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Hi. I am a new user to OmniFocus. Read GTD, and using OF on multiple Macs and iPhone. It's very nice. Have been a long time user of Outlook Exchange, but do not like their Tasks feature.

I have been adding my actions into projects and contexts. My current issue is, I seem to have a lot of contexts.

The contexts are in no particular order in the sidebar.
Can I have OF auto-arrange them alphabetically, so when adding contexts to an action, I can more easily find the context i'm looking for.

Also, is there an area in the forum which speaks more about using contexts. I try to search the forum threads about contexts, but can't seem to find anything regarding "best use".
I just seem to be adding more and more contexts as I use OmniFocus.

Thanks.
 
It won't auto-arrange them, but you can select a group of contexts in the sidebar, and invoke Edit->Sort->(your choice) to sort them.

How many contexts do you have? How many do you think you should have? :-)

I'm not in the camp that believes that a large number of contexts is necessarily a bad thing. Contexts exist to help you narrow the list of choices of what task to do next. If having another context helps you do that more effectively, and you can identify tasks that belong in that context when you add them, it's probably a good context. If you find yourself looking at all the tasks in a context and saying "I can't do that" because the context doesn't really describe the situation, you probably need another context.

Example: you might have a Computer context for tasks that need to be done at a computer. But what if you have both a Mac and a Windows machine, and tasks that can only be done at one of the machines? You don't want to have to look at your Computer context and evaluate each task to see if you can actually do it despite being at your computer. Maybe having a Computer context that has a Mac sub-context and a Windows sub-context nested inside would be better? Tasks that truly could be done on either computer you could put in the top-level Computer context, and other tasks would be filed according to the machine required. If you select Computer in the sidebar in Context mode, you'll see all of the actions in all three contexts, and if you select Computer : Mac you would only see those for the Mac. If you group the view by context, you can see the actions for the contexts organized by context instead of commingled. Sit down at your Mac, look at the Computer : Mac context and execute. Have a look at the Computer context as well to see if there's anything there you should do. No need to consider whether the tasks you see are appropriate for the machine you are using.

Similarly, if you track errands in OmniFocus, you might want to subdivide your errands context by store if you have items you only want to purchase at specific locations. "Buy a carton of milk" might go in the general Errands : Grocery store context, but you might want to defer purchasing toilet paper until you are at the warehouse store due to the better price, so it gets filed in Errands : Costco. As above, if you found yourself at Costco, you'd do the stuff on the Costco list, but as you went through the grocery section of the store, you'd check the Errands : Grocery store context to see if there's anything there that needs attention.

Implicit in my philosophy here is a bit of lazy or opportunistic execution -- I'm willing to have plenty of actions outstanding that I'm not going to act on until the time/place is right. If you are determined to have your lists empty at the end of every day, much of this doesn't matter. There are a lot of interesting threads in the Applying OmniFocus forum for more viewpoints on this and other topics.

Last edited by whpalmer4; 2009-11-24 at 10:23 AM.. Reason: add a bit more detail to usage suggestions
 
You bring up a good point about alphabetizing -- as far as I can tell, only the projects alphabetize. I would like to have multiple sort options on all levels, especially on the level of the action within a project.

Sometimes within a project I need to see actions by the day they are due, or sometimes within a list, I need to see things in alpha order so I can find them (such as books to read, movies to watch, etc.)

If there is already a way to do this, please let me know, but if there isn't it would be really helpful!

Thanks!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ReeEs View Post
You bring up a good point about alphabetizing -- as far as I can tell, only the projects alphabetize. I would like to have multiple sort options on all levels, especially on the level of the action within a project.

Sometimes within a project I need to see actions by the day they are due, or sometimes within a list, I need to see things in alpha order so I can find them (such as books to read, movies to watch, etc.)

If there is already a way to do this, please let me know, but if there isn't it would be really helpful!

Thanks!
It's possible to just sort the actions for display, or to actually rearrange them in your project.

To have the option of sorting the actions for display purposes only, view them in Context mode, not Project mode. In Context mode, the sorting operations controlled by the View Bar operate on individual actions, whereas in Project mode, the sorting operations operate on individual projects. Any changes you make here are temporary, and only affect the window in which you make them.

To actually rearrange items in a project by name, due date, etc., view the project in Project mode, select the actions to be sorted in the main panel of the outline, and use Edit->Sort->(your choice) to do so. Remember to think about what you are doing before doing this -- it doesn't make much sense to put the actions in a sequential project into alphabetical order :-)

Some examples:

You have 3 projects you are working on, plus a Single Action List full of household chores and errands. You want to see what needs to be done in the next few days. Select those projects + SAL, Focus on them (with View->Focus or select Focus from the contextual menu gotten by right-clicking or use the Toolbar Focus button if you've installed it), switch to viewing contexts by pressing cmd-2 or View->Context Mode, and sort and/or group by Due in the View Bar.

You've got a list of books you want to read, and for ease of updating and checking, you'd like to put it in alphabetical order. In Project mode, select all the rows in the list, and do Edit->Sort->By Name to rearrange the rows just as if you had dragged them one at a time by hand, except faster. However, if you want to then see which book has been on the list the longest, so you can read that first, go to Context mode and use the View Bar to sort by date added.
 
 


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