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Feature request: "Waiting For" and/or Multiple Contexts Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Some people ( ) use the context field to indicate whether they are "waiting" for someone to get back to them. This is a bit of a bastardization. Waiting is not a context. Waiting is a state of action. The context is the person/thing from whom they are awaiting the response.

I know OF has the "on hold (waiting)" status element, but this element is not suitable. In fact, it is a bit incomprehensible:

1) You can set a context to be "on hold". What does that mean?
2) If you try to put a task on hold, it puts the whole project on hold.
3) On hold and waiting are sometimes different things. I might have a project that is on hold, but I might also have an active project where I am simply waiting for someone to act before I can carry out the next task. One state implies inaction while the other is an active waiting state.

I would love it if OF had more functionality in the "waiting for" department including the ability to diarize a tickler for following up. For instance, I might delegate a task on Monday and set OF to remind me to follow up with that person on Friday if I haven't had an answer. To do this now in OF, I have to set that follow up as a task in-and-of itself. Which it really isn't. Really the task is the task, and my follow up is an discipline to complete the task.

One way to solve this would be to add the ability to associate a task with more than one context so I can assign it to a waiting context and diarize that part. I bet having more than one context would have other uses, for instance if I need to go grocery shopping with my wife is that a grocery store context or a wife context? Both.

Another way to solve this would be to have more robust handling of a waiting state including follow up reminders.

Ideally, both features could be added to the product.
Hi Johnsel,

Yes, I completely agree with you. I argued very similarly about "waiting" not being the same as contexts in my post

but I felt I was being shot down a little with my suggestions and just accepted defeat by whpalmer4 overloading me with much irrelevant information, that just seemed to be missing my point....

My only solution was to accept the fact that this was not going to happen despite all my efforts, that there was little I could do to change it (some omnifocus users just seem so stuck in their windy ways, they don't seem to understand objective rationality anymore) and just adopt 'their' methods of coping (rather than managing).

I fully support you in this effort to alert the developers to rethink the ways of dealing with 1) 'waiting for a response from another party' - [custom workaround scripts from the community just don't do it for me! in a $70 software package], and 2) "single actions on hold, in stead of the entire project" and 3) easy to use tickler functionality.

If I look at my tasks, around 1/5 turn into "waiting for a response" actions once I have done my part to complete them. Changing their context to "waiting" robs them from their vital contexts. There must be another way to 'signpost them'. As I suggested - why not with a little tag with an (!) exclamation mark similar to the (") for the on hold symbol?!

OF is intuitive in so many ways, but how it deals with so frequently occurring "waiting for" STATES (not contexts) is in deed a bastardisation of contexts!

Please think this one through again developers =)


Wow, your link by the way, "An Advanced GTD User's Paradise" and the beautifully customised perspectives bar...... That's what I've always been looking for!

Can't Omnifocus come with this sort of offering as standard, so I won't have to customise it like that myself?!

That would be a dream! Can we expect this from OF 2.0?
Use Help → Send Feedback to submit bug reports and feature suggestions to get them entered in the development database. (See this sticky thread at the top of the forum for details.)

In the meantime, Bill (whpalmer4) is very good at offering suggestions on how to use the existing product features to work around the absence of the feature you want. That seems like a community service to me, since presumably you want to continue to track waiting-for items until the new feature is implemented. If that presumption is wrong, I apologize.



I don't use a Waiting context, myself. What I do instead is to set a future start date for the action, placing it on hold until that start date is reached. This effectively gives me both the desired "Waiting" state, plus a tickler to follow up on the action: if I don't hear back from them by the time the start date rolls around, it pops back up on my active list.

What it doesn't give me is a good way to see all of my "Waiting" actions at once the way assigning it to a specific context would, so while that works for my workflow it might not work for yours.

(In OmniFocus 2, you will also be able to change an individual action's status to "On Hold", so you won't have to make up a future start date in cases where that tickler isn't appropriate.)

Last edited by Ken Case; 2009-10-13 at 04:26 PM..
Originally Posted by johnsel View Post
1) You can set a context to be "on hold". What does that mean?
Just wanted to jump in and answer this bit - "Dropping" a context leaves it in the database but puts any actions assigned to that context in the "no context" state. It's meant for contexts that you can't delete but don't want to use any more.

By comparison, a context that's "On Hold" is one that you want to hide temporarily. Example: I spend a good chunk of the year in another country, but while I'm in the US, I don't need to see the actions assigned to those contexts on my Remaining list. They get put on hold, which hides them.
Originally Posted by curt.clifton View Post
In the meantime, Bill (whpalmer4) is very good at offering suggestions on how to use the existing product features to work around the absence of the feature you want. That seems like a community service to me, since presumably you want to continue to track waiting-for items until the new feature is implemented. If that presumption is wrong, I apologize.
Normally, I try to avoid making "Me Too" posts. In this case, though, I feel it's called for, so I'm making an exception. :-)

If folks want to use a Waiting For context, I think they should have the freedom to do so. It sounds like the person that wrote that documentation uses that style, as does John Kendrick. Personally, I use the method that Ken mentioned, as it works better for me.

I think the greatest good is usually served by letting folks use the tool the way they want to use it. If folks want to see some sort of visual "Waiting For" indicator, we can consider that. At the moment, though, I don't see a feature request in the development database for one.

Emailing the support ninjas would be the right thing to do here...

Last edited by Brian; 2009-10-13 at 07:22 PM.. Reason: add mail link
I emailed my post in yesterday so hopefully it will show up in your features/bugs database shortly.

In the meantime I've been using the "flag" to indicate waiting for as I don't use the flag for anything else. I guess, like others on this thread, I've just found a part of the application I'm not using and claimed it for this feature.

I will try the "start date in the future" method and see if I like it. Thanks for the idea. This might not be an option for me until OF2 when I can put just a task on hold rather than a whole project.

I think the fact that even Omni folk are working around the app to do waiting suggests there is demand for an explicit "waiting for" function with its own tickler capability - even among power users. Waiting for is a core component of the Davidco GTD methodology as discussed in his book. I think a lot of users would benefit from it.

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