Revamping My OmniFocus Structure


#1

With the release of OmniFocus 3 for iOS, it’s got me thinking about figuring out what the best way to organize my OmniFocus system might be.

In reflecting, it made me think of a few key things I want to get out of using the task manager. The biggest thing is that I want to of course easily see what tasks I have to complete. More specifically I want to see what tasks I need to complete that are routine tasks as well as other tasks relating to my personal life and work life. In addition, making my life easier for common repeating tasks or utilizing checklists when appropriate to provide some systems to my work too. Also for reference by profession, I am a teacher (applying for jobs now). I intend to use OmniFocus to organize myself not only in my personal life but also my upcoming work life.

My previous folder structure was messy at best. I had the following folders:

    1. Current Projects
  • Routines
    1. Goals
  • Cleaning
    1. Personal
    1. When I Have Time
    1. Reference To Put Somewhere
    1. Side Project
  • Should I Delete?

In looking back this made absolutely terrible sense as my work has changed and wasn’t very organized. For a while, I was goal oriented but I’m not quite sure how to approach this now. I’ve deleted my Goals folder for now but in it had projects for fitness/health, reading, finances, cleaning, etc. I found I was inconsistent in using it. Ideally, if I choose to make goals, I would visit them daily or weekly to ensure I’m making progress. I’ve realized that my Current Projects folder had too much stuff. I’ve changed some things and filed when appropriate to other places.

In simplifying things I have the following now complete with emoji’s as it makes it more fun!

🧑🏻 Personal Projects
🔄 Admin Routines
👩‍💼 Admin Actions
Work
5) Goals (Still have this for now as there are a few goals I wanna work on)
🚧Someday/Maybe

I decided to get rid of my reference folder and filed that stuff in my DevonThink database.

Within the Someday/Maybe folder I have folders titled ✅ Templates and 🔦 Projects.

My questions/thoughts are as follows:

  1. I think I’m going to rename the Admin Routines to just Routines. Makes it easier and otherwise makes me think I’m a system admin as a profession.

  2. I still can’t wrap my head around Admin Actions. I think in part much of my stuff is single action items and I don’t have as many traditional projects. Granted I’m sure I could group some of my single action items into projects or at least segment it into things. I’m a little confused by the separation between what constitutes putting something as a project within the Work or Personal folder vs. single action items within the Admin Actions.

  3. Within the admin routines folder, I have the following:

Personal Folder: Morning Routine, Monthly Tasks, Sunday Routine, Personal Afternoon Routine, Budgeting
Work Folder: Before Leaving School Routine

Can these be changed or condensed down? Is it needed to have my routines for monthly, Sunday, personal afternoon, etc to be separate projects? What do others do?

  1. I was thinking of having under my Someday/Maybe folder to have Single Action Lists that are titled the following: Bedroom Someday/Maybe, Computer/iPad/iPhone Someday Maybe, and Personal Someday/Maybe. I’m wondering if instead this could be accomplished via contexts (soon to be tags).

  2. Does anybody not really use contexts? If you were at first resistant to using them, how do you use them?

Referenced Posts as Inspiration and Ideas:
How Do You Organize Your Task Manager Project Structures by @wilsonng.

Managing My Small Rocks - The Administrative and Routine Tasks Workflow (OmniFocus) also by @wilsonng

and finally, surprise surprise Managing My Big Rocks Special Projects by @wilsonng

Also this one https://discourse.omnigroup.com/t/how-are-you-organizing-1-areas-of-focus-tags-vs-folders-2-someday-maybe-lists-in-of3-ios/38599/15


#2

I’d do the someday/maybe distinction in tags rather than projects.

I also have a template that I use for every new course I teach, which I use to create a new project a few months in advance, starting with the book order, then with appropriate repeats for preparing lectures, slides, uploading slides after class etc. once the term gets started.


#3

Simplify and make it your own!

If it doesn’t make sense to you then you can ignore it. If you need it, OF3 has the ability to let you add it later on.

I originally placed my single one-off tasks into my Admin Actions SAL (Single Actions List) and placed my repeating tasks into the Routines SAL.

During the day/week, I add a lot of single one-off tasks from my wife, kids, colleagues, friends, and customers. IT helped me keep track of those single one-off promises I made with other people throughout the day/week.

I like to see my repeating tasks separated from the single one-off tasks. When I review the Routines SAL, I can see if I missed a maintenance task.

When I previously had my single one-off tasks mixed in with my repeating tasks, I might accidentally delete a repeating task. I hated it when I wondered why my “pay the cellphone bill” never came up. I accidentally deleted it! I might delete some single one-off tasks from time to time. When I kept my repeating tasks separated from the single one-off tasks, I kept my repeating tasks safe from accidental deletion.

If you want to mix the single actions list with your projects and it fits your style, I’d see go ahead and try it!

I noticed that a lot of my single one-off tasks and repeating tasks were maintenance or admin in nature. I complete them because they maintain my life at home, work, or personal. Buying the milk, taking out the trash, filing the weekly reports are all maintenance tasks. They don’t improve my life but they do make my life easier by maintaining it. Taking out the trash doesn’t fulfill a goal but it is an essential task to make sure my house isn’t overflowing with smelly trash. The SAL has no end in sight. There are always tasks that will be added to it. My Office Single Actions will always have new Office tasks added to it. My House Single Actions will always have new House tasks added to it. There is no “completion.”

A project has a defined goal and can be completed. There is an actual end to the project. I kept a separate folder for projects. These were my “Big Rock” projects. I have many of my projects set to on hold status (my Someday/maybe projects or projects that I am not actively working on this week). I have anywhere from one to three projects set to active status. These are the projects I am working on.

I dedicate one hour (or more) a day to work on admin tasks by visiting the Admin custom perspective I explained in the Small Rocks post. There are no Big Rock projects here.

When you read my post about the Big Rocks, I have a Big Rock perspective that shows only active projects. I work from these projects. There are no admin tasks in the Big Rock perspective. I try to spent two hours or more a day to work on any one of these Big Rock projects. I’ll focus on one project and try to finish as much as possible in one day.

Using the Admin perspective and the Big Rock perspective allowed me to keep these two types of work separate. I always wanted to work on the Big Rocks. These are exciting projects. I hated doing Admin work. I realized I needed to balance my time spent in both custom perspectives.

The Admin Actions/Routines are placed in the Admin Folder so that my Admin custom perspective will show available tasks that are in this folder. The custom perspective’s view settings is set to focus on this Admin folder only.

The Big Rocks perspective are focused on all my other folders (Home, Work, Personal, Family, etc.). These are the Big Rock projects I want to work on. No Admin tasks allowed here.

But if you don’t care, you can mix your Admin with Big rocks. Anything to do with your House Area of Responsibility can be mixed with Big Rocks and single actions.

Your routine stuff will never be “completed.” I would set it to a Single Action List. You can’t “complete” a Single Action List. There is always something to do. Use projects only for a group of tasks that have a defined goal or can be completed.

Only you will know if your experiments will work for you. I would try tweaking one of two things at a time. Document why you set it up that way. Then write notes about what you’ve experienced. You’ll understand why you changed something much later if you have a history (or release notes) to show what changed and why you changed a workflow. I had some other thoughts about that recently.

https://productivityguild.com/t/using-the-performance-review-to-improve-your-workflows/3214

Thanks for describing your setup. It provides an example for others to follow and allow others to assist you in your setup.


#4

Blockquote I’d do the someday/maybe distinction in tags rather than projects.

So would I then just file them into the appropriate folder once they have the tag?

I think as my school year progresses, I will gradually make a template or start taking notes about a structure/template. Something certainly to tweak over time. I know university teaching is different then my own teaching (Special Education) though equally the point is made there are repeating tasks that can be put into a template etc.


#5

Thanks so much for the reply @wilsonng! Truly appreciate your insights.

One by one, I think what I’ve learned even with working on my tasks today is that you really have to make it your own. It’s not that you or David Sparks for instance have a gospel that all of us users have to follow. I might take something from your system and tweak it to meet the needs of my own, that’s the beauty of it.

I think for admin actions, I’ll brainstorm whether or not to use it. Otherwise I might just have a single actions list.

I like to see my repeating tasks separated from the single one-off tasks. When I review the Routines SAL, I can see if I missed a maintenance task.

I completely agree on this, really good to see the difference between repeating tasks and single one-off tasks. This as you alluded to is where review is really useful. Not sure if it was you or someone else who talked about reviewing throughout the week instead of a huge review on Sunday. I think I’m going to take that and see where necessary would work best for me.

I noticed that a lot of my single one-off tasks and repeating tasks were maintenance or admin in nature. I complete them because they maintain my life at home, work, or personal.

Good point, I’d imagine if something came up at work that was multiple things then it would constitute becoming a project not belonging in the SAL right?

For your Big Rock perspective, do you assign due dates to your items within the projects or instead flag stuff to see what gets completed?

I’m a little overwhelmed with perspectives, is there a questioning thing I might do to determine if it’s worthwhile to create a perspective?

I think for my routines for instance for my “Sunday Routines” these would instead deserve a tag and go into a SAL with other things. I currently have a running document in Ulysses in which I typed up my initial rough thoughts that I used to write the initial post. It becomes a running document/archive to see what has changed and what is working or not working. I’ll take a look at that performance review post too. Need to figure and sort out a time period for what gets reviewed when.

Thanks for describing your setup. It provides an example for others to follow and allow others to assist you in your setup.

I figured going into detail about my own setup can only help others with my questions.


#6

It’s your workflow now! I take a lot from GTD. But then I added building blocks from Agile Results, Bullet Journal, etc. I’m glad you’re able to take what you need. Don’t worry about features that you aren’t using in OmniFocus.

yes, put it in projects if you feel it belongs there. Trust your instincts. You will know if it’s right or not sooner or later.

I visit my Big Rocks perspective and Admins perspective every day. I don’t need flags to tell me what to work on for Big Rocks. I use due dates if a project or task really needs it.

I flag mostly my single one-off tasks. I might flag a task in a Big Rock if needed. I’m sure you’ll find your own use for flagged. Some people will use flags differently or not at all. That’s more of a personal workflow that you will find yourself.

I spend at least one hour in the morning and at least one hour in the afternoon working in my Admin perspective trying to get maintenance work done.

I also try to spend one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon going to the Big Rocks perspective working on whatever Big Rock (active) project I am focusing on this week.

The rest of the time, my work that is not in OF will keep me busy. Walk-in customers, appointments, surprise emergencies have a way of trying to crowd out my Admin work hour and Big Rock work hour. I’m happy if I get at least one hour a day for Admin work and one hour a day for Big Rock. That’s two hours a day for focused work. If I can get in an extra hour for Big Rock and another hour for Admin work, that’s four hours that I did focused work. That’s half the workday and I’m celebrating.

Create a perspective when you need it. Delete it when you’re done. Some perspectives will always stay with you (Today, Due, Housework, Office work, etc.). Now that it’s summer vacation, I have a Summer 2018 perspective that will be deleted when school starts again in a few months.

I try out one or two new perspectives every once in a while. I don’t throw a lot of new perspectives into OF at one time. It becomes too noisy. Add them them when you want to solve something.

For example, I added my Big Rocks perspective to solve my need to focus on the Active (Big Rock) projects. A few weeks later, I added the Admin perspective to solve the need to also focus my attention on admin/maintenance tasks. You’ll find your yin-yang eventually. I’ve seen some setups with less than 10 perspectives. I’ve seen other setups with 20+ perspectives. Eliminate them when needed. I looked at other people’s perspectives and added a couple slowly. It solved a problem for the other person. I try it out to see if the new custom perspective will solve something in my life. If I haven’t used it in one month or more, I’ll delete. Or I’ll screenshot the custom perspective view settings with comments (what I think it is trying to solve and why I eliminated it). I save the screenshot with notes inside DevonThink or OmniOutliner. I might not find a need for it now but I might use it later.

For example, I like Kourosh Dini’s “Consider” workflow in OmniFocus. But it didn’t really fit me. I am actually writing up a post now about using my own variation with pen and paper instead of using OmniFocus. I’m trying to make it work for me. But it doesn’t feel quite right in OmniFocus. So I’m exploring a different way of doing it that feels comfortable for me.


I also like to group similar perspectives together. Read this:

https://productivityguild.com/t/arranging-my-omnifocus-perspectives-to-create-an-effective-omnifocus-planning-reviewing-workflow/990

I know where to find certain perspectives because similar perspectives are grouped together.


❤️

❤️


#7

I think that’s something I easily forget, been able to make it as my own. I have to remember that even though the Omni group has made wonderful software it’s up to the users to determine how to best use it specific to them.

I deftly now have been very careful about what deserves due date and what doesn’t. I think before I overwhelmed myself unnecessarily about what needed a due date.

I will have to see what works best for me of course and maybe it’s part of my initial morning review of things of things to flag that I must get done that is outside of the absolute due dates.

I’m thinking the same thing as ideally, it would be great to do this at the beginning and end of the workday. I’m also debating whether to separate certain routine maintenance tasks that need to get done in the morning versus afternoon into separate contexts/tags. I would also imagine that that depending on how busy you are for example at work than your personal big rock items might take a backseat to your work Big Rock items. I think that something I myself have to get used to as there’s ups and downs at work and in my personal life in which things take greater priority. Given I’m 24 I don’t quite expect to fully grasp that yet but a good lesson to think about. I’d like to think I’m self-aware of it but not quite in toon with it given I haven’t held a full-time job yet.

I think to have to keep in mind the Omni focus doesn’t have to always rule your day as certain things that will come up that aren’t necessarily in your to-do list. I suppose if I was self-employed this might be different but I do have that thing called work to attend to!

I’m excited to create more perspectives. To be honest I think I was hesitant to do so is a viewed creating more perspectives as spreading myself out to thin within OmniFocus. Instead, I need to think of it more so as a way to easily quarantine what I need to do or can work on one necessary instead of having to mindlessly scroll through a project list wondering what I should do or can do. The “Today” perspective also incorporates deferred items versus the “Due” perspective only encompassing those that have hard due dates correct? I like the idea of a Summer 2018 perspective as well, are you in undergraduate school or grad school?

I think I could have a perspective “on deck” circle of ones that I’m thinking of but haven’t added in yet. Whether that be in DevonThink or OmniFocus but something to think about for me. Your point regarding Kourosh Dini’s “Consider” workflow brings up a great point if he or David Sparks or someone writes up a perspective one doesn’t have to use it, especially if it doesn’t solve a problem that you yourself have.

I will also have to start revamping my sidebar and top part of OmniFocus to better reflect my perspectives and changing needs.

Additionally, a mild annoyance right now is that I have OmniFocus 3 in beta on my iPhone but not on my Mac. I’m not knocking the Omni Group for not putting out the Mac version prematurely but at the same point, it’s mildly annoying not having things similar on the Mac and iPhone app as once was. It’ll happen come September or so and honestly the multiple editing of tasks is my favorite feature by far.

One problem I do want to start thinking about is how I can continue to tweak my routines and admin things both while I’m doing them as well as during the Sunday review to further make sure they are reflecting exactly what I need. I’m also debating whether taking emails out of Spark (my email app of choice) and assigning them to defer or due dates in OmniFocus is the best use instead of snoozing them within the Spark app. I also think I want to start scheduling some time to start plowing through my “To Read” project though they have no due date. Maybe I put those in the Summer 2018 folder or single actions item list.


#8

You will create your own definition of what a Today perspective is. Some have due only tasks. Some users might have deferred and due. Or maybe flagged or due tasks only. Then the new Forecast tag in OF3 might change all that for you.

My Today’s priority number one are anything overdue, due today, and due soon. My flagged tasks is considered the icing on the cake. Nice to get done but not needed. Everything else is either available for flagging or on hold.

My summer 2018 includes tasks and action groups I want to get done when the family isn’t here. If I can’t complete my Summer 2018 perspective, it gets renamed to Christmas 2018. Whatever is left becomes my Spring Break 2019 and then Summer 2019 and so forth. These are periods when I don’t have to worry about the kids and can concentrate on my own personal projects. Taking diving lessons will be an awesome adventure.

No, I finished my undergrad decades ago. Life has detoured me from a master’s. It’s interesting to see where life takes you. But I do deal with some local Uni professors when they have projects available via federal funding.

😆 I’m double that age and there are still many things I don’t grasp. That’s why I’m on the forums. To pick up some tidbits to get my @$$ in gear and bringing home the bacon to the wife and kids. Using OF3 keeps me sane. I remember all of my commitments, promises, and goals in OF3.

I have some difficulty using OF3 on the iPhone. It’s mostly used for checking off task and reviewing projects. To do some serious OF3 work, I need to use OF3 on my iPad. I’m looking forward to September when the Mac version comes out. If you don’t have an iPad for OF3, I can understand the pain. The iPhone is still too small for me for really intensive use unless I really force myself to adapt.

I don’t do this every day or week. I’ll do it when I have downtime such as Summer vacation, Spring Break, or Christmas vacation. I also start an experiment by documenting the new workflows/perspectives I pick up from the forums and blogs.

I see something from someone else’s blog and try it out for a few months. I have an “experiments” journal where I write down the date and purpose for the perspective. I keep the original URL and maybe copy the text of the original blog post. I’ll screen shot the perspective settings for documentation purposes. Then I create an Omnifocus task in 4 months to remind me about reviewing this one perspective I’m experimenting with.

I’ll see if it fits in my life. If I can use it once a week, once a month, or once a quarter. I’ll consider keeping it. If I skip it often then I consider it a candidate for dismissal. I haven’t found a place for it in my life.

I go back to the experiments journal and I’ll screenshot the perspective settings (if I changed it since the first time). Then I enter in the reason why I dismissed it. Maybe I just can’t wrap my brain around it. It works for the other person but I work/think in a different way. I’ve tried the ABC method. Didn’t work. I tried the Eisenhower matrix and I found a way to kind of get it to work in OF3.

If I decide to keep the new perspective, I’ll record it as accepted and today’s date.

The perspective has to serve a purpose in your life. It might serve a purpose in someone else’s life but it might not serve yours.

My July experiment is to try out automation with Workflow and Drafts like what @rosemaryjayne demonstrated in her recent Learn OmniFocus video. I didn’t really need to automate projects a year ago. But now I’m starting to enter into a phase at work where creating templates will be useful to me.

I have declined Kourosh Dini’s Consider workflow for now. But I have it logged in my experiments journal as “Not right now but to be considered one year from today.” I may not be at a time to accept it right now but I’ll think about it after some time has passed.

See what others have cooked up and determine whether it solves a problem. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. It’s not your problem. You can always revisit it if your life situation changes and you might need that workflow/perspective. Graduating from school and entering the real world will definitely bring new opportunities to revisit your workflow. Getting married and/or having kids will definitely light a fire under your butt and you’ll definitely be looking for new workflows/perspectives.


#9

I like this, especially given I’m a teacher my time often is dictated by school breaks when it comes to personal projects.

I need to download OmniFocus 3 for my iPad as I still have 2 on it.

As I said in another forum (cough cough MPU), I have a running document about my light observations with my OmniFocus workflow. I think right now I’m in a sweet-spot. I decided to create two tags in OmniFocus 3. One is 1) Do Now and the other is 2) Can Do. These determine what tasks I need to do vs what tasks I can do. I then have a routines perspective as well and I made due dates to order these by due date. I’ll evaluate as I go but it seems to be working well so far as I’m getting the little tasks (routines) out of the way which makes room for the more important tasks. I’ve honestly stopped using flags much as there’s no way to prioritize flagged items before other due items in OmniFocus’s custom perspectives.

I think I’ll put in a reminder or something about reevaluating my OmniFocus usage during school breaks and summer. Maybe I’ll start compiling my ideas or perspectives I find and throw it into a folder or bin in DevonThink. Where is your “experiments journal” located? I’d imagine it’s digital, not physical correct?

I too am intrigued by @rosemaryjayne’s usage of automation within Workflow and Drafts. Personally, I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of those apps though I’d imagine her new podcast with David Sparks will help both bring me up to speed and poke my interest in adapting things as needed.

I think here you brought something up that I needed to be reminded of. One is that often times I found that I downloaded these apps and services without determining what problem they solved in part because they were cool. Right now, for instance, I’m looking into how I can start using Alfred and DevonThink to my benefit. I suppose baby steps as you’ve written about before your routines and systems didn’t develop overnight. I think for this reason reflection especially in regards to workflows and productivity is more important than we sometimes acknowledge. Often in this day and age, we forget to stop and think about why we are doing something or what’s necessary to accomplish a wanted goal. My biggest goal over the past couple of months was to both revamp OmniFocus as well as reduce the projects I have. I’ve been successful in that. Now as my needs change in the short and long term then my usages of both OmniFocus and other apps will change too.


#10

I have a DevonThink database that is full of articles, links, videos about OmniFocus and other workflow ideas. I have a folder that’s called “This Month’s experiments”. It’s usually one to two things in there. July has Workflow and Drafts articles to explore. This month, I’m curious about creating templates. I never needed this before but it looks like I’ll need it now.

I can read and explore the articles. If I master it, I move it into another folder called “Bedrock Workflows”. This holds what I think are the SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) for me.

If I don’t like it, I can put it into the “Evaluated” folder. I put a note about why I didn’t want this (at least right now). I might save it for the future to revisit but I’m pretty much done with it. I don’t think I’ve really looked back inside this folder in a while. I’ve tried it, read it, and I’m done with it.

The last folder is the Backlog folder. I have it grouped by type of workflow. There are subfolders for Calendar, OmniFocus, Things, Energy, Health, etc. I’ve gotten lazy and haven’t really tagged anything yet. I trust DevonThink’s smart search to link related articles together. My folders structure is organized enough that I haven’t needed tags to organize. When I’m done with this month’s experiments, I’ll look in here and see if there are any new articles to read and try to implement.

I don’t try to tackle too many at one time. There are just too many things to try to adopt at once. There are even some articles I’m not yet ready for. I know that OF3 has a Forecast tag but I haven’t found a use for it. There’s a note that says “look at Forecast tags” in DevonThink. But I usually will skip this one. Maybe I’ll find a use for it in the future and will finally evaluate it. But I’m not in a rush because it doesn’t solve a problem for me today.


I do this DevonThink experiments because I’m at the Productivity Guild thinking about this kinda stuff.

Your experiments might need to have a focus? What issues are you interested in? Currently, I have OF3, Energy, Health, Positive Thinking, Relationships, Food. Trying to work in different areas can get stressful if I have too many experiments going on. I’ll choose two or three to focus on.

There are also many articles in my backlog, I’ll try to quickly scan through these and start deleting like crazy. Sometimes doing a quick read will tell you if you want something from it. You might want to save it and keep it in backlog or just delete it now.

I see a lot of OF3 threads here. If I see a reply that perks my interest, I’ll send a link and copy of the text to DevonThink if I want to explore it further.

Good luck.


#11

Are these things that you use on a regular basis? I like this idea simply because I know some of the things I do on a regular basis but don’t have it held anywhere. Usually strewn about in a few places if any otherwise just solely in my head.

I like your thing about the “evaluated folder”. Kinda like an archived folder of sorts.

This Backlog folder is interesting to me. Is the Backlog folder where things go you want to continue working on and have articles and things stored (such as OmniFocus perspectives you come across) that you think about implementing? I too haven’t tagged much though I also find myself wanting to tag stuff when it’s in the inbox, not once I file it into a folder group in DevonThink.

What’s the difference between your “Experiments” folder and “Backlog”? Is the backlog stuff you just haven’t gotten to try and experiments a on deck circle or things your currently trying. I find myself very easily trying to do or implement too many things at once. I am once again reminded that for instance I don’t need to become a Mac Power User for example overnight. Also the idea of baby steps and not biting off more then I can chew too quick.

Currently I imported my Evernote stuff into my Personal database and I need to sort that out. A good project for the weekend or rest of the month gradually.

Right now I have two databases, one called Teaching and another called Personal. Are your experiments in a separate database? A bit off topic from originally but curious. I think I’ll also look on the DevonThink forums to see what databases people have as well. I have another database that I created on my phone called Apps and Workflows. I think this is where I might keep stuff that I’m either working to implement, implemented, etc. I think part of my struggle or slight dilemma is in my logic in which I clip a article about running for example and want to put that into a Personal or Research database. It would either be something interesting I found about running or something I want to try. Maybe I’m struggling with differentiating between the two.

I do like your idea of focusing on a couple of experiments at a time so as to not get overwhelmed. I love the idea of the backlog and I think I’ll start throwing in my articles I want to read into their and others. Maybe I’ll link up my RSS feeds to DevonThink as well. Email is something else I might want to throw in a database.

Honestly not sure if that was just rambling and coherent enough. Simply put I’d like to compartmentalize stuff so it’s easy to find when for example i want to get more into Drafts or improve on my usage of OmniFocus 3. I also can probably set a reminder to review or pick some area of focus when I have time.


#12

Yes, these are the official ones I have adopted. In the beginning, I’ll print it out and refer to it if I’m doing a review, or planning a project.

It’s dangerous to have pieces strewn in different places. Create a binder or text document that you call “Getting Things Done with Jonathan Davis.” This will be your manual. Even I forget why I’m doing something or I might be skipping a step.

It is a folder in DevonThink containing various articles I’ve clipped. It might be a PDF or a Rich Text document. When I have time, I’ll sort through and quickly delete a few things. It might be a duplicate of another workflow. Bloggers sometimes will take another blog post and re-word it with a different perspective. It’s like going to the doctor…

“Hey Doc, just tell me in plain English what do I have? I don’t want 6 syllable Latin words that only a pre-med student knows. Just tell me in plain English. Thanks.”

I might have put in a clipping to read something quickly for review. Then I’ll just erase it or archive it to the “Evaluated” folder.

My “Backlogs” is my Someday/Maybe. It has stuff to read and stuff to see if I want to implement it. If I don’t want to implement it, move it to the Evaluated folder. If I’m thinking of trying something this week, it goes to my Experiment folder. This is the “On Deck” and ready to play with.

Before July, I didn’t the time to tackle the Wprkflow app and Drafts 5. It was in my Backlog. Now that I cleared out last month’s experiment, I’ll move on to automation. this is my experiment to work on in July. There might be a month where I have no experiments going on. November and December are months where I’m just too busy with the Holiday Retail season to deal with experiments. I imagine August/September would be a time to stop the experiments because we might be ramping up for the new school year. Our attention is focused elsewhere.

That’s right! Baby steps! Tackling too many will get you overloaded and frustrated. The Zen-To-Done system emphasizes slowly implementing one or two habits at a time. Otherwise, it’s too difficult. Imagine trying to do a full semester of advanced math in one month. Ain’t gonna happen.

As much as we want the magic pill, habits take time to implement. Our entire productivity system is just a series of habits. Brushing your teeth, flossing, cleaning the kitchen, scrubbing the toilets, paying the bills, etc. are all routines that we need to finish. We just use OmniFocus to help us remember what to do next.

Maybe 60% of my OmniFocus database is built of a bunch of recurring items. The rest are projects or the one-off tasks that I need to remember doing. Your ratio will probably differ.


#13

I like this, I’ll gradually create this, maybe tweaking the names as I see fit.

That’s a great idea, kinda like a personal wiki of sorts. Now to see whether to do a physical binder or something digital.

Now I see what your getting at, makes sense now!

Cool! Thanks for that explanation.

Being able to acknowledge that is key. Similar to how not every day will I be able to tackle Big Projects in OF.

Reminds me to ensure I can easily differentiate between the two in my own OF system. That said it’s been working better so far. Granted I start a one week class next week, that’ll be the real test.


#14

Ok so here’s an update of sorts. Nothing really substantial but still.

One of the things that I’ve noticed is that I often get overwhelmed when I have too many tasks. I’d imagine this is exceedingly common dependent on the person. I think others can handle having a lot of tasks and plowing through them but given my executive function difficulties and ADHD, I need things broken down and simplified as much as possible. The overwhelm is real and I’ve acknowledged that and have taken steps to reduce this.

One of the biggest things that I’ve done is to utilize tasks that are due versus that are just deferred. I think I often times got really overwhelmed with tons of tasks when really I realized that it didn’t necessarily need a hard due date and that they could just be deferred as if I were to get to them that would be great. I should review our previous conversations in this thread surrounding deferred vs due tasks though I think this might be a way to go. One thing to consider though is I don’t want things to really fall through the cracks terribly and I want to make sure I still get a decent amount of my maintenance tasks done dependent on the day. I like the idea of having my routines tasks but I think sometimes I don’t really put hard limits on how long this will take and then further procrastinate on them versus say “let me take this amount of time to get some of this crap done and see were I get”. Often times the trigger for me to get certain housekeeping tasks done is by listening to music or podcasts. I need to start getting back into this. I’ve also started using flags for things that absolutely need to get done which has helped me with the overwhelm but I’m not sure if this will stick long-term.

As you’ve said many times before, we have to figure out the system for us. I think more so I need to make sure to hide some of the projects that are on hold so that I don’t get as overwhelmed when looking through my OmniFocus projects list and maybe set aside a time once a month or so to look at those projects that are on hold to see if there’s anything I need to get started on. This is something that could be done during a bi-monthly review.

The school year is starting around the corner and I intend to put several of my big rock type projects on momentary hold despite my wishful thinking. I’m still applying for jobs currently but I’m looking for being a aid for special education students as that’s the field that I want to go into and I’m soon to be certified but in the meantime would like to be working with the students before jumping into my own classroom. Sometimes I think that I just want to get everything on my task list done and sometimes that isn’t necessarily the goal and I need to be easier on myself to realize what’s “good enough” to get done versus “I’ve had a perfect day and I’ve gotten everything possible done”. Maybe setting some of those things is nonnegotiable’s to get done to make everyone happy per se given I still live with my parents! Maybe things like chores should take priority instead while I’m home during the day so that I’m keeping them happy and then later on once am done with the chores I can get my own stuff. Like many I sometimes prioritize my own things before those things but I gotta make sure that this household goes round and round without any major disasters.


#15

You’re not the only one struggling so you’re in good company.

I’ve used a pomodoro just to make sure I get in a minimum amount of maintenance work done every day. There will always be maintenance tasks piling up every day. Chipping away at it seems frustrating at first but I do get amazed at how much I did and finally get back up to speed. Sometimes I can get ahead of maintenance tasks and already have things prepared for the next upcoming maintenance task. Chipping away one task at a time is the key.

💯

Most of my dream projects are on hold. I do set two to three Big Rock projects to active to work on. I already have enough work from maintenance tasks and the single one-off actions that Life wants to throw at me. I think two or three is the limit of my personal threshold. There are particular times when I can have only one Big Rock. That usually occurs during the Holiday Shopping Season for me. I’ll be swamped with retail shoppers and the Holiday events that happen. Shipments, order-taking, customer service, and other duties are thrust upon me and my personal Big Rocks will have to wait until after Christmas. Other folks might be able to juggle four or five at a time. You’ll find your balance.

There’s a mantra I’ve heard. It’s not the amount of tasks completed this week. It’s more about the type of tasks completed to move your Big Rocks forward. Get a nice mix of maintenance tasks to maintain your quality of life as well as a few tasks that will help you complete a Big Rock/Goal.

It’s a juggling act, for sure! I’ve found that it doesn’t hurt to ask for help. If you can delegate, that makes life easier. I’m grateful to have people I trust who can help lift my burden. I return the kindness by making sure I am available to carry someone else’s burden when I sense they are in need. It’s karma! It took me a while to figure out the delegating part. I didn’t want to bother anyone. But the close people in my life have seen me sweat the bullets and will be there to pitch in when necessary. In return, I won’t hesitate and roll up my sleeves when my friends needs some assistance.

But of course, deleting a project that no longer carries any value for us is also helpful. What sounds like a great idea last year (or even last week) may have deteriorated in value this week. Either put it on hold or just delete it. How much bang-for-the-buck do you get from completing certain projects?

Thanks for posting your story. Everybody has a story and it helps to know that we’re all in the same boat. That’s pretty much the reason why I’m using OmniFocus. I’ve got a lot of Big Rocs to carry. Good luck!


#16

Chipping away is key. I am also going to get back into Pomodoro as I can concentrate for 25 minutes but saying “do this thing for 2 hours” isn’t going to work with me.

I’d like to but delegation at least right now won’t work for being at home. The expectation is that I have all day to clean as I’m not really “working”. That said I have a side gig and other stuff I’m working on.

Can’t imagine my life without GTD or OmniFocus.

I’ve also determined that at the start of the week to work on my contexts of 1) Must Do and 2) Can Do for priority. Then I’ll be all set for the week. Maybe I’ll even move some deferred tasks to 2) Can Do instead. Not sure yet on that.


#17

On a simpler note I’m working with my tasks via Drafts, as checkmarks and adding stuff as needed, deleting when complete. Works for right now and easier to see (simple).

Here’s an example:

I’m sure I’ll go back to Omnifocus though I like this system at the moment as well. Maybe I’ll change my Due Soon to a week to just work in the Due Soon perspective.


#18

Back using Omnifocus now. Changed Due Soon to a week which has helped. Not as stressed about getting everything done each day. Weekends for catching up.


#19

I prefer one week myself. Then I try to get ahead of my due dates and try to finish it with st least a one or two day buffer. I actually set my due dates at least 1-2 days ahead of the real due date to get it done early. I get OCD when I see a lot of red overdue tasks.


#20

Oh I’ll have to think about doing that. I remember Cal Newport has on his Study Hacks site to do that to stay ahead of stuff and appear always on top of things.