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Why OmniFocus v1 didn't support multiple contexts per action Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
@Magd36: I understood your post to read that you suppose OF doesn't support sub-contexts. Reading back, I see that it could be read both ways, so just ignore my previous reply.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
....I would never file an action in more than one of those contexts, though.....
I wasn’t really thinking of the “assigning multiple contexts to an action” point of view.

However sticking with this for a minute, and if we look at the hierarchy proposed, let’s consider if Joe is in Sales. I can’t help thinking that when the context Joe is assigned to an action it is inherently assigning 2 contexts to the action i.e. Sales and Joe (otherwise why have Joe as a sub-context of Sales).

Is the weakness of this not that when you unexpectedly meet Joe and quickly bring up his context you may fail to ask him the general Sales questions that he could have answered?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
I don't think I'd agree. In my mind, what differentiates a context hierarchy from a tagging system is the implied relationships between the parent and children....
Where my thoughts were coming from was more to do with inefficiency in a context/sub-context structure. If we consider the scenario where Joe works part-time in Sales and part-time in Accounts, to represent this we would need 4 contexts i.e. Sales, Accounts, Joe under Sales, Joe under Accounts. With tags we’d only need 3 i.e. Sales, Accounts and Joe. While this increase is trivial in a simple structure I’d imagine it becomes quiet wasteful as the number of contexts increase.

However, from all the suggestions, I think I’m concluding that the key seems to be:

1. Use verbs in the action rather than assign contexts.
2. Keep contexts to a minimum and set it around a theme where possible. (I simply hadn’t thought of it like this before).

Following this advice I think I can get my Personal contexts to as few as 4 and my Office contexts to 3 with 4 sub contexts.

I’ll post what I’ve ended up with for constructive criticism later!!!

Thanks for all the ideas.
 
I like the clean look of the new interface and I am looking forward to using OF2.

I heard that there may be further as yet unpublicised features, so here is a feedback request for what it is worth.

I may be a lone voice here, but there are projects I work on which are available in more than one context, for example projects where I can continue working on my desktop mac, my ipad, or macbook. I would really like to assign an action to more than one context, so that my reference list is Context aware.

On a similar vein, I find that "People" are an important category which need to float across "Context" groups. Any chance that multi-contexts might be showing up in OF2? or at least cheat-tagging such that "People" can be tagged if not contextualised?

I know, I know, database sort orders prefer single entries etc. but think of the usefulness...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by marcd View Post
there are projects I work on which are available in more than one context, for example projects where I can continue working on my desktop mac, my ipad, or macbook.
I do something like this:

Computer
--Mac
----iMac
----MBA
--iPad

A task I can accomplish only on a specific device goes in that specific context. A task which can be accomplished on any Mac goes in the Mac context. A task which can be accomplished on Mac or iPad goes in the Computer context.

When I move to a different device, I open the specific context for that device and see if there's anything there I should do. If not, I'll move up the hierarchy one or more levels. If you click on the parent context in the sidebar, you see all the actions for the children as well; if you display them grouped by context, then you can close the groups for other children. I can easily see only the actions available to be done on the device in front of me, and I can also see the actions which can be done on the device in front of me.

A legitimate objection might be raised that if you have a large set of otherwise similar machines, and a task which can only be done on a small subset (and you have many tasks for which this is true of different subsets), you can't easily set up a nested structure. Simple answer: pick one machine, assign the task there, and rely on your reviews to either spur you to visit the necessary machine(s) or reassign the work to contexts more frequently visited.

Think of it like managing employees. For any given task, there are probably a number of employees who could do it. You don't assign it provisionally to all of them, hoping that one of them will do it. You pick someone, assign it to them, and then make sure they do it.
 
There's no appreciable cost to having additional contexts, within reason. I would argue it is better to have "too many" rather than "too few" as "too few" results in seeing tasks displayed which you cannot actually do. If you just have a Sales context and are forced to throw tasks which can only be done with Joe into that context, every time you pull up the Sales context and Joe isn't present, you see all of the tasks which require Joe cluttering up your view. Looking at a hierarchy of contexts, grouped by context, you don't see anything for contexts which have no actions.

If you have difficulty with having a Joe context at several points in the context hierarchy, make a perspective to collate them all together.

Rule of thumb: if OmniFocus is frequently showing you tasks which you cannot do, you've either assigned the tasks to the wrong contexts, your context structure needs refactoring to capture the distinction between the tasks you can and cannot do, or both.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
If you have difficulty with having a Joe context at several points in the context hierarchy, make a perspective to collate them all together.

Rule of thumb: if OmniFocus is frequently showing you tasks which you cannot do, you've either assigned the tasks to the wrong contexts, your context structure needs refactoring to capture the distinction between the tasks you can and cannot do, or both.
You're assuming that everyone uses the Mac App, but I very rarely get into it due to location and having to use Windows at work.

To be honest, my problem is the other way around. I'm not seeing things I need to do because there's no way to assign Actions to multiple contexts where thins can be done and I can't see a way to do this without multiple tags.

You seem to see multiple tags as having only having an OR relationship, which is one use, e.g. Fred, or Rose or John, but it can also have an AND relationship. Phone AND Alert AND Laptop AND Fred. Yes that can be done as project but that seems pretty inflexible. What if you have all there, or 3 of the 4 which you can quickly rope the 4th into.

Different people work different ways.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by GeoffAirey View Post
You're assuming that everyone uses the Mac App, but I very rarely get into it due to location and having to use Windows at work.
No assumption made. I do this all the time on the iPad. Yes, it is necessary to have the Mac app to make the perspective, but that's a one-time operation. You could even get the Omni support ninjas to build a perspective for you if you don't have the Mac app.

If you choose to work in a way that makes it impossible to do what you want, that's your choice.

I didn't respond earlier to your prior post, but I see nothing in the list of "new situations not present 12 years ago" that hasn't been true for much longer than 12 years. Reporting to more than one boss a novel concept? Hardly — see for example Galbraith, J.R. (1971). "Matrix Organization Designs: How to combine functional and project forms". In: Business Horizons, February, 1971, 29-40.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
...You could even get the Omni support ninjas to build a perspective for you if you don't have the Mac app...
Now that's interesting as I don't have a MAC so could be useful for me. I think it would fix my point when I posted:

"Is the weakness of this not that when you unexpectedly meet Joe and quickly bring up his context you may fail to ask him the general Sales questions that he could have answered?"

If perspectives group contexts is this kind of like making contexts act like tags?

In general, my office contexts seem to operate around "time required to complete" as I usually have everything I need, where as my personal contexts operate on a "things I need to complete" basis.
 
That's a useful method whpalmer4, thanks for sharing it.

But... I still want People to be a separate context which crosses other contexts because if I talk to someone or before I call them I want to see what is pertinent to them, what am I waiting for from them, what was that great idea i wanted to share with them, tell them not to forget to collect the kids, get some oil for the car, shave the dog etc. Any of these might be spread across any number of Place or Tool (iphone, email, home, office) contexts. People are just a different sort of category concept which overlap and just won't nest under other regular Contexts.

And while I have your attention, I'm sure there was something else I was going to mention to you, now where did I file my note?
 
 


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