In my irregular series of guest posts I am delighted to present this piece by Stephen Hackett of 512 Pixels on his dealings with context in OmniFocus.

I have a secret to share with you. A secret about OmniFocus.

GTD enthusiasts, look away.

I don't use Contexts.

According to GTD, contexts add information about tasks in an easy to understand way. Strings like @office, @wife, @iPhone can be added to tasks very easily in OmniFocus (and other apps), to help define and classify actions.

I really don't find them super helpful.

Let's take Home Depot for example. The DIY construction megastore has a location 6 blocks from my house, and since my house is old, I am often found wandering the aisles on the weekends looking for items.

This weekend, I need to replace the little gaskets inside the faucet in our bathroom, as the thing leaks any time we turn the water on in the sink. Many people would enter the task in to OmniFocus something like this:

  1. Pick up faucet gaskets @home-depot
  2. Replace faucet gaskets @home
  3. Celebrate repaired sink with drinks @patio

If I had other Home Depot-related items in OmniFocus, searching for that context would bring up all additional items I needed to pick up when at the store.

For whatever reason, however, my brain just doesn't work that way, and I find such granular information a waste of time and energy. So, for me, I'd put the following items in:

  1. Pick up faucet gaskets
  2. Replace faucet gaskets

I know that I can only get the needed parts at Home Depot. I'm not going to try to find them when I go to the drug store. Since I use due dates for just about everything, I know that on Saturday morning, my iPhone will remind me I need to go drop some cash on some plumbing parts.

Context-based information has its place, I'm sure. I just can't see it.


stephen-hackettStephen Hackett (aka @ismh) is all kinds of magic running the 512 Pixels blog and hosting a corresponding podcast on the 70 Decibels network together with Myke Hurley. His experiences as a former Apple Mac Genius are what his ‘Bartending’ book is about.