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How can I keep track of delegated tasks? I'm not talking about a someday/maybe list, but a list of active tasks that I am not completing, that something outside of me is depending on.

I tried to create a delegation system using contexts, but it is limited. I created an @Waiting context, and added @Joe as a subcontext under @Waiting. That way, anything that I'm waiting on from Joe will appear in that context. However, this does not work: OmniFocus does not know that actions with an @Joe context are out of my control and still will count them as next actions.

Are there plans on adding a delegation feature, or is there already one hidden away somewhere?
 
How to deal with delegation is one of the most contentious issues in GTD tools. I understand that Omni's view is that you should use contexts for this (@Joe etc) but I am not sure that it is an adequate solution. The context for a delegated action IMO is the place/time where you remind/chase/pester that person to complete the action.

The only tool that I have seen addressing this well is ThinkingRock. iGTD has it in its road map (in fact, the 1.4 released this week already allows you to filter for delegated actions, but you can't enter them :-)))

By the way, I think a delegated action can be the next action, if your own actions depend on it. Also, if you say that an action is completely out of your control, then it isn't really delegated, but you're just waiting for someting to happen. Delegation, as I understand it, means you ask someone to something for you, and the control you have is limited (you can chase), but it is real nevertheless.

Anyway, I have raised the delegation requirement on the Omni blog a while ago. Omni's view is, as I said, to use contexts. For some people this will be OK, but I'm not one of them.

(still waiting for the OF alpha...)
 
I'm not using OmniFocus yet, but let me see if I understand what you are trying to do.

You want a projects actions to be on hold, or invisible, because you are waiting for so and so to do something.

You can accomplish this with contexts.
You created a context for waiting for: Joe
Now you need to make your project sequential and make sure the task for joe is at the top of the list.

This will hide all other tasks until you check off the task associated with joe.

I'm assuming OmniFocus is allowing the sequential/parallel switch based on a task and not on an entire project. If this is true... here is how you would set up a project to automatically become parallel after the waiting for item is checked off:

- paint house: sequential
--call Joe about painting: waiting for
--Paint the house: parallel
---paint northside
---paint south side
---paint east side
---paint west side

once you have what you are waiting for from joe. the other 4 tasks should show up in their respective contexts.


Bushford:
I don't know where the contention comes in for contexts. If you have read Getting Things Done by David Allen, you will see that Allen has a context called waiting for. In the context he will put:
wf Joe to call me about tools
wf Susan to get materials

Contexts are not about place/time, but what tools you have avalible to you, which could include a place/time.
I am near a phone... go to the phone context
I am at the grocerystore... go to the grocerystore context
I have 10 min before my meeting starts and near a computer, what can I complete in 10 min.

Filtering for deligated actions is the same as filtering for deligated contexts.
 
I have read the good book, but I find in practice that waiting for as a context doesn't work for me, for delegated actions.

If I have a weekly meeting with Joe, then this meeting is for me the context for the delegated action. It is also the context where I have some actions for myself (e.g. "explain the planning for next month")

Susan, on the other hand, I never meet. I only talk to her on the phone. So that delegated action goes to the @Phone context.

The context information about an action is just not the same as the information about who has to do it.

So, I respectfully disagree.

I believe that David Allen is oversimplifying the treatment of delegated actions (am I a heretic now :) ?).

Particularly if 50% of the actions in my system are delegated, the context solution just doesn't fly for me.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mattw
I tried to create a delegation system using contexts, but it is limited. I created an @Waiting context, and added @Joe as a subcontext under @Waiting. That way, anything that I'm waiting on from Joe will appear in that context. However, this does not work: OmniFocus does not know that actions with an @Joe context are out of my control and still will count them as next actions.
Select the @Joe context, pull up the Context inspector, and turn off "Allows next actions". Now you won't see any actions assigned to the @Joe context.

I should note that that's not how I tend to work, myself: instead, I put a task in my Agenda:Joe context (which does allow next actions) so that I can ask Joe about it the next time I see him (possibly with a future start date so I don't bug him prematurely). But just because that's how I do it doesn't mean it's how you should!
 
Hi Ken,

I have tried that approach in kGTD for a while, but I kept finding myself scanning these Agenda:Joe "contexts" all the time while I was actually in another context (@Phone, @email, @developersmeeting). Not exactly efficient in GTD terms.

Anyway, as soon as I get a chance to try out OF I'll see what can be done and if there's another creative way of applying the context concept.

I admit I would be disappointed not to have any structural support in OF for delegation. ThinkingRock has the feature, and iGTD has it in the pipeline...

OK, I shouldn't tease :-)
 
I guess, for me, the problem really lies in OmniFocus's filtering mechanism. When I click on my @Joe context, I want to see ALL tasks under that context by default, since it is a "special" (for me) context ("Waiting for", "Agenda", what have you)

To solve this, OmniFocus should either remember the filters you apply on a context-by-context basis, or allow you to apply a default filter for a context. In other words, I know that every time I click on @Joe, I want to see ALL tasks, nut just available ones or next actions. Why should I have to configure this every time, when otherwise I just want to see available tasks or next actions?
 
Hmm... In strict GTD, this situation sounds like you have 2 tasks: 1) Joe paints the house (in @Waiting), 2) Remind Joe to paint the house (in whatever context you would apply to the next time you want to contact him). One task for Joe, one task for you.

That's all in Focus right now.

It seems that some of this could be automated. Perhaps Focus could recognize @Waiting (or whatever) as delegated tasks and automatically prompt for a reminder or follow-up task? Perhaps you could attach multiple contexts to a task?

I can see this stuff being helpful, but also possibly as unnecessary additions to the UI. Above all, I think this thing needs to be simple, simple, simple.
 
Hmm... To keep it simple, when you delegate something, there should be only one thing you have to enter in OF, not 1) Joe paints the house 2) Remind Joe to paint the house. That's a reason why I think there should be specific functionality for delegated tasks.

Delegated stuff is not simply "waiting for": we wait for things over which we have no control (the weather, a parcel arriving by post, ...) but when we delegate, we still control and chase...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bushford
I have read the good book, but I find in practice that waiting for as a context doesn't work for me, for delegated actions.

If I have a weekly meeting with Joe, then this meeting is for me the context for the delegated action. It is also the context where I have some actions for myself (e.g. "explain the planning for next month")

Susan, on the other hand, I never meet. I only talk to her on the phone. So that delegated action goes to the @Phone context.

The context information about an action is just not the same as the information about who has to do it.

So, I respectfully disagree.

I believe that David Allen is oversimplifying the treatment of delegated actions (am I a heretic now :) ?).

Particularly if 50% of the actions in my system are delegated, the context solution just doesn't fly for me.
It seems that some tasks may have multiple contexts, depending on one's view or perspective at the time. For instance one could put the delegated task for Susan in @Phone and @Agenda:Susan and @Waiting For. Not multiple tasks, but multiple views of the same task from different contexts. Modification or completion of the task in any one context is reflected in the other contexts.

Does OmniFocus support multiple contexts in this way?
 
 


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