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Quote:
Originally Posted by ext555 View Post
I think some of what's being misunderstood is , the GTD concept involves many " lists " but not all of them are " task " or " action " lists . Your system should include reference lists " places I'd like to visit " etc ..

Omni-focus is just a part of the GTD system and it's specifically for managing " actions " and to some degree , the projects that may or may not be connected to them . If the tool tries to become the " whole system " then you've got a bloated thing that gets so complex , no one enjoys using .
I agree that OF is not the whole GTD system (e.g. I still make heavy use of iCal for date/time specific items). But I'm not sure tracking the kinds of lists we're talking about here causes bloat.

Your example of "places I'd like to visit" seems to fit fine in OF. For example, I have a Single-Action List called "Activities" that I keep On Hold. In it, I have an arbitrary list of ideas for things I'd like to do with my kids, including places we'd like to visit. For example:

- Go whale watching at Point Reyes
- Check out Henry Coe State Park
- Look into Doozla for the kids' computer

I check the list whenever I need some ideas (and sometimes during my periodic reviews) and move items out when I'm ready. The item then becomes a new Project, an action in an existing Project, or an action in an active Single-Action List. I have similar lists for books and films that work much the same way.
 
I think it's a matter of preference whether the someday-maybe kind of item should live in OmniFocus or elsewhere. It might depend on your sense of order, or the number of active projects you need to track, or how much you want your data to live in one program. I've found it helpful to keep my someday-maybe list and "areas of responsibility" list in another application--but I have about 50 active and another 30 or so pending projects in OmniFocus, so I find it helpful to keep the higher-level lists elsewhere and review them from time to time.
 
To review: you have four outputs when processing your in-box(es). An item is either actionable (project or single action), trash, an idea that needs further research, time or whatever to act on (Someday/Maybe), or it is reference material.

The tools for dealing with your project/NA lists and your archive of reference material are fairly straightforward. OF deals with the former while products like DEVONthink, NoteBook (Circus Ponies) and Yojimobo (Bare Bones Software) deal with the latter.

The Someday/Maybe (incubator for future projects or NAs) is sort of in the middle. If the idea does not entail a lot of reference material, then I put it in the Someday folders I've setup in OF. If the idea is going to require significant research before it becomes actionable or if it includes a web archive, other documents and the like, then it goes in the appropriate folder in DEVONthink.

The point is, OF was never intended to fully encompass the GTD workflow.
 
Those are some good suggestions, yucca. I would also add that a dedicated application for reference material isn't absolutely necessary. I've found the Mac OS X Finder to be an excellent (and often over-looked) way to access a file system-based reference library. Leopard, in particular, with its much improved Spotlight functionality, is good, perhaps even better than some dedicated third party software.

I also don't think anyone is suggesting using OF as a complete GTD implementation. But OF excels at producing and managing lists. It'd be a shame not to harness those capabilities for as many list-related aspects of your GTD system as possible.

Assuming Omni has provided a database structure that can handle large numbers of items (and it seems they have), I see no reason, other than personal preference, to not keep someday/maybe lists (or shopping lists, book lists, travel destinations, etc.) in OF. Even those items requiring a lot of reference material can have links to your external reference library (very easy to do from the Finder, and I know Yojimbo also can provide URI links to its individual database items).
 
If all your list needs are comfortably met by OF, then it certainly makes sense to do so. Since I use outlining as a brainstorming, planning and writing tool, OmniOutliner is where I work on most of my Someday/Maybe items. I keep a review reminder in OF; but the work is done elsewhere. Absolutely necessary? Probably not, but way more effective for me? Oh, yeah!

If you can manage your archive with just the Finder, then of course that is a very cost effective way to go. However, I am absolutely certain that the Finder and/or OF are entirely inadequate for my reference archive needs.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but OF is not an ideal repository for reference material. It does not support tagging, it does not do full text indexing (or at least certainly not of material external to OF), it does not support web archives, I can't scan documents directly into it, etc. Each of the apps I mentioned will appeal to a different class of user (which is why I gave three examples), but all are designed to help you efficiently store and retrieve information from your reference archive.

An important point regarding external web links. They have an alarming habit of breaking over time. This is not a big deal when the link contains information with a limited shelf life - like a price list. However, for keeping a more permanent record of information from a web site, web clippings or page/site archives are the best approach.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by yucca View Post
If you can manage your archive with just the Finder, then of course that is a very cost effective way to go. However, I am absolutely certain that the Finder and/or OF are entirely inadequate for my reference archive needs.
Out of curiosity, what do you use for your reference archive and what improvement does it offer over the Finder? Maybe I'm missing something. :-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by yucca View Post
Not to put too fine a point on it, but OF is not an ideal repository for reference material. It does not support tagging, it does not do full text indexing (or at least certainly not of material external to OF), it does not support web archives, I can't scan documents directly into it, etc. Each of the apps I mentioned will appeal to a different class of user (which is why I gave three examples), but all are designed to help you efficiently store and retrieve information from your reference archive.
I didn't mean to imply that OmniFocus could or should be used as a reference repository. I agree, reference material is best kept elsewhere.

I was just suggesting using OmniFocus as a sort of "front end" to the reference material by linking in documents related to projects and actions.
 
I use DEVONthink Pro Office for my reference archive. I have something on the order of a half dozen databases (not all them are kept on my notebook - where I use OF) @ ~40GB due to some redundancy between some of the databases. I have no idea how many documents are in all the databases, tens of thousands I'm sure. Most of the material is text files, PDFs, email and web archives.

A great deal of the text files and PDFs are scanned documents; documents that are scanned directly into DTPO. I've been able to get rid of most of my personal paper files, saving only those physical documents that might be legally necessary to keep in their paper form.

Now the Finder does OK at finding documents. It's real failing is that it fails to provide any useful feedback on the relevance any given document may have to my search criteria. This can be in issue when you have dozens of documents all dealing with the same topic.

Significant archival DTPO features that I enjoy:
  • cross-linking documents
  • automatic filing of documents
  • scaleable search (whole database or a designated portion of the database)
  • interactive tools to narrow your searches
  • preview pane
  • replicating a document to multiple folders in the database (without physically copying the file as would be the case with the finder)

DTPO, when teamed with DEVONagent, is great for gathering information on the web. I've previously mentioned the web archive feature (you don't need DEVONagent to do this BTW). It is also great for creating and storing notes.

DTPO downsides and limitations:
  • You will still want to keep original files outside the database, as there is no guarantee that DTPO will be here 20 years from now. This is why, when possible, I try to save information in text files. It also means that you are wasting disk space.
  • You do have to seed new folders in the database with material by hand before documents will reliably auto-populate the folder.
  • Not all web sites are easy to suck down. So this is not as great a feature as it may first appear. So you will still be doing a great deal of web clipping.
  • For academics, review articles work best if they are chopped up and stored topically.
 
Wow, 40 GB. We're talking about two completely different things then. My reference archive is barely a tenth of that size, somewhere around a paltry 3-4 GB.

For a situation such as yours, I can see the advantages of having an "industrial strength" database system.
 
Would it be an option to NOT give a context to reference information.

So that it appears just in the planning mode & is invisible in the context mode

would that work?

I'd appreciate advice before i spend many hours, days, weeks implementing it and then realise the shortcomings!!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne4 View Post
Would it be an option to NOT give a context to reference information.

So that it appears just in the planning mode & is invisible in the context mode

would that work?

I'd appreciate advice before i spend many hours, days, weeks implementing it and then realise the shortcomings!!
This wouldn't work for me personally, because the "no context" bucket would get really, really big, and I wouldn't be able to use it for its (I think) intended purpose of identifying things that should have a context and don't.

I also tend to use my collection of On Hold contexts as a way to have one tag that I can add to these information items. So, for example, my Perfume Notes list consists of one action per perfume, my notes on the perfume are in Notes, and the contexts are "Sniff - Yes", "Sniff - No" and "Sniff - Maybe" so that I can tell with a quick context click which perfumes I've decided that I'd like to actually buy someday.

To hide all of these in Context mode, I either filter by Available or, if I really want Remaining, I'll just exclude the On Hold contexts from the view.

Gardener
 
 


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