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Finally: An elegant way to handle tasks that are "in progress" (?) Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Originally Posted by Ricomo View Post
I put partially completed tasks and some 'waiting for's' (like if I'm waiting for an outcome to see if the desired outcome has, in fact, been accomplished, i.e., plant tomato seeds) in parenthesis. If I delegate something to someone and need to follow up, the task (or more accurately, the task of delegating the main task) is marked complete, then I enter a new task to follow up with so and so about such and such. Or sometimes I'll just put the main task in parenthesis until I know that it has been accomplished by the person I delegated to. Hope this helps.
I like that! Now, if I can have a little button that adds (or removes) the parentheses around my task with *one* click, we're happening! But highlighting the item, pop-editing the name, moving to one end to add a parenthesis, then moving to the other end, etc., is too much work.

So far, every single suggestion that's been made is more complicated than mine. Somehow, somewhere, I should be able to indicate that a task is in progress or on hold (or whatever purpose to which the user might assign this feature) with one click.

I think a 3-position checkbox is the simplest. The checkboxes are already part of the UI, so an *optional* feature to give an intermediate position would be clean. But I also like the parentheses! I really do. I just want something quick-and-dirty that I can toggle on and back off without a lot of typing. :-)
I completely agree with the point that SoundsGoodtoMe is making. Phone calls are multi-step affairs but the steps are so completely known that only a few bits of information are needed to move the "project" along. Did I make the initial call? On what date? How long do I wait for this person to call back (something you don't really need to write down and which is different for different people)? Has that interval passed? Call again. At some point start sending emails written ALL IN CAPS! :-)

OF should have built-in options to handle this sort of thing with an absolute minimum of effort. That is the whole point of computer software. Not everyone might need or want this kind of phone contact functionality. For those people, under Sounds... proposal, it's an option in preferences- no plausible skin off of anyones back if not selected.

A 3 stage check mark is the best solution I've heard so far for this particular commonly encountered situation.

The way I've been dealing with these (I need (maybe) to call back later) is to change the start date of the event. I call, I don't talk to the person or they promise to call me back, so I just click on "start date" and type "1w" to remember it next week. I found this was sufficient in many cases, fairly fast (no need to enter a new next action), and it works with what is currently available ;-)
Maybe this was mentioned already, but I don't see it: why not create an "in progress" context?
Soundsgootome, a few things in response:

* I understand your position that OF is not a GTD implementation. The truth is that a huge percentage of the people on this forum are using it specifically to implement GTD, and that the reason for starting up OF was because people wanted a better GTD application based off kGTD. Of course you're going to get a lot of "it's not GTD if you do it that way" type comments. Please don't take it personally, but do expect to get an argument if someone thinks something isn't GTD Canonical (as "Canonical" as something like GTD can get, anyway). It doesn't mean it doesn't belong in OF, just that we like justifying its inclusion.

* I'm gathering that you believe when I and others say

The calls/voicemail situation is similar. You had an action "call susan re: potluck" and you did that. When you completed it, you had another action come out from it: "wait to hear back from susan re: potluck"
that you believe we mean we'll plan out the steps of our call in advance. You say

Originally Posted by soundsgoodtome View Post
I don't need to write down "Wait to hear back from susan"; then write down "If no reply from Susan, call again," Rinse. Repeat. That is too much busy-work.
Of course it's too much busy-work, and I don't do this in advance, I do it at the time I need to, and I do it as a reminder that I have to Do Something. My action is "Call Susan". That's it. If I Call Susan, and leave a voice mail, and my project is blocked until I hear back from Susan, then I can either

1. leave the Call Susan action unchecked (don't like that, cause I did call her!)
2. check it with some kind of “in progress” or “waiting for” status (interesting as a concept)
3. mark it as done and add a “waiting for” action (typical GTD)

I like the last one because I may not come back to this project for a month or six. When I do come back, and I see the first option, I have to recall if I called, if I need to call again, if whatever.... The second option could work if marking with such a status appropriately blocks my project and shows up as an action reminder.

OK, in fact, there's a fourth option, and the one I generally use:

4. Move the action to a waiting for context instead of a calls context and leave it unchecked. In my “system” if I see “Call Susan @waiting for” I know that means I'm waiting on a call back. If it's in there too long, I move it back to Calls.

Is this too much fiddling? Perhaps. It does generally work for me, though.

You quoted me

If you see an action of "call susan re: potluck", and it has the "in progress" mark, what does that tell me? That I called and left a voicemail and... what? She needs to call me back? I need to call her back later? Do I have to wait for Susan, or can I move ahead?
and you said in response

Originally Posted by soundsgoodtome View Post
If you truly need to ask yourself all of those questions, I can see why pure GTD is helpful to you. When I see "in progress," I know what it means, and I know what to do next.
I take that to mean you either have a great memory, a fantastic capture and retrieval system, or you don't work on projects you might have to lay fallow for six months. I don't have the first one, and I often work on stuff that, when I return to them, I have no idea what I've done and what needs to be done. That's why I'm trying to build the second, in the form of GTD, OF and other tools. So yes, if I see “Call Susan re:potluck” and I return to that a month from now, it's very likely that I don't remember if I got a response, if I left her a message, or if she called me back and I forgot to check the box that says “this is done”.

There's not enough information in a “third state” for me to know what I should do next with that action. If it's the next day, heck, no problem. But let time and other projects invade my brain and I need some more context to take appropriate action. It's why I write stuff down. I envy you if you can pick stuff up weeks or months later!
Originally Posted by sprugman View Post
Maybe this was mentioned already, but I don't see it: why not create an "in progress" context?
I think an in progress Context would often hide tasks that are of high priority by removing them from the context where they could actually be accomplished.
An in-progress status would, for some people, indicate a priority for that task, something like, "I should complete this task before I forget how I was doing it/what my variables meant/what distinctions I was going to write about...."
I think an in progress Context would often hide tasks that are of high priority by removing them from the context where they could actually be accomplished.
only if you never review your in progress context. that's how I handle waiting fors, and I have a perspective and check it as part of my daily review. I haven't needed it for in progress, but I could see doing the same thing.
I have to say, I'm a little baffled by this thread. As I understand it, from the very beginning, OF has been conceived and designed as a GTD app. It came from kGTD. Sure, other folks are welcome to use it, but it's primarily meant for implementing GTD. If you don't want to use GTD, there are plenty of other productivity apps out there for you to use instead.

That said, I can't see what good an "in progress" context or setting would be. In GTD, "waiting for" is the context that handles situations like "I made a phone call and now I can't do anything else until that person gets back to me". The whole point of GTD is keeping track of all your open loops; either a task is completed, or it isn't. It's pretty simple in that way. No need to muddy the waters with a third state. If you need one, great, but that's not practicing GTD, and thus perhaps OF isn't the app for you.
I assumed that, while GTD was a major influence, there was some interest in accommodating other systems or procedures as well. Dogmatism about to-do lists strikes me as a little over-the-top.

I don't know whether I'd actually use a thing like this. My usual thing, if I call someone and miss them, is to assign a start date to calling them back. If I don't hear back, the system works as expected; it shows up on my list again. If I do hear back, then that's my trigger to go update my list as I'm working on whatever I had to hear back to do.

But I think it sounds like a pretty good feature to have an intermediate state; possibly "in progress" tasks could sort at the top or bottom of the list in Context view. If you don't use it, no problem.

It seems like a good software feature, simply because it's extremely hard to emulate without the feature there, and very easy to ignore if you don't need it.
Originally Posted by duodecad View Post
I have to say, I'm a little baffled by this thread. As I understand it, from the very beginning, OF has been conceived and designed as a GTD app.
That'd be why you're baffled; you are in error.

'OmniFocus can be used to implement the "Getting Things Done®" work-life management method developed by David Allen, but it's designed to be flexible enough to accommodate different styles of personal organization.'

This quote is found on the OmniFocus 'home page':

Now, I am trying to implement GTD in my life. Nevertheless, the astonishing selfishness of people who keep responding to feature proposals with "That's not how David Allen says it should work" is really starting to grate.

On the other hand, some people respond with "The GTD principles would indicate that [some other way described here] would be the best approach to handling that problem." That's a fine response; I'm all for learning about alternative ways of marking/noting/tracking/organizing/whatevering. Just spare us the "If you don't want to use GTD, there are plenty of other productivity apps out there for you to use instead." song and dance. Because, no, there aren't. Just putting "heirarchical items" on my list of features eliminated about 75% of all the possible candidates I've looked at, and currently the ONLY application that meets my MINIMUM required feature set is OF. And it's not out yet.

Thankfully, some of the hard-core GTDers, like Omni themselves, are grown-up enough about this that they're willing to share.

"flexible enough to accommodate different styles of personal organization." Amen.

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