Seeing the Big Picture in OF

Agreed. Mindnode is easy to use and could be a starting point for working with mindmaps as a complement to Omnifocus, especially as there is a trial version. Ithoughts does also have a trial version and is also easy to use. The Novamind development is, well, a roller coaster experience. Great features, great plans, and extreme delays in the development. Still no IOS version. And now, if I understand correctly, some kind of ongoing reconstruction of the company.

For me it was also a bit difficult to see the big picture (folder and project level) in OF. The reason for this is that I have a lot of paused projects and the folder view for projects is just a limited help in OF.

Within a single folder you can set the priority of the projects by rearranging the projects. But when there are several folders and subfolders filled with projects another strategy is necessary.

I have found a very useful script from Jan-Yves Ruzicka named Omniboard. It extracts all projects from the OF database and displays it in a Kanban board. You can find the script here:

The Kanban board can be configured by yourself according to your needs. I have made 5 columns where I can see my “backburner”, “pending”, “next”, “active” and “completed” projects.
Each week in my weekly review I look at the Kanban board and choose 3-5 projects for my active column. I do this by changing the project note from e.g. “#pending” to “#active” and pausing or activating the relevant projects. The project note is automatically read by my script configuration and then displayed in the correct position.
All projects which are paused are dimmed within the Kanban board e.g. when one project is hanging because of another project or external input (waiting for).
Additionally each project can be marked with a red flag to show me which are the most important projects to focus on. I use the keyword “#important” for this within the project note.
A more detailed guide for the configuration can be found here:

This gives me a very clear insight to all my projects and a very good overview what I have to do now and also which projects are in the pipeline for further actions. It makes my workflow and weekly review a lot of smoother and less clumsy.

FWIW, I go the other way (Kanban -> OF) using Curio …


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Thank you for your hint. I have also tried Curio but it is lacking the thing that I like most in OF - the very easy collection of new tasks/information on my iOS devices (and the possibility to easily assign a context to each piece of information).
When I find an interesting article, or a useful quote or anything else related to one of my backburner projects, I can send a link of a website, e-mail etc. to the OF-inbox with just 3 taps. I usually enter this information on my mobile device since a lot of good things come to my mind in my leisure time. The next time I come to my desktop I review my inbox and assign all articles the context “Reference” and move it to the corresponding projects. Within a single project I can rearrange all tasks and group them the same way as on a mind map. This really works great for me.

Until now I haven’t found a more convenient or easy way to collect information and integrate it in my workflow (on desktop and mobile devices) and I have tried a lot of different apps (evernote, curio, microsoft one note, etc.).

Keeping things purely within OF I do like the concept of “meta tasks” and “considered”. For example I have a first thing list, and a meta task to check that list. The same for communications list, afternoon list etc. These are repeating every day, but only the meta task to check “first thing” appears in my daily dashboard.

With 'considered" I have a context @considererd with repeating tasks, for example ‘consider writing blog’ that repeats every few days, but I do not have to write a blog post just consider doing it.

This takes the pressure of, my daily list has focus, each “meta task” has a link to the custom perspective it relates to so I just drill down to where I need to be at any one time.

Reading lists go into Instapaper with a reminder daily to consider checking Instapaper, clogging OF with links to saved articles seems crazy and will without doubt lead to feeling overwhelmed.

I really try to keep personal stuff out of OF, reminders is fine for simple shopping stuff.

Reading this I am amazed at how full some people’s life seems, I really do not have enough going on personally to warrant OF, maybe I am just boring? For me OF is a hub to do things elsewhere, open Instapaper, write, code, do admin, etc etc. It is not a database of your life. For me, “keep it lean keep me keen”

It surely depends on the individuals’ needs. There are several ways to save project-specific information and it depends on the quantity of information. When you do a research, for sure, OF is the wrong tool. But when you find 2 key findings related to a specific project which is paused at the moment, what disadvantages would it have to save this 2 pieces of information within this project? (Beyond this, the context “Reference” can be paused to hide such information/links if you really feel overwhelmed.)

However, even when you have a mind map, an Omni Outliner or a Word document, instapaper, evernote or anything else where you additionally collect project information, you always have two source which you manually have to sync when you change your folder structure or change the project names, split projects etc.
Also when you look at the tasks of one project within OF you additionally have to check another source (which includes search and open another document) to find, e.g. 2 further pieces of information regarding this project. So, OF is also used as a hub to read some information elsewhere.

Anyhow, my first post above was about organizing projects and find out which projects to do next. This means the problem with OF for me was not on the task level but rather on the project or folder level. Mind maps would be an alternative to collect tasks/projects which haven’t begun yet. But they have the big disadvantage of not being able to easily collect and add additional tasks/information in the same smooth way as in OF.

If you know a better way, please let me know.

I agree. However, OF is lacking in the ability to keep track of the big picture, the theme of this thread. You suggest an approach to build a big picture from OF using the Kanban script Omniboard. I suggest the approach to build the big picture in Curio (with Kanbans and mind maps), then flesh out the details of tasks in OF.

As for the task collection via iOS … I just use OF itself. It also seems that folks who are using Curio are finding clever ways to send stuff to it from iOS apps. This is an approach I have yet to explore fully.

In any case, different strokes for different folks I guess.


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Nothing can tell you which projects to do next that is the result of experience circumstances and preference. All OF can do is present it in a way that works for you, but garbage in, garbage out applies as it does to all programming, and this is no more than “programming” tasks and projects.

In actual fact you know what to do next, you entered into OF in the first place, put it in “right” things go well, put it in wrong, and your personal setup will fail. OF like all software is inherently dumb, it relies on the user being clever.

I really do not understand the context of “reference” in what is after all a task manager. Reference material should be held externally, devon think, eagle filer, evernote, nvALT whatever. Not IMO in OF. Also one disadvantage is when you close that project the reference material is much harder to locate again than if it was in an external system designed to hold information.

Do I know a better way, yes for me anyway, for others who knows, that’s the point of a forum surely?

I have overthought my whole process and completely agree. Disadvantages are also in terms of reviewing references over and over or projects which just hold ideas (references). So, I’m currently outsourcing those notes to eagle filer.

However, there are still two big question for me regarding my workflow and how to use the planning and reference tools best.

Firstly, I really like mind maps and I think this is a good way to plan my projects. After finishing the planning process I copy the whole project including all tasks to OF.
My workflow would be like this:
Mind map (planning projects and tasks) -> OF (selection and completion of tasks of different projects, and planning priorities of tasks/projects) -> Kanban (overview of all projects in OF and seeing/planning priorities of projects for current week).
Did I miss or forget anything important?

Secondly, I also like eagle filer which is a great program. However, for me it is a bit unclear if I also should put files such as written overviews (2-4 pages, Word, pages) into eagle filer. Small notes are really fine to put in there, but how do you decide if you put self made Text/Word/Pages documents in there? Do you have any recommendations when its a good time to use the Finder folder structure or a reference tool?


Personally i think everything can go in eaglefiler, thats the beauty of these bucket systems… they hold virtually any file type. The problem is more how to structure all the data that can accumulate.

I have created an @inbox in each archive and stick everything in there and have a repeating OF daily task to file and tag or cull as needed.

Eaglefiler really is just a finder structure with a few added niceties. You can actually navigate an archive with finder if you really wanted to. I have each archive assigned to a launchbar shortcut so opening an individual archive takes seconds. I also have the two main archives I use daily on iCloud inside Goodreader so I can access easily on iOS.

Don’t really feel qualified to comment on the other workflow, I store some template projects in OF which I can set up with a script, I mind map occasionally but never use Kanban, I just go through all my projects probably every other day in a cafe on my iPad. Getting out of the main work environment tends to give me focus and time to think a bit, so don’t really do a weekly review as I am on top of at least what I should be doing even if I am not actually doing it :)

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