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Hello everyone,

I just joined this forum after following it for several weeks. I am currently on the fence as to whether GTD via OF style is for me or not. Like most, I've looked at most task/list tools and have been gravitating toward OF as of late. However, I just discovered a feature of ToodleDo that really impressed me (more like blew me away). I'll describe this and I would appreciate your thoughts and comments on whether this is possible (and if so, how it works) in OF.

I was looking at my tasks in ToodleDo and noticed a grouping by Importance. I couldn't find anywhere where importance was a field that I could edit. I finally learned that the system calculates the "Importance" of a task based on this formula: Importance = 2+P+S+D where P=priority, S="is it starred (0 or 1)", D=0 if due-date is non-existent or further than 14 days out, 1 if due-date is between 7 and 14 days out, 2 if due-date is between 2 and 7 days out, 3 if due-date is tomorrow, 5 if due-date is today, and 6 if overdue, and some other criteria. This hints at workflow processing.

So this "Importance" rating then gets assigned to all tasks and is used as a basis for including certain tasks on a "HotList"

You don't put things on the HotList directly, the app does it based on the Importance rating.

The key thing is that the importance of a task is dynamic and increases as the task comes closer to becoming due.

So the end result is that tasks will automatically pop into your HotList as their importance rating gets higher and you can then act upon them. It requires no further input from you.

I found this feature to be incredibly useful and was wondering how this would work in OF for iPad.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

If you don't need to use the Duration/Estimate field, you could write an AppleScript that did a similar computation for each action in your database. But when push comes to shove, you've still got to make the same decision about which action to do next, and using this calculation makes for less transparency, not more...

If you do something like this, smaller numbers are higher priority than larger numbers, because the filtering and sorting assumes you want to find the actions you can do in a given amount of time.
Thanks for the reply. Yes, I suspected you could do this with AppleScript on the Mac but I only have the iPad. This hotlist feature in ToodleDo really works well for me. The idea is to load your tasks with start dates and let the app bring them to your attention as days go by. Is there anything comparable in the iPad version? If not, then do you think this would be a good feature request?

Whether done automagically, like in ToodleDo, or manually, like in OmniFocus, how well this scheme works is going to depend on how serious you are about due dates. If you use due dates for things that aren't really due, there's going to be some distortion in your system.

With OmniFocus on the iPad, I would suggest using the Forecast view. Each day, try to complete anything that is due that day, plus anything that is overdue (*). Remaining time and effort can be spent knocking off tasks due in the next few days, tasks you've flagged during your reviews, and tasks that are newly available. If there isn't enough time to do everything, you make your decisions without having them scrambled about by the evaluation function.

(*) Here's where the bit about due dates comes into play. If your due dates are real, then you're going to be more committed to getting them done. If a lot of those due dates don't really have any repercussions for missing them (or letting them slide once you've missed them), you'll accumulate overdue actions and some of the utility of the system will be lost (more so for ToodleDo than OmniFocus, I think). I speak from experience on this!
Thanks for the excellent advice! Yes, I have read alot about fake due dates and I agree with what you are saying 100%. I was thinking of using start dates rather than due dates. The implication of this is that the task wouldn't even show up on the HotList until it's start date arrives. Once it arrives there, it will never be flagged overdue because it has no due date. I thought this was handy as a way to space out tasks and keep them off the radar until you want to start working on them.

So I take it there is no "calculated" quantity in OF for iPad similar to what I described?

I know OF for Mac has AppleScript support but what does this mean and how are people using scripts with the Mac? Wouldn't some kind of scripting be useful for the iPad?

Does OF for the iPad have the ability to save searches and if so, are there variables that can be used in these searches?

No scripting on the iPad, and I'm under the (possibly mistaken) impression that "programmable" applications aren't allowed. Even if that changed, given the desire to keep things simpler on the iPad, and the huge amount of work that would be involved, I just don't see it happening in any sort of relevant timeframe if this is something you really need to make the product work for you.

There are no such calculated quantities in OF.

Using start and due dates + the Forecast view as described should be sufficient for most. Use the review feature to make sure that all of your projects keep moving forward. As you look through your projects while reviewing, put some start dates and/or flags on the items you want to work in the short-term. This way, you will understand why a given item is on the list to be done today; the ToodleDo approach just sticks things in your face, and when you see something at the top of the prioritized list it has assembled for you, you won't have an understanding of why this particular item is ostensibly the most important thing to do, or if something a bit further down the list might actually be more important, even though the "score" is lower. Consider, for example, that the calculation you mentioned appears to take no account of the effort involved, or the consequences if a deadline is missed.

Still, if this is an important feature for you, you should send in feedback and request it. On the iPad, tap the gear menu in the sidebar, then Contact Omni, and type your message. They tend to work on the requests with the most popular support first.

As for scripting on the Mac, it has been used to provide a wide range of functionality not directly available in the program, such as template projects with placeholders, advanced searching, statistics, rescheduling, etc. The user experience is often a bit clunky, and most people have to rely on the kindness of strangers to get a script written. There are some very kind strangers on the forum, fortunately!

The iPad version of OF can use saved searches in perspectives, but unfortunately at the moment the only practical way to create a perspective is with OF on the Mac. You might be able to get the Omni support people to help you construct a perspective (enough such requests and maybe the support group will prod the developers to finally implement support for constructing perspectives on the iPad!) or I can help you if they are unwilling. No variables in the searches, however.
Thank you so much for the thoughtful response. I agree that comprehensive scripting support would be well out of the scope of the app. I do think it would be possible to come up with a way to help order a given list of tasks automatically using some kind of calculated rating.

Let me ask you this: If you have, say, 10 items on your "Today" view, what governs the order in which they are shown, top to bottom? For me, this is a fundamental question.

Obviously, you can flag an item but I am thinking in the absence of any such special handling of an item, there should be an organic sort order that is based on the parameters of that item. Yes, you are right that the way it's implemented in ToodleDo leaves out many real-world considerations but one knows that it's based on the formula I=2+P+S+D so you can understand why items are in their order. Of course, this formula could be made more complex to take into account things such as duration (not presently possible in TD but we are talking theoretically here).

I don't know. Maybe I'm making this more complex that it needs to be but correct me please, I am fully in agreement with the philosophy that OF is a place to dump all your tasks and let the app guide you to their completion. If you have to cherry pick certain items by flags or stars or whatever, then what's the point. I think that a list sorted by the parameters of the task is useful. Stars and flags are necessary to have but should only be used rarely.

Hey while we're on the subject, why not have a feature in OF to automatically suggest a future task to you if you can complete enough of your "today" tasks to free up a time slot. OF could estimate which near future task would fit in your work schedule for "today" and present that task to you. You could either do it or reject it and OF would return it to it's original place.

Are you saying that it is possible to construct a perspective on the iPad without the aid of a Mac?

Thanks again.

Last edited by GeorgeV; 2011-06-19 at 09:21 PM..

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