I think you make a good case for adding a useful 'iPhone' context to your list. :-)
2009-10-07, 09:18 PM
I'm now wondering what would now go into this new "iPod Touch" context.
Initially after getting the iPod Touch I created an "Anywhere" context in which anything could be done either on my Macbook or iPod Touch (i.e Online) went into the new "Anywhere" context...but this new "Anywhere" context hasn't been the easiest to use. Mainly because I threw just about everything that was on my Mac contexts. However I quickly realized that such actions that can be done on my Mac Online of Offline can't be done on my iPod Touch.
The iPod Touch however still serves as a great tool for productivity, though before creating this new iPod Touch context I need to know the rules for what is to go in there.
(Currently Under "Mac: Online")
1. Pay CitiCards Bill
2. Log into Mint Account
3. Google Teotihuacan Photos & Save
4. Research USC Scholarships Info
5. Google New Pair of Shoes
#1 I do only on my Mac, since the site is easier to navigate, plus I use 1Password and most importantly feel safer using my Mac than a random on campus PC. #2 I can do on the iPod Touch with the Mint app, but something important to consider when creating this new iPod Touch context is that I'm not always online with the iPod Touch. #3 is best suited to be done on my Mac or any random PC (I'll save it to my Google Notebook). #4 as well, I can't do research for something like this on an iPod Touch; maybe when mobile Safari gets multiple tabs. & finally #5 I'd prefer to do it on the Mac.
Rather than bore you with the Mac Offline Contexts i'll mention the "Anywhere" context
1. Review Checklist in Omnioutliner (Daily Morning Reoccurring Action)
2. Review & Revise This Project (Multiple Projects have this)
3. Write down 2 Ancient civilization ideas & place in Anth 202 Folder
4. Read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown
5. Write Down Gym Routine For The Day
#1 is reoccurring, a checklist detailing to check my email, empty OF inbox, etc and can be done in either the iPod Touch or Mac. Review & Revise, i'll do anywhere and sometimes on the iPod Touch if I'm bored in class. Read The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown is an PDF book that is currently on the iPod Touch using the Stanza application. & Write down gym routine can as well be done anywhere.
The dillema right now is how i'm going to have certain contexts only appear under either Mac or iPod Touch, then even further offline and online for each, while i'm sure some actions will have the freedom to be done on either device.
2009-11-15, 08:27 AM
I am still not feeling comfortable with the program. I can see it does so much more than what I have been able to get it to do. One such thing is the "context". I think I understand the concept: a person, place or thing required to accomplish a project. I guess I am confused on how to choose what goes where as many of the default contexts do not seem to be of use to me. For instance let's say a project in my inbox is to return a form to a client. Is that an errand, something to get accomplished in the office (that is where the form is), or a person? There are projects that have to do with managing employees, selling jobs, scheduling jobs, billing clients, maintaining/fixing things, paying vendors, writing memos, returning calls and emails, posting on the blog, etc. Where do they go?
OF then gives me the option of linking theses contexts to iCal calendars. Argh! I have those set up to represent company departments (Sales, Development, Support, Events, Personal, etc.). Do these even seem to be in the same realm?
I wish there were a hands on training program for this program. Let me ask this: What are some of the contexts you use? Maybe I can get a better feel and use some of the suggestions.
Contexts are for actions not projects. Setting a context on a project only provides a default context for the child actions within the project.*
A project is something that takes multiple steps to complete. Consider your project to return a form to a client. What's the first concrete action you have to take to finish that project? Do you have to complete the form? If so, then that's probably the first action and the context is Office. Or do you have to collect more information before you can complete the form? If so, that's your first action and the context is where ever you have to be to collect the information.
Once the form is complete, your next action is probably to return it to the client. How will you do that? Do you meet with the client regularly? Then the client probably warrants their own context. Or do you have to make a special trip to deliver the form? Then that probably belongs in an Errand context. Or perhaps you have a scheduled meeting with the client? Then put the meeting on your calendar with a note to hand back the form.
I'd encourage you to pick up David Allen's Getting Things Done. You don't have to follow the GTD methodology to use OF, but I think familiarity with the methodology makes the program easier to understand. The ideas of project, context, and next action have simple definitions, but they convey a lot more meaning than their simple definitions would suggest.
* Currently OmniFocus only shows actions in context mode, not projects or action groups. Omni has promised that a future version of OmniFocus will show action groups and projects in context mode once all their child actions are done. At that point, contexts on projects will serve as more than just defaults for the child actions.
I am currently having my regular (every 3-6 month) crisis of confidence in my contexts. So I was reading this thread for inspiration and an idea popped into my head. Hopefully a bit of input from everyone else will fine tune it.
My situation - Self employed and work from a home office so as with many others every context is available almost all the time. I have tried hard landscape - calls, online, out and about and work modes - billable work, marketing, admin ..... and a mix of both.
Generally I find the hard landscape approach the best because for some reason I find it hard to leave one work mode like billable work and move to say marketing. I also like getting a tool and cranking - phone calls, emails, web research etc.
However I have always felt uncomfortable when I need to communicate with someone about a range of things. The communication could be done by email, a call, text message etc. Do you spread the Next Actions relating to them across calls, online etc or put them under agenda ? If you do the former you don't have a concise list of everything to discuss with them when you have their attention, if you do the latter you lose the benefit of cranking.
So my idea is to drop agenda as a context, put the Next Action into call, online context etc with the persons initials in the NA (i use first letter of first name and first two letters of surname to make it more granular) and have a perspective that filters everything related to that person when I have their attention.
Basically the perspective is a third dimension to give the benefit of both approaches. Thoughts ?
2010-02-01, 05:17 PM
You've made a nice case for tags. Ghost actions would also help here, where you have a task in both an agenda list or SAL as well as in a phone context, for example.
2010-02-02, 12:30 PM
The scheme you describe sounds familiar to many schemes I've dreamed up for various OF problems, but they always seem like they would take too much maintenance.
I agree, this is a place where tags could help -- although tags kind of introduce infinite dimensions and ambiguity of purpose… which is good and bad.
Writing this inspired me to start this thread, The problem with contexts.
I'm not actually on the OmniFocus team, so I don't have info on when tags may make an appearance in the app. When they do, I'll re-evaluate my workflow, of course, but I can't think of any shortcomings in my current system that tagging would address. Other folks may have different needs, of course.
Anyway, in case it helps someone between now and whenever tags appear, here's my substitute-for-tagging system:
I have a parent "People" context, with a bunch of child contexts for the various people I interact with frequently. I also have a few communication-specific ones for email and phone.
If the person is the critical element and I don't care how I get the information, the task gets assigned to the person's context. I check it when I see them, or I bring up the parent "people" context and scan the list of available actions when I'm plowing through my email or phone calls. The bulk of my people-actions go here.
If I can only accomplish a task using a particular communication method - I need to call some business I don't want a context for, as an example - it gets assigned to the "phone" context. Far fewer actions go into these contexts than the ones I mentioned before - a dozen a month at most.
If you need even more fine-grained control, add the search tool in the toolbar to the mix to slice and dice your actions even further. Assign the context to the person, but use a specific verb when that matters. Filter on "call" and you have your phone list, etc.
Hope this helps! We're extremely busy these days (go Apple announcements) but if folks ask questions here I'll try to make it back around to the thread. You can also email the support ninjas; if they can't answer the question they can tackle me in the hall and pin me down until I do. ;-)
Last edited by Brian; 2010-02-02 at 01:28 PM.. Reason: expand on use of the search tool
2010-07-03, 01:28 PM
If I do feel there's something I need to do online while I'm supposed to be writing, I fire up OF on my iPod Touch and make a quick inbox item of it rather than blowing my system by switching back to the main account.
Last edited by avandelay; 2010-07-03 at 01:31 PM..
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