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Quote:
Originally Posted by Boatguy View Post
There is too much dogma around contexts.

What if I sit on my computer every day and all my projects can be done online? Is there just one context? All resources are physically available for all projects at all times.

I need some way to decide what to do next other than struggling with the due dates structure.
That all your projects can be done at one computer online doesn't mean you have only one context. That is a rather narrow view of "contexts" that has come up many times on this and other forums.

There's no reason a context couldn't be any of

* email
* web
* Basecamp
* Research
* Yahoo
* Google Docs Spreadsheet
etc.

The point of contexts is to have the specific tools or or environment needed to complete the job. Sometimes you have to spend some time thinking through what those contexts are, and not just settle for "online".

Is that really all you need? If you weren't at your regular machine, and you didn't have a web browser, could you still do the task? What if the website you needed wasn't accessible, could you still do the task?

Note, of course, this has nothing to do with multiple contexts or due dates or any of that confusion.

It just means you need to think about how you work, what you need to get things done, and create the contexts which are unique to you.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
That is a rather narrow view of "contexts" that has come up many times on this and other forums.

There's no reason a context couldn't be any of

* email
* web
* Basecamp
* Research
* Yahoo
* Google Docs Spreadsheet
etc.
Yes there is. It doesn't work. Not saying it doesn't work for you. But it certainly didn't work for me. I tried dividing into contexts like GoLive, FileMaker, Groupware, etc.

It was just not efficient. Spent too much time trying to organize contexts, trying to decide which context an action should go into, and in the real world of actually doing things, it did not make sense to work on seven unrelated projects in GoLive in a row, simply because I had launched GoLive.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
If you weren't at your regular machine, and you didn't have a web browser, could you still do the task?
Well I think that is just it. For those of us who have posted this problem throughout the life of this forum, that just never happens. We live on our computers. They are laptops. We take them whenever we go.

This is a very real problem for us. That's why it keeps coming up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
What if the website you needed wasn't accessible, could you still do the task?
But you are mentioning a circumstance that is just not likely to happen. At least not enough to justify classifying it into its own micro-cosm context. It would be like traveling with a portable power generator everywhere you went, because there might be a time when the power goes out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
It just means you need to think about how you work, what you need to get things done, and create the contexts which are unique to you.
Well this is what we are trying to do. And it is difficult. And we ask for help and guidance, trying to find something that makes sense.
 
Joe, you should post an example of your tasks, and under what circumstances you can do each one, so we can offer concrete suggestions. (If you've already done so, just point me to the post in question.)

Figuring out contexts is one of the harder things of GTD, but it's also one of the least important in my mind. Spending too much time hashing through them is one of the problems with GTD. Pick a set and go. If you find yourself looking at a context unable to decide which item to do, close your eyes and point to one.

Contexts don't tell you what to do, they tell you what you can do.

If "online" is all you need, and you're always at one computer that's always online on sites that never stop working, and you're having trouble deciding what to do next, take a moment to think through why you can't just go down the list in order. What about the list is preventing you from getting something done?

Quote:
in the real world of actually doing things, it did not make sense to work on seven unrelated projects in GoLive in a row, simply because I had launched GoLive.
Whoa! That's enlightening.

Why do you feel you need to do everything in the GoLive context just because you're working on one project that uses that context?

For me, contexts are used

1. To inform me of what I can do when I'm in/around that context ("I'm in GoLive, what can I do here?")

2. To inform me which tools/environment I need to complete a task ("To finish this project, I need to update my layout. That's in GoLive, let me launch it.")

There's no requirement or even strong suggestion that you power through everything in a context just because you happen to be in that context. Sure, that's a great way to finish off a bunch of stuff at once if you want to do that, but there's no reason to stay in GoLive if you're moving a specific project forward.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
Pick a set and go....and you're having trouble deciding what to do next, take a moment to think through why you can't just go down the list in order. What about the list is preventing you from getting something done?
Well nothing but psychology. When the majority of your tasks fit into one context, the list is very long - and doesn't feel any different than a traditional to-do list. Even though I have offloaded my mind from remembering what tasks I need to do, becuase I am confindent they are in the system, and I do regular reviews.

Looking at that long list can be daunting.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
Whoa! That's enlightening.

Why do you feel you need to do everything in the GoLive context just because you're working on one project that uses that context?
Well it was what I felt you (and others before you) were suggesting, with comments like:
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
There's no reason a context couldn't be any of

* email
* web
* Basecamp
* Research
* Yahoo
* Google Docs Spreadsheet
etc
These are all application based. Therefor suggesting I should have a context named "GoLive" (similar to your Google Docs Spreadsheet) and work on a bunch of GoLive-related actions. And I have found (due to the nature of project workflow and thought process) that doing that just doesn't work well for me.


So I think for those of us who work at the computer constantly are still struggling with these daunting, sometimes overwhelming, long task lists.

I use perspectives, and search, and do the project view-focus-context view dance to help reduce that long list (and anxiety), but it still feels just a bit clunky to me. I haven't found anything better (I have seen things that do some things better, but overall not better), but I am looking forward (hopefully) to some subtle refinements in future versions.

Also, personally, I have been asking for a tagging feature not so much to implement a concept of "multiple contexts" as to have more powerful search and viewing tools. Many of my actions can cross both multiple projects and context; and nested projects and contexts only goes so far.

The same arguments can be made for organizing files in the Finder: Yes you can place files in folders, and you can nest folders, and you can use aliases to put files in more than one place, and you can search using Spotlight - but that all feels just a bit clunky;

...but tagging opens up a whole new world...

Last edited by joelande; 2008-03-18 at 07:52 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelande View Post
Also, personally, I have been asking for a tagging feature not so much to implement a concept of "multiple contexts" as to have more powerful search and viewing tools. Many of my actions can cross both multiple projects and context; and nested projects and contexts only goes so far.

The same arguments can be made for organizing files in the Finder: Yes you can place files in folders, and you can nest folders, and you can use aliases to put files in more than one place, and you can search using Spotlight - but that all feels just a bit clunky;

...but tagging opens up a whole new world...
Personally, I find jasong's suggestions to be spot on. It took me a while to find my right set of contexts, and I probably still have a bit of refining to do, but once I did, I found that I didn't need multiple contexts. In fact, in some ways I actually prefer the simplicity of a single context.

But tagging for the purpose of searching and narrowing in on a specific subset of tasks (maybe as additional metadata rather than in place of the current context field), is maybe not a bad idea, and I'm certainly open to it if OG decides to go in that direction.

What worries me is that tagging systems sometimes seem better in theory than in practice, I think.

About a year ago, I got the tagging bug and tried a whole variety of tagging systems (in the Finder and stand-alone database products like Yojimbo). I religiously tagged all my data and kept everything in one big pile, using smart collections to pull out what I needed later.

Several months later, though, I didn't feel any better organized and was, frankly, annoyed with the tiresome process of tagging stuff every time I had a new bit of information. Maybe I was over-tagging with too much metadata, but I had reached a point where I began to yearn for the simplicity of a tag-less system: plop stuff in a folder and move on, relying on hierarchical structure and full content search to narrow-in and find what I needed later.

It turned out that the overhead and complexity of adding tags and smart collections just wasn't worth the minor benefit in retrieval later. I wonder if maybe Apple's design people have come to the same conclusion. Maybe that's why we haven't seen a system-wide tagging implementation from Apple, even though all the necessary infrastructure is already present?

Much to my surprise, I also found that traditional hierarchical structures (i.e. folders or indented outlines) actually allowed me to better visualize the structure of data. It was easier to find things by simply browsing because I could easily remember the position of the item in my mind and didn't have to rely as much on remembering names of tags, which was always harder for me for some reason.

I guess hierarchical structures don't necessarily preclude the use of tags, but in many cases, apps try replace traditional hierarchies with tagging systems. That's one of the reasons I prefer OmniFocus over Things.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelande View Post
When the majority of your tasks fit into one context, the list is very long - and doesn't feel any different than a traditional to-do list.[...] Looking at that long list can be daunting.
Absolutely. The “long list” issue is a big one even for those of us with multiple contexts, and an indicator that either things on the list need to be deferred, or the context is wrong (too broad, generally). My “research” context is a dumping grounds, sometimes.

Quote:
Why do you feel you need to do everything in the GoLive context just because you're working on one project that uses that context?
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelande View Post
Well it was what I felt you (and others before you) were suggesting.... I should have a context named "GoLive" (similar to your Google Docs Spreadsheet) and work on a bunch of GoLive-related actions. And I have found (due to the nature of project workflow and thought process) that doing that just doesn't work well for me.
I ask again, why do you feel that having a context automatically means having to work on all items in that context at once? I never said that. I explicitly said

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
There's no requirement or even strong suggestion that you power through everything in a context just because you happen to be in that context. Sure, that's a great way to finish off a bunch of stuff at once if you want to do that, but there's no reason to stay in GoLive if you're moving a specific project forward.
Let’s make this concrete. You have the following projects and actions:

* Update Jason’s website
** Get the latest text from Jason (computer)
** Change colors in graphics (computer)
** Incorporate new text and graphics in GoLive (computer)
** Upload new pages (computer)

* Update Joe’s website
** Get the latest text from Joe (computer)
** Change colors in graphics (computer)
** Incorporate new text and graphics in GoLive (computer)
** Upload new pages (computer)

* Update Foo’s website (x10)

Your Computer context is going to look terrible.

Computer
** Get the latest text from Jason
** Change colors in graphics
** Incorporate new text and graphics in GoLive
** Upload new pages
** Get the latest text from Joe
** Change colors in graphics
** Incorporate new text and graphics in GoLive
** Upload new pages
** etc.

That’s eight things for two projects; imagine if you had a dozen projects!

Suppose your projects instead were
* Update Jason’s website
** Get the latest text from Jason (email)
** Change colors in graphics (Photoshop)
** Incorporate new text and graphics in GoLive (GoLive)
** Upload new pages (Transmit)

* Update Joe’s website
** Get the latest text from Joe (email)
** Change colors in graphics (Photoshop)
** Incorporate new text and graphics in GoLive (GoLive)
** Upload new pages (Transmit)

Suddenly your contexts look much easier:

Email
** Get the latest text from Jason
** Get the latest text from Joe

Photoshop
** Change colors in graphics--Jason
** Change colors in graphics--Joe

GoLive
** Incorporate new text and graphics in GoLive--Jason
** Incorporate new text and graphics in GoLive--Joe

Transmit
** Upload new pages--Jason
** Upload new pages--Joe


Imagine you’ve done everything you need to do except the GoLive pieces. Let’s also say you have 10 things you need to do in GoLive, for 10 different projects. How you proceed depends on your preference. You can

1. Do everything that needs to done in GoLive at once, “powering through” 10 different projects and thus moving them all forward;

2. Do only the one project you’re working on (say “Update Jason’s website”) in GoLive, and when you’re done, look at the next item for this project. You leave your GoLive context when you’re done with this piece of the project and you move on to the next context for this project.

I’ll say it again: You don’t have to stay in a context and do everything in it if you are focusing on a specific project.
 
I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this.

I see tags as a useful tool, you don't. That's OK.

I understand what you are saying in your example above, and I have even tried it, it just doesn't work for me. I used to have a long, delineated list of sub contexts for computer. I found it to be a non-effective tool for me. The amount of time maintaing the contexts and assignments versus the benefit in my work flow wasn't positive. And don't get me wrong, the same argument can certainly be said for tagging. But one of the benefits (as well as detriments) of tagging, is that it isn't as structured as nested contexts.


Your argument is focused on only one point - structuring contexts.

I posted previously that I was interested in tags, not necessarily to implement a "multiple contexts" feature (although that could work too). I think of tags as a useful tool for searching and viewing.

It gives the app more flexibility.

And in the end, I don't really see what the big deal is. If you don't want to use tags, or multiple contexts, don't use them.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by joelande View Post
I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on this.

I see tags as a useful tool, you don't. That's OK.
None of my comments of the last few posts have made any mention of tags.

But now I must ask: what's the difference between

* action (in context GoLive)

and

* action (tagged with GoLive)?

Or is that not how you'd use tags?


Quote:
Originally Posted by joelande View Post
Your argument is focused on only one point - structuring contexts.
And again, nothing in my recent posts said anything about structuring contexts, only that breaking a single context into multiple, focused contexts might be useful. I never said they need to be hierarchical to be useful.

Instead of one "computer" context, have six separate contexts, one for each of the things you do or use on the computer.

This long-running thread has been wide-ranging. Just to be clear, my latest comments all stem from this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Boatguy View Post
What if I sit on my computer every day and all my projects can be done online? Is there just one context? All resources are physically available for all projects at all times.
That is the context under which I've been commenting.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
None of my comments of the last few posts have made any mention of tags.

But now I must ask: what's the difference between

* action (in context GoLive)

and

* action (tagged with GoLive)?

Or is that not how you'd use tags?
Yes that is how I would use tags.

And the difference is subtle. Some may argue what is the difference between Firefox and Safari? Or the difference between Yojimbo and Journler. Maybe not the best examples, but you get my point. Things can be accomplished in more than one way, and sometimes it is the subtle differences that make one more pleasurable to use than the other.

Some have argued for tags to be used as multiple contexts - they have been tossed around interchangeably.

I see tags as more of a viewing and searching tool.



Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
And again, nothing in my recent posts said anything about structuring contexts, [...]

Instead of one "computer" context, have six separate contexts, one for each of the things you do or use on the computer.
Yes but, if the contexts WEREN'T hierarchal (structured), there would be no easy way to view all computer items at once, for example.

Of course you could create an endless sea of perspectives based on custom selections I suppose, but as I posted previously, sometimes it feels like OmniFocus is just a tad bit clunky; switching modes, view bars, selections, perspectives, etc. I just think it can be improved a little bit, that's all. It's still the best I have found.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
This long-running thread has been wide-ranging. Just to be clear, my latest comments all stem from this:

Originally Posted by Boatguy
What if I sit on my computer every day and all my projects can be done online? Is there just one context? All resources are physically available for all projects at all times.

That is the context under which I've been commenting.
And, as it is a long post, it is clearly evident that people are still struggling with it and have different opinions on how to help those that are sturggling with it.

I don't see a problem with that.
 
Hello,
I am a new user, and in the feild of education. Here is an example in my mind that requires multiple contexts. I have a story I want to assign to the class. I have read it before, but in order to create a suitable lesson I must reread it. So, I need a context to tell me to do that lets say read.

So we have our action "Story" in the context "read" However, I do not have enough copies of the story (which is public domain so I can copy it freely with no damage to my morality). I do not need to read it in order to copy it. I do however, want to know to copy it next time the copier is free. In my mind the only way to lay this out correctly is to put the activity

"story" in both contexts "read" and "copier" I may have botched the language, but this improvement would vastly streamline my work.

Thank you for listenning.
leko
 
 


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