Using OF without contexts is a little like using Excel without formulas. (Oh, they are such a pain to enter!) Sure, you can punch in a list of numbers in an Excel spreadsheet and use your desk calculator to add them up, and then key in that total on your spreadsheet. But wouldn't it be more efficient to just key in the simple formula =SUM() at the bottom of your list of numbers and put the appropriate cell range in the parentheses?
To those of you who are context averse I ask you to consider this: Do you ever initiate phone calls during your workday? How about emails? And are you ever waiting for a callback from someone or a particular document in order to keep your projects moving forward? Well, each of those--phone, email, waiting for--is a context. So, what if today--right now--you were to assign those contexts to their corresponding tasks, each with a due date? (And being the clever person that you are, what if you have also already added the "Due Soon" perspective to your toolbar?)
Tomorrow morning you would log into your Mac, bring up OF, and click on the "Due Soon" perspective in your toolbar. In the left panel would be listed all of your contexts, in the right all of your tasks organized by "Due Today," "Due Tomorrow," and "Due Within the Next Week," all with their due dates listed in the "Due" column. A bit overwhelming perhaps?. Okay. Then scan the left panel (your contexts list) and you'll see that you have the number 6 in red by your "Phone" context, 4 by your "Email" context, and 3 "Waiting For." Translation: You have 6 phone calls to make, 4 emails to send, and 3 waiting fors to follow-up on. You decide to click on your "Phone" context first and start making those calls, then do the same with your "Email" and "Waiting For" lists.
The beauty of grouping all like actions together (contexts) is that you can knock them out a lot faster. For example, I make all of my phone calls after 3 p.m. When I'm ready to do so, I just click on my Phone context and make my calls. If I can't connect with someone and need to leave a message, I change the context re: that call from "Phone" to "Waiting For" and bump the date forward one day. I also make the appropriate notes in the task's note section (date & time of my call, and any other pertinent info). The next day my "Waiting For" context list now includes a new item: that expected callback from the day before. If I don't get that callback as scheduled, it stays in my "Waiting For" context list until I follow-up on it (make another call or send an email). I work through the rest of my context lists the same way, all with the goal of moving my projects forward task by task toward completion.
Just because you're at one physical location all day (your desk or computer), doesn't mean that you are doing the exact same thing the entire day, or are in the exact same application or website. (Okay, maybe some of you are, but I doubt it. If so, you have a very simple life and are clearly in no need of OF.) Remember, the term "context" doesn't just mean physical location but virtual as well.
I suggest that you try using contexts, but don't overdo it at first. Just start with the three I've listed above (phone, email, waiting for) because they're pretty common to most of us, and see how it goes for maybe two weeks. I'll bet you'll be adding more contexts as time goes on, and as a result will start to get more effective use out of OF.
As Omni states in the OF Help section: "Contexts: where the work happens." Indeed.
Last edited by keone; 2009-01-08 at 07:06 AM..