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How to (Elegantly?) Implement Manual Sorting of Context Actions Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
There is a separate thread in this forum - "Omnifocus 2 Projects and Contexts need to be sortable" in which I attempt to argue the case for providing manual sorting of contexts (dragging them up and down) and if you have any doubt of its necessity, I suggest you read it first before adding to this one.

I have some suggestions for how the view bar (which allows you to automatically sort and filter - when I say 'automatically' I mean as opposed to dragging actions up and down which is what I mean by manual sorting). Of course the challenge when it comes to implementing manual sorting in Context Mode is how to allow manual sorting to exist when there are so many important automatic sorting and filtering options that are available and necessary and when those options change the actions that are visible and how they are sorted. My suggestion is that there be a togglable icon on the toolbar which switches between automatic and manual sorting. If it's set to automatic sorting then the settings of the view bar govern what is displayed. If however it is set to Manual sorting, the view bar sets the Context Filter to Remaining and locks its setting (visually dimming it), the Group and Sort popups should be locked, the Availability Filter should be locked, dimmed and set to Remaining, the Status Filter should be locked, dimmed and set to Any Status, and the Estimated Time Filter be locked to Any Duration. If these restrictions were not used manual sorting would cause chaos the second that any view bar setting was changed because the number of visible actions would be changing all the time.

Of course you then allow the automatic sorting options subsort by the manual sort order where appropriate and possible.

The task of manually sorting actions could be made easier by first automatically sorting them by some sort field (due date?).

Planning mode could have the same automatic and manual sort toggle although it would enable manual sorting of actions not projects (the current functionality).

While we are talking design and sorting an additional popup should be added enabling actions within projects to be subsorted (the primary sort being of the projects as a whole).

I think that there needs to be automatic subsorting of context actions too and I would add a second subsorting popup and place it below not to the right of the existing sort popup on the toolbar.

I don't think that the number of popups on the toolbar cause Omnifocus to be hard to understand. What makes it hard to understand in Context mode is why there are so many popups currently and yet I cannot get my list of actions into the order I want. That having been said, why not omit the Flagged popup and the Duration popup from the toolbar unless you enable them in preferences (won't less people use Flagged if there is manual sorting?)

Last edited by usertech; 2013-02-15 at 10:41 PM..
 
Draw a picture.
 
I have created a demo interface and made a movie of it.

Its available at:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/dtt4vo7pif...ing%20Demo.mov
 
Thank you Usertech. I am similarly frustrated regarding the inability to manually sort actions in Context mode.

I am particularly frustrated by the fact that the perspective that I created for "Today" (all flagged items), cannot be manually sorted. How do I quickly organize tasks by priority?? Or groupings that make sense?

I am so frustrated that I am thinking I will have to delete my context labels and make new labels that reflect a level of priority: "now"; "soon"; "later"; "someday" etc. Perhaps to expand this system a little, I will make a few sub-contexts under the context "now" that relate to my current contexts. For example "now: phone"; Now:email" etc
 
You've already organized them by priority. You flagged the ones you want to do today. Those are the top priority, and the rest are not. Flagging or otherwise marking as top priority more tasks than you will complete is just a path to frustration and inefficiency. If you complete all of your selected tasks, pat yourself on the back and go get another batch. Compare the feeling with a list of high priority tasks that you can never quite complete.

If you are trying to maintain a prioritized list of all of your work in OmniFocus, you're really attempting to bash a squarish peg into a round hole. It isn't intended to give you such fine-grained prioritization, and part of the reason why is that it was inspired by a method that rejects making such prioritized to do lists in advance. It is happy to allow you to designate an overall project priority; when all else is equal, the actions in the projects nearest the top of the sidebar are shown before the actions in projects closer to the bottom.

If you have enough of an insistence that you must organize your work in advance, just put start times on the actions so they only become available in the desired order. Typing "+1h" or "1h" in the start date field in the inspector gets you a start date 1 hour in the future.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
You've already organized them by priority. You flagged the ones you want to do today. Those are the top priority, and the rest are not. Flagging or otherwise marking as top priority more tasks than you will complete is just a path to frustration and inefficiency. If you complete all of your selected tasks, pat yourself on the back and go get another batch. Compare the feeling with a list of high priority tasks that you can never quite complete.

If you are trying to maintain a prioritized list of all of your work in OmniFocus, you're really attempting to bash a squarish peg into a round hole. It isn't intended to give you such fine-grained prioritization, and part of the reason why is that it was inspired by a method that rejects making such prioritized to do lists in advance. It is happy to allow you to designate an overall project priority; when all else is equal, the actions in the projects nearest the top of the sidebar are shown before the actions in projects closer to the bottom.

If you have enough of an insistence that you must organize your work in advance, just put start times on the actions so they only become available in the desired order. Typing "+1h" or "1h" in the start date field in the inspector gets you a start date 1 hour in the future.
Thank you whpalmer4. I don't have more than 10 items in my flagged ("Today") perspective. I just want the list to make sense to me when I scan my list over the course of my work day (I have already reviewed and selected what I am going to work on - this is just my active, "Today" list). Perhaps it's my ADD, but I find it very distracting when my active, working list is not organized into a logical order. Honestly, I find myself reading the list multiple times as I try to mentally put it into the right order (or make one action a child of another) - instead of once at the beginning of the day.

My work is very fluid and does not require lots of due & start dates - I just need a system that helps me to divide and conquer my tasks logically. If I enter arbitrary start dates, it becomes very inefficient as it really doesn't help me to quickly see what priority I have assigned to something (it actually has the opposite effect. When I keep moving a start date forward I start ignoring that project because I am constantly throwing it arbitrarily into the future (I don't want to drop the project, but at that moment, other more pressing issues have arisen).
 
Put on the start times and switch your view to show only available actions. They'll pop up one at a time as the day goes on.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by clarejulian View Post
Perhaps it's my ADD, but I find it very distracting when my active, working list is not organized into a logical order. Honestly, I find myself reading the list multiple times as I try to mentally put it into the right order (or make one action a child of another) - instead of once at the beginning of the day.
I don't know if there is anything in real life that is "logical." Handling multiple requests and incoming new work orders will throw your carefully constructed order into complete chaos in a New York minute.

I have surrendered to the chaos of life.
 
 


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