Originally Posted by al_f
I really try to think of contexts in terms of "what do I absolutely need to have to accomplish this task?". If you think of them in this way (and you're rigorous about your processing) there is really very little if anything that needs multiple contexts. For example, in Brian's example the only essential thing there is Sue, since it doesn't matter how he communicates with her, so I'd put it in the @agendas context under Sue, or in @Sue if I had it set up that way. In ptone's phone call example, do you actually need to refer to anything that's in your office when making that call, or do you absolutely need to use work's phone line (if it's an international call, for example)? If so, it goes in @office. If not, it goes in @calls as all you need is any phone. I invite other problem cases to see if I can knock them down. :)
I disagree with SteveW's definition of contexts - I think that mood, days of the week and goals aren't contexts. For me, mood/energy is one of the factors you use in choosing what to do (along with context, time available and priority). Tasks specific to a day of the week go on my calendar ("hard landscape" as David Allen calls it) for that day. Goals go on my 20,000ft, 30,000ft etc. lists as appropriate depending on their timescale and scope.
Finally, how would adding tagging to OF make things simpler? Isn't it just another layer of stuff to fiddle with?
I would agree with you on this one. I used to think having multiple contexts would be a useful tool. Some programs would call it having multiple categories, etc. However, after using OF for several months, I have gone away from this thinking. I would argue that multiple contexts are great when it comes to organizing (planning?), but not so effective when it comes to taking action. After all, isn't context view all about taking action, not planning?
Besides, the way I use OF now would make using multiple contexts almost impossible. How would you handle the UI issue if you are displaying multiple contexts? If I assign a task into multiple contexts, would they show up in all contexts? This would duplicate the task across multiple contexts I'm looking at, and it would just make things more confusing than helpful.
Also it would artificially create higher # of tasks I need to complete. For instance, when I scan the context sidebar I would see 4 tasks needing to be done, but no, it's only one task assigned to 4 contexts. This would not be accurate.
As far as an example someone provided about making a phone call to a person, I think it really comes down to your own situation. If you are a person who is likely to make multiple phone calls to your clients when you are making phone calls, then it makes sense to put the item into phone since this is where your action needs to take place. However, if you have client called Sue, and you need to keep track of all the things you need to take care of her when you see her or work on her project, then I would put it under Sue, not under phone. So, when I'm working on "Sue," it would show me that I have to call her, write a report for her, etc.
I think multiple contexts not only make things more complicated in terms of UI, but probably not an effective way to manage one's time or tasks.
Now some of you might argue that I should only be looking at only one context at a time (e.g., phone, etc.), but that's not really helpful or realistic. Let's say I have contexts labeled @phone, @office, and @computer. All those are different contexts, but could be applicable when I'm in my office. I can make phone calls in my office, work on my computer, etc. So, how do I decide what to work on at this moment, or how do I decide what to work on in the morning when I come to my office? Well, I need to scan these multiple contexts in order for me to decide what needs to be done first at this moment, not only look at the @office context. Having the same task show up on all these contexts would not be helpful for me.
Remember, OF is designed not simply to help organize our lives but also get things done so that we can be more effective. I think there is ever a greater temptation to over organize our lives and not enough impetus to move us to get things done. In this respect, I appreciate OMNI folks for showing restraints for not jumping into creating more features into the program.
Also, I think it's great that there are now multiple product out in the market offering their own unique approaches to organizing or getting things done. I think we need to select a tool that would make us become more effective in what we do. So, I'm all for having diversity in this arena and not for OF to be a clone of some other program. In the long run, I think OF will be more successful sticking to a overall system that makes sense rather than trying to incorporate every feature that we want.