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jasong,

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
Alex, care to discuss your blog post here? I'm curious about the idea of "contexts" being time-based as well as place- or tool-based.

My concern is that I don't know *when* I might want to do something, and putting something into "today", "next week" and "later" contexts is not very specific to when you *can* do something, as opposed to when you *might* do something.
At some point, you have to know *when* you do something. You are at that point when you decide the next action you will be doing. You will look at your next actions lists, and for each one ask yourself the question "am I going to do this next?"

Instead of going through all your next actions every time you select one, just pick one flagged as "today". How did it get there? Because you put it there, and this is called planning.

Planning is something you do naturally. You do it in your head. You keep track of "what you're planning to do today". What I (or other people here) propose is to dump into the system this information you have in your head.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
If you only have a "computer" context, surely there's a further breakdown you can make based on applications or behavior you do at the computer? Email, Research, Maintainence.... Instead of thinking "I do everything in front of my computer", think "what tools or mindset do I need to be in when in front of my computer".
I have found that breaking down things this way doesn't help me. I am not deciding what to do next based on whether I feel like doing research or maintenance. I am doing research or maintenance based on whether it makes sense for me to do research or maintenance. And instead of figuring out what makes sense next (research or maintenance?) every time I pick a next action, it makes more sense to capture this output of this thinking into the system.

If today I want to do some research, instead of putting that next action in the "research" context and keeping in my head that I want to do some research today, I put that next action in "today".

Does this make sense?

Alex
 
Pierre,

Quote:
Originally Posted by pvonk View Post
I would think the start date could be used to indicate when an action needs to be brought to my attention.
Yes, you can use the "start date" for this. In fact I have even been suggesting that you can use your calendar to store your next actions, as long as you calendar lets you put those in a different "category", so you can easily see the different between "next actions" and "real calendar items" that really need to take place at that given date and time.

You can read more about this on:

http://avernet.blogspot.com/2007/08/...ctions-in.html

Alex
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by avernet View Post
Does this make sense?
The short answer is “nope“.

A slightly longer answer follows.

I think we're approaching how to get stuff done from different angles. The time I choose to do my next action is a function of context, time available and energy, or what I like to think as “I don't feel like it”. Just because I artificially said I'd do something “today” doesn't mean I will, or even that I should. Heck, it doesn't even mean that I can.

Picking the ones flagged as “today” is as good a gating factor as any other method someone can use to pick an action, it's just not a way that makes sense for me or for how I approach my “list of agreements” (aka “projects”).

Quote:
Instead of going through all your next actions every time you select one, just pick one flagged as “today“. How did it get there? Because you put it there, and this is called planning.

Planning is something you do naturally. You do it in your head. You keep track of “what you're planning to do today“. What I (or other people here) propose is to dump into the system this information you have in your head.
Indeed, planning is something you do naturally, and the point of using OmniFocus (or iGTD or Google Calendars or a Moleskine or any of a thousand other methods) is to get stuff out of your head. It's basic Getting Things Done. I think we all understand that; it's why we're here, on the OmniFocus forum.


Quote:
I have found that breaking down things this way doesn't help me. I am not deciding what to do next based on whether I feel like doing research or maintenance. I am doing research or maintenance based on whether it makes sense for me to do research or maintenance. And instead of figuring out what makes sense next (research or maintenance?) every time I pick a next action, it makes more sense to capture this output of this thinking into the system.
Isn't that the point of Contexts? I don't want to presume anything other than you've read Getting Things Done a bunch of times, and understand the concepts, so I won't go into any detail. I will note that “ deciding what to do next based on whether I feel like doing research or maintenance” is exactly what you should be doing. If you're in a “research mood”, it's useful to have “research items” you can focus on to move a project forward. If you choose to “do research” because it “makes sense to do research” how is that any different from “deciding I feel like doing research”?


Quote:
If today I want to do some research, instead of putting that next action in the “research“ context and keeping in my head that I want to do some research today, I put that next action in “today“.
OK... what does it take for you to “do research today”? Does it require that you're at your computer? In a library? Have online access? Can you “do research” for your action at the grocery store?

If you're looking at a list of “actions to do today”, and you can't do half of those actions because you don't have a cellphone to make a phone call, aren't in the grocery to buy the eggs, or aren't online to search Google, all you have is a list of To-Do items you have to mentally scroll through until you find the one action you can do today.

That just would stress me out.
 
As I said above, I'm not asking to replace contexts with priority. (Someone early in this thread suggested that I use contexts that way, but I rejected it.) The cell phone/grocery store example above is a red herring. I'm just looking for a way to filter down my list of 60 available items, all of which I could do in my current actual physical context, to a more manageable number, and the single flag feels too crude.
 
OK; I'm sorry I missed that particular detail.

I wonder if the other features already in OF can be helpful here. There's the duration filter, there's grouping by project, due and start dates, date added and changed. Perhaps even the search field in conjuction with the notes field and a script.
 
Quote:
duration filter, there's grouping by project, due and start dates, date added and changed
all of those have their own functions, some of which are partially useful to the problem in question, but don't solve it.

Quote:
search field in conjuction with the notes field and a script
Definitely possible, but to make it useable would require quite a bit of development. Might be worth it, but it's not something I'm going to be able to do any time soon....
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
I think we're approaching how to get stuff done from different angles. The time I choose to do my next action is a function of context, time available and energy, or what I like to think as “I don't feel like it”. Just because I artificially said I'd do something “today” doesn't mean I will, or even that I should. Heck, it doesn't even mean that I can.

Picking the ones flagged as “today” is as good a gating factor as any other method someone can use to pick an action, it's just not a way that makes sense for me or for how I approach my “list of agreements” (aka “projects”).
Maybe my perspective comes from the number of next actions I have. Say you have 30 projects (and I am sure many of us have many more projects), each with 10 next actions. That gives you 300 next actions. If most of those are done on a computer, each time you select a next action, you will maybe need to go through 250 next actions. That doesn't sound reasonable. Most likely what you will do is to go through all the 250 next actions once in a while (maybe every day) and build a mental representation of what you are planning to do today. All I am suggesting is to put that in the system; don't keep it in your head, and flag those next actions that you are planning to do today as "today".

If you don't put that in the system, and if you don't go through the whole list of next actions every time you select on, your head won't be able to trust the system and it will constantly keep track those next actions you want or need to do today.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
If you're looking at a list of “actions to do today”, and you can't do half of those actions because you don't have a cellphone to make a phone call, aren't in the grocery to buy the eggs, or aren't online to search Google, all you have is a list of To-Do items you have to mentally scroll through until you find the one action you can do today.
Most of the time, I can do most of the next actions on my list. (I almost always have an Internet connection, a cell phone, ...) There is only a tiny minority of the next actions on my list that require me to be in a special context (grocery store, at home, ...). This is why most of the time, the notion of "context" doesn't help much filtering out the next actions I can't do at a given time.

Alex
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by avernet View Post
Maybe my perspective comes from the number of next actions I have. Say you have 30 projects (and I am sure many of us have many more projects), each with 10 next actions. That gives you 300 next actions....
It should give you 300 Available actions but only 30 Next actions, unless many of your projects are single action buckets. You might find it useful to use the Next action filter from time to time when you need to narrow your focus down.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
It should give you 300 Available actions but only 30 Next actions, unless many of your projects are single action buckets. You might find it useful to use the Next action filter from time to time when you need to narrow your focus down.
What is the difference between "available" and "next"? I have to admit that I never tried to use this feature.

Alex
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by avernet View Post
What is the difference between "available" and "next"? I have to admit that I never tried to use this feature.
That question is best answered by describing the three types of projects/lists. I am leaving out action groups for simplicity, but they behave essentially the same way.

1. Sequential Project - The first action in the project is the "next" action. No other action is "available" because, in a sequential project, the actions must be performed in a certain sequence.

2. Parallel Project - The first action in the project is the "next" action. All other action are "available" because, in a parallel project, the actions can be performed in any sequence. You can rearrange the actions to make whichever one you select the "next" action.

3. Single Actions List - All actions are "next" because the actions are independent of one another. There is no logical sequence in which they should be performed.

Edit: In addition, you can affect the availability of an action by changing its start date. A future start date makes an otherwise available action unavailable.

Last edited by dhm2006; 2007-10-09 at 03:52 AM..
 
 


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