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Date Specific Actions & iCal Sync [See "Replacing Calendar Sync" thread.] Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I've been playing with OF on iPad, and like some of the concepts that forecasting has… And also I like some of the stuff that's going on with "publish due reminders as a calendar". But I have a suggestion about how this stuff might work better.

It is VERY common for me to have a sequential project that might look like this

1)Do research for meeting (context specific… not set time)
2)Go to meeting (MUST happen on certain day at certain time)
3)Send client follow up paperwork (context specific again)

The way I do this now is I'll put them all into OF, and then also put a DUPLICATE of the meeting into iCal.

I would love to be able to sync the TIME specific stuff to iCal at it's specific time. With forecast I could theoretically use Start at the time the meeting starts and Due at the time that the meeting finishes. But this really seems clunky to me. And of course, there's still the issue that it is only accessible on the forecast view on the iPad, which I rarely have with me.

Curious to hear if anyone can second this feature request… Or perhaps has a good workaround for me?

people have pleaded about such a feature a million times here I think.

I don't think the Omni folks have a lot of meetings so they think we'er asking for something strange and pointless.

I always have to i duplicate the input into OF and into the calendar. A real time waster for those of us who live and die by meetings within projects.

Just a case of "developer mind" - hard to battle against!
Why do you want it in *both* OmniFocus and your calendar? What value do you get out of an OmniFocus action like "Go to meeting with staff at 4PM"? If you need a reminder to go, use iCal (where you've already blocked out the time for the meeting). The only value I can see to also having the meeting in OmniFocus would be if it inferred due dates for prior actions in a sequence, so that you could have the "Do research for meeting" action automatically have a due date/time when the meeting starts, and adjust automatically if you reschedule the meeting. OmniFocus doesn't have any notion of inferring due dates in a sequence, however, only inferring due dates from a parent. And as discussed elsewhere, the iCal sync doesn't populate calendar events.

Reread pp. 39-41 of Getting Things Done and tell me where DA says you should put time-specific actions (meetings) on your next action lists (OmniFocus). Time-saving tip: he doesn't. "Often the next action to be taken on a project is attending a meeting that has been set up to discuss it. Simply tracking that on the calendar is sufficient." I think we can take it as a given that he has spent plenty of time in meetings!

Nothing stored in OmniFocus is accessible only from the Forecast view. If you want to look at actions by start date or due date, make a context mode perspective on the Mac grouping by start or due date and sync it to your iOS device. If you don't have OmniFocus on the Mac, ask the support ninjas to build the perspective for you — enough such requests and they'll get the developers to build support for creating perspectives directly in the iOS apps. It might be nice if OmniFocus could reason about due dates in sequences, although for the most part, that can be handled by with action groups with due dates.
actually a bit of thought would reveal why you need both. (ah, the eternal problem with Dogma).

The GTD concept is that the only things that go on the Calendar are things that MUST happen on that date (versus things that you'd *like* do to on a specific date -- note the different classes of datapoints). The idea is that the more "stuff" your brain see's in such an arrangement, the less weight each individual datapoint will have in your brain. The less weight, the greater likelihood of dropping the ball on all the datapoints in that view.

However, each one of those Hardlandscape datapoints still need to be seen in the overall context of "the project". Why?

Here it is: because if you don't, YOU HAVE TO KEEP YOUR WHOLE LIST IN YOUR BRAIN WHILE YOU LOOK AT YOUR CALENDAR FOR THE CALENDAR TO FULLY MAKE SENSE. And the idea of GTD is that your brain doesn't have to keep track of things, just relax and do what it's good at - dreaming, coming up with ideas, thinking about lunch, etc.

You'd just have 2 different views of the same datapoints, one with a Blocked Display (showing only specific things) and one with an Outline display - but both have value (which is why so many people keep on asking for this feature - we're not all crazy you know).

For more background on this and other datapoint communication issues, see the wonderfully dense and entertaining (at least to me and my kind) series of books : The Visual Display of Quantitative Information

It's great and really helps understand these things. It also has a chilling explanation how a different display of datapoints at NASA could have prevented the Challenger Disaster - this stuff can have very heavy consequences indeed.
Excellent! You've just demonstrated that the calendar is no good, because you have to keep your entire list in your brain while using it. How could I possibly make any sense of a graphical representation showing my fixed schedule for tomorrow without knowing precisely what unscheduled steps I might need to take to be ready? It seems so (deceptively) simple, looking at the calendar and seeing that 4-6PM is blocked out for a meeting, and that time is not available for other tasks. Now you're telling me that I need to consider all the facets of the project for which the meeting was called when someone asks if I'm available at 5PM?

I'm very cognizant of DA's thinking about the use of the calendar, as expressed on the pages I mentioned. Perhaps with a bit of thought you could explain how it buttresses your case, which argues for doing the opposite of what he suggests!

I find it particularly useful to include some details about the meeting in the iCal entry beyond "Meeting, 4-6PM". In particular, if I include the topic of the meeting, I'm able to look at my calendar and understand it without reference to the actions detailing how I need to prepare for the meeting. It's quite a nice compartmentalization of the information, which minimizes the amount of information that I need to hold in my head at any given time. If I've done the preparatory tasks in OmniFocus by their due date, there's no need to have the entire list in my head when I look at the calendar to see when and where the meeting is.

Putting hard landscape items in OmniFocus as well as the calendar is the moral equivalent of chartjunk. It clutters the project without providing any substantial value in return.

Tufte doesn't get it all right on the Challenger data, either:
I think you missed the point.

ah well, now I know how Martin Luther felt!
Wow spirited debate!

I'm sure that I don't do everything exactly by the David Allen book. And I'm not trying too. Rather, I've taken his principles as a starting point and adapted them to the way I think and do things. So while I certainly appreciate the point that what I'm suggesting is not 100 percent official GTD, that's alright by me.

There are many elements of OF that are very useful that are not part of official GTD. And I'm glad they are there. I'm pretty sure, for example, there is no suggestion of using start dates in your context lists. But glad that it's implemented in OF.

My head wraps around a project MUCH better if I can lay out the steps in it. It seems silly to me to write a list of tasks to complete a project, but then NOT include tasks on that list because they have to occur at a specific time. So official David Allen or not, that's what would work best for me. And it looks like I'm not alone.

For what it's worth, I can ALMOST use due dates and "publish due reminders as a calendar" to accomplish what I want. The only issue is that it only publishes events that will occur in the next 2 weeks, and only for 1 hour blocks.

Thanks guys for your insite. 100 percent by the book or not, if there's anyone else who would find this feature useful, it might be worth chiming in here to let the developers now it's something we want.
Also, as far as I know, if the developers were to add such a feature, I think life on our planet would still exist, nor would Dogs and Cats start to marry each other, and I feel confident that there would be no plague of locusts directly attributed to the adding of such a feature.

Also people would be free to not use the feature as well.

One way for everyone just means we all wind up facing a wall.
See this thread for more current info on what's going on with calendar syncing.

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