The Omni Group
These forums are now read-only. Please visit our new forums to participate in discussion. A new account will be required to post in the new forums. For more info on the switch, see this post. Thank you!

Go Back   The Omni Group Forums > OmniFocus > OmniFocus 1 for Mac
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

 
Multiple Contexts? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hey guys

This may totally be an instance of my relative newness to GTD and to OF, but does anyone see a need to be able to assign more than one context to a task? For example, I could buy the concert tix online but I could also just call Ticketmaster from the car...

Or does this functionality already exist and I just missed it?

Cheers

RM
 
I think David Allen would say that in this case the next action is to actually decide where to buy the tickets - that is the next step required to move the ticket-buying project forward.

Then when that decision is made, you can add a new task 'buy tickets' to OmniFocus in either the calls or online contexts (or your equivalents thereof).

Last edited by bongoman; 2007-08-14 at 11:55 PM..
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bongoman View Post
I think David Allen would say that in this case the next action is to actually decide where to buy the tickets - that is the next step required to move the ticket-buying project forward.

Then when that decision is made, you can add a new task 'buy tickets' to OmniFocus in either the calls or online contexts (or your equivalents thereof).
I disagree. Entering a "decide where to buy tickets" action seems like "slicing it too thin" to me. Not to be facetious, but before you "decide where to buy tickets", shouldn't you research relative service charges and calculate the relative cost of phone minutes vs. internet connection time, and ...? I've sometimes fallen into the trap of procrastinating by always putting a next action in the way. (It's really Zeno's dichotomy paradox in action. If I'm afraid to reach a goal, I can always keep dividing the steps between me and the goal into more and more next actions.) For an "over-organizer" like me, too many next actions can be as big a roadblock as not identifying the real next action.

As to the original question, currently you cannot assign multiple contexts. There has been extensive discussion on the forums about adding multiple context support, or some notion of tags or labels. There are a few ways to deal with cases like Buy Tickets now.
  • Create a new context for "Phone or On-line".
  • Enter the action twice with two different contexts.
  • Enter the action in just one context. (This is really like bongoman's suggestion, but assumes that picking the context takes less than 2 minutes.)

Personally, I would use the third option. I seldom am in a single context at a time. For example, currently I can choose actions from my home:office context, any of my computer contexts, my phone context, or my briefcase context. I use cmd-clicks in context view to select all of them. So even though Buy Tickets might be in the Phone context, it would show in my list and I could choose to do it using the web instead.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
I've always taken the opinion, that Multiple contexts are a trap.

First, if something can be done in multiple contexts, it just doesn't matter. Pick one. The tickets? You're going to buy them online, unless the internet is broken. Then you'll use the phone.

Second, Cliff, you're totally right about slicing things too thin (as a method of procrastination.) It's something we all should keep in mind.

Last, while you physically could be at multiple contexts (I'm in front of my laptop as I type this. I'm technically at the following contexts (for me):
Laptop, Internet, email, phone (cause it's right here.)

But I specifically, decide for 10 (or more minutes) I'm going to only work on one context or one project. It's like using the Focus button on the taskbar in OmniFocus.

I can only, truly, do one thing at a time. (And yes, as hard as it is to admit, there is no such think as multitasking.)
 
I'm sure there are people on boths sides of this fence, but I would vote in favor of allowing multiple contexts, even if an "allow multiple contexts" option defaulted to "off" in the app.

I frequently run into this situation, where I have a task that could be taken care of in any of several contexts, and I don't know which one of those contexts will come up next for me in my hectic schedule. Being able to say "do this in whichever of these contexts I'm next in" would be a wonderful thing, and having multiple contexts seems the easiest and most obvious way to implement this.

Last edited by slinberg; 2007-08-15 at 05:57 AM.. Reason: typo
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by slinberg View Post
I frequently run into this situation, where I have a task that could be taken care of in any of several contexts, and I don't know which one of those contexts will come up next for me in my hectic schedule.
My solution to this has been an "Anywhere" context, for things that I can really do anywhere (e.g., "Spend 10 minutes thinking about X").

But I find there are very few things I can really do in multiple contexts. If I need to buy tickets, but haven't decided whether to buy them on the phone or online, I really haven't completely decided my next action. The solution to this (as someone mentioned previously) is it really doesn't matter which you choose -- just choose one. Then you've decided on your next action.

I'm not sure I see the situation in which multiple contexts for a task would really be appropriate. Conversely, I certainly see the purpose of being in multiple contexts at once: e.g., "Phone", "Online", "Laptop", and "Office" may all apply to me at work. Fortunately, OF lets me select multiple contexts to see all the tasks in them.

Perhaps the issue, in addition to not fully deciding on a next action, is that one's contexts are defined too vaguely? For example, if I only had "Home" and "Office" contexts, and I had a task that simply needed a telephone, there wouldn't be any particular reason for me to pick Home vs. Office, thus the desire to put it both. The solution to this, again, would be to create a context that describes what you need to have at hand in order to complete this task. (Agenda/Person contexts are effectively another instance of this -- you need to have that person available.)
 
Well, here's an example of what I was talking about; the issue for me is that I have tasks that can be done in several different contexts, but not in ANY context. I manage a few networks on hardware VPNs, and if I need to (for example) reconfigure a specific machine, I can only do it from an office where I can access the VPN. There are three of those locations/contexts. So I could create a new context of "Any of the VPN-accessible contexts", more or less, and use that... but this quickly becomes an enormous matrix if I need to define "supercontexts" of all of the possible context combinations in which I might be able to do things. I'd like to keep my total number of contexts as small as possible.

It would be a lot easier for what I do to be able to tag a task with multiple contexts, any of which could apply.

If there are other ways to achieve this without multiple contexts, I'm open to ideas, but I do need to be able to select a single context and see everything I could be doing in that context. To me, there's meaning in the association of a task with a context, so picking one single context from a number of candidates also infers that the task is less meaningful or important in the contexts I don't choose to put it in, so it would make more sense to me to be able to put a single task in multiple contexts when needed.
 
Am I the only one who thinks that "Buying tickets" would fit into the Home context? I use the internet at home and I use the phone at home. The internet context is for things that need the internet and likewise the phone context, but buying tickets does not necessarily need the internet and does not necessarily need the phone -- it could be either so it doesn't need either, just one or the other. Buying tickets is something I can do with my discretionary time at home using either the internet or the phone. Maybe that's just me.
 
Great insights, all of you...thanks!

I'm leaning towards the idea that multiple contexts would be a fine option to have, if only based on the fact that it would save a step while waiting for ATT's Molasses...er, I mean Edge network to bring up next actions on my iPhone when I'm not near a hotspot.

RM
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by slinberg View Post
I manage a few networks on hardware VPNs, and if I need to (for example) reconfigure a specific machine, I can only do it from an office where I can access the VPN.
So it sounds like you want a VPN context, which you would select any time the VPN is accessible.

Quote:
There are three of those locations/contexts.
Do you mean there are three different VPNs, or that there are three physical places where you might be able to access the VPN?

Quote:
this quickly becomes an enormous matrix if I need to define "supercontexts" of all of the possible context combinations in which I might be able to do things.
Aha, I think I see the problem. This is not how contexts are intended to be used. You don't predefine all the possible combination of available resources per context. Instead, when you're ready to do work, you select all the contexts available to you at that time (use cmd-click to select multiple contexts simultaneously).

For example, you might have a VPN context (for things that require access to the VPN, wherever you are physically), a Home context (for things that require being physically home, as opposed to some other physical location, like replacing a lightbulb), an Office context (where you must physically be at the office, like retrieving something from your file cabinet), maybe a "In the Car" context, "Phone", etc.

Let's say you can access the VPN from either Home or Office, but not from the car. When you go to the office, select all the contexts that apply: Office, VPN, Phone, etc.

The issue is that contexts need not be mutually exclusive. You are often in multiple contexts at once -- you can be near a telephone in many physical places. GTD is all about seeing what you can do right now, wherever you are. If you have a list of phone calls, you can make them anywhere you have access to a phone: at home, in your office, in a hotel room, etc. Thus "Phone" is often a useful context, to be selected in conjunction with other applicable contexts (e.g., office, online, etc.)

Quote:
If there are other ways to achieve this without multiple contexts, I'm open to ideas, but I do need to be able to select a single context and see everything I could be doing in that context.
You might want to read (or re-read) the book -- this is pretty much opposed to Allen's whole notion of "Context". He uses it in a fairly specific way, and OF's implementation is based on that. It doesn't necessarily mean "physical place" and it doesn't mean "my present mind-set" -- it's more along the lines of "what is available to me right now?".

Quote:
To me, there's meaning in the association of a task with a context, so picking one single context from a number of candidates also infers that the task is less meaningful or important in the contexts I don't choose to put it in,
Again, I think you may be missing the point of "Contexts" (in the GTD sense) here. They're not intended to capture any notion of priority -- they're simply practical divisions of what you can do given your current "context".

What Allen teaches is that priorities change so fluidly and quickly, that you should look over your next actions in your present contexts and pick the one to work on next -- prioritize at the moment. The weekly review is used to make sure things don't fall through the cracks as a result.

As an example, I have a "Phone" and "Office" context. Both are selected when I'm in the office. My "Phone" context does list some non-work-related tasks. While that may incline me to consider them less "important" when I'm at the office, part of the GTD methodology is organizing your whole life -- sometimes those non-work-related calls are actually more important than work-related tasks (like that call you've been putting off that actually needs to happen today). Or sometimes you'll find yourself with 5 minutes before your next meeting, and all of your work-related tasks would take longer than that, but you can knock that one personal call off your list in under 5 minutes.

GTD has a lot to say about priorities and their pitfalls.
 
 


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Multiple Contexts apowers OmniFocus 1 for Mac 1 2010-11-08 10:05 AM
Multiple Contexts dbconfession OmniFocus 1 for Mac 5 2010-01-23 05:29 AM
multiple contexts and multiple projects mind full of water OmniFocus 1 for Mac 7 2008-06-23 09:31 AM
Multiple Activites for Multiple Contexts Journey OmniFocus 1 for Mac 12 2007-12-27 01:03 AM
Multiple contexts? Roger Barre OmniFocus 1 for Mac 4 2007-11-26 03:46 PM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 07:37 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.