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I'm still working on the David's GTD book so I am quite a neophyte with all of this.

I wonder about actions without due dates in OF. Should all actions have due dates? If actions don't have due dates and I have a "Due Date" perspective all my actions that don't have a due date get grouped in a "None" category which is VERY long. If I do a "Daily Focus" then my actions seem a little more comprehensible. I was wondering about "best practice" here and being a neophyte I may get a better handle on all of this once I've gotten further in the GTD book. Currently, I'm starting Chapter 5.

It has been helpful to read the posts here but I don't see a direct answer to my confusion so I thought I'd post. Any suggestions or tips would be very helpful. TIA!
 
In strict GTD, actions should only have due dates if they really have due dates. If I have to get my taxes filed by April 15, I had better give that project a due date of April 15. But if I just think it would be nice to have my garage clean by April 30, I should not give it a due date, because there are no consequences of missing the deadline.

One of the basic principles of GTD is that you should not impose artificial constraints, like fake due dates or numerical priorities, on your projects or actions. The reason is that you can't really fool yourself, and giving projects artificial deadlines dilutes the impact of real deadlines. It's like setting your watch 5 minutes ahead so you won't be late: once you get used to that, you have to set it 10 minutes ahead, and so forth.

Instead, you should cultivate the habit of reviewing your projects/actions frequently and working on what can be done in the contexts you're in, with the time and energy available to you and your immediate sense of what is important to do.

Context lists and focus are one way that OmniFocus attempts to implement this. Flags give you another, binary way of indicating what you think you should be doing.

A Due Date perspective should be used only to act on things that really are due soon--and that seem more important than other things you could be doing. I have one that I review every day to make sure nothing's going to blow up in my face. But I tend to work in Context mode with my actions grouped by context and then sorted by due date. That way I can see, in each context, whether I have anything coming due soon that needs attention, but I can scan the entire context list and see whether there's anything else that doesn't have a hard due date but that is important enough to work on now.
 
Thanks very much for the "heads up" on scheduling actions. I get it.

I do wonder about one thing in OF. If I have an action that repeats such as "Take out the garbage." and I don't have any scheduled time for it, if I set this action to repeat in OF and complete it, I've noticed that it gives me a new action with a Due Date, which seems to run counter to what you have described. Is this an OF alpha bug?

Also, what about tasks that should repeat such as "Water the front garden" which should happen regularly, such as every two weeks? These would be repeating events and would need to have some sort of repeat set up in the Inspector. These will get a repeat date once they are finished, right?

Sorry if I'm not being very clear. Thanks again for your help!

Last edited by richardripley; 2007-11-26 at 09:47 PM..
 
OF has provisions for two different types of repeating actions.

The first is like your garbage example -- if the garbage goes out Friday, you want to be reminded on Thursday evening. If you forget, you don't want to see the reminder on Saturday.

This action gets its repeat set to "Assigned Date", and you start the repeats by selecting a calendar date. As you noticed, when you miss one of these, they stack up, and you get several copies.

The second is your watering example -- you want to water again 2 weeks from whenever you did it last. Dates aren't important, if you are 13 days late, you still want to water 2 weeks from when you last did it.

For this, you use "Completed Date". Un-done actions won't stack up, since the next one isn't created until you mark the current one Competed. You still need a Start date to set the first repeat.

I hope this helps clarify things ... it's a neat system once you get the hang of it.
 
Thanks for the explanation about the difference between "Assigned Date" and "Completed Date."

I'm still a little confused by the repeats that happen after an action is checked off. In both the "Assigned Date" and "Completed Date" instances, when you check off an action that doesn't have a due date, it repeats with a due date once you have checked off the initial instance.

For example if I have an action, "Trim cats claws" and I want to be sure to do this every 4 weeks, I would set it up as a repeating action with no "Start" or "Due" date using "Completed Date." Once I completed the action and checked it off, the action appears with a "Due date."

If GTD practice is to not have "artificial constraints" then how do repeating events fulfill this practice? I hope my question makes sense.

Last edited by richardripley; 2007-11-27 at 09:08 AM..
 
If you set only a start date, then the action created by the repeat will have only a start date as well. Is this what you wanted?
 
Not really. According to Brian (see post above), GTD practice is to not impose "artificial constraints." So if I have a repeating action that doesn't have a Start or Due date (no artificial constraints with that I suppose) and complete that action, the next instance of that action will have a Due date based on the Repeat I set. I'm just wondering if that is "the way it should be done." Does that make my question a little more clear?

BTW, thanks!
 
Start date is an actual, not an artificial constraint here. By setting a start date, and viewing Next or Available actions in Context Mode, you aren't reminded of actions that are not yet available for completion. (Similarly for projects, but the relevant filter is Pending vs. Active Projects in Project Mode.)

If you have a start date, but no due date for a task, the due date isn't filled in. But with no dates at all, OF fills in one--the due date.

For example, I have an action "Get Loaned Books Back" with a two-months-from-assigned repeat interval and a start date, but no due date. (I keep a separate list of loaned books in an OmniOutliner document. As an academic at a small school, I'm always loaning books to interested students and colleagues.)
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton View Post
Start date is an actual, not an artificial constraint here. By setting a start date, and viewing Next or Available actions in Context Mode, you aren't reminded of actions that are not yet available for completion. (Similarly for projects, but the relevant filter is Pending vs. Active Projects in Project Mode.)

If you have a start date, but no due date for a task, the due date isn't filled in. But with no dates at all, OF fills in one--the due date.

For example, I have an action "Get Loaned Books Back" with a two-months-from-assigned repeat interval and a start date, but no due date. (I keep a separate list of loaned books in an OmniOutliner document. As an academic at a small school, I'm always loaning books to interested students and colleagues.)
I get it now! Thanks. Sometimes OF seems a little opaque or maybe I'm just a little thick. I know it will help to finish reading the David's GTD book!

:)

Sometimes it takes a while to understand how to best set up OF. Is this an interface thing or me? I'm not sure but I do wonder about folks trying it for the first time. I think the help documentation and Ethan's videos will be the key to sorting a lot of newbies. Thanks again for setting me straight.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by richardripley View Post
Sometimes it takes a while to understand how to best set up OF. Is this an interface thing or me? I'm not sure but I do wonder about folks trying it for the first time.
I think it's neither you nor the interface. It's GTD, experience and expectations. I came into OF having tried a few other applications, after having read Getting Things Done and various websites a bunch. I had a very specific expectation for how a GTD, and a GTD application, should work.

I had a couple of specific project examples I used to test various features of GTD apps, and OF met my my needs most closely. And that was the key for me: I didn't try to jump in, dumping my dozens of projects, actions, etc. into OF. I already had a system (paper though it was), and I was just testing stuff out.

If you're coming to OF cold, with little or no experience using GTD, and no expectation for how a GTD app might work, you may have a tough time adjusting to OF. It uses languages and paradigms which are understood by GTD adherents, but perhaps not by those from other action-oriented organizing tools.

I found the best way to learn OF was to play. Toss in a project with actions you expect to show up in certain ways (a cooking receipe was mine) and see how the various filters, views, etc. affect it.
 
 


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