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Start Dates, Due Dates & Estimate Times. Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I'm wondering if you use these sparingly or to the extreme?

First of all, I'd like to mention that over in the "Applying OmniFocus" subforum i've been getting a lot of help and advice regarding my own personal GTD/OF habits and since have actually been getting quite a bit of work done. I won't boast and lie that I've been getting everything done, but since have actually gotten off my lazy couch and started completing my available actions bit by bit.

I've even been finding myself at a public WiFi spot like Starbucks getting work done there, rather than surfing the web in my living room with numerous distractions present...but back to the question at hand....

Originally I came to the forum to ask how to add more options in my column, but quickly found them. For months since getting OF I've only had "Context" in the columns area of all my project's actions. I knew there were other options like Start & Due dates but never used them...but since see they can further my productivity...

So far I've had great success asking for good habits others implement in OF, here in these forums. I'm wondering that if you do use these, what's your criteria when doing so?

Do you only add a due date if it actually has one? Or do you give it one in hopes you'll get it done by then...?

I've used Start Dates sparingly here and there, mainly so they'll how up in my "available actions" perspective at a later day when I know I can start something and keep it off my plate til' then....

But what about Estimate?

Seriously, the estimate feature seems valuable to me...and I haven't even tested it out yet. But being able to add my guess on how much time i'd be spending on each action step seems like a good tool so I won't just look at an action fearing to do it thinking it'll take too long.

Before I get ahead of myself here and revamp my entire OF, I'd like to hear some input from you guys that have tried these features, whether its only once in a while or are religious over them.

The first photo contains how my OF has always looked like. the 2nd pic shows the start and due times and estimate feature available.(As for completion date, i've added this only to my "Completed" perspective, which I find fitting.
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If you've not used the start/due/estimate fields before now, I'd suggest using them sparingly at first to see how it works for you. I tend to use start dates more than due dates, and I only use due dates when something must be completed-not when I hope to have it completed. Sometimes I use both start and due dates on a task, depending on the nature of the task. Using your examples, I might set 'water cactus' to start on 7/15 (doesn't need watering before then) and a due date of 8/1 (cactus will die if not watered by then). For cleaning the house, I may use only a start date (last clean date + x days) with no due date, unless I am expecting company on a specific date. Then I would set a due date as well.

For time estimates, the way I use these is in conjunction with a context to ensure I have the time, and energy level, available to complete the task in the time estimated. I might have 'water cactus' at 5 min, clean bathroom at 30 min, and do laundry at 2 hours. Then if I am in my 'Home' context with 30 min available, I can easily filter so that I don't even consider doing the laundry, and I can make a choice between watering the cactus and cleaning the bathroom depending on my energy level. Or, I can filter on duration and due soon (bathroom must be completed soon-company coming tomorrow, water cactus not due for 5 days) to direct my focus on the more urgent task of cleaning the bathroom.
 
I use start and due dates the same way that Greg describes. I've never used the estimated time column. If I were to use it, I'd use it like Greg does. However, it's always seemed to me that it would take more time to set time estimates than I would save from having them available. (Also, I'm a terrible estimator.)
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Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Jones View Post
If you've not used the start/due/estimate fields before now, I'd suggest using them sparingly at first to see how it works for you. I tend to use start dates more than due dates, and I only use due dates when something must be completed-not when I hope to have it completed. Sometimes I use both start and due dates on a task, depending on the nature of the task. Using your examples, I might set 'water cactus' to start on 7/15 (doesn't need watering before then) and a due date of 8/1 (cactus will die if not watered by then). For cleaning the house, I may use only a start date (last clean date + x days) with no due date, unless I am expecting company on a specific date. Then I would set a due date as well.

For time estimates, the way I use these is in conjunction with a context to ensure I have the time, and energy level, available to complete the task in the time estimated. I might have 'water cactus' at 5 min, clean bathroom at 30 min, and do laundry at 2 hours. Then if I am in my 'Home' context with 30 min available, I can easily filter so that I don't even consider doing the laundry, and I can make a choice between watering the cactus and cleaning the bathroom depending on my energy level. Or, I can filter on duration and due soon (bathroom must be completed soon-company coming tomorrow, water cactus not due for 5 days) to direct my focus on the more urgent task of cleaning the bathroom.
I've used Due Dates before only a bit, but stopped since I hated seeing a red icon on the dock telling me some things were past due. For the most part things I assigned with a due date were really things I just wanted to be done by a certain time, but in no way had an actual concrete deadline.

The way you mention Start Dates is exactly how I use them, for when I can/should/could begin to look at that particular action. With my "Cleaner Home" actions each action has a starting date so many number of days after that action has been completed. Laundry starts and shows up again every 7 days, bathroom and bedroom 7 days, water cactus every 30 days, etc.

With what you stated about estimates and applying them to my actions, so I'll know roughly about how much time an action will take in my appropiate context...well, this sounds great.

But you mentioned filtering them so if I'm pressed for time I can view what I actually can do,...but what do you mean? I can have a view that'll show me what I can do at a specific location with a time allotment available? Is this a perspective?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyDude View Post
But you mentioned filtering them so if I'm pressed for time I can view what I actually can do,...but what do you mean? I can have a view that'll show me what I can do at a specific location with a time allotment available? Is this a perspective?
Go to context mode, set the duration filter to 5 min, and you'll see all the items in the selected context(s) that have an estimated duration of 5 minutes or less. I have a "Quick Dash" perspective that does this, and allows me to find a quick and/or easy task when I've got a short block of time, or just need to do a couple of things to build up some momentum. I don't bother putting estimates on everything, only those actions for which I have reason to believe I'll want to cherry-pick by duration.
 
I love this!

I'm at school right now, pretty much just killing time so I just estimated times for almost all my current actions. Then I put that into a perspective for things showing 30min and also 15min..

Then I looked at the context of things I can do right now, got out an index card and jotted down what I wanted to tackle right now.

This is a great feature, can't believe i've gone months w/o implementing it.
 
 


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