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The Trip Home From Work Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
This is semi-narrative, semi-opinion seeking.

How many times have you been in this situation: your significant other (SO) calls, during the conversation SO asks you to pick up the proverbial milk and bread on your way home. Later in the day (during your @phone processing) you call a friend to let them know you've finished that book and want to return it. Then the property manager calls and you offer to drop by on the way home to check the tenant applications.

The day progresses, and finally at knock-off time you get up from your chair, head to the car, end up in auto-pilot mode, drive the 20km home and it's only as you're pulling in the driveway that you remember you had tenants to sign up, a book to return, and shopping to do!


OmniFocus (and GTD) to the rescue!

At first I did silly things like adding a context for the property manager, but I could never remember to check "@property manager" and "@friend" and "@cornerstore" before heading home. Besides, some of these contexts were once-off tasks.

Then I tried adding these tasks to the calendar, but since I might want to rearrange the actions so that I take the shortest path home I found it was easier to put them into a list which I act on later.

Thus I created a context "@Trip Home" for any task that needs to be completed on the trip home. Any time I think "I could do that on the way home" I add the task to the @Trip Home context. When I get to the car at the end of the day, I check OF for the @Trip Home context, add the various addresses to the satnav, pick the first address to drive to and only then start driving. After each task is completed mark it complete in OF, pick the next address to go to and eventually have nowhere else to go, so head home!

The "@Trip Home" context is the same type of context as the "@Phone" context - I've got this block of time that I'm going to dedicate to doing things while on the phone, on the trip home, etc.

It would be nice if I had a satnav app on the iPhone which would let me plan a route with several waypoints (property manager -> friend's place -> corner store -> home), but the maps I use at the moment (OffMaps and TomTom) don't support that feature.

Ideally I could add a location to each task and have OmniFocus build the route for me, send the route to the satnav application, and start me on my way home - but I figure we're about two or three years from having the applications and app interfaces required to achieve this magic.

Does this workflow make sense? Any suggestions for other ways to handle these "on the way home" tasks?
Lizard had a great post years ago that touched on the idea of an "out the door" context:

Seems to me like it is a very similar notion to yours.

Are you using the iPhone app? If you have locations assigned to your contexts, you could do something similar to what you propose. Leaving work, you pull up the Map display, find the first context listed that you're interested in visiting, get directions there and tackle the actions available when you arrive. Repeat until you run out of time, actions, or money, then drive home.
I'm using the iPhone app exclusively - once I get to using it a bit more regularly I might be able to justify the price of the desktop version, but honestly I can't understand why I'd want both. The core of GTD is the "one trusted system" which for me is the iPhone (which is backed up of course). If I lost the iPhone, I'd be lost (until the replacement iPhone arrived).

The catch with locations is that I can't add locations to actions, only to contexts. I've previously tried adding actions such as "buy bread" and "buy milk" to the "@Cornershop" location context, but it often doesn't occur to me to check the @Cornershop context before starting the trip home. And the idea of checking all my friend contexts and all my various shop contexts before starting a trip home? Forget it! My GTD system is supposed to make life easier.

The map display is something I'm going to have to pay a little bit of attention to. Thanks for reminding me about it!
The iPhone app & the desktop sync, so the system is "one trusted system". While the iPhone app is great for it's use of location based contexts, there are some things missing in it, that only the desktop provides. For example:

Review: GTD suggests a weekly review for each project. The desktop version lets you set a per-project schedule for review. Just click the review button & the due date for review of all your projects is to be seen. Select a project, review it & click Mark reviewed & it moves back down to the next review interval.

Perspectives: Technically iPhone app supports these now, but they have to be created on the desktop. For example, I have some tasks that have to be done on my home computer, others that have to be done at home. Theses are 2 different contexts. I also can check email, online & general Mac contexts at home. With perspectives, I can group all those contexts into my "Home" perspective. My work perspective includes general Mac, online, email & any office-only contexts.
Don't overcomplicate your contexts, is my general advice.
90% of my time, I'm home or at work; I've defined my contexts there into some fine levels of granulation: @Laptop, @email, @Internet.

But since so little of my time is 'out and about' - I have just one. "Errands"

When I go home at night or when I have something minor (like grab dinner), I take a quick look at my errands list.

If I have the extra moment, I look at my "Thinking" context too - just in case I want to give my mind something to chew over on the way home.

If it has to be done on my way home, then it is a calendar item (with the time.) I probably should have OF schedule this - but to be honest, the act of looking at my calendar is a good think.

TL;DR - Basically, i look at my phone on the way out the door at the "errands" context to see if there's anything I need to pickup.
Originally Posted by Grail View Post
Thus I created a context "@Trip Home"
That's the same context I created two weeks ago, with "@Before going to sleep" (e.g. "Recharge bluetooth headset") and "@Before leaving office" (e.g. "Take your macbook home today")

I think this could be very, very powerful, if only I could be in the habit of really checking my lists at the right moment. And many times even if I check the list and I see "Oh, I have to buy the milk, right", I hop on my car and the automatic pilot inside me takes me home without any stop. D'oh!

I should add an action on my list to remember me to check my list... but I'm not sure it could work...

Originally Posted by magobaol View Post
I should add an action on my list to remember me to check my list... but I'm not sure it could work...
I got myself into the habit by putting my car keys in a box, on the lid of which I've written "@Trip Home" in big friendly letters.

If you have a locker (which I do have, and use on the rare days I cycle home) you could hang a "@Trip Home" sign on the front hangar.

As for defeating the autopilot, I have a satnav so I've gotten into the habit of programming the address of the first "@Trip Home" item into it before I get to the car, and then following the instructions once I'm driving. The novelty still hasn't worn off, and I keep looking for more things to do on the trip home tomorrow.

Last edited by Grail; 2010-07-26 at 11:06 PM..
Originally Posted by filmgeek View Post
Don't overcomplicate your contexts I have just one. "Errands"
I think that's almost the same as "@Trip Home" except that @Errands applies to any time I leave the house. "@Trip Home" for me is for stuff that I have to get done on tonight's trip home, which I wouldn't necessarily be able to (or want to) schedule. Adding a new item might mean shuffling around other things in my calendar. That's fiddling that I don't really need to do.

Originally Posted by filmgeek View Post
but to be honest, the act of looking at my calendar is a good think.
For me, "look at the calendar" time is when I get home and have the daily review time which includes "synchronising calendars" with the other half. We review tomorrow's/next week's calendar together and remind each other of so-and-so's birthday, that party I got an invite for today, etc.

Using the map to generate a list of things to do on the way home hasn't worked so well for me because I have other things on the map relating to e.g.: meetings I'm attending tonight/tomorrow which I need to prepare for, but that happens once I get home. The meeting context has a location since the meetings are held at e.g.: the scout hall, or the community garden.

A typical @Community Garden action might be "purple kale seeds for Sean". I can't do that on the way home, but the action is there as a pin on the map when I view the map. Perhaps I could get cleverer with due dates etc, but then I'd have to add two tasks: "@Home: pack purple kale seeds for meeting" with a due date before the meeting, and "@Community Garden: give purple kale seeds to Sean" with a start time the same as the meeting. For the moment, I have the list of all actions due soon/overdue to work with, and that list is manageable.

The @Trip Home context means I have less thinking to do at the time I'm least interested in thinking about what to do. It's on the list, go do it, robot mode. @Trip Home would be an ideal candidate for location-based reminders i.e.: when I leave this location, prompt me to look at the Trip Home context if there are any available actions in it.

Thank you to all the responders so far. You have all given me something to think about :)
Originally Posted by magobaol View Post
I should add an action on my list to remember me to check my list... but I'm not sure it could work...
or put an appointment in your calendar for the time you ('re meant to) leave the office.
Just updating this to point out that I now have a "Leaving" geofence notification on my @Trip Home context, which is now my @Office:Leaving context. So assuming I hear the alarm, I'll be reminded about the things I was supposed to take home with me no later than getting to my car or the bus stop.

At least I won't be opening the door at home when it suddenly occurs to me that I was supposed to bring home my off-site backup disk :)

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