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

 
Omnifocus For College Student: Is it right? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I've decided to take the plunge and finally get my BS in Web Design and Development. I've been looking around for a long time for the right app to use as a task manager, scheduler, calendar and overall organizer.

I've looked at almost every GTD based app available and the only one that seems to be flexible enough is Omnifocus. But at the same time it's a lot more than I need, or at least think I need. I can use some input on the optimal way to set it up for a student. I'm not going to use it for anything other than my school work. As a matter of fact I am testing another app specifically for students called Schoolhouse that is almost there but not quite. You can only enter information the way the app lets you so you don't have any customization options.

My Omnifocus setup so far:

Some facts first - Degree is Web Design and Development
I'm doing it online as traveling to the University on a daily basis would be very difficult
I'm going to have 1 course of study per month (More or less)

This is the first five months
English Composition
Art History
Designing Computer Graphics
Advanced Computer Graphics

I created a folder for each course
Then I create a project for the assignment
and finally actions for the things I have to do for each assignment

For example:
Folder - English Comp
Project - Plagiarism Exercise
Action - Download and read .doc and .ppt
Note - I paste the entire description of the assignment

For contexts the only thing that makes sense to me is to use the action I'll have to do to complete the assignment. So I currently have

@reading
@written
@essay
@coding
@css
@php

I will more than likely have to add and edit as I go.

So this is where I am right now. I know I haven't even touched the true power of Omnifocus but I don't have the luxury of time to study it inside and out. I want to learn the most useful and important features as they pertain to me.

Can someone also explain how I set up syncing with my iCal?

Thank you in advance, I'm hoping some of you Ominifocus GTD Gurus can help:)
 
Personally, I wish I'd had OmniFocus in college. Maybe I'd have better productivity habits now.

Whether you do a folder per course with a project per assignment, or a project per course and action per assignment probably depends on the assignments. 'Write a researched essay' probably is a project, or at least a group of actions.

If I'd had contexts in college, I would have had:
@reading
@dorm
@computer
@main campus
--> @graphics lab
--> @library
@south campus
@people
--> @parents
--> @roommate
--> @prof X
@quiet

I found geographic locations far more relevant than 'what kind of work am I doing' categories. The number of times I got back from class only to remember I should have picked up something while I was down near my prof's office -- argh!

We've tried to make OmniFocus an app where you can ignore the power tools (like perspectives and the mail clip-o-tron etc. etc.) until you need them. If the basics of projects and contexts are making sense to you, you should be fine.
 
Rocknblogger, if you need help with iCal, feel free to call (800.315.6664) or email us and we're happy to assist!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lizard View Post
Personally, I wish I'd had OmniFocus in college. Maybe I'd have better productivity habits now.

Whether you do a folder per course with a project per assignment, or a project per course and action per assignment probably depends on the assignments. 'Write a researched essay' probably is a project, or at least a group of actions.

I found geographic locations far more relevant than 'what kind of work am I doing' categories. The number of times I got back from class only to remember I should have picked up something while I was down near my prof's office -- argh!
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian
Rocknblogger, if you need help with iCal, feel free to call (800.315.6664) or email us and we're happy to assist!
@Brian, thank you but I figured it out.

@Lizard - I hear what you're saying about geographic location but I spend 90% of my time in and around my home. I work out of my home and I'm taking the university courses online. So everything I do is right here. Don't get me wrong we go out and have fun and shop but my days are spent here so I really have no use for geographic contexts; I've also seen where people take GTD to the extreme. I understand the need for organization and reminders but a reminder to feed the baby and to bathe it? That's too much.

But hey different strokes for different folks.

My main concern is that I don't miss any of my assignments, tasks for the assignments and sub-tasks. I think it will be very rare that an assignment will only have one or two tasks.

So besides the original context I mentioned,

@reading
@written
@essay
@coding
@css
@php

I suppose I can add:

@download
@compile
@research

I'm sure there's more that I'm not 'seeing' right now. But beyond folders, projects and contexts I'm not sure I understand how to cross reference everything. For example; Right now I have an assignment with 3 tasks that are due to get done by Saturday. But when I click on inbox I don't see anything and I don't understand why. I thought that if you have upcoming tasks you would see them in the inbox.

I would also like to be able to see what's coming up in the next 2 weeks. I did figure out how to sync with iCal but it doesn't show anything past today so I have to assume it won't show sync the task until the date that I set as 'due'.

I don't know I'm think GTD and Omnifocus may not be for me for school.
 
In your situation where you only want to use OmniFocus for your school assignments and all your tasks take place at home, you can probably just ignore contexts altogether. However, if you decide to start using GTD for everything else in your life you might use one context called "School" and then other contexts as normal for the other stuff.

The inbox is the temporary landing space for anything that hasn't been "processed" yet. Just like a real inbox on a desk. Stuff lands there. You look at it and decide whether it should be 1) thrown away, 2) done right now, or 3) added to your todo system as a task or project. That's called processing. Processing doesn't mean doing.

As such, if you have tasks that you've decided need to be done and you've assigned them to projects (or single action lists) they're no longer in the inbox because they've been processed.

To see your upcoming tasks you need to be looking at one of the perspectives. The two-weeks view you mentioned is similar to the forecast view on the iPad version of OF. It hasn't made its way onto the Mac version yet. In the meantime, go to the Contexts perspective, click the "View" button to show the filters, and then change the grouping filter to Due Date or Start Date. Continue experimenting until you see what you want and then save it as your own custom perspective.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RocknBlogger View Post

I'm sure there's more that I'm not 'seeing' right now. But beyond folders, projects and contexts I'm not sure I understand how to cross reference everything. For example; Right now I have an assignment with 3 tasks that are due to get done by Saturday. But when I click on inbox I don't see anything and I don't understand why. I thought that if you have upcoming tasks you would see them in the inbox.
No, the inbox is where things go prior to being filed into projects.
Quote:
I would also like to be able to see what's coming up in the next 2 weeks. I did figure out how to sync with iCal but it doesn't show anything past today so I have to assume it won't show sync the task until the date that I set as 'due'.
First of all, when OmniFocus syncs something into iCal, it puts it in as a task, not as a calendar appointment. You have to view the task section of iCal. Assuming you are doing that, there's also a preference in iCal to not show tasks that are outside of the scope of the dates being displayed. If you have that set, you aren't going to see much if you are just looking at today on the calendar! If you have a task with a due date in OmniFocus, and it is in a context being synced to iCal, it should be synced over to iCal regardless of how far in the future it is.

A bit of history: the iCal stuff is there as a remnant from when it was the only way to get information onto a mobile device from OmniFocus (in other words, it predates OmniFocus for iPhone). There are people who valiantly try to use it to see how busy they are at some point in time, but that strikes me as being similar to pounding nails with the handle of a screwdriver.

Have a look at the Due perspective to see what is coming up. Change the Status Filter from Due Soon to Any Status if you want to see more than a few days out (Due Soon will only show you items due up to your Due Soon setting in the future, which has a maximum value of 7 days). Might want to add the Due Date column to see exactly when things are due.

Quote:
I don't know I'm think GTD and Omnifocus may not be for me for school.
You aren't expecting to have lots of tasks you need to get done on time? :-)
 
Okay after working with Omnifocus for a few days I discovered that doing it my way is flawed. If I create a folder for each Course and then add each assignment as a project I then can't use Quick Entry and I can't simply add a task from the Inbox screen because there's no way to assign it to a folder (Unless I'm missing something).

Also I realize that I was trying to use contexts as tags and I'm not too sure that'll work for the long term. So in a way I'm back to square one.

I really like Omnifocus and I want to make this work but I need some help.

I would appreciate some input on what would be the optimal way to set things up for a college student. As I said in an earlier post I spend most of my time in my home office so geo based anything is not necessary and for now I just want to concentrate on setting it up for my school courses.

Not to beat a dead horse but I had it set up with Folders as the course, projects for assignments, and actions for each task of an assignment.

I'm wondering of i used Projects for the courses and actions for assignments and listing the tasks in the notes section of each assignment would it work that way? I know it would I mean does anyone think that would be the way to go? It would at least give me the ability to add actions (Tasks) on the fly.

If Omnifocus had tags it would be the perfect tool for me. Is there any way of cross referencing tasks and projects that would be tag like? By date maybe? Just thinking out loud here:)

Really hoping one of you Gurus or an Omni staff member can help me out here.
 
I am in a similar position as you. Home dweller, online education.

I use Omnifocus for everything, so I will try to keep what I do focused on the education part.
Also, I use OF mostly on the iPad. It works out that way for my general workflow:
I read textbooks on the iPad, annotate and the process the reading, as well as do my assignment writing etc, in Scrivener. So I am either on the iPad anyway, or using Scrivener full screen, so an extra screen with OF is quite nice to have.

The way my university works is that you take modules, which are counted towards your degree. The admin setup is fairly independent of everything, so I have 1 project for my degree, and 1 project each for the modules.

The module projects hold tasks related to registration, assignments, reading, practice problems, and results. We have a study calendar on the website, which has recommended dates for what to do when, I use those for deadlines. I also write these as FYIs on the calendar. So i will have a task that says: reach chapter 6.2 in the reading plan.
Assignments get a task each, with sub tasks for the steps required. Depending how hard a time I have with an assignment, they can get quite granular. eg. Look up formula for x. Or they can be quite chunky: draft answer for question 2a).

The degree project is a catch all for anything not related to a specific module yet. Learner's advice, researching which module to take next, reviewing the restructuring of the degree, etc.

Contexts tend to be focus versions of my normal contexts: eg iPadFocus.
I'd be hesitant to think of contexts as categories of activity. They add an unnecessary layer of 'what task next'. If you sit down in front of your computer, you want a list of all the tasks you can do. If you then start a program, you might want to focus on all the tasks you can do in that program. Or all the tasks you can do if your brain is toast (hence my focus suffix).

Also, to start with you could forget about contexts all together and work out of the no context category. If you then find yourself thinking: I can't do this because I am lacking x, you can set up x as a context.

Also, I'd recommend the OF/GTD whitepaper (linked in the top thread on the forum). I think it's a rather good overview of both, and it might help you see a) what's possibly in OF, and b) how the tool and the method fit together.

Generally I'd say best practice is to figure out the problem you're trying to solve first (eg how can i remember to ask my tutor about this obscure problem when I am next on the phone with him) rather then looking at the tool and wondering how you can use it.


I hope that all makes sense. It's sunday and I have woken up way too early, and my brain is still asleep.
 
Thank you Linada that's a lot of good stuff for me to digest and think about. One thing I discovered this weekend is the ability to add child items/tasks which puts Omnifocus in a completely new light for me and gives me a clear path to work on. I suppose there are more features I haven't found yet that will over time clarify even better how to use Omnifocus to it's/my potential.

I'm still stumbling about and for the time being Omnifocus feels clunky but I'm sure it's just me and my unfamiliarity with all the functions and flow.
 
The more I ponder, I think projects are more like courses. Then you can use quick entry to just toss in a homework assignment. As you figure out what steps that assignment will require, you can actually create sub-actions. (Return to create a new action, then command-] to indent it.) That will let you set individual start/due dates on those steps, and check them off as you go. (Using the notes field wouldn't really allow for that.)

If you don't need contexts for geographic locations or anything, you might use them for concentration/creativity levels. Some homework can be done while supervising small children. Other homework requires peace and quiet and a fresh serving of caffeine.

But really, you might try just ignoring contexts altogether, until you find yourself looking at a task and going 'I wish I'd remembered this while I was working on that other task last night -- I'd have done this then too.' Then you can see if there's a shared context to carve out of that.
 
 


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
OmniFocus for Student appler8 OmniFocus 1 for Mac 2 2012-04-20 06:44 AM
OmniFocus for College blur606 OmniFocus 1 for Mac 2 2012-03-12 04:39 PM
OmniFocus for an university student Niko09 Applying OmniFocus 12 2012-03-07 07:52 AM
Omnifocus for college coursework is it worth $40?? kimaira OmniFocus for iPad 21 2010-10-14 05:34 AM
Help, student new to GTD and omnifocus docwavy3000 Applying OmniFocus 5 2009-05-16 02:57 PM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:56 PM.


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