Using OF to utilise freetime better

Let’s build a custom perspective in OF today!
Objective: I want to build a Custom Perspective since long to utilise my free time more reflectively rather than reactively. Typical eg is When am in an ER shift on night when there are no patients to attend to

Requirement: I tend to spend a lot of free time in shallows fiddling with emails, random whatsapp chats, logging to various discourse forums all this reactively. Reading a page in book 1 then book 2 etc.
What If I have a go to place where when I am feeling lazy or bored there are interesting things which I can do by choice.

It’s like Instapaper for Leisure time.

Drawing Parallels: Why use a Read-It-Later Service

Q1: A tag based perspective? What tags?
Tasks for my Phone use: (iPhone)

  • Imp things that come to mind to be done on phone
  • like calling someone (casually)
  • wishing someone happy Birthday
  • Mailing something
  • Reading on Instapaper
  • Knock off daily habits on Productive
  • Paying Bills
    Reservations/Bookings for Trips, Movies etc.

Tasks for my Mac Use

  • Scanning some documents
  • Downloading something
  • Create an outline on OmniOutliner
  • Take printouts
  • Continue some Online Course
  • Mindful Reading on Kindle.
  • Creating Notes from Recently read stuff.
  • “Thinking” about some idea that I recently read/ came across.

Broad “Daily Habits” :
• Tick Off Productive. (iPhone)
• Clear “ Youtube Later” (iPhone)
• Clear “Instapaper” (iPhone)

Q2: Possible Tags?

  1. Energy: Low
  2. Kindle
  3. Evening
  4. Get in Touch
  5. Errands
  6. Free Time
  7. Print
  8. Subscriptions
  9. Internet
  10. Leisure
  11. Reading
  12. Watching
  13. Activity
  14. Creative
  15. Learning
  16. Drive
  17. Think

Q4: Sorting?
Group actions by: Changed
Sort actions by: Added

PS: Does vice versa seem a better option?

Q3:Refining it ahead?

  • There are important things and not so important things we do on iphone/Mac. How to segregate? an option is to have sub tags below iPhone as work related or non work related but that seems complicated
  • how to use tags effectively?
  • how to sort it better?
  • keeping it simple

Your thoughts are welcome
PS: Special thanks to @timstringer as he has really put across a worthy forum to help with the learning curve of OF.
Over time I realised learning many things together is a recipe for failure.
Initially it is important to bring in the habit of just start opening the app daily. thats step 1.
taking small steps and making them a part of your life can inly bring about the use case scenarios specific for you in OF.

I would love to hear thoughts if it iterates with you & about how can we refine the perspective further.

Thanks for this @tarunds!

Noting you work in an ER - may I thank you for that too :-)


I’m a big fan of doing a shutdown review at the end of the day. Like you, I also can’t predict when I will be busy or available throughout the day. I do “run away” and leave it to my colleagues to take care of walk-in customers for 60-90 minutes in the day. I sometimes get just 30 minute blocks of free time at any time but am grateful to get 90 minutes.

In the shutdown routine, I select one Big Rock project and 3 Most Important Tasks (MITs) to focus on tomorrow. I write those down in my notebook for tomorrow. When I find myself with free time, I already determined what I wanted to do during my free time. I make my decisions ahead of time so that I don’t waste the first 5 minutes of free time trying to decide what I want to do. Pre-planning my free time work has been a blessing for me. As soon as I finish with walk-in customers, I can quickly start on a Big Rock project or an MIT.

I have a perspective “flow” I try to follow. I work at home so some perspectives mix things from both work and home tasks. These are my main perspectives I use during the day.

  1. Quick Tasks: Things I can do quickly or without friction (mixed home and work)
  2. Communication: Visited once in the morning once in the afternoon, email calls, texts, online purchases etc.
  3. Work: The customer support and general business admin tasks that build up the previous day or have been planned for that day

I aim to finish these by 11am or midday at the latest. I then usually have some down time, a walk (I am very lucky as I live opposite the beach) or run errands. I also a keep a “break” perspective which has my “read watch listen” work related things in. I tend to eat lunch while enjoying these.

  1. Work in Progress, this is an overview of the 4-5 coding and design jobs I am working on sorted by Project. Most of these are set up as sequential with a series of action action tasks which are non sequential which gives me a good view of what I need to be doing. I have a KBMaestro shortcut which after I select the project I want to work on opens a new tab focusses on the project and switches to project view.

I try to work on these Work in Progress tasks 2PM to 4:30PM then check the communications tasks again and do a review of the day and plan the next one. Evenings are mine and my partners, chill out, read RSS feeds and twitter maybe, bing on Netflix go out etc etc. but I try not to work unless I have to.

I am in a reasonably unique position in that my business and clients operate(s) in a different timezone form the one I live in. I am two hours ahead which means most of my admin and support is done before my clients really start for the day which makes me look incredibly efficient which I really am not.

At the weekend I (obviously) do my weekly review, check forums, study apps, update things that need doing at home and digitally.

I think "flow"is the secret such at least for me, forcing myself to work in this structured way has given me the discipline to keep on top of things while letting me make the use of the down time during the work day we all need.

Ur Most Welcome.

Thank you so much for sharing your methods from what I understand you basically define the free time perspective into 3-4 definite things
but with me often defining exact things sometimes leads me again into going astray and doing something which I shouldn’t and so I wanted to have basket like approach where I could pick few things whichever I like and start hitting them off.
It’s a nuanced approach am trying to experiment here.
Will keep this posted further…
Thanks again.

1 Like

Thanks for taking out time to reply and sharing your stuff.
Few Queries:

Q1. So does the perspective flow include: Quick Tasks, Communiation, Work as the tags or am missing string? I mean are these 3 part of 1 perspective?

Q2. How do you Organise & Sort your Break Perpective? Does it get clogged up? Could you share some screenshots?

Could you elaborate on this that how is it helpful?

Would like if you could throw some more light on this as times when you have a lot of definite structure doesn’t it lead to overwhelm?
that is the whole thing behind me starting this thread but you are quite ahead in this journey while I am still amateur still trying different things. Will hopefully catch up and reach where I ought to.

I intentionally limit myself to 3-4 most important tasks because I want to have no doubt about what is most important. I can understand having the basket-like approach but if the basket has too many items, I find too much stress because each one is important. When I empty my current basket of 3-4 items then I can always go back to OmniFocus to choose 3-4 more new tasks.

If you wish, you can try choosing 5-8 tasks for tomorrow’s free time. I would be very surprised if I ever get to finish 5-8 chosen tasks because I get interrupted by others during the day and might encounter a new emergency that suddenly takes away a big portion of my free time.

Making the decisions the day before has helped reduce my stress. If I see too many items in the basket, it just adds more stress.

Three to four items is what I find myself comfortable with. Everyone will have a different limit. You can try choosing 5 tasks for the next week. Then increase it to 6-8 tasks in your basket to see how it fits.

My 3-4 most important tasks can be a mix of 5-15 minute tasks but sometimes can be bigger tasks that takes 30-90 minutes of focused effort.

Try to see where your level of comfort is and see how many tasks you can add to your basket. Tell us what happens. I’m curious to know! :-)


My system “borrows” from @Kourosh 's excellent book Creating Flow with Omnifocus (OK its largely adopted the principles and structure with a few alterations for the difference in businesses and life situations.)

Firstly I think its important to set OF up In folders, pretty much in line with your life responsibilities (called areas of focus in GTD terms) Mine are Work, Home, Tech, Portfolio, Leisure.

Each of these contain a SAL for the odd things that come up during the day/week, "flow lists). they then contain the other projects that fit in these areas.

Q1 The are three separate perspectives, tag based, but some focus on particular folders only.

  1. I have appended a screenshot of my “break” perspective. Pretty simple really grouped by tag, sorted by date added. The tags are self explanatory I hope.

  2. I get an overview of the next “sprint” for each of my code projects. This could be an action group to set up the initial CMS configs on the server, for one, or code individual pages as another example. Breaking these “sprints” down like this only shows me the one I am working on and the tasks in them.

  3. I allocate time during the day to specific perspectives, 8:30-9:15 I review my coming day, deal with emails received and clear reviews and inboxes. 9:30:10:15 I clear “quick tasks” 10:15: 11: Home and Office, 11-11:30 communications I need to make or deal with.

2PM I start on my WIP.

Of course it does not always work exactly like this but knowing I need to at least try to follow a plan seems to work for me. We all get overwhelm, my tends to be with the coding when I end up down rabbit holes, when this happens I just put in the extra hours in the evening, if I must. The trick I guess is to treat yourself as the employee and the boss. The boss in me tells me to get it done, the employee in me tries to get it done so I can go “home”.

Hope that helps, and yes I know the reading tasks are pretty sad! 😳

Oh lastly the reading tasks tend to come in from a Zapier automation pre-formatted with a link in the notes which runs every time I save something to pocket read later service which saves me a lot of time.

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