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Feature Request: task prioritization! Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Originally Posted by Boatguy View Post
...if enough people want priorities, then what's the harm? If you don't want to use them, don't, they'll be invisible to you.
That is simply a myth. Adding any feature, even if it can be turned off and mostly ignored, does not mean it's free, harmless or "invisible" to users who don't want it.

Every minute spent on adding priorities is a minute lost fixing or developing some other more important or more appropriate feature. And, at least in my mind, there are many things I'd much rather see than support for priorities.

The risks are significant: increased design/engineering cost, increased complexity, straying from canonical GTD, pollution of the UI, etc. And the benefits are negligible.
I cannot believe this debate continues.

Stunned actually.

Uh, yeah. It's down to just reflex reaction now. :)

I believe they call if "Pavlovian Response".

Last edited by Toadling; 2008-06-04 at 04:17 PM..
The debate would have settled down, but the priority zealots keep seeing it pop up in their daily to-do list, due to it being marked as "urgent."

I recently migrated over to OmniFocus from iGTD and really like the program a lot.

There's one feature that seems to be be missing and that is a way to prioritize tasks. And the ability to assign many levels of prioritizing, for instance, some tasks should be number one, while other tasks are not as important and can be assigned to level 3. Will OmniFocus eventually be able to do that?
Please see the HUGE thread about priority and OmniFocus.

Recap: Priority in GTD is not meant to be captured in a tool.

Thanks. I think I'll let the flag work for me as a way to prioritize items and see how that goes.
Let's examine this whole priority problem from a more psychological/cognitive perspective.

Why does people need priority flagging?
Whenever you are faced with a list of tasks from which you can choose only one, you must prioritize. Prioritizing essentially means; comparing all items to all other items. This requires mental effort and time.
This effort spent cannot be saved for later (at least not fully), due to limitations of our brain's working memory and changes to the list of tasks, so we are forced to re-prioritize again the next time we need to pick a new task. We need a way to save the work that we have done; hence the need for priorities...

Strengths of priorities:
* Allows you to save on cognitive workload by reusing previously esablished priorities.

* Saves time when priorities can be quickly reused.

Problems with assigning static priorities.

* Priorities have different semantic meanings.
e.g. Currently the single red flag in OF have different temporal meaning for different people. "I flag: todays stuff" vs "I flag: must do this week stuff".
e.g. The priority was decided by someone else - alien to your system.
e.g. The lowest priority could mean that "you won't do" it or "you must do it but its not important when", "you must do it at least this month", "you don't have to do it but it would be nice". etc...

* Priorities change due to external factors.
e.g. Boss says "drop everything, this company will pay us a gazillion dollars to do x", the next day he says "the deal fell through go back to old priorities".

* It is hard to assign the correct priority.
In low granularity systems (e.g. 1-3) there are too many gray zones where two actions have different priority but it can't be captured in the system. In high granularity systems you easily run into a situations where a lower priority task gets a higher priority number simply because you did not compare the two tasks in relation to each other.

* It is hard to maintain system balance
When you decide on the priority of an item you do so by comparing the priority of other items that you have already prioritized. Once you have assigned some faulty priorities the system starts to deteriorate because you make bad decisions based on bad decisions.

* Assigning priorities means more fiddling with the system.

To have priorities could mean huge benefits in time and cognitive workload saved. It is possible that priorities should be used to capture only short term priorities. But then again short term can be pretty different for different people. Some people do daily reviews, others do fine with weekly and yet some people do hourly reviews. If OF had a today screen some people would want a "this week" screen and so on...
+1 on not adding priorities.

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