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How to sort daily to do lists from "big list" Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I agree with the OP, this is also a problem for me. Using OF I find myself looking at a number of projects/contexts at once to figure out what I absolutely want to accomplish on a given day. Unfortunately, this desire is orthogonal to the concepts of Context and Project.

Another issue for me is that I manually cannot order tasks within a context. How can I record the fact that some tasks are more important to do than others in a given context?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robejazz View Post
This sounds to me like you need to have more than one Phone Call Context.
Don't see that as useful since many sub-contexts would be too fleeting, or too individually unique to be used again. It seems to me a context has to be recurrent enough to be checked for tasks to do. Over context-ing could really lead to too much time organizing "the system".

Frankly I don't see contexts useful for organizing more than 25-30% of my time. Contexts are good for managers, people who can delegate to someone else. Or for people who's tasks naturally tend to be short or are logically grouped. For example if you have a slew of 5 minute phone calls, those are easily grouped so that organizing your tasks by context is meaningful. But if you have a 3 day task, or a lot of individually unique tasks that I do only every couple months, then context isn't important.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tah View Post
Don't see that as useful since many sub-contexts would be too fleeting, or too individually unique to be used again. It seems to me a context has to be recurrent enough to be checked for tasks to do. Over context-ing could really lead to too much time organizing "the system".

Frankly I don't see contexts useful for organizing more than 25-30% of my time. Contexts are good for managers, people who can delegate to someone else. Or for people who's tasks naturally tend to be short or are logically grouped. For example if you have a slew of 5 minute phone calls, those are easily grouped so that organizing your tasks by context is meaningful. But if you have a 3 day task, or a lot of individually unique tasks that I do only every couple months, then context isn't important.
I agree with this, but your point was that you have 100 phone calls - and that was too long of a list. I suggest that you break that list up and then, the priority that you are so desperate for, will be "inherent" in each list - No?
 
To keep my project pane under control, I use folders. Beneath Library I have one Single-Action box, one project called Review, and folders for various project groupings. The purpose of the Review project is to assure that reviews happen as scheduled on a per folder basis. All tasks in the Review project correspond to a top level project folder (or a child folder with a less than weekly review cycle), and have start dates with an appropriate repeating cycle (i.e. equal to the review cycle).

Yes. My approach duplicates some of the effort that the automated review is supposed to help with. However, I have a tendency to not perform reviews as often as I should, and the lack of OR/NOT filtering on project status was forcing me to review On Hold projects needlessly. The alternative was making review perspectives for each type of "Remaining" status (i.e. Active, Stalled, Pending and On Hold), and that was both annoying and inefficient.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tah View Post
. . . Frankly I don't see contexts useful for organizing more than 25-30% of my time. Contexts are good for managers, people who can delegate to someone else. Or for people who's tasks naturally tend to be short or are logically grouped.
Remember that GTD-based task management does not apply to those times where you have to react to unplanned and unscheduled events. Speaking of events, it also doesn't speak to scheduled events (meetings, classes, etc.). I don't want to read too much into your use of "organizing"; but, if you are like me, it is true that most of the day falls outside planned anything. Most of my work day is spent reacting to situations, participating in meetings, etc.

Using an extreme personal example, a client drops by my cube to discuss a project, the pager goes off, my desk phone rings, the lights go out, and my cell phone rings. I ask the client to have a seat for a few minutes while I check things out; at the same time I'm checking the pager. Hmmm. We went on UPS at a satellite office a few minutes ago. Cell phone is my boss and desk phone is an outside line with no caller id. Answer cell: "Yes, boss. It looks like the city just lost power. At least one other office lost power and you already know about here. Yep. On my way to check the status of the data center . . ." My day is now fubar; but that doesn't mean that I'm out of GTD mode.

I'm taking mental and physical notes as I respond to the situation; and, as soon as I am out of emergency mode, I am processing each of those notes that didn't get dealt with during the emergency. Then it is back to context mode as I will have a ton of follow-up items to deal with.

OTOH, if you are suggesting that you can't find appropriate contexts for non-emergency situations or for non-event time, then you need to think outside the standard contexts described in the book. Arriving at a set of contexts that work for you may not be easy. I found the 43folders web site the perfect antidote to the problems I was having with "getting" contexts as described in the book. It took months of hanging in with GTD to get a set of contexts that worked for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tah View Post
. . . But if you have a 3 day task,
While not impossible, it is hard to imagine having a 3 day task that couldn't be broken up into pieces.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tah View Post
. . . or a lot of individually unique tasks that I do only every couple months, then context isn't important.
Those are single action items, and context is still relevant. Since you use OF, you won't have to worry about those tasks until they trip the start date (or the repeat due date); and you won't be presented with those tasks unless you are in the correct context to act on them.

Again, a scheduled event (meeting, class, etc.) is not a task or a project. So if this is what you mean, then you are correct that context is irrelevant. However, you may have a prep task(s) or project(s) to prepare for the event; and context would be important then.
 
Thanks for the input. I think the hardest part for me is that OF is so oriented towards contexts. If contexts are the minority issue in my workflow, and the main lists are huge (ie overwhelming), how to create a work flow with OF to filter in a way that meet my needs, without becoming bogged down manipulating OF.

So far the best suggesting is to use flagging at the beginning of a day, and then filtering on flag, to create a daily list.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tah View Post
So far the best suggesting is to use flagging at the beginning of a day, and then filtering on flag, to create a daily list.
That's one of the tricks I use and it's been working very well for me.

I've tried explicit prioritization in other apps in the past and found that it was more trouble than it was worth. It became a pain trying to classify hundreds of items relative to one another on a 5-point scale. As new items came in, my priorities, and even the meaning of the scale itself, kept shifting. So I was continually fiddling with keeping my priorities straight - a huge waste of time.

I much prefer the OmniFocus (i.e. GTD) approach of implicit priorities. It's more flexible and has been much more efficient.

As yucca and Robejazz mentioned earlier, the key is in carefully defining and assigning your contexts. It took me several tries to get mine right, and I'm still fine-tuning my system. I also frequently put projects "On Hold" that I'm not immediately working on. These techniques, along with using a few flags and focusing on folders, allow me to display only a handful of actions in any given context. If any context has more than about a dozen actions, my focus is too broad and I need to narrow in.

With short, focused, action lists, I can quickly scan them and rely entirely on my intuition to determine priority on the spot. The freedom and flexibility of this method really revolutionized the way I work. I love it.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by tah View Post
2. Someway to apply a "what needs attention today/this week" Filter, BEFORE focusing on contexts. I think the context only doesn't work well for many people. If I worked for a large corporation and had 1 major project every 9 months, together with my daily household tasks, phone calls, etc. context-only focus would work well.

But My life is not so simple, I have 15 open projects at any one time, each with 50-100 tasks, with schedules for each being moved around my me, my clients, and external issues on a regular basis. I have hundreds of tasks in OF. Focusing on the "phone call" context is not useful, because there are 100 phone calls that need to be made. First you need to filter what are the important ones first. I do this by daily planning: "what do I want to get done". By crossing off of my daily list, is also how I can see I'm accomplishing things. If I'm looking at just the master list, or a context , I'm just overwhelmed. Also, by nature the master list will always grow faster than I can cross things off.
If it were me I would sort by date or changed in planning mode, click a few and hit focus, and then go to context mode.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raf View Post
Another issue for me is that I manually cannot order tasks within a context. How can I record the fact that some tasks are more important to do than others in a given context?
At the beginning of the day I set a flag on those tasks (out of the ones "due" today, I know, I'm abusing GTD terminology) I absolutely want to accomplish today. At the end of the day I adjust the due date of things I didn't get done today to tomorrow.

You can't expect a system to do everything for you, but with a bit of give and take I'm quite happy with the way OF keeps me on track with multiple projects.

Victor.
 
I also need to have a way to "order" today's list of to do items. I use this perspective at the start of every day:
Context pane: remaining | due | due | due soon | any duration | any flag

So this basically shows me all my red-colored actions. Then every day I print this out and number each action in the order I wish to accomplish them (today). In this way I can get the urgent/business stuff done before the not-urgent or private stuff done.

What I would dearly love to see in OF is a way to take that perspective above, and to hand drag the items so I can order them the way I want them each new day. This would make OF really really polished for me.

PS I can order the actions list this way in iCal after I've synced but I find iCal doesn't print what it displays. iCal is a pretty bad app all around but it's good to use as a "hub" for other apps to connect through.
 
I don't care about GTD doctrine. I need priorities which is how I shrink the big list down to Today's list.

Just put them into OF and default them as null. If somebody doesn't want to use them, they don't have to use them.
 
 


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