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Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton
Let me add to the chorus that every task in a parallel project should be a next action.
Let me respectfully disagree. In my way of thinking, a sequential project has tasks that must be done in order. In a parallel project, tasks don't have that absolute dependency, but I might still decide that some of them are higher priority and drag them into a rough order.

I'd like to keep the first of those designated as the "next action" because, in a practical sense, it is, even if in a logical sense, all of the tasks are potential next actions. Otherwise, I don't see the point of filtering "next actions" vs. available actions.

OmniFocus allows both, and I'd like to preserve the distinction. That way when I filter next actions, I get the one thing that I either must do next (for sequential projects) or really ought to do next (for parallel projects).
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie
Let me respectfully disagree. In my way of thinking, a sequential project has tasks that must be done in order. In a parallel project, tasks don't have that absolute dependency, but I might still decide that some of them are higher priority and drag them into a rough order.

I'd like to keep the first of those designated as the "next action" because, in a practical sense, it is, even if in a logical sense, all of the tasks are potential next actions. Otherwise, I don't see the point of filtering "next actions" vs. available actions.

OmniFocus allows both, and I'd like to preserve the distinction. That way when I filter next actions, I get the one thing that I either must do next (for sequential projects) or really ought to do next (for parallel projects).
Well said. It sounds like my alternative suggestion would satisfy both of our uses:

Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton
... if I can make Available Actions and Next Actions appear the same, then I can just use the Available Actions filter and be happy.
Some of us can choose to format the actions the same, blurring the distinction that we don't personally find useful. Others can maintain the distinction if they want.

The only problem then is if someone wants to mix the two uses. It sounds like three types of projects are needed to handle that: sequential, "parallel but ordered", and "parallel and not ordered". Snappier names would also be in order, so to speak.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton
Some of us can choose to format the actions the same, blurring the distinction that we don't personally find useful. Others can maintain the distinction if they want.
That's a great idea--once formatting changes are preserved between restarts of OmniFocus!

To go back to handling single tasks: The more I think about it, the more I agree with chrjohns that the Inbox should be available in context view as well as project view, and that tasks that are assigned a context should be moved out of the inbox and placed in the proper context list, regardless of whether they are part of a project.

Any tasks that have a context but not a project could appear in the project view in a section between the Inbox and the projects, called "Unassigned" (or "Single Tasks" or whatever). They could then, if necessary, be assigned a project by entering one in the project column or dragging them to a project.

Last edited by brianogilvie; 2007-05-19 at 08:51 AM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chrjohns
The context lists really seem to be the most important part of the GTD process because they are the lists that you review when you actually want to get some work done. The project list is just one way of getting next actions onto your context lists.

One possible solution would be to ever so slightly course correct OmniFocus so that the focus is on the context lists. The inbox would be just a default context that captures next actions if they are entered without a context or project. As soon as a context or project is assigned to the next action (or in other words "it is processed"), it disappears from the inbox and appears on the new context list. It does not show up in the project list ... unless you associate a project name with it. Then it magically appears as part of a project too. OmniFocus would also have the flexibility to add the item as a project first, before adding any next actions. But adding the next action to a project would not be required to move it out of the inbox. Leaving it in the inbox seems like it has not been processed.
FYI: I don't have the OmniFocus app yet, so I can't really speak to what the app does or doesn't do.

Part of my problem with, well, doing just about anything, is I will process, manipulate, modify a task or project - and frequently never get around to actually doing anything. What I like about GTD is it's focus on doing the tasks at hand. Part and parcel of that was a low barrier to creating a task, and then an equally low barrier to actually doing it.

Right now, I create a task and usually put it in a context immediately. I don't always put it in a project. And I don't want to _have_to put a task in a project. That's one more bit of editing, manipulating, processing that'd stall me from getting it done. Tasks to me are by default single action tasks. I may want to tag it as part of a project (at creation time or later), but that isn't something that has to be accomplished for the task to be "real."

All of my tasks should have a context. And all of my tasks that are part of a project should be tagged with that project. And all my tasks that are actually multi-step should be changed to projects. Although my tasks _should_be all these things, they sometimes aren't. But I don't want to find myself forced to cajole my tasks into these boxes, forced to focus on managing the system and not the tasks.

Hopefully, tasks in OmniFocus would be equally available to me to accomplish whether or not they are still in the inbox, whether or not they have an assigned context, whether or not they have an assigned project. OmniFocus maybe should encourage some "best practices" for GTD, but it shouldn't require it. I want to be able to focus work on my tasks, not on my GTD system.
 
Having multiple next actions from various projects or from project-less tasks is one way of providing choices. Beyond the ordering of tasks (an attempt at setting priority) and selecting a context, task may be chosen based on time and energy available which is information not available the program which would allow it to promote the next action most appropriately. To help the user choose, tasks could be tagged with these qualities. The interface could say "I've got this high priority task which will take all of your attention but only for 15 minutes, are you ready for me? or do you want to do that brainless task that will take you to the end of your shift and let you talk on your cell phone to your girlfriend at the same time?"

Since there is more to choosing the next action than context and sequence, I think the program cannot be expected to make the final choice.

-Paul (waiting for February list enrollees to roll around)

Last edited by pjb; 2007-05-21 at 05:03 AM..
 
The app has come a long way since that last post, and now there is a way to manage single Tasks.

I find it a bit unnerving that the single Tasks do not appear in the Project view which is where I do my thinking and editing. brianogilvie's special inbox-like folder in the Project view would be nice.
 
What I like about the changes so far is the fact that you now have the option of creating a "singlton" project, if you want to, and adding single actions to that, or you can simply allow the single actions to live only in the context lists, which is what I do. Now it would be great if they added an Inbox to the context view.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by duodecad
So if single items are going to go into some default place if you don't enter a project for them, I'd rather see that place be a project-like bucket-- a default "Single Actions" project or folder or something like that.

For what it's worth, this is why it makes sense to me to just create a project called "single tasks" and then dump my single tasks in there, and mark it as a "parallel" project so that tasks can be done in any order. The only thing I'd like to see beyond that is the idea suggested above, where for this particular bucket/project/whatever-you-call-it, you could have it show n next actions where n is a user-defined number-- or you could set it to "all" so that OF shows them all as next actions, no matter how many single tasks you've got in there. That would be really fantastic!
How about instead of a "dedicated" project that you create yourself for Singletons, OmniFpcus creates a "Smart Project" which consists of singletons that are not assigned to a project?


I don't know why, but I freak out a bit when I click on the Clean Up button, and all of my "singletons" disappear from Project View. I know I can see them just fine over there in Context View, but it makes me feel like data loss has occurred....


I think I like this Smart Project concept - it could have a different icon/color and be called "Singletons" or "No Project"
I like it over some of the other suggestions because:

- it allows singletons to be viewed in Project View - eliminates that feeling that there is data missing
- it gets them out of the Inbox
- it requires no "additional work" - it is done automatically on "Clean Up" and does not have to be assigned to a Project by drag-and-drop (and you do not have to create the Project"
- it eliminates the weird feeling you get when you drag a singleton to a project - because even as you do it, you know this task isn't part of a project, and it just feels funny - it takes your mind off of GTD
- it is more consistent with GTD, because you are not filing a task into a no-real Project, it is more like a "convenience grouping" within the Project View of OF
- it is elegant
 
One reason you need to be able to see project-less actions in project view as well is this: sometimes you might simply forget to assign a project, or mistakenly Clean Up before assigning a project. What if you don't remember what context you assigned it to? Go fishing through it in context view? Not nice.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by brianogilvie
I have a project called "Stay Organized," where I put unrelated tasks. I suppose it might better be called "Keep Head above Water"!

Funny enough, my equivalent to that is called '@storm in a desktop'.
 
 


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