New to OF and GTD: only using OF?


I am new to using Omnifocus and GTD and I was wondering if its advisable to JUST use Omnifocus in conjunction with my laptop in lieu of the physical folders/filing system. I am living in France and the equivalent to cheap manila folders does not exist, and while I may be “cheap” I would rather try to minimize my expenses and avoid the purchase of a labeler.

Thank You!


You don’t need physical folders if you don’t want them. A primary tenet of GTD is that you can use whatever you want to keep track of your stuff, and you should pick what works best for you.

The physical filing system is for two things. Thing one is a tickler system: being able to drop something in the right folder and have yourself reminded of it at the right time. OmniFocus does great at that, by setting defer and due dates.

Thing two is really more for keeping track of reference info rather than your lists. For that, you can use whatever form of information storage you want on your mac. I’ve gone paperless, and things come in either electronically, or get scanned and stored in DEVONthink Pro Office. Other options are just the filesystem with Spotlight, Evernote, etc.

OmniFocus is better suited towards task management and handling your projects. You’ll need something else to handle your project reference stuff. As @alanshutko suggested, you’ll find other solutions for a filing system.

A fast scanner is helpful if you have a large volume of physical documents (receipts, invoices, contracts, etc.). But there will always be some documents that you will need a physical form. Tax forms, legal contracts, industry certifications, passports, and some important/sensitive info should be preserved in physical form. A lawyer would probably be best to tell you what you need to keep physically.

I keep just enough physical folders to hold necessary documents. Everything else gets scanned and tossed into the trash bin.

You don’t need a labeler. It is just recommended to make nice looking folders. You can use a Sharpie marker and a bunch of sticker labels as needed.

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As others have said - GTD is ‘Whatever Works for you’, the downside of this is that it takes a while and a bit of ‘reinventing the wheel’ until you find your own workflows. Allow up to a couple of years. As someone said - “You can’t get organised a day, but you can get more organised daily”

OF is for planning projects, it isn’t for keeping reference materials while projects are ‘live’ or for keeping important reference documents (Wills, etc.) - While you can have attachments, they will slow your system down and consume space on synchronised devices.

For simple ‘Running notes’ on a project - things like ‘2015-08-23 - Chased Fred on overdue report, he promised it for Tuesday’. I use the notes section of the project itself. This saves me having to open a text file, type in the note, save it and exit.

For Reference documents I have two solutions. Evernote and my local computer. They are for fractionally different purposes.

For every project that will need reference material I have a ‘Project Notebook’ in evernote and a ‘Project Folder’ on the Mac HDD. It is possible to set up links to the evernote notebook and put them in the OF Project notes.

The evernote project workbook is used mostly when I am doing research, the evernote web clipper is the fastest way I have found to capture stuff for the project.

The project folder is for any files or documents that people send me or that I create. Inbound files get renamed into a particular format which enables them to be automatically filed by Hazel into the project folder. The naming format is yyyy-mm-dd - ProjectName - description of document.

As an aside, when I create a project document from scratch, particularly things I will have to email to people I save them to the desktop where they are easy to find. 24 hours later Hazel moves them into the project folder (or if there is a typo puts them in my ‘lost and found’ folder. There is a weekly task in OF to get this folder to empty.