The Omni Group
These forums are now read-only. Please visit our new forums to participate in discussion. A new account will be required to post in the new forums. For more info on the switch, see this post. Thank you!

Go Back   The Omni Group Forums > OmniFocus > Applying OmniFocus
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

 
Tips for working with somewhat vague "Goals"? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
After a brief hiatus from GTD and Omnifocus, I'm trying to get back into the swing of things. I enjoyed using the system at first but there were some areas that were working directly against me in terms of generating anxiety.

I found the system and software to be extremely useful with the more concrete elements of my day to day life, stuff that had immediate actionable tasks I could carry out or even put off until a certain date. However, I wasn't as good at handling some of the more high-level, vague goal type projects or tasks that I had come up with in my brain dump. I found that I had a lot of high level goals that I wanted to accomplish, things like becoming a better Game Designer , Learning the Guitar, Reading more books, Becoming a better Photographer, etc, but somewhat unsure how to handle grouping these projects or even if these were the best way to group the projects themselves. Furthermore, when I'd look at my projects list I'd see this giant pile of things that I wanted to do but weren't really getting done...and anxiety would ensue, eventually turning into something that made made just want to stop checking in on the system itself.

So I guess I'm curious how some of you have handled grouping your bigger projects into things you can actually work with and how you mentally combat anxiety and negative thoughts associated with seeing a giant list of stuff that isn't getting done.
 
Sounds familiar to me. Some lessons I apply can be phrased briefly as ...

* break elephants in to small pieces to eat (this idea was stated far better by someone else somewhere on the forums ... thank you!!)
* handle a review the big picture as diligently as doing the daily tasks
* when a sense of anxiety sets in, break the loop by stopping what is at hand, finishing some other remedial task, then rebooting the machine
* not everything is a fire, and not every fire demands an emergency call to 911
* pressures from outside are out of your control, the response you have to them is where you set your safety valve
* if something does not get done when you thought it should, that may just mean that you should have deferred it or put it on hold in the first place

Some words of encouragement and specific ideas ...

I've recently taken a dedicated period of time to "reboot the machine" with a focused review of my Kanban + OF (+ Curio) GTD methods. I have now a greater sense of oversight (seeing the big picture) with a result in a decreased sense of being overwhelmed. It is worth the effort!

I absolutely only set due dates for when something must be done according to someone else's time schedule. I always set "defer" (or start) dates on something that I cannot do or do not want to do until that later time. I have a lot more projects on hold than I every had in the past. This has cleared out a lot of otherwise distracting tasks from my action lists.

If a task is equal to a fire that does or might require the equal to a 911 call, that task must have a Due Date not a flag. I flag tasks as ticklers, not as "this task must be done as URGENT and IMPORTANT". This changed has helped lower my stress when I review my (sometimes long) list of flagged tasks.

I use one-line tasks that say the equivalent of "start this next action group" in a sequential project just before an action group that contains a bunch of tasks. This collapses the many tasks as one until I am really ready to start them. My action lists are far shorter, resulting in less sense of being overwhelmed.

I try best to work through Due (Forecast) to Active (Flagged) or Waiting For (custom perspective) to Next (a custom perspective) tasks in that order when doing my work.

Hope this helps.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrJJWMac View Post
Sounds familiar to me. Some lessons I apply can be phrased briefly as ...

* break elephants in to small pieces to eat (this idea was stated far better by someone else somewhere on the forums ... thank you!!)
* handle a review the big picture as diligently as doing the daily tasks
* when a sense of anxiety sets in, break the loop by stopping what is at hand, finishing some other remedial task, then rebooting the machine
* not everything is a fire, and not every fire demands an emergency call to 911
* pressures from outside are out of your control, the response you have to them is where you set your safety valve
* if something does not get done when you thought it should, that may just mean that you should have deferred it or put it on hold in the first place

Some words of encouragement and specific ideas ...

I've recently taken a dedicated period of time to "reboot the machine" with a focused review of my Kanban + OF (+ Curio) GTD methods. I have now a greater sense of oversight (seeing the big picture) with a result in a decreased sense of being overwhelmed. It is worth the effort!

I absolutely only set due dates for when something must be done according to someone else's time schedule. I always set "defer" (or start) dates on something that I cannot do or do not want to do until that later time. I have a lot more projects on hold than I every had in the past. This has cleared out a lot of otherwise distracting tasks from my action lists.

If a task is equal to a fire that does or might require the equal to a 911 call, that task must have a Due Date not a flag. I flag tasks as ticklers, not as "this task must be done as URGENT and IMPORTANT". This changed has helped lower my stress when I review my (sometimes long) list of flagged tasks.

I use one-line tasks that say the equivalent of "start this next action group" in a sequential project just before an action group that contains a bunch of tasks. This collapses the many tasks as one until I am really ready to start them. My action lists are far shorter, resulting in less sense of being overwhelmed.

I try best to work through Due (Forecast) to Active (Flagged) or Waiting For (custom perspective) to Next (a custom perspective) tasks in that order when doing my work.

Hope this helps.
Thanks DrJJWMac, I think there are some very helpful bits here regarding the approach of breaking things down into smaller tasks. I guess that's really the part I'm struggling with when it comes to my organization. I have a giant list of things i'd "LIKE" to do but unsure of the best way to break them down and track them in the OF system and also, determining which I should be focusing on at any given time. I'd love to hear some examples for how any of you might incorporate and manage some of your goals in OF. I'm also curious how many of you use OF to track things that are more Hobbyist stuff versus more work or enrichment stuff. For example I have a list of games I'd like to play in my freetime. Part of me wonders if I'm maybe overdoing it by putting this list into OF or if I should just sort of leave it out and whenever I have free time that I'd like to use to sit down and do something for fun, just do whatever I want.

I also take a similar approach to Due Dates, leaving them out unless they are things that absolutely must be done by a certain time (paying bills for example). I don't really utilize the flag system at all really...not sure if there's a proper or interesting way to incorporate this into my system or not.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jables View Post
Thanks DrJJWMac, I think there are some very helpful bits here regarding the approach of breaking things down into smaller tasks. I guess that's really the part I'm struggling with when it comes to my organization. I have a giant list of things i'd "LIKE" to do but unsure of the best way to break them down and track them in the OF system and also, determining which I should be focusing on at any given time. I'd love to hear some examples for how any of you might incorporate and manage some of your goals in OF. I'm also curious how many of you use OF to track things that are more Hobbyist stuff versus more work or enrichment stuff. For example I have a list of games I'd like to play in my freetime. Part of me wonders if I'm maybe overdoing it by putting this list into OF or if I should just sort of leave it out and whenever I have free time that I'd like to use to sit down and do something for fun, just do whatever I want.
Different people are successful with different approaches to this, but I do track hobbyist things. For organization, I have top-level folders for Work, Home, and Hobbies. Each of those then has a collection of folders and single-action lists for more specific areas. For instance for games, I have a folder with a single-action list for "Games in Progress", with each entry being a title (and I try to keep this one short), and a second single-action list for "Games to Play" which is set to On Hold so I never see it unless I go looking for it, and that has a list of titles I own and would like to play someday. Rarely, a long, complicated game might get its own project, if there are specific in-game tasks that I want to remember.

But the exact structure varies depending on the hobby, and how much prompting it needs. For books, I have another single action list, and when I start a book, it gets an entry along the lines of "Read a chapter of XYZ", with no due date and set to repeat with "Start again after 5 days", or whatever interval is appropriate. If I actually do spend some time on it, that means it disappears off the list of things I needed to be reminded about for a while. For crafting hobbies, I tend to have a folder with individual projects that list at least a high-level outline of the main steps.

The other key component is that I use custom views a lot, and the hobby stuff is almost always hidden through use of Focus, or selecting certain contexts, etc. I don't see these items until I hit my Free Time perspective - usually in the evening once I've decided I've gotten enough work/responsible things done for the day. And I'm pretty ruthless about putting hobby projects on hold, more so than for anything with responsibility to other people. I try to have just a few active things in each hobby category, so that if I know what type of activity I want to do, it's a pretty simple choice. (E.g. I want to read? Here are two books I'm reading. Don't waste time staring at the shelves.) It might be overkill, but as long it's not cluttering your thoughts when you need to concentrate on more important tasks, I don't think it's a problem. I find it helpful because I have a lot of hobbies, and some of them can sit for a long time before I get back to them.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by catrijn View Post
Different people are successful with different approaches to this, but I do track hobbyist things. For organization, I have top-level folders for Work, Home, and Hobbies. Each of those then has a collection of folders and single-action lists for more specific areas. For instance for games, I have a folder with a single-action list for "Games in Progress", with each entry being a title (and I try to keep this one short), and a second single-action list for "Games to Play" which is set to On Hold so I never see it unless I go looking for it, and that has a list of titles I own and would like to play someday. Rarely, a long, complicated game might get its own project, if there are specific in-game tasks that I want to remember.

But the exact structure varies depending on the hobby, and how much prompting it needs. For books, I have another single action list, and when I start a book, it gets an entry along the lines of "Read a chapter of XYZ", with no due date and set to repeat with "Start again after 5 days", or whatever interval is appropriate. If I actually do spend some time on it, that means it disappears off the list of things I needed to be reminded about for a while. For crafting hobbies, I tend to have a folder with individual projects that list at least a high-level outline of the main steps.

The other key component is that I use custom views a lot, and the hobby stuff is almost always hidden through use of Focus, or selecting certain contexts, etc. I don't see these items until I hit my Free Time perspective - usually in the evening once I've decided I've gotten enough work/responsible things done for the day. And I'm pretty ruthless about putting hobby projects on hold, more so than for anything with responsibility to other people. I try to have just a few active things in each hobby category, so that if I know what type of activity I want to do, it's a pretty simple choice. (E.g. I want to read? Here are two books I'm reading. Don't waste time staring at the shelves.) It might be overkill, but as long it's not cluttering your thoughts when you need to concentrate on more important tasks, I don't think it's a problem. I find it helpful because I have a lot of hobbies, and some of them can sit for a long time before I get back to them.
Thanks so much for the input here! It seems we have similar setups for our hobbies and how we track them. I use a single action list for "Games to Play" that seems to be getting out of hand quickly as I fall behind on the games I'm finishing versus those that are coming out. I like the concept of the Games in Progress list though. Admittedly, i'm concerned this would get out of hand fast since I have a bad habit of starting many games but not finishing them.

I also like the suggestion for how you handle perspectives and views. I think this is one of the humps I have to get over. I'm currently looking at everything from a project view but it's really intimidating and not using the system the way it was meant to be used.
 
 


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:31 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.