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4 Interesting GTD & OmniFocus Questions (Using OF for a Day and Love It!) Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Quick Intro About My GTD Habits:

Hey everyone, I'm new to OmniFocus but definately am glad i've arrived. I first read DA's GTD Book in summer of 2008 but never applied it. Then in February of this year I listened to his 8 hour seminar and listened passionately. I purchased a few trays for the home such as Inbox, etc. Even someday/maybe file folders and finally what has made my life incredibly easier the past few months is an alphebeticaly organized file box for all my folders. As DA's says, everything goes in here. In the past i'd go crazy looking for something if someone requested it from me but now I know that if it doesn't exist in that folder, then it probably doesn't exist. Also my home used to be un-organized and storage boxes simply housed the most they could of whatever. But now I have an array of boxes each with a specific topic so if I'm in a hurry and need paper or school folders it's under my "Computer Desk Tools" box or spare chap-stick or nail clippers rest under my "Health" box....etc.etc. Simply put, I love it.

I first started out implementing GTD on paper, though after spending 4 hours writing out every project and every action along with successful outcome, as a young 21 year old I realized typing stuff up was faster and easier for me. So I took everything to Pages. Here I grabbed a simple blank template and typed out each project name, successful outcome and each action including their context. After typing up about 9 pages worth over 30 current projects, I'd print those 9 pages out and grab my "Hipster PDA" and grabbed a blank index card for each context. I put the next action in the appropiate context index card for each one of my projects in those 9 printed pages that listed all my project I came up with in my weekly review. I'd walk about with @errands, @home, @school, etc. The first two days after printing out those 9 pages and my weekly review were very productive since all I had to do was look at my context index cards, but soon after I completed those next actions it was a mental drag to go back into my overall projects and ee what I had to do next.

This led me to find some sort of application for my Mac, since I was already using my Mac using Pages to utilized GTD. I searched and tried out Things, The Hit List, and iGTD. Things had great potential though I knew I wanted personalization more so; iGTD was okay for me, but OmniFocus seems just great.

My deal is, I don't have an iPod Touch anymore so the iOF app isn't a reality for me, though it's not a big deal since what I plan on doing with OmniFocus is print out all my overall projects and also print out daily my updated next actions under their appropriate contexts'...

So with that said, here are a few questions:

1. Under what context do your leisure events/activities go at? For example, I created a "Go Surfing" event in June, with the start date on June 21st so I won't see it till then. Now, rather than answering what I just asked; I remember David Allen in GTD say that this kinda stuff is what your calendar should be used for.

3 things go in a calendar: time specific actions (appointments), day specific actions (do sometime that day), and day specific info.

This began with me as having a big calendar at home, but hated that I had to be home to know what I had to do. So I used Google Calendar so I could access my events at home or school, but hated I didn't have it in my hand. So I then purchased a handheld calendar but just don't use it much. I've always used at @context printouts more and if I could print out a calendar with those kinds of events/actions GTD mentions that be great. Especially since one staple could hold all my context's and calendar.

So I guess what my real question is, what solution is there for me to have a calendar I use on my computer (please tell me there is one under omnifocus) and print out along with my context's? I'm expecting the answer to be iCal, however have never been too fond if it. The only computer based calendar i've used and enjoyed using if Google Calendar since I can view it on any computer and print it out on any computer if I need to. Also I really love that I can send a txt message from my cell phone to Google Calendar and it'll add an event or any other important future info. If the answer is iCal, I think i'd only use it if there was some sort of iCal=Google Calendar automatic syncing so I can view my calendar from anywhere, since my Macbook doesn't travel with me all days of the week. And if the answer is iCal, why? I guess what i'm saying is, if you were a salesman trying to get me to use iCal utilizing OmniFocus/GTD how would you sell iCal to me?

2. This question to me is probably the most important:

(Foreward: My projects pref. setting is at "Sequential" as most my projects are never parallel) I have my projects with obviously many steps. For example, lets say one of my projects has 9 steps in total. Step 2 can't be done until after I complete step 1. So i'll go ahead and complete step 1, then step 2. But step 3 can be done at the same time as step 4. Both step 3 and 4 are at different contexts. But OmniFocus has this set up as Sequential. And I can't click the project to be parallel cause all 9 steps can't be done at the same time. After I complete both steps 3 & 4 I can start step 5. After step 5, I can start and complete step 6. But with steps 7 and 8, those again can be done at the same time. But the final step, step 9 can't be started till both steps 7 & 8 are done. Succinctly put: some of my next actions within projects can be done at the same time as other next actions in the same project, but not always. But frequently enough for me to need a solution for this.

How can I get my projects to allow to more than one next actionable step when that is an option for me to do?

As of now this problem is only being met by me carrying around all my projects list with all their actions...but would prefer to see what I actually can be doing instead of checking up through my laundry list of projects.

3. How do you create contexts?: I saw the omnifocus screencasts and some contexts were specified such as errands: supermarket, while at one point i was vague with my contexts. When I first started GTD I had a context named @car, where all my next actions that wouldn't be at home would take place... but now i've changed it according to cities such as errands: culver city & errands: downey. Also another named errands: Target Store.... essentially what i'm asking here is: how do you go about creating a new context...do you create one if you frequent a location a lot or do you create as many specific contexts as need be when a new location may come along?

4. easy and quick perspective button? for my next actions list only (within context of course)? and all projects with actions to print out too? aside from the keyboard shortcut command?

the keyboard shortcut is okay but would love a specific perspective button on my toolbar if that exists.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyDude View Post
1. Under what context do your leisure events/activities go at? For example, I created a "Go Surfing" event in June, with the start date on June 21st so I won't see it till then. Now, rather than answering what I just asked; I remember David Allen in GTD say that this kinda stuff is what your calendar should be used for.
Well, I'm not so sure I agree in this particular case. Is "Go Surfing" a single action that doesn't require multiple steps? That's the definition of a project, more or less. If you need to do a couple of things to make that surfing trip work (wax the board, find the roof rack, make arrangements for a place to spend the night, etc.) it sounds like a project, don't you think?
Quote:
(Foreward: My projects pref. setting is at "Sequential" as most my projects are never parallel) I have my projects with obviously many steps. For example, lets say one of my projects has 9 steps in total. Step 2 can't be done until after I complete step 1. So i'll go ahead and complete step 1, then step 2. But step 3 can be done at the same time as step 4. Both step 3 and 4 are at different contexts. But OmniFocus has this set up as Sequential. And I can't click the project to be parallel cause all 9 steps can't be done at the same time. After I complete both steps 3 & 4 I can start step 5. After step 5, I can start and complete step 6. But with steps 7 and 8, those again can be done at the same time. But the final step, step 9 can't be started till both steps 7 & 8 are done. Succinctly put: some of my next actions within projects can be done at the same time as other next actions in the same project, but not always. But frequently enough for me to need a solution for this.
The Omni developers were thinking about you when they came up with the notion of action groups. If you have a sequential project, but there are a few items in the middle that can be done in any order, just select those items and hit shift-G (or cmd-option-L, or Edit->Outlining->Group) to make them into an action group. You'll get an opportunity to name it, if you want, set a start and/or due date, and most importantly for you, set whether it is parallel or sequential ordering. So, you can have a parallel project that has some clusters of actions that need to be done in a specific order, or a sequential project that has some clusters of actions which can be done in parallel, or you can have an elaborate structure that is sequential except for the parallel parts which might have some sequential parts which could have some parallel parts...arbitrary complexity.
Quote:
3. How do you create contexts?: I saw the omnifocus screencasts and some contexts were specified such as errands: supermarket, while at one point i was vague with my contexts. When I first started GTD I had a context named @car, where all my next actions that wouldn't be at home would take place... but now i've changed it according to cities such as errands: culver city & errands: downey. Also another named errands: Target Store.... essentially what i'm asking here is: how do you go about creating a new context...do you create one if you frequent a location a lot or do you create as many specific contexts as need be when a new location may come along?
Contexts in OmniFocus are disposable and inexpensive. I make a context if having a separate context will make my life easier for a while, and can delete it if it doesn't ever seem to have anything assigned. I have a few hierarchical contexts (Errands is the obvious one) that have lots of subcategories, with most of them being created when I had a need to categorize something that didn't fit well in one of the existing ones. I've got an Errands:Target for stuff I want to buy at Target, Errands:Grocery Store for stuff that is actionable at most any grocery store, and plain old Errands serves as a catchall for anything that doesn't fit one of the subcategories, or I want to get it onto the errands list but don't feel like figuring out which place is ideal (something I might get at either Target or a grocery store, for example -- I check the top-level list whenever I hit one of the categories, and I'd just get that item at whichever place I happened to go first).

Quote:
4. easy and quick perspective button? for my next actions list only (within context of course)? and all projects with actions to print out too? aside from the keyboard shortcut command?

the keyboard shortcut is okay but would love a specific perspective button on my toolbar if that exists.
Use View->Customize Toolbar to put a button for a perspective (or an Applescript) in the toolbar.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Well, I'm not so sure I agree in this particular case. Is "Go Surfing" a single action that doesn't require multiple steps? That's the definition of a project, more or less. If you need to do a couple of things to make that surfing trip work (wax the board, find the roof rack, make arrangements for a place to spend the night, etc.) it sounds like a project, don't you think?
Well, not really. For at least. I have everything ready pretty much, sure the board is at home and i gotta get myself out to the beach with a friend...but I dont feel the need to make a project just for project's sake. All I really have to do is send a quick txt to my best friend who i see almost everyday, he'll agree and we'll go on a saturday in june.

To each his own, on terms of methods. If something works great for you then by all means stick by it. To me i'd like some sort of Calendar integration thing happening, so what back my original question: is iCal the only solution? Calendar within OF? iCal+Gcal syncing?

Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
The Omni developers were thinking about you when they came up with the notion of action groups. If you have a sequential project, but there are a few items in the middle that can be done in any order, just select those items and hit shift-G (or cmd-option-L, or Edit->Outlining->Group) to make them into an action group. You'll get an opportunity to name it, if you want, set a start and/or due date, and most importantly for you, set whether it is parallel or sequential ordering. So, you can have a parallel project that has some clusters of actions that need to be done in a specific order, or a sequential project that has some clusters of actions which can be done in parallel, or you can have an elaborate structure that is sequential except for the parallel parts which might have some sequential parts which could have some parallel parts...arbitrary complexity.
So i tested this out using a mock project. I'm very glad this feature exists, but am hoping I did something wrong. I created a mock project titled "Go to the Moon" with nine steps. Steps such as google flight prices, nice hotels, call edgar if he's down, call crystal if she's down, purchase travel stuff at target, pack luggage, etc... Of those 9 nine steps I did the "shift+g" feature on steps 3 & 4, then again on steps 7 & 8. After pressing shift and G they were grouped... and it did exactly what you mentioned. After completing step 2, 3 & 4 were displayed under my Remaining>Context.... but only step 3 would be displayed under my Next Actions under the context look. The steps 3&4 and then 7&8 were switched to parallel, respectively. Yet under next actions both steps 3 & 4 wouldn't be seen, only step 3. And step 4 still wouldn't be visible until step 3 was completed under the next actions view in contexts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Use View->Customize Toolbar to put a button for a perspective (or an Applescript) in the toolbar.
I do have that perspective button in the toolbar, the one that has a blue square behind a glass looking square...but am looking for something more personal where I can just click on the perspective in the toolbar and that particular perspective just pops up, such as my next actions perspective.

One new question..

After finishing an action that repeats weekly why does the same action show up again immediately? I don't want to view that action till a week after (just) completed the action. How can I have it so that when I check off that I finished that action, I don't see it till 7 days later when I need to do it again?

Thanks!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyDude View Post
After finishing an action that repeats weekly why does the same action show up again immediately? I don't want to view that action till a week after (just) completed the action. How can I have it so that when I check off that I finished that action, I don't see it till 7 days later when I need to do it again?
Put a start date on your repeating action. You won't see it until the start date arrives, and when it repeats, the new action will have a start date that is adjusted accordingly. If you set up an action to fill out a timesheet, repeating weekly from assigned date, starting on Thursday at 8am and due on Friday at 5pm, it will be hidden until Thursday morning rolls around, and each new copy will have a start date of the Thursday prior to the due date.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Well, I'm not so sure I agree in this particular case. Is "Go Surfing" a single action that doesn't require multiple steps? That's the definition of a project, more or less.
I agree with whpalmer4 here. But like you said, HappyDude, use whatever works for you. OmniFocus is flexible enough to be used in a variety of ways.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Put a start date on your repeating action. You won't see it until the start date arrives, and when it repeats, the new action will have a start date that is adjusted accordingly.
And be sure to set your view bar to show "Available" or "Next Action" (3rd pulldown from the right) so actions that haven't started yet won't be displayed in your perspective.

I suspect this is the same issue you're seeing with your action groups for nesting sequential/parallel actions. If you have a parallel action group with 3 actions but your view bar in context mode is set to only display "Next Action", then you'll still only see the first of the three parallel actions. The key is to set your view bar to display "Available" actions; then all three of the parallel actions will be visible.

Hope this helps.

-Dennis

Last edited by Toadling; 2009-05-16 at 09:25 AM..
 
Quote:
To me i'd like some sort of Calendar integration thing happening, so what back my original question: is iCal the only solution? Calendar within OF? iCal+Gcal syncing?
iCal is the only thing supported by OF, though you may be able to get something else cobbled together that uses iCal as a conduit. If you do, write it up and post it so the next person looking for that can take advantage of your experience.
Quote:
After completing step 2, 3 & 4 were displayed under my Remaining>Context.... but only step 3 would be displayed under my Next Actions under the context look. The steps 3&4 and then 7&8 were switched to parallel, respectively. Yet under next actions both steps 3 & 4 wouldn't be seen, only step 3. And step 4 still wouldn't be visible until step 3 was completed under the next actions view in contexts.
Yes, if you are using the next actions view, you only get one next action per project or action group. A single action list will give you all the available next actions in the display, but a parallel project/action group (or a sequential one, obviously) will only give you the first one. If you view by available, you'll get more choices. If one of the choices in a parallel group or project has a bit more priority, urgency, or whatever, you can move it to the top to have it be shown as the first next action.
Quote:
I do have that perspective button in the toolbar, the one that has a blue square behind a glass looking square...but am looking for something more personal where I can just click on the perspective in the toolbar and that particular perspective just pops up, such as my next actions perspective.
The first time I read this part of your response, my reaction was along the lines of "what is he talking about?!?" :-) It was only after looking at the customize toolbar options again that I figured out what you had going on.

You have the button for the Perspectives window installed in your toolbar. Instead of doing that, you can put a button for an individual perspective in the toolbar. Just look at the choices in View->Customize Toolbar and drag the button corresponding to the perspective you want in the toolbar to the toolbar. All the perspectives you have saved should be listed there, by default with an icon just like the one you have in your toolbar. The icon can be customized for each one by opening the Perspectives window, then clicking on the little triangle on the icon at the bottom left to show you an array of choices, or click the Choose... button to select your own artwork.
 
I would suggest that you save your pennies for a new iTouch . . . it'll be well worth it. I wish I had an iTouch so I could use iOF. I use Blackberry with Missing Sync that pulls in the Tasks from iCal. It's not perfect but the ability to list by context definitely helps as an interim solution.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Put a start date on your repeating action. You won't see it until the start date arrives, and when it repeats, the new action will have a start date that is adjusted accordingly. If you set up an action to fill out a timesheet, repeating weekly from assigned date, starting on Thursday at 8am and due on Friday at 5pm, it will be hidden until Thursday morning rolls around, and each new copy will have a start date of the Thursday prior to the due date.
Thank you, this really helped. Before I had the dates under "Due" for whatever reason.

This tinkering around with OF, and perspectives between "Next Actions" & "Available" makes me want to ask....

....Are these views pretty much the same? Considering most, actually all my projects are parallel....aren't I just getting the same perspective with next actions and available views? The only difference being "Available" gives me the actions that I was seeking throughout projects that at one points become sequential? I'd just like a confirmation on this cause I might stick to Available from now on instead of just next actions views.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
iCal is the only thing supported by OF, though you may be able to get something else cobbled together that uses iCal as a conduit. If you do, write it up and post it so the next person looking for that can take advantage of your experience.
I just got the CALDAV Google Cal+iCal syncing thing so I now have that to work with which i'm happy about. I'll probably use this more than that little leather bound calendar I bought for $15 at Staples. This iCal or Gcal calendar will probably even be printed up and stapled with my actions, or ahem, available perspective.

But now that I did get everything on my iCal, I'm wondering, what does OF offer? I'm kinda confused on that still.

Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
You have the button for the Perspectives window installed in your toolbar. Instead of doing that, you can put a button for an individual perspective in the toolbar. Just look at the choices in View->Customize Toolbar and drag the button corresponding to the perspective you want in the toolbar to the toolbar. All the perspectives you have saved should be listed there, by default with an icon just like the one you have in your toolbar. The icon can be customized for each one by opening the Perspectives window, then clicking on the little triangle on the icon at the bottom left to show you an array of choices, or click the Choose... button to select your own artwork.
Thank you! Awesome! lol, guess I jumped the gun and customized the toolbar before even creating any perspectives which led to the premature question, but again, thanks.
 
I'm also now wondering, is there any way my projects can be sorted out automatically in alphebetical order?

Also, why are "Waiting For" actions not displayed at all unless the setting is under "remaining?" I'd love to still see these under my "Available" perspective. :) (BTW, I love the perspective view now instead of next actions. It's almost the same except I get everything I can do, including those parallel parts within projects at times.

So far I love OmniFocus, but really wanna harness the power and fully understand these issues as they pop up so I know how to deal with them.

Also, I've reverted back to Google Cal getting updates on my phone and printing out a Gcal along with my available perspective. This allows me to see upcoming events and pencil in any urgent upcoming ones; though more likely I send a txt to my Gcal where it's updated online.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HappyDude View Post
Also, why are "Waiting For" actions not displayed at all unless the setting is under "remaining?" I'd love to still see these under my "Available" perspective. :)
If you want your "Waiting For" actions to be available, then make sure your Waiting For context is set to Active, not On-hold. You can change this by right-clicking the context in the sidebar of Context mode.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
 


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