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NEED assign to multiple Contexts Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Quote:
Originally Posted by dfjdejulio View Post
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.
Thank you! That's a very good point, and I think I have a better understanding of the problem you're trying to solve now.

Contexts are one of the tools you can use to break your task list into smaller, more manageable groups, but I also use several other tools in OmniFocus to answer the question of "What should I do next?"

First, of course, I check is my "Due" perspective, which shows me which actions have some sort of time pressure. (That's Context mode, grouped and sorted by due date, showing actions which are due soon.) After all, if something is due today, I need to go do it even if it involves a trip to the bank that I normally wouldn't make.

Now that those are out of the way, I look at my "Flagged" perspective: these are the things that I've previously identified that I'd like to do sooner rather than later. (That's Context Mode, grouped by context, sorted by project, showing only available, flagged actions.) I try to be sparing with my use of flags, so for me there are only eight available flagged actions at the moment. If you have hundreds of flagged actions, though, you'll probably want to continue to break it down as described below.

With time-critical and flagged actions out of the way, anything that's currently available to me is equally important to do, I just need to do it efficiently. So I look at my "Available" perspective (Context Mode, grouped by context, sorted by project, showing available actions), and now I see 284 actions. Ouch, yes, I feel your pain.

Well, let's select just the largest of those contexts, Mac:Internet, so I can work on a bunch of things without shifting context. That narrows it down to 159 actions, but that's still a bit of a jumble, so let's organize them into projects by changing the context mode grouping to "Group by project". That way related actions are together, which lets me work more efficiently and hopefully makes it more likely that I can get an entire project off my plate.

OK, so now my actions are grouped into just 24 projects, and each of those projects has 1-14 actions available in this context. I'll pick one of these projects and focus on it (by right- or control-clicking and selecting "Focus"). I now have a nice, small, manageable list of related actions that I can do in my current context. Once I finish those, I might want to expand my context focus to try to finish the project completely, or I might expand my project focus to give me more tasks in my current context. Either approach is reasonable, and either way I can focus back down into another small list of related actions using the above technique.

Does that help?

Last edited by Ken Case; 2008-04-25 at 01:01 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
Does that help?
It's at least interesting. I just bought the product today and am still learning all the nooks and crannies, and am not adept at making custom perspectives yet. I'll see if I can make that work for me.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
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?
Only partially. My problem is managing work related items that I may do at home or at the office.

So if I use your model of creating a work folder in Planning mode (By the way, I kind of do the reverse, I have a "Personal" folder in planning mode to separate non-work projects and tasks). So when I am at home, and I want to do some work-related tasks, I would: (1) focus on the "Work" folder in planning mode, (2) move to context mode, ...now how do I see the work related items, but only the items that do not require me to be in the office?...

Are you saying/implying I should then create an additional "flex" work context that I can do either at the office or at home?

I guess that would work...Of course, I was trying to rid myself of that extra psychological impact of having to assign each item to a "@Flex" context versus a "@Office" context...(even though I know I was already doing that by choosing "@Work" vs "@Work:Office"... it just feels like more work)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Case View Post
Thank you! That's a very good point, and I think I have a better understanding of the problem you're trying to solve now.

Contexts are one of the tools you can use to break your task list into smaller, more manageable groups, but I also use several other tools in OmniFocus to answer the question of "What should I do next?"

....

Does that help?
Yes, actually it does - that is a helpful post. (Although I am still not totally happy/comfortable with my contexts options)

This is the type of advanced video I hope to see some day in your training series...(if that is still being worked on)
 
Seeing this kind of discussion, and especially Ken’s input as an Omnian, I’m thinking that it might be very useful if there were a dedicated page on the site with concrete sample working scenarios and suggestions. I know it’s asking to increase the workload for you guys at Omni, but a section of the site where these could be presented in a redacted and clear way, with screenshots, might be very helpful, beyond the looser forum discussion.

It’s evident that juggling tasks and contexts is one of the things that most taxes users, especially new ones. It’s easy to get in knots and perhaps some potential users are put of from the outset because of it, and such guidance would be instructive and inspiring. Now that OF has been up and running for some time and there’s a lot of user experience out there, it might be a good time for such a thing.

Any thoughts?
 
Reading the very interesting and detailed explanations by 'Omnians' and others, I am just wondering whether OmniFocus is (a) about a software built to support the use of a certain suggested working method + guidance to learn this working method itself; or (b) about a software built to support any working method the user thinks fits his/her needs and environment best. Considering the number of lines about how to organize one's work in this thread and the understandable request in the previous post, I assume in OF's current status it's rather the first.
 
Dont be afraid to just duplicate actions and give each of the duplicates a different context. At first this seemed hackish and un-tidy to me, but then I realized, hey, its kind of nice to come across a duplicate action that youve already done and check it off again!
 
I am new to GTD, OF, and to this forum. Although I have read through much of this thread, I may have missed something. I'll keep reading, but I would be very appreciative for any comments/suggestions you might have based on my comments and questions below.

My understanding of OF and GTD is that one (1) collects things to be done, (2) plans to do them, and then (3) does them, with OF facilitating key parts of the entire process. But the point of the whole thing lies in the doing. The problem that I've encountered early on, and that leads me to think of using multiple contexts (which led me to this thread), is that I would like to request to-do information from OF in ways that are helpful to me (see next paragraph). Maybe there is a good way to do this that I didn't yet find or figure out. If so, I would very much appreciate any hints.

This weekend I wanted to generate a perspective - or multiple perspectives - of all of things that I needed to do, sorted by context - what phone calls do I need to make, what emails to send, what errands to do, etc. Also, I can easily imagine that I might want a perspective that shows me all of the phone calls that I need to make today for any or all projects that I choose. Or, I might want to generate a perspective that shows me all of the various critical appointments (medical, dental, school, etc.) that are planned for the kids and pets over the next three months. Those things seem to me to indicate multiple contexts and/or some other flexible tagging (keyword) mechanism. Am I missing something that is already there?

I've seen some reference to nesting on this thread. My experience with other information management tasks is that nesting - and having been a long-time DOS-then-Windows user until ~2yrs. ago, I got into that habit - is not a good idea. Before long, it leads to an inefficient amount of time spent managing the information. It seems like the point of the GTD system (and any good database) is to do a small to modest amount of managing information that supports a large amount of accomplishing tasks (that is, finding information in timely and useful ways). The best way to do that in task planning, I suspect, is to have the ability to attach multiple labels of some sort to a task - so that you can retrieve it with a search (perspective) that either singles it out or groups it with a bunch of like tasks - all of the things that I need to do on a certain date or in a defined time period; all of the personal phone calls that I need to make this weekend; all of the errands that I need to do this week; all of the emails that I need to send out for 3 particular projects; etc. If I do a good job of assigning properties - genre (i.e. work, home, kids, volunteer, etc.), project name, context, due dates, other "keywords", etc. - then I should be able to generate the perspectives that help me get my work done efficiently. And, it doesn't seem to me that the properties of a task need to be thought of as being part of a hierarchy - which is the thinking implicit in the nesting idea.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions you might have for me,

Keith
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KeithFK View Post
This weekend I wanted to generate a perspective - or multiple perspectives - of all of things that I needed to do, sorted by context - what phone calls do I need to make, what emails to send, what errands to do, etc. Also, I can easily imagine that I might want a perspective that shows me all of the phone calls that I need to make today for any or all projects that I choose. Or, I might want to generate a perspective that shows me all of the various critical appointments (medical, dental, school, etc.) that are planned for the kids and pets over the next three months. Those things seem to me to indicate multiple contexts and/or some other flexible tagging (keyword) mechanism. Am I missing something that is already there?
You've given some wonderful examples of things you can do right now in OmniFocus, by combining the ability to focus on a folder or project (or multiple projects) with the ability to group and select by context.

Projects are groups of related actions that contribute toward a common goal (such as throwing a birthday party or going on a trip); contexts are groups of actions that could be more efficient to do at the same time (such as shopping at the grocery store or ordering from Amazon or writing software). Each action can have a project or a context or both, and projects and contexts can have their own hierarchies that enable you to group and view your actions in many different ways.

Let's look at your specific examples:

Quote:
This weekend I wanted to generate a perspective - or multiple perspectives - of all of things that I needed to do, sorted by context - what phone calls do I need to make, what emails to send, what errands to do, etc.
That sounds to me exactly like the default view in Context mode. I'd switch to Context mode (using the toolbar item or View menu or Command-2), then select "Revert to Default View" from the View menu. (If that menu item is disabled, it's because I'm already in the default view.) This groups all my actions by context, sorts them within each context by project, and filters the list to only show actions that are currently available.

I can save this view as a perspective, and assign it a keyboard shortcut (such as F1 or Control-1) or put it on the window's toolbar for easy access.

Quote:
Also, I can easily imagine that I might want a perspective that shows me all of the phone calls that I need to make today for any or all projects that I choose.
I'd switch back to Planning mode (using the toolbar item or View menu or Command-1), select the projects I'm interested in on the sidebar, and click on the Focus button on the toolbar (or select "Focus on" from the View menu or ). This focuses the current window on just those projects, hiding actions from other projects. Switch back to Context mode, and I'll still see the actions from just those projects, grouped by context. If I want to list just the phone calls, I can click on the Phone context in the sidebar.

(Once again, I can save this as a perspective to make it easy to return to later.)

Quote:
Or, I might want to generate a perspective that shows me all of the various critical appointments (medical, dental, school, etc.) that are planned for the kids and pets over the next three months.
I'm not quite sure what you have in mind here; appointments themselves are actually an example of something that I wouldn't keep in OmniFocus at all. For me, all appointments (that is, things that are scheduled to happen at a particular time and place) live on my calendar rather than in my task list. (Follow the link for more details on how I use my calendar.)

But assuming I have some things to get done for each appointment (such as gathering records or scheduling the appointment in the first place), that sort of implies that each appointment might have its own associated project (such as "Take cat to vet") with a due date of whenever the appointment is. I'd keep those projects together by placing them in a folder (like "Family appointments"), and I could then get a list of just those projects by clicking on that folder in the sidebar. I can then easily group and sort each of those projects by their project's due date using the View menu or the View Bar. Or I can focus on the folder and switch over to context mode to see each action grouped by its corresponding context (such as "Find paperwork for my cat's dental history" at "Home").

Hope that helps!
 
Hi Ken,

Thanks a lot for your detailed and prompt response.

As you suggest, using Focus is probably a big part of me being able to create the kinds of perspective views that I'd like, and I'm getting a little bit better at it as I go. However, it seems to me that I can't get a list of just the phone calls that are due today or tomorrow - all of the other actions in the projects that contain the due items are also appearing. Is there something that I can do so that I only see the items that are due soon? Also, I have a suggestion: It would be nice to have a little bit more flexibility in the "due soon" choice; possibly adding a between dates option. In that way, if I know that I'm going to take a 3-week vacation next month, I could take a look at all of the things that I have listed as due during that time period - so that I can reassign as needed.

The program seems terrific, though. I'm very new to GTD, but I think it and OmniFocus, together, are going to be very helpful.

Thanks again,

Keith
 
 


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