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  • #31
    We need a vision - not a focus group.

    Originally posted by Folke View Post
    A collaborative creative project, such as this one, is a bit like trying to get a bunch of chefs to start a restaurant - to analyze and agree - in words - on what kind of flavors, textures and impressions to create. It will probably not be easy to find those additional chefs and to form a verbalized vision that we can share.
    There is an old Polish saying: "Gdzie kucharek sześć, tam nie ma co jeść!" (literally "Where there are six cooks, there is nothing to eat.", means "Too many cooks spoil the broth.")

    There was one cook at Apple, one cook at Tesla, one cook at Nozbe, but many cooks at Microsoft, Blackberry or Yahoo...

    We need a vision - not a focus group.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
      We need a vision - not a focus group.
      Well, here is my vision (highly tentative):

      Take the whole wisdom of GTD and free it from the limitations of paper. Make it easy, in one app, to let your aspirations and plans evolve gradually over time as a result of convenient ongoing reviewing, and allow you to conveniently identify and check off the ripe stuff at the tip of the iceberg as you go.

      Or more specifically:

      1) Make it possible to keep ALL action-type stuff in one single app without drowning in it
      2) In other words, allow you to enter every single thought of what you will do or might do, definitely or maybe, near-future or long-term, important or unimportant etc etc in one single app
      3) Allow you to organize all this effectively (essentially as per GTD)
      4) Make it easy for you to keep the tip of the iceberg clearly visible (i.e. current Next actions etc), uncluttered by all the futures and maybes etc
      5) Make it easy to review and evolve your plans for any chosen single "part" of your life (project, AoR, long-term objectives etc) - from the tip of the iceberg and into the depths of it.
      6) Make it easy to find suitable actions to do in "any" given situation
      7) Make it easy to manually-contextually batch actions in advance into little groups of actions to be tentatively done together in one single go.

      Comment


      • #33
        How is your approach different?

        Originally posted by Folke View Post
        1) Make it possible to keep ALL action-type stuff in one single app without drowning in it
        2) In other words, allow you to enter every single thought of what you will do or might do, definitely or maybe, near-future or long-term, important or unimportant etc etc in one single app
        3) Allow you to organize all this effectively (essentially as per GTD)
        4) Make it easy for you to keep the tip of the iceberg clearly visible (i.e. current Next actions etc), uncluttered by all the futures and maybes etc
        5) Make it easy to review and evolve your plans for any chosen single "part" of your life (project, AoR, long-term objectives etc) - from the tip of the iceberg and into the depths of it.
        6) Make it easy to find suitable actions to do in "any" given situation
        7) Make it easy to manually-contextually batch actions in advance into little groups of actions to be tentatively done together in one single go.
        Let's try Nozbe:
        1) I can enter all my thoughts into Nozbe's inbox.
        2) I can assign dates and labels to Projects, I can manually change the order Projects and Actions.
        3) I can assign Actions to Contexts.
        4) I can mark Actions with a star as a tip of the iceberg marker.
        5) As far as I know Nozbe is a tactical weapon. Other equipment is needed for higher levels of planning.
        6) I can filter actions by contexts, labels, Projects etc.
        7) I can use labels, contexts or stars to group actions.

        I don't suggest that Nozbe is perfect but it manages actions according to your vision.

        I am sure that OmniFocus enthusiasts would be able to similarly specify how your vision is implemented in their favourite tool.

        The point is: all software apps implement GTD in a similar way. How is your approach different?

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
          Let's try Nozbe:
          1) I can enter all my thoughts into Nozbe's inbox.
          2) I can assign dates and labels to Projects, I can manually change the order Projects and Actions.
          3) I can assign Actions to Contexts.
          4) I can mark Actions with a star as a tip of the iceberg marker.
          5) As far as I know Nozbe is a tactical weapon. Other equipment is needed for higher levels of planning.
          6) I can filter actions by contexts, labels, Projects etc.
          7) I can use labels, contexts or stars to group actions.

          I don't suggest that Nozbe is perfect but it manages actions according to your vision.

          I am sure that OmniFocus enthusiasts would be able to similarly specify how your vision is implemented in their favourite tool.

          The point is: all software apps implement GTD in a similar way. How is your approach different?
          I think maybe one way of rephrasing, or clarifying, the earlier approach ("vision") would be to say that I want to put the emphasis on "vertical integration" (horizons of focus) rather than "horizontal integration" (in and out of inboxes and reference and colleagues etc). It seems most apps (and most users) emphasize the latter. I am quite sure I am not the only one in the world who would like to have more of the former - and we have no app looking after our needs in particular.

          I think your answers to the 7 statements are all beside the point - either I haven't expressed myself clearly enough or you haven't read it carefully enough, for example: What on earth does the inbox (#1) have to do with being able to keep an immense number of tasks on file without drowning in them on a daily basis? And so on.

          But you are perfectly right that you can get by reasonably well with most apps. I current use Doit. It has a few hierarchical levels that I can use for goals, projects etc. and it has some tagging capabilities etc for contexts and so on. It could be improved and simplified, but it does the job (or most of it).

          As I said in an earlier post, it would be so much easier for any of the existing apps to become a bit better at "vertical integration" than it would be to start up a new company and have to replicate/reinvent all the standard stuff just to be able to add a few nice extra touches.

          Comment


          • #35
            Originally posted by Folke View Post
            Take the whole wisdom of GTD and free it from the limitations of paper. Make it easy, in one app, to let your aspirations and plans evolve gradually over time as a result of convenient ongoing reviewing, and allow you to conveniently identify and check off the ripe stuff at the tip of the iceberg as you go.

            Or more specifically:

            1) Make it possible to keep ALL action-type stuff in one single app without drowning in it
            2) In other words, allow you to enter every single thought of what you will do or might do, definitely or maybe, near-future or long-term, important or unimportant etc etc in one single app
            3) Allow you to organize all this effectively (essentially as per GTD)
            4) Make it easy for you to keep the tip of the iceberg clearly visible (i.e. current Next actions etc), uncluttered by all the futures and maybes etc
            5) Make it easy to review and evolve your plans for any chosen single "part" of your life (project, AoR, long-term objectives etc) - from the tip of the iceberg and into the depths of it.
            6) Make it easy to find suitable actions to do in "any" given situation
            7) Make it easy to manually-contextually batch actions in advance into little groups of actions to be tentatively done together in one single go.
            Sounds like the exact description of Omnifocus.

            1) I keep EVERYTHING in that one app that I am committed to doing now, plan to do sometime, want to do when I have time/money or dream about doing in this lifetime. My projects in OF range from knit a Dr. Who Bigger on the Inside Scarf (with a link to the pattern on Ravelry for that scarf) to Remove old Apple cellar and rebuild a new one in that location, or Learn to play mandolin or Climb Mt. Lamborn. I have stuff that is small and simple (call dealer and get truck in for service) to big and complex (Design and program LambTracker system for flock management)

            2) yep every thought about something I want to do goes into OF. If the idea originates in some other "inbox", like a paper note I took, then when I process my paper inbox I will enter in that data to OF. I can clip out the projects or even individual actions from all my electronic inputs whether they are e-mail, web pages or anything easily with command keys. I can then decide where those items belong, either into existing projects or as new ones.

            3) I can easily organize my ideas by area of focus by sorting them within folders. I can also look at projects and ideas across AOFs by proper searching until I get the view I want and then saving that as a custom perspective

            4) By setting next actions appropriately and spending a bit of time on setting up custom perspectives I can see just the trees in front of me (next actions by context) or the forest (projects by AOF or by other higher levels or projects that relate to a single goal even if they cross AOFs or any other criteria I set up)

            5) Again by using perspectives properly and fine tuning the review time for individual projects I can review current projects, only those related to a single AOF or goal, or go into every single one in depth depending on what I feel I need to do at each weekly review or as I am working on my lists during the week.

            6) If I have done proper project planning on my active projects then my context view has actions that will make a concrete step towards completion for every project I am working on sorted into my own personal buckets that work for how I do things. I am never without anything to do and I can easily see if I have been neglecting a context and need to move into it and get the items done that are in there.

            7) I can set up groups of actions within a project that are related and need to be done together using the hierarchy of subprojects OF provides. However, I find that proper selection of contexts is a better way to handle this task and I will create, use and then delete contexts as my life, needs and project mix dictate. It's easy and simple to add a new context, change the context of any particular action or for all actions within a larger grouping or to delete a context.

            I see no need for anything better in terms of software. I've been reading this thread but I disagree strongly that there are no existing tools that support what you are describing. However, I will agree that there are no tools on the Windows or Linux platforms that do it as neatly and easily as Omnifocus, that's my Mac bias showing. However if you really feel that you need it then the solution is to switch platforms to one that has the software you need with the features you require.

            What I will say though is that it's take several years to really grok all that Omnifocus can deliver in terms of support for managing my GTD system. Just really getting to a deep understanding of the power of perspectives takes a while.

            So rather than try to re-invent the wheel why don't you make it a project to try out the IMNSHO best GTD software out there, Omnifocus, for at least 6 months, and then come back and see if you haven't been able to do everything you think is missing from software tools in that one package.

            Comment


            • #36
              Originally posted by Folke View Post
              ....2) In other words, allow you to enter every single thought of what you will do or might do, definitely or maybe, near-future or long-term, important or unimportant etc etc in one single app....
              One of my biggest epiphanies about my GTD system was a subtle shift in focus in dealing with new "stuff". My initial focus had morphed into, "How can a fit this into my GTD app?"...one place for everything!

              I shifted my initial focus to: "How can I close this open loop?" The answer might be the GTD app, but often it is a strategically placed post-it note or physical item, a Siri-generated reminder, a calendar entry, an immediate text, email or call, a photo (one of my favorite inboxes)... most of these may never make into my GTD app, but they generally leave breadcrumbs if needed. The goal is trusting the open loop is closed, not having a "complete" GTD app.

              Software "automation" can be seductive... it certainly caused me to lose focus on this important point. YMMV.

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                So rather than try to re-invent the wheel why don't you make it a project to try out the IMNSHO best GTD software out there, Omnifocus ...
                Yes, I've actually played with that thought, but it seems a bit extreme to get a Mac just for that. I definitely would not spend any money trying to develop a new app. I am quite optimistic that things will improve soon, and many apps are reasonably close.

                The way I see it the solutions are very simple and hopefully not too far away. For vertical focus, all it really takes is a simple hierarchical structure (like Google Drive etc), where your levels can represent projects, AoRs, goals or whatever you like. And you need a way to "draw the line" somehow in those "folders" - above the line is the "active" stuff to be visible on your active next lists, project lists etc, and the stuff below the line is the future "pipeline" (i.e subsequent tasks aka "project support" tasks, someday/maybe, ticklers etc). I have 80% of that in Doit now using workarounds, and they are bringing some improvement before Christmas.

                For context filtering the main missing thing, that Doit, Nirvana, and Zendone have all said they will implement, is a NOT filter (but the question is when). They already have multiple contexts, and Doit has both multiple contexts and a separate context field for list grouping. So it is quite close.

                And so on. Quite close, and I can get by with workarounds. But it is easy to see that none of the developers have their hearts and minds in these areas. They are much more interested in horizontal inter-app integration - getting stuff in an out (to email systems, Google maps, what have you) rather than help you review your commitments in relation to their larger purpose.

                Originally posted by notmuch View Post
                One of my biggest epiphanies about my GTD system was a subtle shift in focus in dealing with new "stuff". My initial focus had morphed into, "How can a fit this into my GTD app?"...one place for everything!

                I shifted my initial focus to: "How can I close this open loop?" The answer might be the GTD app, but often it is a strategically placed post-it note or physical item, a Siri-generated reminder, a calendar entry, an immediate text, email or call, a photo (one of my favorite inboxes)... most of these may never make into my GTD app, but they generally leave breadcrumbs if needed. The goal is trusting the open loop is closed, not having a "complete" GTD app.

                Software "automation" can be seductive... it certainly caused me to lose focus on this important point. YMMV.
                If I am understanding you correctly I agree completely. I also have no problem at all with using external alarm clocks or whatever it takes. The common obsession in app forums about dubious "niceties" like Google maps integration, snoozers and buzzers and what not is driving me nuts.

                I am not striving for having new kinds of stuff or bells and whistles in my app. What I am trying to do (or rather what I am doing already but would like to be able to do without cumbersome workarounds) is the same as I was hoping to be able to do in the first place when I moved from paper to electronic lists about 15 years ago, which was to put all the tasks from my current lists, projects etc etc together in one app and be able to both read (review/evolve) these plans for a selected area, project etc. and also be able to (alternately) view only the currently "active" tasks across the board per context etc and select suitable things and do them. And most of this I can do even now, albeit with some annoying limitations.

                But it disturbs me that developers have different priorities They often focus on more "trendy-techy" stuff and on time-management features than on GTD. And they do not seem to share my (or GTD's) reading/reviewing/evolving approach to planning. Despite their stated allegiance to GTD they often seem to work just as much from a mindset where task definitions and everything are highly predetermined and you should not really have to review your lists at all, just enter stuff and preprogram it to jump out automatically at predetermined times and/or GPS locations. I find this annoying.
                Last edited by Folke; 11-26-2013, 03:13 PM.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by Folke View Post
                  2) In other words, allow you to enter every single thought of what you will do or might do, definitely or maybe, near-future or long-term, important or unimportant etc etc in one single app
                  How about an app that would use sort-of artificial intelligence software to imitate (more or less) what David Allen would do if you were to hire him to stand over your shoulder for a year telling you what to do (as described in the book Willpower by Baumeister and Tierney).

                  It could ask you questions like "Is there anything on your mind right now?" and "What would be the first step to getting that done?" and "Is that really a single physical action that you know how to do?" and "Where would you be when you do that?" and "How much time do you have available right now where you are?" and so on. It could tell you "It's time to start the weekly review now" -- or not bother saying that and just start asking the types of questions you should be asking yourself during that review. And so on. It should have options like "Don't bother asking me any more whether it's a single physical action" and "switch to advanced mode" and "shut up -- I'll take control from here". It could ask you now and then whether you're happy with the style of interaction.

                  This might dovetail with another idea I've been thinking about. I read that hospitals have too many alarms, such that the staff start ignoring the alarms. The article said that airplane cockpits are well-designed to bring attention to the more urgent information while providing the less urgent information in a less distracting format, but that hospitals don't do that.

                  So here's my idea. For each type of thing that might be automatically detected (UV feel out of patient's arm) or triggered by a clock (time to administer medicine), you input an estimate of how bad it could be if the thing isn't done, how long it will take to do the thing, and either the time remaining until a deadline or the probability per unit time of a bad result occurring. Then you get software to display the things perhaps in order of most urgent (calculated based on a combination of those things) as a bar chart perhaps, with the more urgent things sticking up higher. Maybe they'd always be in the same order so they're easier to recognize but you'd notice the ones sticking up higher. You can also use your judgement: read the top few and decide which to do. And you can tweak the input so it matches your intuition better.

                  With a glance, you could get a feel for whether there were a lot of pretty urgent things piling up such that you might run out of time trying to do them all at once. Also for extremely urgent things, you'd have actual alarms going off and blinking lights.

                  Not only hospitals but ordinary people might benefit from software like that.
                  Last edited by cwoodgold; 11-28-2013, 05:28 PM.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Folke's dreams are already available for everybody in reality!

                    Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                    What I will say though is that it's take several years to really grok all that Omnifocus can deliver in terms of support for managing my GTD system. Just really getting to a deep understanding of the power of perspectives takes a while.
                    I don't use OmniFocus but I've read this description of perspectives: OmniFocus Series Part 06: Perspectives and I am really impressed. It looks like Folke's dreams are already available for everybody in reality!

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Folke View Post
                      But it is easy to see that none of the developers have their hearts and minds in these areas.
                      If you haven't used all of the apps, then it's distinctly premature to declare that "none" of the developers have done something. I understand that you can't use OmniFocus without a Mac, but that's not a good reason for making assumptions about how OmniFocus works or doesn't work.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Gardener View Post
                        If you haven't used all of the apps, then it's distinctly premature to declare that "none" of the developers have done something. I understand that you can't use OmniFocus without a Mac, but that's not a good reason for making assumptions about how OmniFocus works or doesn't work.
                        Well, you are absolutely right; I did express it too briefly, especially if you read that particular sentence out of context, so please let me try again:

                        It is my overall impression of all the apps I have tried that developers generally pay an awful lot more attention to horizontal integration and time/space automation than they do to facilitating calm and systematic reviewing of your plans.

                        Originally posted by TesTeq View Post
                        I don't use OmniFocus but ... It looks like Folke's dreams are already available for everybody in reality!
                        Yes, it is definitely the case that you can do quite a lot with many apps, and Omnifocus certainly has a good (if mixed) reputation. Often, though, these apps are not as simple to use as I would like them to be. Some require extensive initial setup, which I can live with. Quite a few are a bit too clunky in their day-to-day use, which is worse. And most of them are a bit "messy" or unintuitive to read - endless lists with too little (or weird) structure, and you often simply cannot get the lists that you really need no matter how you try different setups and workarounds - this is a difficult area to address and improve, but I am convinced it is possible.

                        So, if you are still contemplating a start-up (which I would be a bit cautious about, as I have already explained; many players are dangerously near, but that is how this "feature request" discussion in this thread came about) perhaps simplicity of use and readability needs to be more strongly emphasized.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Folke View Post
                          Yes, I've actually played with that thought, but it seems a bit extreme to get a Mac just for that.
                          Why? Currently in our household we have around 30 computers we are using. That's a rough guess, I have 12 and I am sure my husband is using more because of his hardware development work. Some are dedicated to specific tasks and they run a variety of systems.

                          I know one long time user of GTD who runs Windows machines for all her main work but moved her entire GTD system to an iPad just so she could use Omnifocus. A simple iPhone is expensive but it's a supercomputer. If I compare what is available now to the prices of memory and computers when I got started the phone in my pocket is a 3.2 billion dollar computer! And I can buy it for the price of selling 1.5 sheep!

                          It is not at all extreme to buy a machine to test out a piece of software that only runs on that machine. And if you are serious about doing any development then you need to do that as your market research if nothing else.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                            It is not at all extreme to buy a machine to test out a piece of software that only runs on that machine. And if you are serious about doing any development then you need to do that as your market research if nothing else.
                            If I were serious about doing any development I would definitely buy what I needed. Totally agreed. Even if it was only for market research. It is important to have the right tools for your work.

                            But research of a GTD app is not something that I have seriously considered; it was just a thought that TesTeq came up with.

                            As for my working tools in general, I have Windows computers and iOS devices. I'd hate to have yet another box just for my "todo lists", and I am generally reluctant to increase the complexity by straying off into Macs and Androids and Blackberries and all that. But then again, many people say Macs are generally better than PCs, so maybe I should consider a general replacement of my PCs.

                            I'll definitely give some thought to the possibility of just using the iPad/iPhone for GTD, as your friend did - and skip the desktop - thanks for the tip. (But I like the larger screens on desktops).

                            In general, it is like this: I already have everything I need for my task management; I can even get by with just paper. But it is an interesting enough subject to talk and think about - as a hobby, a hobby with at least some potential of bringing some practical improvements one day, and even if it does not, it at least was an intellectually stimulating topic to discuss.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Folke View Post
                              As for my working tools in general, I have Windows computers and iOS devices. I'd hate to have yet another box just for my "todo lists", and I am generally reluctant to increase the complexity by straying off into Macs and Androids and Blackberries and all that.
                              For what it's worth, the Mac can run Windows, native, now. So if you ever want to have the option of which OS to boot your computer into, or being able boot it into both at the same time, consider getting a Mac in your next upgrade.

                              Comment

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