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Estimated Time Daily Limits Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I've been using OF for about a month now and I've been thinking it would be really nice to be able set some preferences regarding Estimated Time. I tend to go through my tasks each day and delegate them to various dates in the future (tomorrow, Wednesday, Thursday, next Monday, etc). So, it seems that it would be really helpful to be able to set a daily time limit to avoid overbooking.

For example, I could set a limit of 6 hours per day that I am willing to book in advance. Then, if I set estimated time on a task and exceed the allotted time for the desired day, I would get an alert. I could then set my new task for a different day or shuffle some lower priority tasks and make room for the new task on the day it needs to be done.
I concur that this would be a wonderful feature!
That sounds like a very cool feature request. I think daily I would struggle because mine usually totals to 48+ hours per day.

Check out this forum in the mean time it has a script I use multiple times a day to see how much time it takes me to complete the rest of the actions I want to do most. Just highlight the actions you want and then run the script with QuickSilver or something similar.

Or of course stick it in your user library:Sripts:Applications:OmniFocus folder, then add it to you toolbar. An easy way to get to you user library folder in Lion is to hold down the option key in the finder and click on the "Go" menu.
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Last edited by skillet; 2012-04-07 at 03:44 AM..
I wished i could use estimated time but it never works out for me. I may estimate that a project or task will take 30 minutes but then suddenly explodes and becomes half a day if not more.

For example, I'll estimate that changing a kitchen faucet should take 30 minutes. But then suddenly, a supply hose that is attached to the faucet is also leaking. Then the shutoff valve is rusty and now I'll have to get some tools that I don't normally have around. So suddenly this 30 minute project becomes 60 minutes because the scope has expanded suddenly.

I realize that time estimates may be useful but my life tends to be too fluid for me to even plan a day or week. What I do instead is to do a Weekly Review and choose 3 projects as my "Big Rocks of the Week." I'll flag these projects as projects I really want to advance significantly this week.

You can Google for "Big Rocks of the Week" as a strategy to planning your workweek.

Another time management trick I do is to just set aside blocks of time during the day to try to work uninterrupted on a particular project. I don't really use time estimates for this. I just try to get as much done as I can during these 30 minute, 60 minute, 90 minute blocks.

Interestingly enough, your project will often expand to the time you have allotted. You may have allotted a task or project for 60 minutes. But you may be working and let the time drag on for the whole hour when you could have just finished it in half the time.

So, for my particular situation, I don't really like using estimated time durations and have it hidden from my OmniFocus perspectives.
All of those are good points with which I agree, but I reach a different conclusion :-)

I only put estimates on things where I am very confident of the duration, or where the estimate will be particularly helpful. The most usual case of that is something that I know will be particularly short or long. I have a perspective called Quick Dash that will show me all of the available tasks which have an estimate of 5 minutes or less. This is useful for quickly finding something to do when I only have a little bit of time, or for finding a handful of things I can do to build up some momentum, if you will getting a handful of things done will get me rolling, whereas tackling one big thing when I'm feeling unmotivated often doesn't end well. Similarly, a search for items taking more than 1 hour can be handy if I have some uninterrupted time, plenty of energy, and want to tackle some of the tasks that otherwise never seem to get done.

In the end, only about 5% of my available tasks have estimates, but many of them are repeating tasks, so those estimates are pretty good and well-amortized. In general, I don't make much overall use of the duration estimates because of the problems pointed out by wilsonng, but there are some areas where value can be had even though most tasks don't have estimates.
I agree, things always take way more time than I expect and the pomodoro technique has really helped me in this area more than GTD. Which I started before I had even heard of GTD.

I on the other hand really like putting times on everything even if some big projects are next to impossible to put a very accurate number on. It helps me a little in not being a perfectionist on things that don't need it. The biggest help for me is for daily "sharpening the saw" (Steven Covey) actions that are timed events to make sure I am increasing my skills in various areas daily by a set amount of time.

I put those all in a context and use a perspective that sorts them in numbered priority and then I highlight what is left to see how much time is needed. All are listed in 25 minute chunks for me, so 50 minutes would be an hour two five minute breaks. That is what seems to work best for me.

Reading this post and replying would be part of those "Sharpening the Saw" goals that are timed.

Interesting to me to read how people use the time feature.
Some tasks require a particular computing context (necessary apps all loaded, and distracting apps all closed), and I prefer a discipline of doing them only for N minutes (N=50, for example) at a time before quickly writing up the status quo and the next step, and moving on to something else.

(In my case, tasks like drafting text, writing code, sketching or refining diagrams etc. )

I have an OF context for each of these working environments, and a script which uses the Concentrate application to reset the computing environment, and also set a timer, based on the OF context and estimated minutes.
Originally Posted by RobTrew View Post
I have an OF context for each of these working environments, and a script which uses the Concentrate application to reset the computing environment, and also set a timer, based on the OF context and estimated minutes.
This is great Rob, I have looked at Concentrate several times in the past but have not implemented it yet. I think your script will be the missing piece. You are an amazing scripter!

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