Suggestions And Help For a New VP


#1

Hello Everyone,

I love OmniFocus and have used it for years to keep my personal and professional life together. Recently I received a hefty promotion and have gone from managing myself and my work to a Vice President position in the company leading a team of about 20. Things are going great and I am working with great people. I’ve learned that information management if a very big part of this new job. When I have a conversation with someone on my team or someone else in the company I walk away with a ton of information and countless “Need to” things.

Does anyone have any suggestions for organizing things in OmniFocus using tags/folders/and projects? As an example, if I have a series of meetings I might walk away with things like:

-Need to get with J about E’s 401k issue
-Need to ask A about the status of Project X
-Need to ask A about the status of Project Y
-Need to investigate the history of Project Z
-Need to get with L to ask about the files for Project Q

Would you suggest tags for each person I interact with so that all of the “Need to get with A about…” items can easily be found together? Maybe a single action list called “Questions for A.” We have about 75 “projects” going on in my department right now, so I’m thinking maybe a folder for each project containing a single action list within it as the main, overarching place to put stuff with other projects in the folder acting as “subprojects” for the overarching. Then all of my “Get w/A” type things can go on the single action lists for each one of my department projects and get tagged with “Questions For A” tags.

Sorry for the long message. Just doing a bit of thinking. Any thoughts and help will be appreciated.


#2

Congratulations on your new position. I agree that information & task management is critical in a senior management role; it may even be more than 50% of your success! Some suggestions:

Most of your OF project hierarchy should represent well-defined outcomes. If a given one of your 75 departmental projects is simple (with respect to your personal work), it could be represented by a single OF project, or you can break it down into multiple OF projects representing milestones or independent outcomes. In addition you will have OF projects/folders for permanent topics like team administration.

Add as much folder and project hierarchy as needed (but no more), and don’t rely too much on action groups: those should be limited to representing how tasks need to get executed with sequential and parallel groups. In perspectives which return a set of individual actions from across your database, you will see: project name + action name + tags, so you should make sure that those three pieces of information sufficiently describe the action for you to know what it is without having to see it in the context of the project.

Like you said, create tags for each person and team you interact with, and organise them into a tag hierarchy which follows your company organisation. This makes it useful to view tasks associated with just ‘person A’ or ‘B’, or with the whole Marketing department in which A and B work.

Create an ‘Agenda’ tag to mark items that you need to discuss with a person. Create a ‘Waiting’ tag (with the ‘on hold’ status) for events that need to happen or deliverables you will receive.

When you have a task involving a person or team, you can add their tag and additional context-type tags, and put it into the project for the outcome it contributes to or whatever topic is most appropriate. Therefore you won’t necessarily create single-action lists for every single departmental project since the tags provide additional structure. In other words, don’t create excessive structure in the project-action hierarchy (which will be used for outcomes and execution constraints) and use the power of multiple tags (for contexts and people).

So, from your examples, you might have these actions:

  • Discuss E’s 401k issue [J] [Agenda] — in ‘My Team Admin’
  • Ask about status [A] [Agenda] — in ‘Project X’
  • Ask about status [A] [Agenda] — in ‘Project Y / Milestone 3 / Resolve unintended explosions’
  • Receive the files [L] [Waiting] — in ‘Project Q’

Create an ‘Agenda & Waiting’ perspective which filters remaining actions on those two tags. When you view it, you can filter on a particular person or team (selecting [A] will return the two actions for her above, even though they are in different projects).

I was delighted when multiple tags were introduced in OF3 because I could adopt the above conventions with minimal friction, which wasn’t possible before. I will look at perspectives that filter on a person or team when I prepare to interact with them, and as part of my regular OF reviews.


#3

Personally I see people as tags, they can be involved in multiple projects, and that means a SAL likely won’t cut it. I’d definitely make a folder for each official project, and break things down into projects within those if the projects are large - if they’re smaller you can use one project per project of course, but if you need to review elements of each project separately then separate projects in one folder means each one will be in the review area for you every week (or at the interval you set it to!).