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Please, tell me I'm wrong! Next Actions pref is busted Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
This is to do with the Show Next Actions preference for contexts. I haven't started using this view" too much yet, but I'm getting more and more OmnifFocus-based, so I expect that I will be. It looks to me like I won't be able to, though!


My apologies if got this wrong! (Surely I got this wrong!) I tested this out though, and it looks to me that I'm reading this correctly.

From the iPhone manual page 21:
Keeping track of the next action in each project
Any active project keeps track of the next action that you have yet to
complete. This is useful for figuring out what you ought to do to keep your
projects moving forward.
When you are interested in next actions, you can hide everything else:
At the top-level screen, tap Settings.
Change the In Contexts, show setting to Next.
Now when you look at contexts, you will only see the next action for
each project.
For sequential projects, where you need to do one thing before another,
the next action is the only thing you can do right now to make progress
on the project. For parallel projects, where you can do the actions in any
order, the next action is just the first action in the list, and acts as more
of a suggestion of what you might want to do next.
The problem, it seems to me, is in that last sentence. Thanks for the "suggestion" and all, but are you not completely breaking the system?

It would be fair to say, would it not, that that last sentence could be replaced with this?
The reason you bother to distinguish between parallel and sequential projects, is that often, you're able to do anything in a project, and so you need those actions to be available. We've built that capability in, with the expectation that you need it. But, on the iPhone, we've designed this "view" to treat both kinds of projects exactly the same way! When it comes to sequential projects, we're showing you "next actions" as you'd expect, and when it comes to parallel projects, we're showing you what happens to be a the top of your list, as you would not expect. We're calling that a "suggestion". This way of showing Next Actions has the obvious benefit of completely breaking the system.
Why do forums cause people (ok, me) to go up a notch in snarkiness? Sorry about that. I bloody love OmniFocus.
 
I guess I hadn't been using Next Actions much at all before now...

This is all true for OF for desktop, too, no? OF only "colourizes" the top action in a parallel list.

Yes, I'm perseverating. But surely this is fundamentally wrong, no? Both for GTD principles, as well as by the very definitions of the two project types as defined by OmniFocus, that's not how it goes!
 
Like you, I haven't used Next Actions preference because I'm always in the show Available actions preference.

I read the show next action preference to only show me the next action in a project, regardless if it is sequential or parallel.

Is that how you read it? Is the iPhone app not acting in this fashion?
 
My understanding of this design decision is that the Show Next Actions view is meant to show a only small list of possible actions to take, and therefore shows only a small piece of everything that you need to get done. I think the idea is that you'll manually arrange the parallel projects to put more important tasks near the top, and hence only those at the top are shown in the next view. (At least this is how I work with the Show Next Actions view.)

This would be addressed if there were Perspectives on the iPhone version.
 
Yes, but it's still breaking the system by design, is it not?

So many people argue that there shouldn't be prioritizing in OF, because it doesn't fit in GTD. (I don't have an opinion on whether those who would use it should have it, but for me, the GTD framework, and how OF implements it, is fantastic.)

Well, this system is actually a prioritizing system, like priority 1,2,3... but much, much worse. When you're consulting OF for what's available, it turns out you've been forced to rank your actions in all of two possible ways:

something you can do next
oblivion

You're saying that the Show Next Actions view is meant to show only a small list of possible actions to take... What could possibly be the justification for that?! The length of that list should be totally up to me. When I have 20 next actions, of course I want to see 20 next actions.

And, by the way, I would expect to have at least that number at any one time, in my life, and I'd like to trust the list. If that list is too much for me, then OF shouldn't just not let me see more, I should absolutely see them all, and drill down and fix things, if I choose. Hiding them doesn't mean their not there. So it's actually just making it harder for me to deal with many available tasks, not easier by any means.

Again: is it me?! This seems to be about as clearly broken a behaviour as one could hope to find (or not find). There are a lot of threads, it seems, where people say, "let me explain to you why you don't really want that". Those opposing views very often have some merit, and they're often to do with keeping OF as simple as possible. However, this is in a different class. I can't see how it's logically defensible this is a key, fundamentally inconsistent, utterly broken way of handling (let's not forget) parallel projects.

Don't mean to be huffy, I'm not! I'm trying to be totally clear: by the very definitions of parallel versus sequential projects, as well as their reason for existing, is this not, quite simply and exactly wrong to omit all but the latest task in a parallel list?

Last edited by paulduv; 2009-02-07 at 03:10 PM..
 
Why not just set your Context view preference to 'Available'? You'll still have only the unblocked actions on sequential projects and all available actions on parallel projects. My understanding of the 'Next' action only preference was for people who want to impose a priority system on parallel projects and really want to narrow the focus to the highest priority item on the list. For a more GTD approach, 'Available' should do exactly what you want-yes?
 
(See attached image of one of my projects. Note: purple is next action.)

For example, I'm setting up a conference, which is some time away, in May. As I'm writing what'll be a very long list for a very big project, you can already see two things I want to do on Monday. This isn't "in progress", this is actually what I want to do on Monday, and it's the entire list of actions until then. Well, you can see that I've designed this in such a way that the following are available on Monday:

Continue my mind-map
Write a draft email

As you can see, I've totally adhered to the design of project types. Well, in terms of available tasks, this list is irrefutably reporting falsely. Only one of those is showing up, not both. This is not about tidiness, preference, simplicity. I'm right, OmniFocus is wrong.

By the way, it's not even marking the top item on the parallel list as available *it seems to be confused by the nested actions.
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could it be that first action "continue mindmap,..." needs a context in order for it to show up?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by paulduv View Post
Yes, but it's still breaking the system by design, is it not?
No, it's not.
Quote:

Well, this system is actually a prioritizing system, like priority 1,2,3... but much, much worse. When you're consulting OF for what's available, it turns out you've been forced to rank your actions in all of two possible ways:

something you can do next
oblivion

You're saying that the Show Next Actions view is meant to show only a small list of possible actions to take... What could possibly be the justification for that?! The length of that list should be totally up to me. When I have 20 next actions, of course I want to see 20 next actions.
By definition, a parallel project (or action group) can be done in any order. OmniFocus arbitrarily takes the first one in the list to designate as the Next Action if you use a view (Next Actions) that is designed to only show you one. This allows you to order them in a priority ranking if it matters to you without doing any harm if you choose not to do that. If you were doing GTD on paper, you would have to make a list, and something would have to be at the top left corner of that list, no? But if you understood that the first 3 things on the list didn't have any sequential dependency, you could look at that list and pick the second or third item to do first if that better met your current context, energy, focus, etc. The Available selector (instead of Next Actions) allows you that same flexibility.
Quote:
And, by the way, I would expect to have at least that number at any one time, in my life, and I'd like to trust the list. If that list is too much for me, then OF shouldn't just not let me see more, I should absolutely see them all, and drill down and fix things, if I choose. Hiding them doesn't mean their not there. So it's actually just making it harder for me to deal with many available tasks, not easier by any means.
Use the Available view instead of Next Actions, or change your parallel projects to single action lists, which do show all available items styled as Next Actions. If you sort the context mode view by Project, the first thing in each block of actions for a given project should be that which would be displayed in a Next Actions only view.
Quote:
Again: is it me?! This seems to be about as clearly broken a behaviour as one could hope to find (or not find). There are a lot of threads, it seems, where people say, "let me explain to you why you don't really want that". Those opposing views very often have some merit, and they're often to do with keeping OF as simple as possible. However, this is in a different class. I can't see how it's logically defensible this is a key, fundamentally inconsistent, utterly broken way of handling (let's not forget) parallel projects.
It may not work in theory, but it works just fine in practice...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiralOcean View Post
could it be that first action "continue mindmap,..." needs a context in order for it to show up?
That is exactly correct, unless you are running the 1.6 sneaky peek...
 
 


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