Knowing that normally within 3 days Brad would get back to me, but Jim might have helped put the quote together for Brad, but since Brad's been on the road selling, he hasn't pinged me yet.

I'd like to be able to quickly filter the 10 deals that Jim's involved with (while I'm on the phone with him), even though only half I'm officially waiting on him for (set in context) and the others might be waiting on Brad or even the customer.

That's where my use of the search field comes in..and for every deal Brad's working on, I type in the engineer, PM, and service delivery name for later searching, regardless of who I assign the context to formally. Point being sometimes who I'm waiting on/can get info from changes before I can be aware/change the official context.

Am I explaining it better?

Thanks for the response guys; much appreciated.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
(Side note: I personally don't find Waiting For contexts useful in my workflow. Instead, I just have a single context per person and use the Start Date field to defer actions temporarily until I want to check back in on them. YMMV.)
I've tried this, but failed miserably with the start date. If I'm expecting to not hear back for 3 days, and then set the start date 3 days out, but get pinged by Jim with resolution in a day, it sets me back. It's not a huge deal in a single example, but when I have so many going in and out of active due to start date, I become overwhelmed.

Admittedly, this could be a limitation of my abilities to manage the system, not necessarily a limitation of said system.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by macers View Post
I've tried this, but failed miserably with the start date. If I'm expecting to not hear back for 3 days, and then set the start date 3 days out, but get pinged by Jim with resolution in a day, it sets me back. It's not a huge deal in a single example, but when I have so many going in and out of active due to start date, I become overwhelmed.

Admittedly, this could be a limitation of my abilities to manage the system, not necessarily a limitation of said system.
I don't understand how this is an issue. Bring up your Jim context, show remaining actions, check off the corresponding action. What's the problem?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
I don't understand how this is an issue. Bring up your Jim context, show remaining actions, check off the corresponding action. What's the problem?
Jim's reporting back with an update, but I believe the action in this example is actually assigned to Brad. Bouncing between contexts to find the action (while on the phone) is the friction point.
 
Okay, chewed on this a bit more now that I have a better understanding of what you're trying to accomplish.

In the Jim/Brad example, three folks are spending time doing status updates on an action that's only one of them is officially responsible for; that does feel pretty inefficient. Every time Jim's asked about one of Brad's tasks but doesn't have an update, two extra folks have spent time without creating value.

That said, not every business works like ours does. I'm going to write my answer from the standpoint that there's a lot of functional utility in getting those items checked off as soon as possible. If this is more of a personal preference, let me know and we can have a different conversation. ;-)

Preamble out of the way, I think the main efficiency you can work into this system is to use perspectives to save yourself the typing when the phone rings.

Start with these menu selections:

Perspectives -> Show Perspectives
View -> Planning Mode
View -> Grouping -> Ungrouped
View -> Sorting -> Either "Unsorted" or "Due" (your preference.)
View -> Availability Filter -> Remaining

Next, type "Brad" into the search field. This'll filter the project window down to the projects Brad is actively working on. If you hit the "+" button in the lower-left of the Perspectives window at this point, you can name the new perspective "Brad Call" or something equally memorable.

Edit the text in the search field to "Jim", hit the Plus button, name that perspective "Jim Call". Repeat these steps until you have one perspective for each person.

Now, instead of doing a bunch of typing when the phone rings, you can click onto that person's context, discuss those topics, then make a selection from the Perspectives menu to see the other stuff you might want to discuss.

(If you add a new project that a person is working on, their perspective will show it - you don't need to modify the perspective in the future.)

Hope that helps!
 
Thank you, Brian. That's helpful. Regarding your preamble, don't get me started on our inefficiencies...I could complain for days :)

To recap your suggestion to make sure I understand...basically I'm creating a new perspective based on my search criteria. This new perspective "Jim's Call" e.g., will basically recreate what I manually do now for an incoming call by typing a name in the search field (regardless of who I initially assigned the waiting for to), correct?

That seems to fix the backend of the problem.

On the front end, I believe I still need to type each person's name in the notes (e.g. Brad, Jim, & Matt) for my new search perspectives to work, correct? I don't see a way around this. But, most names are short, and I might actually create a few text expander rules to add some common combos (;1 typed will cause text expander to add Brad - Jim e.g.).
 
Something to be aware of here: Brian's solution will only show you the actions in those projects which contain the search string. If you wanted the overall picture, so you could put those actions in context, you need to do some more work when you bring up the view.

Having brought up the view, do command-A (or Edit->Select All), and then right-click and select Focus in New Window. The new window will not have the search string, so you'll get all of the projects from the previous window, and all of the actions will be shown (subject to the view settings, of course).
 
 


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