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Quote:
Originally Posted by myotis View Post
Thanks, but omniplanner looks like a project management tool, I'm just looking for simple way of filtering future tasks to give me rough idea of how busy I am likely to be in any particular month.

I have actually tried project management software in the past for this, as I was already using it for managing projects, but it isn't actually much use. It is far too complicated and time consuming for personl task management.
I have to agree.

As I understand it, in GTD contexts represents resources, and OmniFocus is an excellent tool for identifying what tasks you can perform when you have access to that resource.

However, in real life resources are constrained: there are only so many waking hours in a day and equipment is rationed etc. Project management tools like OmniPlanner/MS Project claim to be good at this (I have doubts), but mortals use things called calendars.

The missing piece of the puzzle for me is a simple and intuitive way to know:

A) How many tasks I can complete (based on my task duration estimates) I can achieve with a particular level of access to a resource. And/or:
B) How much access it will take me to complete a set of tasks.

If there were a way to relate a context to a set of calendar entries representing times when that context was pertinent e.g I'm at the office from 8-6 or I have the truck on Wednesday - then I could see how a tool could tell me when a project might be complete, or that I have a problem.

I know Omni are working on integrating OmniFocus and OmniPlanner in some way and I'm very curious to see how that turns out.

However, I have a big problem with traditional project planning tools (agile vs waterfall etc). As you rightly point out - they're heinously complex, totally over the top as a personal productivity tool and in my experience often produce useless plans unless used by very gifted managers.

The dogmatic position that calendars are evil is unhelpful. Even if it's true, everyone around me forces me to commit my activities to them and share plans via them.

I personally would love a way to unify these worlds - but preferably one that doesn't have me wiring up gantt charts or fiddling with resource utilisation percentages.

I understand calendars without going on a training course.
 
Psidnell

I agree that todos and calendars should be combined. In the Windows world there are programs like Timematters, Achieve Planner, and a plug in for outlook that allow you to assign times to tasks or blocks of tasks, add appointments or other time constraints. The programs then semi-automatically juggle tasks to fit the available time blocks, deadlines and the times a task will take.

I used TimeMatters for years, and it works extremely well, but it requires too much on going management to get it to work properly doesn't have any mechanism to sync calendars except through Outlook,and of course is windows only.

How my paper system worked, which I was trying to emulate with OmniOutliner was based on planning a maximum of 13 days a month. I just did this as list with tuning total. The list included task longer than half a day, plus appointments, which were also almost always more than half a day.

Then depending on deadlines, I would juggle tasks between months, as new tasks were added. Moving tasks into a different month once any month had 13 days of time committed.

At the beginning of each month, I took these large chunks of work for that month only and assigned them to specific days and times. These major Tasks now became appointments with myself when I wasn't available for meetings, answering email etc.

All the minor and the must be done this month/week/day work was then managed as a normal todo list but fitted into times outside the timetables major task chunks. Which, although devised 20 years ago, was managed almost exactly as a GTD todo list, with contexts etc.

For example, I had a telephone chunk of time timetabled for an hour every afternoon, and built up a telephone calls to make list, which I worked through during that hour.

It all worked extremely well, but being paper based it involved much scoring out and rewriting. I am still looking for a computer based tool. Nothing I have tried works, all are either too simple or too complex.

Graham
 
I use OmniOutliner (iPad) a great deal for initial planning since I can quickly enter a great many tasks, add time estimates for each and get a nice total estimate for the whole task hierarchy - something that OmniFocus strangely doesn't do.

Once I'm happy with that I then have to paste the OmniOutliner tasks to OmniFocus (on the desktop, when I get home) to assign them to contexts and get on with them.

I'd obviously much rather use OmniFocus (iPad) the whole way for this, save myself the transfer step and be able to keep tweaking the estimates and have the project duration update itself.

No doubt there are AppleScripts that would help with this but not on the iPad, which is what I do most of my planning on at work.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by psidnell View Post
I use OmniOutliner (iPad)...

I'd obviously much rather use OmniFocus (iPad) the whole way for this, save myself the transfer step and be able to keep tweaking the estimates and have the project duration update itself.
I do something similar, in that I normally try and break large tasks into half-day chunks and then those become tasks in my ToDo list. I don't have a license for Omnioutliner, but am considering it for other reasons.

Also like you, I rather like using the iPad for these sorts of things now, as its normally physiically more accessible than a computer.

Graham
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by psidnell View Post
The dogmatic position that calendars are evil is unhelpful. Even if it's true, everyone around me forces me to commit my activities to them and share plans via them.
I understand your frustration, but I don't think anyone has asserted that calendars are evil. :-)

I can see how the brevity of the initial responses could give you that impression, but I'm positive that wasn't the posters' intentions. I guarantee their thinking was that it was better to point you at a solution that existed today than it was to just say "can't do that, maybe someday". In this case, that solution involved a different product.

There is a lot of overlap between the things that OmniFocus tracks and the things that a calendar track, but the overlap isn't complete. Paraphrasing this post, tracking a meeting from 3-4 PM tomorrow in OmniFocus probably isn't ideal. Tracking "I need to do my taxes between January 1st and April 15th" on your calendar also isn't ideal.

As you can see from that post, we've been thinking about what to do here for a while, and we'll continue to do so. Requests along these lines are pretty common, but they're also pretty idiosyncratic - folks' preferred methods don't line up exactly.

That makes finding the ideal solution harder, but Forecast view is one effort we're making to help folks manage this and be more productive. It's currently iOS-only, but it'll be coming to the Mac. (I don't know when it'll be ready, but it is coming.)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
I understand your frustration, but I don't think anyone has asserted that calendars are evil. :-)
... Then I will. :-)

Apologies, I didn't mean to suggest that was the posters view, but a "representative distillation" of comments I'd seen from GTD purists across several forums on several sites around this topic.

The thread link you posted is pretty comprehensive on calendar integration (I hadn't spotted that one- thanks).

But the other strand of this thread was on task estimation and summing effort on a project. OmniFocus (desktop) does the former but not the latter - hence our use of OmniOutliner.

Is this simply an absent feature that people don't seem to want or is it deliberately not present? Summing of times on a project makes sense, but I'm not sure what ought to happen for a context or perspective...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by psidnell View Post
But the other strand of this thread was on task estimation and summing effort on a project. OmniFocus (desktop) does the former but not the latter - hence our use of OmniOutliner.

Is this simply an absent feature that people don't seem to want or is it deliberately not present? Summing of times on a project makes sense, but I'm not sure what ought to happen for a context or perspective...
See this thread for an Applescript that does it:
http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=9983

I still maintain that using OmniPlan as I suggested is no more difficult or time-consuming (you're hardly using any of the features) and can easily do what Graham described of his paper system it sounds like what I did in my example.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
I understand your frustration, but I don't think anyone has asserted that calendars are evil. :-)
While evil is to stong a word, there is a strong ethos in GTD that part of the task management problem has been people using Calendars to manage tasks.

As you see from my later posts, when we drifted from my original question, I think that at some stage soft landscape tasks should become hard landscape "events" or they never get done.

But I wasn't looking for calendar integration, and Omnifocus almost does what I want.

All that is missing is a mechanism to automatically display the total time commitments within each month. Then being able to drag tasks between months to better balance the task commitments with the time available.

As suggested in the thread you pointed to, which I hadn't found during a search either, I will post this suggestion to omnifocus@omnigroup.com .

However, I know from years of looking for this feature that avoiding over committing seems to be something that few seem concerned about.

Maybe its my back ground in consultancy where your staff manage their own time/projects and only come to you when they don't know what to do because they suddenly realise they have so much work on that they cannot possibly meet their deadlines, that makes me so interested.

Graham
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by psidnell View Post
But the other strand of this thread was on task estimation and summing effort on a project. OmniFocus (desktop) does the former but not the latter - hence our use of OmniOutliner.
Actually, I don't think it was (not from my side anyway) it was summing "all" tasks more than 4 hours long due in any one month.

I agree that estimating effort on a project is also useful/important, but I see that as project management and something different from personal task management.

Graham
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
See this thread for an Applescript that does it:
http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=9983

I still maintain that using OmniPlan as I suggested is no more difficult or time-consuming (you're hardly using any of the features) and can easily do what Graham described of his paper system it sounds like what I did in my example.
Thanks, I'll take a look at that script - but unfortunately I'm iPad bound most of the time.

I've currently got an evaluation license for OmniPlan, and it's certainly far far nicer than MS Project (as of a few years back when I gave up on it), and as you say - for one person most of the more complex features can be avoided.

As you might have noticed, I have no love for project planners conceptually, but if/when the promised integration between OP and OF arrives I can see that it could be a very powerful (if expensive) combination and I do intend to revisit it then.

Last edited by psidnell; 2011-09-08 at 12:31 AM.. Reason: Typo
 
 


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