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Please be kind to us "planning mode" Junkies Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I Achieve my goals in the planning mode rather than the context mode

Some days I work wholly in the planning mode to "plan" and also to "get things done". I mentioned this before on another posting and I think it struck a few people as being odd.

I am trying to learn a completely new application (omnifocus) and a completely new way of working (GTD) and I have only read a fraction of the book (I am slowly reading more as i go along). So please be patient If i'm Not using the program correctly.

I'm suddenly starting to think that I must be the only one who Gets things done in the planning mode.

But I like to work with "next action" in the planning mode.

Is there anything wrong with that?

I think it's a lot to do with coming from a Non GTD approach.
When I stumbled accross omnifocus I was looking for an electronic system for my task management (Not a GTD app). So the context idea is coming slowly to me.

I'm in a sort of "comfort zone" in the planning mode. But when i analyzed it a bit more i think that there's more to it for me.

Example:
Today I wanted to focus on "omnifocus housekeeping (4 hours work as I revamp my new methods)", "banking Jobs" and "presentation for monday".

I multi-select the 3 projects in the planning mode, i then clicked on "next action" and did job after job after job.

Switching to context mode seemed pointless as the sole context is my computer.

Compare this to:
switch to context mode "next action", then i get a cluttered list of lots of other projects that i'm not interested in. What's the point?

Tomorrow may require a switch to the context mode?yes, I am context user as well sometimes.

Please tell me what I'm Not getting? I know It must be something
 
For most of us, even those of us who work at home, a typical project will not consist solely of actions in a single context. I have contexts for each of the major "locations" in my home (garage, office, kitchen, laundry, etc.) as well as the various computers. I could lump everything into one colossal "home" context, certainly, but then I'd spend a lot more time looking at my lists trying to figure out what other things I needed to do on my iMac besides the daily backup, or searching for all the calls that I needed to make during business hours, and just what was that other thing that I needed to scan the next time I fire up the scanner? Similarly, a list of stuff to be done "on a computer" doesn't do me much good when most of it needs to be done (or is most conveniently done) on a specific computer (the one that has the iTunes library, or the Aperture library, the one that runs that other operating system). And what about those times when a project is paused waiting for something to happen? I've got Waiting contexts for my usual things I might wait on (mail, email, calls) and Agenda contexts for the people I interact with most frequently. When I speak to Fred next, I can be sure that we cover all of the topics we need to discuss by checking Agenda : Fred instead of searching through all the projects where Fred might conceivably play a role as I would have to do, if I had everything in the same context.

There's nothing intrinsically wrong with using a next action view in project mode to decide what to do next. The point of OmniFocus (and GTD) is to make it easier for you to make informed decisions about what you should do next.

There are a few things that do not work as well in project mode as in context mode. One of them is grouping by start or due date. The grouping will happen by the start or due date of the project, not the actions contained therein. Single-action lists will get grouped by the start or due date of the single-action list, which is not very useful for my "miscellaneous" list! Doesn't matter if there are any actions in the project that are actually available to work on at the moment, if the project start date was last week, the project will show up in the Started last week group.

There's a trap for the unwary in your preferred work style (project view, selecting next action). Consider the following:



Let's look at that in your fashion:



Absolutely no indication that there's a later action in that project that is due today! Bad news if you don't happen to work on that project, no?

Now, it's a bit better if you happened to group by due:



We at least see that there is something in that project due today, though we don't see what it is.

Now, I can hear you saying "but if I did a context view, next actions only, I wouldn't see the about to be overdue action either, because it isn't a next action!" and I would certainly agree. But let's take a slightly different approach to the issue: what's the most efficient way to make sure that everything that is due today gets done today? Obviously, you could simply do everything, and that would be a splendid brute force solution. Feel free to swing by my place to help me out with some of my work when you're done with yours :-) Probably that's not really an option, so you need to pick and choose what you'll work on. If you do a context view, grouped by due, with remaining actions (or better yet, due soon, an option not provided in project mode) shown instead of next actions, you'll be able to see all of those items falling due today (or in the next few days), even if they aren't a next action at the moment. A view in project mode that will let you scan for upcoming due actions (as opposed to projects, I hope you agree there is an important difference!) will show you a huge amount of stuff that may not have any due date at all, leaving you to scan through every line looking for the items that are due soon. To be fair, in a case like the one I gave, where there's a due item later in a sequence after some actions that do not have explicit due dates, it might well be more convenient to stay in project mode banging away on the next actions until that project no longer shows up in the "due today" group.

To address your specific example, had you selected the group of projects you wanted to work on (to the exclusion of all else), clicked on the focus button (if you've installed it in your toolbar) or used the popup menu (ctrl-click in the sidebar, select Focus), you could have then switched to context mode and only seen the items from those projects, sorted into their respective contexts.
 
Thank you for your explanation

I would like to pick up on some points that are relevant to me:-

1) suggestion: the behaviour of "due" dates will be awkward in the planning mode ("the grouping will happen by the start or due date of the project, not by the actions contained therein")

Reply: This is NOT the behaviour that I see on my screen. When I switch to the planning mode with "due date" filtering, then I get a list that does sort by due actions rather than projects.
So I don't have the Issue that you have.
The explanation to this maybe that:- I do not use "start" or "due dates" on any project. I just use a blank start date (none) and this acts as if a project has started (i discovered this by accident during the first few minutes of using the program). So although i never apply a "due date" to the whole projects, I do still use "due dates" for some actions within projects.

Having said that, although your first point is not relevant to me, it does throw up another related issue (see point 3).

2) suggestion: Single-action lists will get grouped by the start or due date of the single-action list, which is not very useful for my "miscellaneous" list! Doesn't matter if there are any actions in the project that are actually available to work on at the moment, if the project start date was last week, the project will show up in the Started last week group.

reply: once again this is NOT the behaviour that I see on my screen (as I don't use start dates).

3) In response to "first thing", "second thing" "almost last thing" "last thing list".

Reply: I agree totally with what your saying. This is unfortunately a behavioural weakness within OF planning view. Surely when I select "due" and "next action" filtering then the "due" should overide everything. Unfortunately It doesn't.

ON A MISSION
I have been on a campaign (sort of) to try and "fight for the rights" of people who want to work in the planning mode. It's a plea really to make peope aware of what It feels like to be a new user of the application.

My personal journey (step-by-step mission) to master Omnifocus is as follows :-
1) master the planning mode in it's basic (barebones form)
2) master the context mode (barebones form)
3) look at "blending" of the "planning view" and the "context view"
4) start using advanced tools

However, I cannot rest until i'm happy with the functionality of the planning mode. Many things either don't make sense or are illogical.

Whenever I make a posting pointing out some difficulties in the planning view then I normally get "told off" and told that i'm using the program wrongly and to work in the "context mode".

Whereas in truth, the mission that I seem to be involved with is to try to get a "planning view" that functions logically, intuitively and instinctively

The background to this is that when I started using omnifocus I tried to use all the tools (including due dates, filtering and context mode). But I got lost (badly) as the omnifocus experience for me was not a very intuitive or instinctive.

In hindsight I think it's much to do with the shortcomings of the panning mode (some of which are mentioned here). In the end I wasn't getting anywhere (I remained unproductive). So I decided that I needed to master 1 thing at a time.

I decided to master the project mode first (there was so much to learn there) as my projects list swelled (transferring paper notes to electronic notes)

If you want to read more of my journey then here's 2 other posts

Beginners guide - using omnifocus to find a personal strategy of how to use omnifocus http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=10305

Why I find "Next action" misleading! http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=10678

Last edited by wayne4; 2008-11-28 at 04:50 AM.. Reason: correction
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wayne4 View Post
However, I cannot rest until i'm happy with the functionality of the planning mode. Many things either don't make sense or are illogical.

Whenever I make a posting pointing out some difficulties in the planning view then I normally get "told off" and told that i'm using the program wrongly and to work in the "context mode".
I may make a longer response later on today, but I want to respond to this bit now.

I once thought that planning/project mode was the way to work, too, and had a number of discussions by email with various Omni support staff and developers. Bottom line is this: if you insist on working only in planning mode, you are not using the program as intended, and you probably won't be as happy with the results. The planning/context dichotomy is pretty central to the whole concept.

I don't have any objection to Omni improving planning mode, but I don't think the arguments you've made so far regarding your desire to avoid context mode are likely to spur them into action on that front if the program works well in their intended fashion and they have a long list of other features for which people are clamoring.
 
I have 35 active projects and many more pending a start date or on hold but only a few active contexts so when it's time to focus and get work done, the context mode is most helpful. The usual scenario is "I'm home, have 4 hours, what can I get done?" Not missing that near-overdue item is all about project organization and bubbles up during reviews.

HOWEVER there are certain projects that I tackle in isolation by first focusing on the project and then ticking off items in planning mode. For those few projects I have specific perspectives so one click gets me to the focused planning view sorted the way I want. The question then becomes, or example, "It's time to get next months schedule out, what do I have left to do?" In this example, the planning view is ungrouped/due/remaining and also includes the inbox in the focus in case I've added something recently that has not yet been cleaned up into the project. I like Remaining because I can see at a glance what's left on the table for this project (in gray), but one could use Next Action and then just keep checking off one purple task to see the next.

I think the difference has come about in part because of the complexity of planning mode relative to context mode, but also for some projects there will only ever be one context implicit in the project (I do all my scheduling at the computer with online access).

So you are not alone in working out of planning mode, but avoiding the advanced features and use of a single context for everything does seem to make context mode irrelevant. Use Focus, save Perspectives if you'll use OF this way more than once, and then work from whichever list helps you the most. In my head, the planning view is essentially the "project" view.
 
points taken both!

I see that you are both referring to it as "project view" rather than "planning view", so i'll take that on board.

I am slowly getting my head around the methods here

I do see the benefits of the context mode (and i do already use the context mode)

but as far as making the application accessible to all levels of ability/understanding (from a GTD guru to a 16 year old student), then I really hope that the planning mode gets some attention because for me, it's workings are the key to moving onto higher levels of thinking and understanding. I used the projects as a test bed for lots of idea and experimenting.

On a final note I do appreciate that in the big scheme of things this is a small cog. I am aware of that!
 
I believe that I picked up along the way that P-mode used to be Project Mode but was changed along the way to Planning Mode to indicate more it's intended usage. Do I have that going the right direction?
 
I use planning mode for about 90% of what I do to. 90% of my use is in my home office at my desk. I tend to do different things a specific times of the day. For example I find that I write best in the morning so I use that time to write and I have a folder for that broken down by each media outlet. I find that in the afternoon my brain does not due net new thoughts well so I do business stuff and edits of things I have written.

I am trying to use contexts, but I find that especially in the morning I just want to know what article I have decided to write and then get after it. In the afternoons there is where I am using (trying) contexts, as a series of activities that I go through as I wind down the day.

My one request for planning mode is to make is so Folders without any active projects will be hidden when in the bar is set to show only active projects.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gcrump View Post
My one request for planning mode is to make is so Folders without any active projects will be hidden when in the bar is set to show only active projects.
Unfortunately, that makes it rather difficult to do organization in planning mode without having all projects visible -- how would you create or move a new project into that folder?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gcrump View Post
My one request for planning mode is to make is so Folders without any active projects will be hidden when in the bar is set to show only active projects.
I know what Gcrump is referring too. It's when he's actually "getting things done" (i.e. acting on his next actions) in the planning mode.

I d understand how that could be annoying. Although for meit's not NOT a major Issue.
 
 


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