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I keep playing with and changing the options for my "Do" perspective, in an attempt to get one I'm comfortable with and trust, but haven't got there yet.

Currently it's set like this:



I flag stuff I want to work on today in my daily review, then switch to this perspective.

But I'm not entirely happy with it. I'd really like to be able to select my current context in the sidebar, then work down the list from top to bottom, whereas currently I end up looking up and down the list, and procrastinating because nothing stands out as the obvious first thing to do.

The system I used to run (pre GTD) had me selecting actions to do today from a very inefficient list, then arranging them in the order I wanted to work on them. It was a bad system, other than the fact that I did have a list I could work down.

I don't really know why I'm not trusting my OF "Do" list yet. Am I setting the projects up wrongly in the first place so I don't actually trust OF's choice of next action (that's why I'm not showing next action currently), or have I just not yet come up with the correct view of the list? Should I be grouping it?

What do others do?

Mark

Last edited by MacBerry; 2008-08-29 at 07:55 AM..
 
I'm a big fan of grouping. I have several do lists: A "due soon" perspective (somewhat different from the default Omni Due Items perspective) grouped by due date, a Flagged perspective grouped by context, and a normal context view (my default do list) grouped by context. Since I often have a flexible schedule, I like my normal do list to be grouped by context: that way I can identify the contexts that might work best for me next. For instance, if I'm done with classes and meetings for the day, and I have a lot of items in my Library context, I might decide to go to the library, while if my Office context has a lot of things, I'm more likely to stay there and work through them.

Like you, I tend to show Available actions rather than Next. In my reviews I'm becoming increasingly careful about choosing whether a project should be sequential or parallel, and using action groups within projects to sequence actions. If I decide that a project or group should be parallel, I like seeing all available actions within it to help me decide where to go or what tool to get.
 
Brian's summary matches what I do. I use one other tweak if I'm feeling stuck or overwhelmed by the number of actions. I'll pop up one of my "doing" perspectives, then change to just next actions. This filters out all but the first action in my parallel projects, giving me a smaller list to choose from.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
I personally use grouping by context nearly exclusively to get a lot done. Unlike Brian and Curt I look for the smallest context (so long as it is not my read stuff on the internet context) so that I can clear it out. I get a big feeling of momentum and relief I guess when I clear out a work-related context. I also group by due date to clear out anything that is due in the next week or the next month if I can make it that far.
 
Hmm interesting.

I've kept away from grouping because I felt that grouping by project would cause me to concentrate too much on one project at a time, while grouping by context seemed a bit pointless when in context view anyway; in context view I just click on a context in the sidebar, and then see the actions for that context only, so I'm not sure I understand what grouping by context adds to that? Why have two ways to select a context to concentrate on, in the same window?

I'm also very interested in how people sort and set a days work to be done - do you tend to use flagging for that?

Mark
 
I group by context not only for planning, as I mentioned earlier, but also because I tend to select all the contexts that are currently available (in my office, for instance, I'll select not only Office but also Phone, Reflection, Reading, Computer, and Agenda contexts for people who are in the office that day). The context groupings then help me determine the specific context for a given action. I like a little redundancy.

As for deciding what to do: I have an Urgent perspective that groups and sorts remaining actions by due date; a Flagged perspective that shows me all available actions with flags; a Tickler perspective that shows me actions that start today, tomorrow, and in the next week; and a basic Do perspective with available actions grouped by context. I'll review Urgent, Flagged, and Tickler first thing in the morning, decide what's top priority for the day, get those things done, then go back to those perspectives. If I decide that I've made sufficient progress on the things in those perspectives, then I'll move on to my basic Do perspective; if that looks too big, I'll change the action filter from available to next.

For me, flags are not necessarily for a given day's work; instead, I use them to mark important tasks (those that seem more important than others in a time frame of a couple weeks to a few months). Something with a flag and an approaching due date is both urgent and important; something with an approaching due date is urgent but not important; something with a flag but no due date is important but not urgent; and something with neither is...well, you get the idea.

During my reviews, I review flags and due dates, and I use start dates to push things forward. That way my decisions about importance and urgency are reviewed more or less weekly (depending on the project/action list's review frequency).

Note: all of this represents an ideal--I'm not always as systematic as I should be. The one thing that saves my bacon is frequent reviews. Reviews are useful because they ensure that open commitments get regular attention. But I find that they also help me become more mindful of those commitments even when I don't have my OmniFocus list in front of me.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
I group by context not only for planning, as I mentioned earlier, but also because I tend to select all the contexts that are currently available (in my office, for instance, I'll select not only Office but also Phone, Reflection, Reading, Computer, and Agenda contexts for people who are in the office that day). The context groupings then help me determine the specific context for a given action. I like a little redundancy.
Thanks! That's a great use of this, and works around what I think is a major failing of OF - the fact that I can't freely choose what data to show inline in each mode. I should be able to show the context inline even in context view if I want to, thus allowing me to see it even if grouped by something else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
As for deciding what to do: I have an Urgent perspective that groups and sorts remaining actions by due date; a Flagged perspective that shows me all available actions with flags; a Tickler perspective that shows me actions that start today, tomorrow, and in the next week; and a basic Do perspective with available actions grouped by context. I'll review Urgent, Flagged, and Tickler first thing in the morning, decide what's top priority for the day, get those things done, then go back to those perspectives. If I decide that I've made sufficient progress on the things in those perspectives, then I'll move on to my basic Do perspective; if that looks too big, I'll change the action filter from available to next.
Hmm, good ideas. I'll try implementing my own versions of those. I've been trying to get everything into one "Do" perspective, but am realising I need to sub-divide it into other perspectives.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie View Post
For me, flags are not necessarily for a given day's work; instead, I use them to mark important tasks (those that seem more important than others in a time frame of a couple weeks to a few months). Something with a flag and an approaching due date is both urgent and important; something with an approaching due date is urgent but not important; something with a flag but no due date is important but not urgent; and something with neither is...well, you get the idea.
Ah now, as a newbie to GTD, I'd been trying to avoid priorities like that as not very "pure GTD", but I'm beginning to realise that unless I've missed something, GTD doesn't really offer a way to answer the specific "what am I going to do next" question; it just makes sure everything is collected and processed ready for that decision. I then need to "bolt on" ways to decide what to do.

I used to use exactly those kinds of priorities all the time, so maybe they'd fit into my comfort zone.

But again, this highlights a weakness in OF. I just tried to set up perspectives to reflect "important and urgent", "important but not urgent", "not important but urgent", and "neither urgent nor important", and it's impossible. I can do the first using flagged and due soon filters, can't do the second because I can't filter by NOT due soon, can do the third by filtering by no flag and due soon (inconsistency alert - why can I filter by NOT on some criteria but not others?), and can't do the fourth because again there's no way to filter out items with a due date.

Thanks for your input - very useful.

Mark
 
I cut down on the number of items in my daily list mostly by using Start dates. I'm new to this so I may be doing something altogether different next month, but I thought I'd post anyway:

In the weekly review, I decide whether I'm likely to work on each project at all this week. If not, but it's still not a pure "someday" project (which would be On Hold), I give the whole project a Start date sometime beyond the end of this week. For now, if I fear that I may or may not do a weekly review when I should, I shift important projects only to the following Monday, so I know they'll annoy me even if I don't do a review.

If a project has a tiny task that really must be done soon ("report quarterly budget status"), but the main body of the project is delayed, I'll tuck that tiny task into a single-action list called Administrative which is always active.

Then, as one of the last steps in the weekly review, I go to my "work due available" perspective, which is a context view, with focus on my Work folder, grouped by Due, filtered by Available. If I haven't thinned it recently enough, this view is likely to have an overwhelming number of tasks, especially in the "no due date" section. (I try to severely minimize the use of due dates.)

So I go through the tasks setting Start dates for the earliest day that I'm likely to be able to touch that task, whether in this week or in future weeks, until the list is less than one screenful. I try to do realistic/pessimistic estimating, without putting too much work in it, in the hope that many dates will hold and I won't have to reschedule every single task again next review. I also make sure that I've set sequential projects as such, so that I don't have to set a Start date for every task in those projects.

Then I use this same perspective day to day, occasionally shifting between Available and Next Action. As I go through the week, I continue to push start dates into the future every time I have more than a screenful of tasks. In the wildly unlikely case that I get _too_ much work done, I can shift to Remaining and give some tasks a sooner Start date.

For work, I tend not to narrow my tasks by context on a day to day basis, because the contexts don't change much. I still assign the contexts in the hope that I'll find them useful, but for now contexts are mainly useful for eliminating tasks from this main list. For example, I have an older PC that runs some special software, so when that PC is not available, I set the Old PC context to On Hold. The same for Wired Phone (as opposed to cellphone), Real Office (I usually work from home), and so on.

Gardener

Last edited by Gardener; 2008-09-03 at 03:42 PM..
 
 


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