The Omni Group
These forums are now read-only. Please visit our new forums to participate in discussion. A new account will be required to post in the new forums. For more info on the switch, see this post. Thank you!

Go Back   The Omni Group Forums > OmniFocus > OmniFocus 1 for Mac
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

multiple contexts and multiple projects Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hi there,

I’m testing out Omnifocus for myself at the mo (having tried and discarded Kinkless, Things, Thinking Rock, LifeBalance and Midnight Inbox). OmniFocus seems very promising but there are 2 features which I am surprised not to find (at least adequately developed) in it or any other of the apps I’ve tested: multiple contexts and multiple projects. I mean, it seems to me that very few things that we do in life (“actions”) are restricted to just ONE “context” or ONE “project”. Something basic like buying milk for example: relevant over several contexts: it could be bought in a store or online or i could ask the wife to pick some up on her way home from work, and so i might like to be reminded of buying milk when i find myself in any of these contexts. Clearing out the spare room: relevant over several projects: for example general spring cleaning or painting or rewiring the apartment.

Are these (to me seemingly quite important) missing features possible already in Omnifocus but I can’t see them? Or are they perhaps in the pipeline? Fingers crossed. Comments? Answers? :-)
I agree 1000%, did you put this in the OmniFocus 1.5 Wish List?
Here's a post that describes how we're planning on approaching this.
Originally Posted by mind full of water View Post
I mean, it seems to me that very few things that we do in life (“actions”) are restricted to just ONE “context” or ONE “project”.
I disagree. In fact, I think the opposite is true. That is, most everything we do DOES involve only one context per action, and only one project. It all depends on how you set-up your contexts and projects.

For example, your "buying milk" example does not involve all the contexts you've listed, but just one. Which one? Well, to begin with, I have the following contexts in my system: Errands, Errands: Lowes, Errands: Staples, and so on. I don't have a grocery store as a context, but in your case perhaps you would if that is a frequent context for you. I also have People contexts with specific names of those I talk to frequently. For example, one of my contexts is PEOPLE: (wife's name).

So, BUY MILK would be in my single actions list. Also, I would need to decide if I am going to pick up the milk, call my wife and have her pick it up, or discuss it with her at home.

Here's how the actions for each of these choices would look on my single actions list:

Action: Buy milk. Context: Errands: Safeway
Action: Ask my wife to pick up some milk. Context: Phone
Action: Discuss who will pick up the milk tomorrow. Context: People: Wife

Then, when you switch to Context View, your To-Do list would look something like this

PHONE - Ask my wife to pick up some milk
PEOPLE: WIFE'S NAME - Discuss who will pick up the milk tomorrow

Perhaps in your ERRANDS: SAFEWAY context list you may also see "Buy eggs." So, when you are in that context (at Safeway) you would do both errands. The same would apply when you look at your phone list. You would have your "call my wife" action listed with other phone calls you have to make.

Now, as for your "clearing out the spare room" project, I see that as one project organized utilizing folders, actions, sub-actions, and contexts. For example, here is how I would set it up (Note, there is no need to label the action steps with numbers, 1, 1-a, etc. as I've done below. It's just for clarity.):

SUB-FOLDER: SPRING CLEANING (Me, I wouldn't use a sub-folder, but instead would just put in start and due dates sometime in spring such as START: April 16, 2008. DUE: May 15, 2008.)
PROJECT: Clear out the spare room
ACTION GROUP 1 (Sequential): Repaint spare room
SUB-ACTION 1-a: Get paint cards from Lowe's. CONTEXT: Errands
SUB-ACTION 1-b: Decide with wife on color. CONTEXT: People: Wife
SUB-ACTION 1-c: Determine how much paint will be needed. CONTEXT: Home
SUB-ACTION 1-d: Purchase paint & brushes from Lowe's. CONTEXT: Errands
SUB-ACTION 1-e: Paint the spare room. CONTEXT: Home

And you would continue to create action groups and action steps as needed (sequential or parallel). If there is any rewiring involved, what steps would be needed to accomplish that? Do I need to purchase certain tools? Do I need to decide on new light fixtures?

You would then select your SPRING CLEANING SUB-FOLDER within your HOME FOLDER, click on the FOCUS icon in the toolbar to view just that particular folder. Then switch to Context View, and only those contexts related to that sub-folder would be displayed.

In my opinion, the use of folders, sub-folders and most of all, the Focus option, are some of the most powerful features of OF, unfortunately too often under-utilized by many users.
I agree with Keone. I set up my system very similarly.

Another key point I practice to help me choose a context is selecting the *most* appropriate one whenever there's a choice. For example, talking to my wife about picking something up at the grocery store could go in @phone or @wife. But in this case, the most important thing is that I talk to my wife, not the medium over which the conversation is held, so @wife is the better choice.

I think the trouble mind full of water is having is when, last week he knew he needed to be thinking about getting milk he put an action in the Context: Errands: Safeway but yesterday he missed the opportunity to "Ask my wife to pick up some milk. Context: Phone" and now he's still out of milk. If he'd bothered to set up several task in different contexts for how he might next be in a position to get more milk in the first place, then he'd eventually have to do a search on Milk and remove the other unused tasks. But he would at least have milk.
I think the confusion also lies in the assignment of a context. If you're following GTD concepts, it really is about assigning one task to one context. In your milk example, these are really three separate tasks. Really, the order is

Discuss with wife who should pick up milk : context (home) or phone

The result of the discussion determines the next task, if any. That is, if your wife is picking up the milk, you're done.

I'm not so much telling you how to buy milk here. Rather, I have found that projects can and MUST be broken down to their next physical actions. When we get down to this level, assigning contexts becomes intuitive.

Just my thoughts...

If it's so hard to remember the milk, you could always use Remember the Milk. Their tagging functionality makes it very simple to choose multiple contexts, and it's compatible with everything. They even have Gmail task manager integration and offline access. There are also Firefox extensions and Greasemonkey scripts to make it work the way you want it to.

However, I think Omnifocus' planning and project management functionality blows RTM away, but that's just me. I agree with Keone and Toadling's understanding of contexts and projects, but if RTM fits your workstyle better, it is a great web app. My projects are just far too complex to manage in RTM anymore.

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Multiple Contexts apowers OmniFocus 1 for Mac 1 2010-11-08 10:05 AM
Multiple Contexts dbconfession OmniFocus 1 for Mac 5 2010-01-23 05:29 AM
Multiple Contexts? moniot OmniFocus 1 for Mac 18 2008-08-14 11:18 AM
Multiple Activites for Multiple Contexts Journey OmniFocus 1 for Mac 12 2007-12-27 01:03 AM
Multiple contexts? Roger Barre OmniFocus 1 for Mac 4 2007-11-26 03:46 PM

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:41 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.