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In a couple of other threads, especially as it relates to comparison with Things, there are mentions of the difference of conceptually approaching task management from a task vs a project paradigm.

The task paradigm is described as tasks are actions and these are grouped into projects. Projects are almost analogous to folders. The focus is on the task. The suggestion on the other threads is that this is the approach that Things takes.

The other approach is that we undertake and accomplish primarily projects. And these are comprised of tasks. It is suggested that this is approach taken by OmniFocus.

My questions are do people think this is a valid distinction? Is it a valuable distinction? Do successful users of OF think primarily in terms of projects, which are accomplished by completing component tasks? Or do you think (and focus on) primarily on tasks, which when completed result in accomplishment of a project?
I'm not sure if I'd express the difference _quite_ that way. I'd say that GTD has a task (action) focus at some times, and a project focus at other times. And OmniFocus is mostly GTD.

When I have an "Oh, remember (whatever)" thought and I "collect" that thought into my Inbox, that's often task focused. Remember to get those paint samples, remember to plant the peas, remember to tell my manager X. Now, some of those tasks might turn out to be more complicated - maybe to plant the peas I have to get compost and choose the right peas and lay out a tarp so that the ground dries up a little and so that turns out to be a project - but fairly often, the "collection" phase of GTD is task focused.

When I'm working, I'm again usually task focused - I look at the tasks I've already defined and I pick one. If my Next Actions are properly written, I don't think about the whole project and everything that there is to worry about it; I just focus on the individual task without distracting myself with bigger issues.

But when I'm processing, I'm project focused. I look at the tasks in my Inbox, and I don't so much group those tasks into projects, as create or identify the projects that will end up encompassing those tasks. The item from my inbox might be the Next Action for a project, or it might go into the product support materials, or it might not be specifically mentioned at all, because it's an obvious outcome for a project that starts before that task.

And when I finish a task, I temporarily go project focused again, when I write a new Next Action for the project. The same when I do my weekly review.

So I'd agree that the architecture of GTD and therefore OmniFocus is project based, but on a day to day basis more time will be spent focusing on tasks.

If all your work could be written on slips of paper, tossed in a bunch of fishbowls for different areas of responsibility, and then done by plucking random slips from whatever fishbowl caught your eye, OmniFocus brings a lot of machinery to the party that you probably don't need. However, if you have many tasks where ordering is important, need to be able to select tasks to do next based on availability of resources (contexts), date, available time, etc. then that extra machinery in OmniFocus comes in handy. You can use OmniFocus in the former situation, of course, but something lighter weight might be more convenient. If you want a lot of structure in your setup, OmniFocus will give you ample opportunity to indulge :-)
Originally Posted by Arrow View Post
In a couple of other threads, especially as it relates to comparison with Things, there are mentions of the difference of conceptually approaching task management from a task vs a project paradigm. ...
This paradigm struck me when I switch from Things to OF over a year or more ago. It struck me because I could set up tags on actions in Things that had no comparable construct in OF, yet I could set up parallel or series actions in OF that had no comparable construct in Things. I could also create multi-level folders in OF but could not in Things. It struck me for other reasons as well. So, at the end, my observations were ...

Things = items are tagged, marked as actionable, and put in a one-level-only folder ostensibly called a Project

... while ...

OF = items are structured based on an end purpose, marked as actionable to that purpose, and put in any level of container to define that purpose as best possible (with the purpose being "complete a project")

I posted the task-centric vs project-centric analogy (in some other wording than immediately above) on both the Things and OF forums when I was trying both applications and was still trying to understand which one better fit my work-style. Some folks said, they found the analogy useful.

Beyond that, you are welcome to expand what you learn about the two apps (Things vs OF) in your own terms.



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