How to keep the most important projects easily visible?

How do you keep the most important projects easily visible? I have a bunch of projects in play, but there are a handful (5-10?) that I need to keep moving forward at all times. Without having them written on the whiteboard I find that I lose sight of them and end up working on stuff that is interesting but perhaps not the most critical. Even though I’ve put a flag on tasks that I don’t want to lose track of, they may not be the most important for me to be working on today.

For those of you who are easily distractable, how do you keep the most important projects right in front of your face?

I create a custom perspective that is focused on that project only. Then I star it to make it show up in the perspectives sidebar. Whenever I look at the perspectives sidebar, I see these projects and always try to visit each perspective once in the morning, once again at noon, and once again at the end of the day. I make sure to always click on those perspectives.

Here’s my current perspectives tab:

As you can see, I have a 1040 project (my taxes), GPEPP (a web site that I’m currently working on), and a Layaway database for another person. I click on those 3 perspectives and see what I can do right now in one of the three Big Rock projects.

I have only three Big Rocks… Anything more than three big projects would dilute the importance of the 3 Big Rocks.

Here is my Big Rock perspective:

This is a project/planning perspective. I set the focus to my Big Rock project or folder. When I have finished this Big Rock project, I change the perspective name and change the focus to my next Big Rock project.

The key is to at least open the perspective at least three times a day:

  1. Once in the morning to see what needs to be done today. Get the wheels spinning and start working on one of the Big Rocks.

  2. Once at noon to review progress. See if there are any circumstances or actions that may have affected any of the 3 Big Rock projects. Adjust next actions as needed.

  3. Once at the end of the day to wrap up. Adjust next actions based on circumstances and actions that occurred in the afternoon. Get your desk or files ready for the next day.

At the end of the day, I write on a notepad, the first two steps that needs to be done for each Big Rock. I leave it in the middle of my desk so that I already know what to do when I get to the office.

Another way to remember is to put up a sheet of paper on the wall with the 3 Big Rocks that you have to do. Here’s what I did in my office:

I bought one of those standing plastic display stands and prop it up on my table to remind me of what I should be doing today.

I use OmniFocus as a bucket list of available actions that I can possibly work on today. I use this display page to show what I should be focused on.

I use a Kanban board. I don’t use OF for this because I need big-picture views in a wider scope than OF affords to make decisions that are analogous to yours in an effective manner. Although I applaud Wilson Ng’s approach, I note that even he ends up outside of OF at some point.

If a whiteboard works for you, why change? Will something that you may eventually develop in OF really be any better than just YAWB (yet another whiteboard)? Most importantly here, are you perhaps ignoring your whiteboard too much and thinking instead that something you may create in OF will make you do things differently?



Yes, that’s right @DrJJWMac, I go outside OmniFocus to do this. OmniFocus is just one of the tools to use. There’s Kanban, a printed mind map on a wall, and a whole bunch of other tools to use…

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