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GTD is not for everyone. Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
One of the things that has disappointed me through the years on this forum is the lack of significant discussion of using OmniFocus in a non-GTD manner.

I've tried to adapt my workflow to approximate GTD principles, but in some major ways it just doesn't work.

My general work has no need for GTD or OmniFocus. I sit down in front of a workstation and my days work flows in on a worklist that I do. I don't have choice or flexibility in it. It is the rest of the day that is mine. I do have some significant work and responsibility outside of that core work that, for the most part, is unrelated to my core work. I sit on a variety of committees and boards of other organizations that have work associated with them, some of which I chair and direct. There are a few administrative activities I have at work, but they are pretty minimal, at least as they relate to what would fit in OF.

For me, the major questions I have related to task accomplishment is not the traditional GTD "what can I do next at this moment?", but rather "is there something I need to be doing now rather than watching TV, going for a walk, reading a book, etc.?" Or even more importantly, "is there something that I need to alter my plans or schedule to find time to work on soon?"

I've been using OF since it was first released on the Mac, and added the iPhone and iPad versions as they came out. I've read all the standard books and papers on it and GTD. I've religiously followed these forums. In doing so I've learned a lot and have modified my set up considerably.

I realize that if I was starting from scratch right now I would not spend the money on OF. It is overkill for my needs. But since I have it I use it, as it is far better than the other stuff that is out there. There are just some nice features that the others lack that make using OF nice.

For me the traditional concept of contexts is useless. As I said I don't ever find myself in the situation of asking myself "what do I do next?" in a certain place or with certain tools. I've gone through a whole variety of different alternative context structures trying to find something that I actually use, without success. Project view is more important to me. Review is very helpful and important, and is probably the key advantage to using OF for me, as my biggest need is trying to keep track of the big picture of what is coming in the next few weeks or months that I need to be working on or thinking about. And my primary perspective has become "Due or Flagged". The Forecast mode on the iPad that everyone loves is of little use as only a small percentage of my tasks have due dates and there is no way to add flagged tasks into the Forecast display. Hence the "Due or Flagged" perspective.

Maybe those of us who use OF but don't adhere to the strict GTD workflow are very few in number and don't visit these forums much. But if there are such people it would be nice if there was a exchange of ideas and suggestions among them.
 
I had to look at the username to determine whether this was something I wrote ;-)

Contexts are largely useless to me as well. I have a single "leviathan" context that has 90% of my work tasks. Every effort to refactor my contexts comes up with something contrived and I end up reverting to my one big "Office" context.

And there are huge problems with project mode, like the fact that about 80% of the filters (Due, or "due or flagged") simply don't work. I frankly HATE context mode in OmniFocus, because you can't see groupings, you can't rearrange tasks, you can't move them around, ... If OF weren't such a flexible and scalable solution, I would have left it years ago.

Anyway, I guess it depends on the raison d'Ítre for OmniFocus. Is it a general purpose task-management tool (in which, it mostly fails IMO) or is it a GTD tool? I think it's the latter, which to an extent is OK, as software with a purpose is better than software with no purpose. It just may not be the right tool for me. If Omni wants to make a very GTD focused tool, there's no doubt there's a market of David Allen followers to support it... I just may not be among them. My current favorite alternative is "The Hit List" which syncs better (when it's working) and does a lot of other things better... I'm just sorta concerned about the future of the product, whereas the Omni Group has a much more proven and communicative track record.
 
I agree with you both. This is maddening to me. The concept of a single context is the most flawed construct of GTD. I would rather eliminate the name context and replace it with category and allow the assignment of three categories per task... Since tags are out of the question.
 
Take a look at this suggestion:

http://simplicityisbliss.com/post/15...ke-on-contexts

Maybe it will give you some ideas.
 
Contexts frankly don't work for me. I consider them "artificial." You really HAVE to use contexts to use OmniFocus effectively.

I've tried context as locations (which doesn't work). I don't want to do contexts as "effort levels."

I could do contexts-as-project-names so I can see my projects when I'm in context mode (yes, I can "group by" in the actions list but there are issues).

Context mode is a total usability s**t sandwich for me. Again I'd like to never use it but the unfortunate reality is that OmniFocus forces it on you, because many of the view options ONLY WORK in context model. Oh, and the fact that project-mode perspectives don't work on the iOS versions of the product :-P
 
Perhaps what you want is something that is mising from the OF implementation and that is rating tasks in a matrix for urgent and important. This was big before GTD took over. It seems to have disappeared from discussion. As I recall using the matrix resulted in 4 categorisations. 1970s and 80's time management books discuss it. OF's single category 'flag' does not allow any discrimination. HTH
 
Add me to the list of people that hope that Omni is reading these posts, and looking at ways of making OF more flexible; the fact is that most people who need a task management solution are by definition "knowledge workers", that is, we don't crank out widgets, and is today's world iphones and macbooks and ipads (yes, I am being Apple-centric, because Omni is), many people can do most things in most any place. Accordingly, as opposed to 2001, contexts are, although not irrelevant, far less important. Yes, I can only mow the lawn when I am home, but I can email from just about anywhere on the planet.

I agree with much of the above, and frankly am hanging on at the moment to see OF 2, and even now I am getting dangerously close to jumping the OF ship. I know Omni does not, for this very reason, pre-announce products, but OF has been little more than tweaked for an awfully long time. I understand that it is not Omni's flagship product, and that the intervening iPhone and iPad took some significant development cycles, but I am still getting a little frustrated by the length of dormancy. Right now, I would have left OF if not 3 HUGE things: easy ubiquitous capture, review, and the fact I have been committed to it since 2007. Those are for the moment enough to keep me, but I don't think for much longer.

Here's hoping that there is something on the not too distant horizon.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wdiadamo View Post
Add me to the list of people that hope that Omni is reading these posts, and looking at ways of making OF more flexible; the fact is that most people who need a task management solution are by definition "knowledge workers", that is, we don't crank out widgets, and is today's world iphones and macbooks and ipads (yes, I am being Apple-centric, because Omni is), many people can do most things in most any place. Accordingly, as opposed to 2001, contexts are, although not irrelevant, far less important. Yes, I can only mow the lawn when I am home, but I can email from just about anywhere on the planet.
A glance at the output from Curt's Where to Focus widget (below) shows that I also have what might be regarded as an imbalance in distribution of actions in contexts. (The obscured count is 1,661!) I don't find it to be a problem, though; the context mechanism is still useful for sifting through all the actions which do have distinct contexts. For the ones in the big pile, they'll get picked out based on project, start/due date, review, etc. Having the same context assigned doesn't interfere with the choice any more than not having a context concept at all would, so far as I can tell. Am I missing something?

As for CatOne's complaint about filters that don't work in project mode, I must be missing something. How is a display of just the flagged and/or due actions, with the rest of the project missing, any more helpful than the flagged and/or due view in context mode? That seems to be a great example of where you only care about individual actions, and they work the same in context mode whether you use 0, 1, 10, or 100 contexts.

Quote:
OF has been little more than tweaked for an awfully long time.
I wonder what the people who work on it think about that statement! Just because a change doesn't totally revamp the UI shouldn't be taken as reason to conclude it was an inconsequential amount of work...
Quote:
I understand that it is not Omni's flagship product
Which product do you think is Omni's flagship product, and why?

Quote:
Right now, I would have left OF if not 3 HUGE things: easy ubiquitous capture, review, and the fact I have been committed to it since 2007. Those are for the moment enough to keep me, but I don't think for much longer.

Here's hoping that there is something on the not too distant horizon.
Left it to go where? Is there something out there that offers a new/different way of doing things which is a significant improvement?


 
Quote:
Originally Posted by garyo View Post
Perhaps what you want is ... rating tasks in a matrix for urgent and important. ...
That was from the 7 Habits ... book. I had considered and may return at some point to experiment with using contexts in a similar way - basically defining just three contexts as Must, Should, and Could. I would still keep certain location specific contexts because they do serve a useful purpose.

Otherwise, I would also put myself in the still "struggling with contexts" category. This thread is therefore interesting to read.

--
JJW
 
This is in response to whpalmers' thoughtful comments.

First, let me say that I read these forums with some frequency, and have great respect for your devotion to OF, your opinions, and your willingness and ability to help others. Sounds like a "but" is coming, but it's not. I mean that.

Re-reading my post, it does sound more critical than I meant it to. I have for years trusted my life to OF, and still think it is the best thing of its kind out there. I have no doubt the issue is with me; the problem is not with the arrows, it's with the archer.

That said, let me try to explain myself, or perhaps, ask the question in a better way. My issue is that, if I am being accurate, my only real contexts are Home, Office, Computer, Phone, and Errands, with the Computer and Phone overlapping Home and Office, because I am always within a few feet of my phone, and rarely more than 30 yards from my computer. Accordingly, there are a few physical acts that can only be done in one place or another (mow the lawn at home, review certain unscan-able documents at the office), with the vast, vast majority of everything else going into the "computer" context. I do divide that into things I can do online or off, but even so those lists are, for me, just too long. I review by project, and I use start dates extensively, but even so, to look at the computer list is too daunting. Now, I go through and flag stuff that I want/need to do from that list, but honestly, I am finding it more and more cumbersome to arrange my tasks, and less and less feel like I am in that "mind like water" place I crave.

All this is a long way of asking, how do you break things down? I have tried the "true GTD" of where or what you need to accomplish a task, and have tried variations discussed here, such as Sven's: http://simplicityisbliss.com/post/15...ke-on-contexts, but didn't love that either.

whpalmer, you seem to have things broken down into about 80 contexts, and you seem OK with having 1661 in one. How do you deal with being confident that you are working on the right thing, or more importantly, not missing something?

Finally, as for the tweaking, I think my frustration comes from the fact that Omni was pushing out developments on a regular basis and that has slowed; Ken Case himself discussed this somewhere, when he said, in essence, that the development of the iPhone and iPad versions took precedence. That's fine, and I understand and appreciate the need to allocate resources effectively; I would, however love to have the forecast view on my Computer. As for the flagship product remark, that was based, perhaps erroneously, on Case's comments, that OF was not the company's biggest revenue producer. It was not meant as a slam, or a suggestion that OF was somehow the red-headed step child of Omni, but just acknowledging the fact that Omni was, apparently, assigning their resources in the most effective, and presumably, profitable, way possible, as they should. It's a business, and I want them to make money. My rant above was, ironically, that I wish they would come up with a 2.0 so they might propel me out of my self created malaise and take more of my cash.

Again, whpalmer, I want to express that I do appreciate your comments and input, and will continue to use, and appreciate, OF. I am just trying to learn to use it better.

Last edited by wdiadamo; 2012-01-10 at 01:47 PM..
 
 


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