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NEED assign to multiple Contexts Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I like your post ptone. I agree that a lot of thought would need to be put into having multiple contexts.

I have implemented the GTD methodology in many different ways -- all of them relied on multiple contexts as the foundation of the method working.

I want to be able to enter "Phone Sheryl" under both "Phone" and "Sheryl". I want to be able to easily, without much thought, as I enter tasks, to simply think of all the contexts and enter them.

Microsoft Outlook allows tasks to be in multiple categories. For a task, multiple categories can be selected via a multiple-checkbox list.

I am OK with not having priority functionality in the first release, but multiple contexts, I believe, is key to making this a very useful program. Not having them diminishes its usefulness and leads me to look into some of the other programs available. I like Omni Group and would like to stay with this product, but multiple contexts are a key feature that would make this program work.
 
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'm also for multiple contexts. Even the sublimely simple TaskPaper supports them (@house @office).

Priorities/Importance is also a must. Nothing fancy though, but something just like iCal:
- None
- Not Important
- Important
- Very Important

This should replace the flag/un-flagged icon, then we can use the flag/priority filter to have an overview of important tasks quickly and not having them buried too much within the task lists by mondain tasks...

@ Being able to select multiple contexts is not the same as assigning multiple contexts to a task. It's beautiful nevertheless and a reason I love OF!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_f View Post
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.

Last edited by ksrhee; 2007-11-27 at 02:06 AM..
 
Multiple contexts create the possibility of a kind of sloppy ambiguity; are the contexts OR'd or AND'ed? When a task is in @Email and @Phone, they are probably OR'd. How about when a task is in @office and @computer?

If OF had multiple contexts, or tags for contexts, I'd probably find them useful and use them, but I fear this kind of sloppiness would appear and create a kind of cognitive dissonance that would subtly affect my confidence in my system. On second thought then, maybe I wouldn't use them.....
 
“Sloppy ambiguity”... “Cognitive dissonance”... “If you’re rigorous you don’t need them”... Phew! Please, everybody, a rule of thumb: GTD good, dogma bad. I love a good theoretical discussion as much as the next dude, but GTD ain’t religion and nor is OF even designed specifically as GTD app, as the Omni folks themselves emphasize. People will differ over good GTD practice”, whatever that is, and anyway most other explicitely GTD apps do indeed include multiple contexts on one guise or another. Other users will only be dimly aware of the minutiae of GTD, but still have perfectly satisfactory systems for which OF is a brilliant tool, and for most of them the lack of multiple contexts is glaring. One person’s sloppy ambiguity is another’s necessary flexibility.

In short, many users do indeed find that they require multiple contexts. If you don’t like them, you don’t have to use them, for crying out loud. So what - UI issues apart - is the problem?

Last edited by mcoad; 2007-11-27 at 05:36 AM.. Reason: To signup for email notification
 
I'm sorry if I put you off. Dogma does not appeal to me either.

In the first paragraph above I was bringing up a potential problem with tagging.

The second paragraph is my personal thoughts. I wasn't trying to compel you or anyone to agree with me. In the end, I was able to make a decision for myself about how I would or would not use tags.
 
Sorry, too - I was a bit heavy, I realize, using your quotes like that when other posts were the ones I was talking about more. I couldn’t resist “cognitive dissonance”! Seriously, though, I meant that a simple and very reasonable request was getting drowned under a flood of arcane theoretical noise, very worthy as much of this may be. It’s something I’ve noticed elsewhere in the forum - though generally it’s a very good forum, with excellent discussion.

Me, I feel much the same about tags as you warn about multiple contexts. I like the latter very much but am wary of the former, and don’t think they’re exactly the same (especially after seeing the potential chaos tags could produce in Things, or so it seems to me; there, contexts are just another subset of tags). But I certainly wouldn’t oppose the use of tags on some ground of GTD theory if they’re what help a large proportion of users and don’t fundamentally throw the app out of kilter.

Cheers

Malcolm
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcoad View Post
I couldn’t resist “cognitive dissonance”!
Yeah, maybe that was a teensy bit excessive. :)

Quote:
Seriously, though, I meant that a simple and very reasonable request was getting drowned under a flood of arcane theoretical noise, very worthy as much of this may be. It’s something I’ve noticed elsewhere in the forum - though generally it’s a very good forum, with excellent discussion.
There's been an explosion of posts and new members on the forum since the OF alpha went public. Lots of brand new users/posters mixed with oldsters is bound to create some chaos. I bet it'll settle down somewhat. Overall I find the discussions thought-provoking.

Quote:
Me, I feel much the same about tags as you warn about multiple contexts. I like the latter very much but am wary of the former, and don’t think they’re exactly the same (especially after seeing the potential chaos tags could produce in Things, or so it seems to me; there, contexts are just another subset of tags). But I certainly wouldn’t oppose the use of tags on some ground of GTD theory if they’re what help a large proportion of users and don’t fundamentally throw the app out of kilter.
Ditto. Though it might be nice to disable the display of any tag-related interface elements if they take up screen space or are really in-your-face.
 
Then you have completely misunderstood the concept of getting things done. You will end up with hundreds of combinations and your task list will be cluttered and not at all doable.
 
 


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