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But reading the story and copying the story are two different things. It seems to me they should be separate actions, perhaps in the same project called "Prepare for Class." As separate actions, they could each have their own, proper context.

There are arguments for mutiple contexts, but this one doesn't convince me.
 
Welcome leko,

Your example isn't a reason for multiple contexts; rather it's a reason for breaking down activities appropriately. What I think you want is

Create Lesson Plan for Story
* Copy story (Copier)
* Read story (Reading)
* etc.

You might make this a parallel project, as the order in which you do it doesn't matter; you might further subdivide or group other related activities; but the one thing you don't need here is multiple contexts for an activity, as you have two activities with two different contexts.
 
Leko's example task perfectly illustrates why templates can be so helpful for some people. Leko will be doing the same set of activities over and over. It would be a real time saver to have a clean way of doing this . . . something better than the makeshift solutions that we have now.

For example, I have some action groups that I use all the time. I use the Duplicate function now, but it would be far more elegant to save these somewhere and invoke them off the File menu (just an idea). IOW, something like File -> Insert -> Template -> (list of templates).

My take on a possible template (with contexts) for Leko:

Add book "x" to class "y" lesson plan (defaults to serial mode)
Get book @ library
Copy book @ library (or wherever you do this sort of thing)
Review book @ mac (assumes that you will be taking notes and starting an outline for the additional lecture notes)
Review notes @ mac
Update lesson plan @ mac
ADD SPECIAL CASE STEPS HERE (things like props, visuals, etc.)
ADD PRACTICE LECTURE STEPS HERE (if you are in to that sort of thing)

Last edited by yucca; 2008-04-07 at 12:46 PM..
 
Some theses in support of the call for 'multiple Contexts' (and multiple Projects, too):

1. Some users don't want to plan, they just want to be reminded of pending Tasks.
2. Not everybody works the same way.
3. To increase efficiency, OF needs to provide distinctly more/better basic functionality than a traditional paper list.
4. Managing and remembering two taxonomies with nested folders (i.e. Projects/Context lists) requires some brainwork. Managing and remembering an additional third taxonomy (i.e. tag list) requires disproportionately more brainwork.
5. If there is a tagging system, to be useful, it must be multilevel (nested) and allow multiple setting of tags.
6. Setting up, assigning, reviewing, reassigning (multiple) multilevel tags requires very much brainwork and mousing.
7. Elaborate planning shouldn't be an end in and of itself.
8. If planning and mousing around takes more time and brainwork than performing the task itself, one should question the benefit of using the system at all.
9. Most users don't care if they're given too much functionality as long as they have the choice to opt out.

My vote: multiple Contexts, multiple Projects, no need for Tags (but if some prefer Tags, why not letting have them...)

Be.

Last edited by Be.; 2008-04-08 at 12:27 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Be. View Post
1. Some users don't want to plan, they just want to be reminded of pending Tasks.
I don't understand. How does not wanting to plan lead to needing multiple contexts? Seems to me that if someone doesn't want to plan, they won't use any contexts or tags.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Be. View Post
2. Not everybody works the same way.
OK, but adding features for every conceivable workflow is impractical. To keep OmniFocus streamlined, we need to compromise on a limited feature set that most people can use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Be. View Post
3. To increase efficiency, OF needs to provide distinctly more/better basic functionality than a traditional paper list.
I agree, but I think OmniFocus has already achieved superiority over traditional paper lists. Maybe multiple contexts would be a good addition, but it's not necessary for OF to trump pen and paper.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Be. View Post
4. Managing and remembering two taxonomies with nested folders (i.e. Projects/Context lists) requires some brainwork. Managing and remembering an additional third taxonomy (i.e. tag list) requires disproportionately more brainwork.
Yes, I absolutely agree with this one. Unfortunately, I think adding multiple contexts also increases complexity and the need for additional brainwork.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Be. View Post
5. If there is a tagging system, to be useful, it must be multilevel (nested) and allow multiple setting of tags.
It'd be nice if a tagging system allowed nesting but I don't think it's a necessity. I assume the assigning of multiple tags to an item would a given though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Be. View Post
6. Setting up, assigning, reviewing, reassigning (multiple) multilevel tags requires very much brainwork and mousing.
Yes, but so would multiple contexts. It's hard to say if one would require more brainwork than the other. But either way, the complexity is increased to some degree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Be. View Post
7. Elaborate planning shouldn't be an end in and of itself.
8. If planning and mousing around takes more time and brainwork than performing the task itself, one should question the benefit of using the system at all.
Are these arguments for or against multiple contexts/tagging? Doesn't multiple contexts/tagging lead to more planning rather than less?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Be. View Post
9. Most users don't care if they're given too much functionality as long as they have the choice to opt out.
I'm not convinced this is true. I think most users actually prefer simplicity over feature bloat, even if those extra features can be turned off.

But regardless of which is true, adding new features still costs time, effort, complexity, and risks introducing bugs. Clearly some new features should be added, but they should be chosen very carefully. Throwing everything in with the option to "turn it off if you don't use it" is a recipe for bloat, instability, and loss of focus.

I don't mean to be a curmudgeon on the multiple contexts/tagging. Personally, I'm not sure I'd use either, but I'm trying to keep an open mind about it.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by al_f View Post
I really try to think of contexts in terms of "what do I absolutely need to have to accomplish this task?". If you think of them in this way (and you're rigorous about your processing) there is really very little if anything that needs multiple contexts.
I agree with this. So far, I create a context when an "I cannot do task such-and-such without so-and-so" situation comes up, and not any other time.

But, consider this scenario:

For some tasks (eg. "revise a document"), I just need my mac. Network doesn't matter, location doesn't matter, my lap will do fine as a working surface.

For some tasks, I need a desk (home or office will do), so I can spread out papers and so forth -- I do not always have my mac when I am at a desk, and not all desk tasks require my mac.

For some tasks, I need both my mac and a desk. (Doing my taxes this year fit into this category.)

For some tasks, I need the stacks of technical documentation that are in my office; my office happens to have a desk. I do not always have my mac when I'm at my office, and do not always need it for some of these tasks. (Studying a standards document and an architecture document and how they interrelate is an example of "need my office, don't need my mac". If I know my day will be filled with stuff like that, I sometimes leave my mac at home.)

For some tasks, I need my mac and those stacks of technical documentation. (Implementing code based on an architecture document and standards document is an example of "need my office, need my mac".)

For some tasks, I need to work with one of my co-workers. I do not always have my mac when I'm with that co-worker, and do not always need it for some of these tasks. I also do not always need the documentation from my office for these tasks, so some for example we could do if we happened to be having lunch somewhere.

For some tasks, I need my mac, the documentation from my office, and my co-worker in order to make any progress.

(Informally going over an architecture plan is an example of "need my co-worker but nothing else". Formally going over a specific implementation plan is an example of "need my co-worker and my office but not a mac". Implementing a feature together for which each of us has all the necessary information in our heads is an example of "need my co-worker and a mac but not my office" (so we could do that in a meeting room or something). Implementing a feature for which we both have to work together and we both need access to technical documentation is an example of "need my co-worker, need my office, need my mac".)

I am struggling with how to represent this sort of situation. My ultimate goal is to be able to ask the question "given the resources I have right now, what are the tasks it's possible for me to make progress on?".

When I'm in my office, and have my mac, and don't have my co-worker, I want to see all the tasks that just require my mac, and all the tasks that just require my office, and all the tasks that require both my mac and my office, but none of the tasks that require my co-worker. If he comes in in the afternoon, I want to be able to indicate that he's now available, and suddenly see those tasks show up as well.

Do I really need to make seven different contexts (2 cubed, for three present/absent conditions, minus the "none present" combination) and always remember to select combinations of them (perspectives?) to achieve this?

I notice that I'm asking for the opposite of what most folks here are asking for. I want a task to be shown only if all the contexts that apply are currently selected ("show me things I can do when I have my computer, my manuals, and my co-worker"); others seem to want it to be shown if any of the contexts that apply are selected ("show me things related to the phone", "show me things involving Sue").

Any ideas?
 
Very well illustrated.

I have to agree I have the same problem and set of circumstances.

When I started with OF, I had LOTS of contexts: some were software-application based (GoLive, FileMaker, PowerSchool, PhotoShop, Server Admin, Parallels, etc), some were concept based (Budget, Network, etc).

That wasn't working. So, I parred down (at the time I came across an article of 43folders about simplifying contexts, and it seemed to fit with many of the problems I was having).

So I simplified, and I know have a minimal, more broad-in-scope set of contexts:
@Work
----office
----calls
----E-mail
----Agenda
--------CoWorker A
--------CoWorker B
----Waiting
--------CoWorker A
--------CoWorker B
@Errands
@Home
@Reading
@Training

I use the outer-level for general assignment, for example:
(1) I can often work at home, so that type of work is simply assigned to "@Work", and can be done at the office or at home, whereas tasks that need to be done at the office, get the assignment "@Work: Office"

(2) General agenda items will simply be assigned "@Work:Agenda", but colleagues that I frequently work with get the more specific assignment "@Work:Agenda:CoWorker A"

So I can click on "@Work" and see all work-related items, including what I could potentially work on at home, and I can click on "@Work:Office" and see things that HAVE to be done at the office, however I cannot EXCLUDE the "@Work:Office" items when I am working at home.


It is working better than the long list of specific-context items, I started with; but I still feel it is not working the way I would think it should conceptually. So far teh only thing that I see as a solution is tagging and/or multiple contexts.

I struggle with exactly what you posted, and totally relate to what you posted. The above probably didn't help you with solution, as I don't feel it is working perfectly for me either, but I wanted to at least let you know I feel your pain (and hopefully the developers will see this too).
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfjdejulio View Post
For some tasks, I need my mac, the documentation from my office, and my co-worker in order to make any progress.
The way I handle this is to always file things under the most rare (or least controllable) context, which in the above example would be my co-worker, for me. And then, if possible, I make changes to my environment to make the task possible. (For example, if I'm meeting with Tim, I can invite him to come to my office where we can look up the documentation we need to work on the task in question.)

The goal is to remember to get this stuff done, which won't happen if I never see the task until all of the right contexts happen to be present at exactly the same time—and only if I also happen to be looking at OmniFocus at the time and if I've told OmniFocus about the exact set of contexts I'm in at the moment (morning, in my office, 28 other people in the building, etc.).

Yes, this does mean that tasks will seem to be available in my context lists when I can't actually do them. (For example, if Tim and I are in California and I check my Tim context, we can't really just go grab the documentation from Omni's offices in Seattle.) But that's easily handled; I just defer the stuff that I can't actually do at the moment. (In this case, I'd set the task's start date to a day when I know Tim and I will both be back at Omni.) And if I realize that I actually see Tim more often than I'm around the stack of documentation, I'll change the task's context to "stack of documentation" and when I'm near it I'll try to find Tim.

Does that make sense?

My overall goal is to get my tasks done, not to figure out the exact set of circumstances required to get them done. I don't want to be spending much time managing my tasks, because that's time not spent on actually doing them.

Last edited by Ken Case; 2009-07-30 at 10:56 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelande View Post
So I can click on "@Work" and see all work-related items, including what I could potentially work on at home, and I can click on "@Work:Office" and see things that HAVE to be done at the office, however I cannot EXCLUDE the "@Work:Office" items when I am working at home.
My approach to this is to make "Work" a folder in Planning Mode (rather than a top-level context). I can then focus on the Work folder in Planning Mode before switching over to Context Mode, which means that I'll only see Work tasks no matter which contexts I have selected. (I also have folders for "Family" and "Personal", so I can focus on those when I want to completely exclude my work tasks.)

Does that help?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
The goal is to remember to get this stuff done, and if I never see the task until all of the right contexts happen to be present at exactly the same time...
Ah, see, I think my main goal is not to remember to get things done, but to get things done, which requires that I avoid analysis paralysis. ("Remember" on its own is a solved problem -- flat todo lists do that. "Remember" is necessary but not sufficient.)

Today, I'll go: "okay, I finished something, what do I need to do next?". Then I'll go "HOLY CRAP, there are 827 items on that todo list!". Then I'll curl up in a foetal position under my desk and rock back and forth while sucking my thumb (which isn't very productive and if I do too much of it I expect they'll eventually stop paying me).

The very point is, if all the right contexts don't happen to be present at the exact same time, I do not want to see that task. At least, when I'm performing the "figure out what to do next right now" step, that is. But this is what I really need help on, due to my ADD -- if "figure out what to do next" comes up empty, I can always dilate the scope and ask "if I had more resources right now, what could I do next?".
 
 


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