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Handling of actions with no contexts Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Quote:
Originally Posted by cajaygle View Post
I'm ok with it not showing as available. However, if you agree that reference items are ok without contexts, then OF shouldn't show them in gray -- this implies that they aren't complete. Also, they should not match the "due soon" filter.
They show in gray because they are not available, having no context assigned. The default style for blocked items uses gray text.

As I mentioned previously, Inbox and No Context items aren't affected by the view bar filters. I imagine this was done to help prevent items from falling through the cracks. If you disagree with the design decision, use Help->Send Feedback to make your voice heard.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by keone View Post
cajaygle, to me contexts is one of the most powerful features of OF and the entire GTD philosophy on which OF is based. So, why is sometimes a context "not really meaningful or useful" in your case? What actions of yours would fall under that category?
OF is a very useful program for task management even if you don't adhere to the full GTD philosophy. I only use it at work, so contexts don't really get me anything. I've only got one context, so for me they aren't all that useful. The problem is that OF _requires_ that you use contexts, and it behaves strangely when you don't. I get bitten by this one all the time. I'll jot something down, and forget to set the context, and then it goes poof, unavailable.
 
Set a default context in all your projects, such as "miscellaneous", if you want a so-called work-around.
 
Thats not a bad workaround, and I do it. The problem is that it creates an extra step, and it doesn't always get done. OF makes it easy to create new projects, but if you don't do the extra, undocumented (but required) step, you create a little black hole. I'm not sure why its my job to remember this arbitrary rule.
 
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..
 
Excellent post, keone. That's exactly what I was thinking but was too lazy to put into words. ;-)

-Dennis
 
I'm glad you like Contexts. I sometimes find them useful myself. I use 'Due Soon' every day.

Heres the part that seems to get lost: Working habits differ. I spend about 90% of my time in one context. I'm project and task based, and OF is a very helpful tool for keeping track of project work. So while contexts are great for you, they don't get me a whole lot.

The question is whether OF is going to encourage GTD, or require GTD.

Good UI design dictates that when software requires certain user behavior, it should enforce the rules, and OF doesn't do this. The consequence is that when you don't adhere strictly to GTD, OF behaves badly. Tasks disappear, etc. It violates the Principle of Least Astonishment.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Sexton View Post
Heres the part that seems to get lost: Working habits differ. I spend about 90% of my time in one context. I'm project and task based, and OF is a very helpful tool for keeping track of project work. So while contexts are great for you, they don't get me a whole lot.
So, what makes you think that the rest of us are not project and task based?
Quote:
The question is whether OF is going to encourage GTD, or require GTD.

Good UI design dictates that when software requires certain user behavior, it should enforce the rules, and OF doesn't do this. The consequence is that when you don't adhere strictly to GTD, OF behaves badly. Tasks disappear, etc. It violates the Principle of Least Astonishment.
No, the tasks don't disappear when you don't assign a context. They get neatly filed in the "No Context" bin!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Sexton View Post
I spend about 90% of my time in one context.
I spend nearly my entire working life at my computer. Does that mean that, like you, I am also in one context about 90% of the time? No. As I tried to explain in my earlier post, the term "context" means more than just physical location.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Sexton View Post
I'm project and task based...
So am I. I just choose to get my tasks (and thus my projects) completed in a much more efficient manner by grouping and acting on all like items together (contexts).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Sexton View Post
The question is whether OF is going to encourage GTD, or require GTD.
OF is a GTD-based task manager. Does it "require" a strict GTD methodology? No.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Sexton View Post
The consequence is that when you don't adhere strictly to GTD, OF behaves badly. Tasks disappear, etc.
Nonsense! Tasks don't disappear. Like whpalmer4 stated, in context view they appear at the top of your context list in the left panel (surprisingly entitled "No Context"). In planning view they appear in your projects' task lists with the words "no context" in the context column. And if you want, you can still enter a start and/or due date for them. How is that "behaving badly"?
 
 


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