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Huzzah! Removing the project and context bumps actions back to the inbox!

I'm thinking that my ideal behaviour would be if anything without a context was in the inbox, but I can work with this.

Out of curiosity, would anyone object to the above behaviour?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anna View Post
I'm thinking that my ideal behaviour would be if anything without a context was in the inbox, but I can work with this.

Out of curiosity, would anyone object to the above behaviour?
I'd refine the idea (or the statement of the idea). How about any action without a context stays in the inbox, but action groups don't have to have contexts.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by anna View Post
Huzzah! Removing the project and context bumps actions back to the inbox!

I'm thinking that my ideal behaviour would be if anything without a context was in the inbox, but I can work with this.

Out of curiosity, would anyone object to the above behaviour?
We've actually discussed this before and there doesn't seem to be a general consensus. Some people would like contextless actions to show up in a default "unfiled" context in the context view (kind of like Singleton actions show up in buckets rather than projects). And other people think the inbox should be expanded (or fixed) such that actions without contexts don't get "cleaned up".

The best suggestion from the latter group involves adding a sub section to the inbox where incompletely processed actions reside. For instance, if I have an action which is part of a sequence of actions in a project, but I haven't yet assigned it a context, that action would be visible in the project list in the sequence that I've assigned it to, but would also still be visible in the "incomplete" section of the inbox and wouldn't be removed from the inbox until after I've assigned a context to it.

This would enable me to still plan the project as a whole with that action included in the sequence of project actions, but would also keep reminding me every time I look at the inbox that I haven't yet fully processed that action and haven't therefore really fully committed to it and that I still need to do some processing with regards to it.

If you couldn't tell, I tend to fall in the second group, though I agree with Curt that action groups don't necessarily require a context.
 
I object this behaviour, because I need entries as "stuff" within projects. Some things that enter my inbox arenīt actions. Of course, processing the inbox involves answering the question, what these items are. One might be tempted to think that they turn into projects, single actions or action groups at this stage. But I think it is nice to store other types of information within OF, too.

If I have a project of building a website, two items within my inbox might read "donīt use .Mac - it is too slow for German subscribers" or "choose an application to design the pages". These arenīt actions. But as long as I have assigned a proper next action to this project, there is no need to think hard about what they mean. And I prefer to store these thoughts within the project instead of cluttering my inbox. (As I understand GTD, you donīt need to plan everything about your project. You have to collect everything and make sure there is one next action with a context assigned to the project.)

As explained in a different thread, I would prefer items without a context to lose the checkbox (because they cannot be done) and an indicator within each projectīs title bar that shows at a glance if there is an item within the project that has a context.

The question is if all thinking / planning (as opposed to doing) is part of processing the inbox or if reviewing your projects involves thinking / planning (as opposed to auditing / checking) as well.

(You could store "stuff" within the notes, of course. But this would make it harder to move it around or finally turn it into actions or projects.)

(At the moment, I have a "action" group called "planning" for most of my projects containing stuff, and a second action group called "tasks" containing actions with a context.)

Last edited by janT; 2007-09-09 at 09:50 AM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by janT View Post
If I have a project of building a website, two items within my inbox might read "donīt use .Mac - it is too slow for German subscribers" or "choose an application to design the pages". These arenīt actions. But as long as I have assigned a proper next action to this project, there is no need to think hard about what they mean. And I prefer to store these thoughts within the project instead of cluttering my inbox. (As I understand GTD, you donīt need to plan everything about your project. You have to collect everything and make sure there is one next action with a context assigned to the project.)
Jan,

I've mentioned elsewhere that I tend to keep the reference material and notes for projects in OmniOutliner rather than in OmniFocus. That's probably more out of habit than anything else. I don't object to OF being able to hold reference material, so long as that doesn't interfere with action collection, planning, and doing.

But, as you note, things like "Choose an application to design the pages" is really an incompletely planned action. I've taken to assigning things like this to a Planning context. When I'm in the mood to organize, I'll chug through my Planning actions and add more detail. This seems like a good approach to me for a couple of reasons:
  • If the non-fully-planned action comes to the top of my action list, then my next action really is to do some planning.
  • If the action didn't have a context, it would block my project.

I'd probably also write the action as "Brainstorm steps for choosing an application...", just to make it an easier widget to crank.

I can see how trapping things in the inbox would interfere with your use. Come to think of it, I don't see how Anna's suggestion would work when planning within a project. If I'm brainstorming actions within a project, I just want to dump them in before worrying about contexts. If they immediately went to the inbox, that wouldn't work. MEP's suggestion that context-less actions appear in both the inbox and their project would be interesting to experiment with. It seems like including such actions in the inbox could be controlled with a preference. On the engineering side, it would just be an additional database query.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Wow, just from reading all the threads from the last few weeks (when I started to seriously try to make OF work for me) I've come to the conclusion that (surprise, surprise) you can't please everyone. Especially in the case of GTD where the core ideas are based on strategies to be more effective/productive/whatever but where no specific implementation or workflow is specified.

I know one of the main ideas behind OmniFocus is to be flexible or powerful enough for people to use it to the max, or decide not use the parts they don't want. But from the forum discussions it seems like most people do want to use all the features - they just want those features to behave in different ways that are consistent with how an individual can be more productive, but which are inconsistent with the ways an other individual would prefer.

A lot of people have suggested "make X work this way, but give an option to turn it off". Maybe something to think about would be to go way overkill on configuring the way everything in OF works, but then to ease the burden and lower the complexity for the OF neophyte, create different default config profiles that are available out of the box along with documentation that explains the workflow ideas behind each one.

E.g. "project-oriented", "list oriented", "action-centric", "stuff-centric", whatever. I know this isn't a well-formed or really specific suggestion but I figured I'd just throw it out there as food for thought.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton View Post
Come to think of it, I don't see how Anna's suggestion would work when planning within a project. If I'm brainstorming actions within a project, I just want to dump them in before worrying about contexts. If they immediately went to the inbox, that wouldn't work. MEP's suggestion that context-less actions appear in both the inbox and their project would be interesting to experiment with. It seems like including such actions in the inbox could be controlled with a preference. On the engineering side, it would just be an additional database query.
Yes, I should have been clearer. I like MEP's suggestion that the inbox be a view on context-less actions, definitely NOT that things are moved out of the project into the inbox (that's the behaviour we have now, except that it takes two steps to unset the context and project).

Action groups is a fair point, too. It would be really annoying if action groups kept popping into the inbox.

I might toy with a "Planning" context, as suggested. That gives me an easy way of noting when something isn't fully processed and taking care of it when I'm in the right frame of mind.
 
Curt, thanks for your reply (and thanks for the AppleScripts, by the way).

To set up a planning context is a great idea and I will adopt it. But it does not work for everything within my OF database (which, of course, you did not claim). For a while I had a context named "stuff" - and I would reanimate it, if Annaīs proposal became implemented. So I might withdraw my objection. But in any case I need a way to store stuff. (I like the idea of having a preference control if context-less items also appear in the inbox.)

(Iīm kind of a dreamer and my problem never was having too much to do, but rather planning without doing the things planned. So GTDīs challenge for me is: assign a next action. And keeping everything in OF simply appeases me, because I donīt need to worry as much about the organization of all these priorities, goals and projects. Itīs all there. With the possibility of focussing on details or looking at the great picture. And I can concentrate on assigning actions. - Having said that, I hope the huge pile of stuff I amassed through the years will not stay with me for all time but will vanish slowly because of me getting things done. But right now, I take comfort in not being forced to throw all these thoughts into the garbage can.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton View Post
I'd probably also write the action as "Brainstorm steps for choosing an application...", just to make it an easier widget to crank.
Absolutely right - and as a dreamer I am deeply grateful for the distinction between physical actions and "stuff". But as long as I have not learned to phrase my ideas instantaneously as physical actions, I like to dump "stuff" into my system (and into a specific project) and postpone thinking about what it is and what it means.

Cheers, Jan

Last edited by janT; 2007-09-11 at 01:43 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by janT View Post
Absolutely right - and as a dreamer I am deeply grateful for the distinction between physical actions and "stuff". But as long as I have not learned to phrase my ideas instantaneously as physical actions, I like to dump "stuff" into my system (and into a specific project) and postpone thinking about what it is and what it means.
I feel it would be remiss to let this pass without commenting that this is exactly what GTD aims to stop you doing. :)
 
 


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