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Anyone Use OF To Do Actual Work? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I should say up front, I don't mean this post to be flippant or inflammatory. I really want to like and use OmniFocus, but some things are bothering me.

I came to the forums today to see if anyone else wanted multiple contexts. Turns out I'm not the only one.

But then I started seeing all the examples that were given. "Call Susie about some nonsense", "Email Carl about his favorite color", "Buy tuna for cat Mittens". I am evaluating OF because I'm hoping it will help me get things done. Real things. Things that pay bills.

Here is my situation, as briefly as I can explain it. I need to manage:

1) Tasks at my "day" job
2) Tasks for my freelance business
3) Tasks in my personal life

Right there, we have what I would consider 3 distinct contexts: work, freelance, personal.

So right now in my freelance business, I have a website redesign to do. I add an action for doing the graphic design. I would think I'd put that under @design. But if I were to look at the @design context by itself, there may be 3 things for freelance, and 5 things for my day job, all mixed together. How can I separate design tasks between work and freelance without multiple contexts? Or do I have to create @Work:design and @Freelance:design? Might be okay if I could create a project with an overall context for freelance or work, with each underlying action having a generic context like @design or @programming.

I seem to have these quandaries a dozen times a day using OF. I want to split web maintenance tasks from web development. I want to put things into a context called @bills, but I want to be able to differentiate between personal bills and those of my freelance business.

I have to agree with everyone that's asking for multiple contexts. I just don't see how I can be productive having to distill every action down to one thing and not being able to view things different ways.

Am I just missing something?
 
I think you're possibly thinking about contexts in the wrong way (or at least a way that's contributing to your current confusion), unless you have separate physical locations for each of your three sets of responsibilities. I'd suggest a different approach.
1) In the project view, make a folder for each of your three zones: work, freelance, personal. Then put each project into its appropriate folder.
2) Create contexts for the tools you need for different tasks ("computer", "phone", "creative brain juices" for design, "desk" for bill-paying if that's where you keep your checkbook & stamps).
3) When you are doing freelance stuff, you can hide your work and personal stuff by selecting the 'freelance' folder, and choosing "Focus on freelance" from the View menu. Now whether you're in project or context view, you can only see stuff for your freelance project until you choose "Show all projects" in the View menu.

Well, that's how I'd approach this. Perhaps it'll help you too?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlantaJones View Post
I should say up front, I don't mean this post to be flippant or inflammatory. I really want to like and use OmniFocus, but some things are bothering me.



But then I started seeing all the examples that were given. "Call Susie about some nonsense", "Email Carl about his favorite color", "Buy tuna for cat Mittens". I am evaluating OF because I'm hoping it will help me get things done. Real things. Things that pay bills.


1) Tasks at my "day" job
2) Tasks for my freelance business
3) Tasks in my personal life
What Lizard suggested is exactly how I handle my own situation , and it works very well
.. but I'm just curious , since you referred to some examples given as " some nonsense " yet you mention " personal tasks in my own life " so I'm wondering how those help you " pay bills " ..

Just because someone uses an example that might seem to be insignificant..doesn't mean they don't have have 50 actual work projects in their files etc .. you might find it interesting that " buy food for my cat " is an example David Allen [creator of the method that OF is largely based on ] uses frequently when trying to explain what belongs on your lists . Anything that's rattling around in your head be it big or small matters , is what belongs on your lists .. "Real things" that can stop you from seeing the answer you need to see about that project that's bogged down at work .

Last edited by ext555; 2008-01-14 at 06:14 PM..
 
Read the book Getting Things Done by David Allen.

The brilliance of contexts, is it breaks a project relationship.

You see everything that you need to do at a computer.
You see everything that you need to do with a phone.
You see everything that you need to do running errands.

David Allen goes a step further than I do and combines personal life and work. If you do this, the contexts will break the work/personal boundary.

Personally, I like having a work list. When I am at work, I am only working on the work list. When at home, I only work on the home list.
 
I follow the same approach suggested by Lizard, and it's been working quite well for my ~75 active projects (a mixture of personal and professional).

I would also add the suggestion of using nested contexts where it makes sense. For example, I have a top-level Email context that I use for my personal life and a second Email context that appears beneath my Work context. Although I work from home, accessing my work email requires logging in through a VPN and fiddling with a Windows virtual machine. That's enough of a mind shift for me that it qualifies as a different context.
 
Thanks everyone for the responses. I have to admit, though, after reading through them last night, I walked away even more confused.

Specifically the suggestion that contexts should be so general. Like assigning all of my graphic design work to @desk or @computer. 95% of everything I need to get done is at my @desk and @computer so that wouldn't help me at all.

I do like the idea of separate folders for home, work and freelance. That might help. But still, if there are @design tasks in work and in freelance, looking at a view with just the @design context wouldn't help me much.

And I do have David's audiobook. I feel like I need to go back and listen to it again.
 
Hi there,
Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlantaJones View Post
But still, if there are @design tasks in work and in freelance, looking at a view with just the @design context wouldn't help me much.
It has been mentioned before in this thread, but perhaps this explanation is a bit clearer.

If you select the appropriate project folder (say, freelance), then use View -> “Focus on freelance” and THEN switch to the Context mode, only the freelance actions will show up in @design, the work actions in @design will be hidden. If you keep the “Focus” button in your toolbar, it’s two clicks to get the desired result.

Hope this helps,

-Sascha

P. S. Regarding your confusion about contexts, make sure to check out this thread: http://forums.omnigroup.com/showthread.php?t=6191 . Perhaps you will find some ideas that suit you.

Last edited by nggalai; 2008-01-15 at 03:50 AM..
 
The purpose of contexts is to filter out all the things you have to do... to things you can do at the moment.

What do I have available to me at the moment:
Computer:
I am at a computer and can work on everything that needs a computer to work at.
Phone:
I have a phone and can work on things that I need to do with a phone.

Granted, we live in a time where most of us spend most time at a computer, so many tasks fall into this category.

The other resource you have available to you is time.
I have 15 min before I need to be somewhere, what tasks can I accomplish in 15 min.

Another resource might me working with someone, usually referred to as agenda.

Bob is in front of me now, is there anything that I need to work on with Bob.

Some of the problem is contexts can overlap.

I am at a desk and have my phone & computer.
Should I email Bob, call Bob or do I need a face to face interaction with Bob.

As was pointed out, if you want to work on one project, or a group of projects, OF allows you to focus on that one project, or folder (group of projects) to work on something.

Having a context like, Design, is too ambiguous.

Maybe one of your tasks is:
Design new logo for client. set in a computer context.
 
For me, 90% (or more) of my work folder would be computer actions. If you want to subdivide them, the question to ask is "what determines when I do these" ? Some people have higher and lower energy states, and create a context for tasks that should be done when they're most alert, and another for tasks they can do when they really cannot think any more but have to keep working. This is what I was trying to say with the "creative brain juices context".

Another possible question to ask is "How should I group my tasks to do them more efficiently?" Some people on here complain that PhotoShop takes a long time to launch. So they actually have a 'PhotoShop' context so that when they launch Photoshop, they can do several little tasks all in a row, while only waiting through the launch once.
 
 


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