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OmniThings; Blackbelts: Please show us your complete workflows Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I've been using OmniFocus for a while now, but I just can't figure out a way to customise the software to suit my workflow perfectly. I even reverted to looking at Things again today, hoping that there has been some progress there, but in deed the simple lack of "child/parent tasks" for one and no real folder structure is laughable. Probably a hybrid between the two would be ideal - something like OmniThings (Beauty and design and tags like Things, general structure, folders, review option, great iPhone syncing and versatility/customisation like OF!) But for now, I guess I'll stick with OF.

No matter how I try to tweak my workflow, I always struggle with the following:

1) How to handle the absence of multiple contexts (i.e. people + place + essential tool like Mac) & priorities (as high/med/low tags in Things) in OF? - Replacing the Context bar with tags/metadata would allow for all these features.

2) How does anyone using OmniFocus deal with not being able to put single actions on hold? - The lack of this feature just blows my mind whenever I try to use my workflow on a daily basis. There simply are single actions in my projects I want to put on hold, but there just seems to be no way to do so...!

3) Waiting for stuff to be done by others. - I just want to be able to mark single actions with a tag that says "waiting". That way I could just include that tag in a perspective filter (like in Things) and see all my 'waiting for"s without altering their context or place within my folder structure.

I'm just wondering: Is my fundamental workflow flawed that I have the urge for single actions on hold? Do other people not struggle with this? Am I subcategorising too much? Should I create more projects rather than children for OF to work for me?

I feel like I need an OF tutour!

When I started with OF I asked the "Blackbelts" here in the forums to present some workflows from start to end (including perspectives set up and working examples of how they proceed in a day with OF). The only interesting How To was a reference to John Kendrick's Webblog, but I'd love to see more. http://anabubula.com/video/Tweaking-...Focus-Workflow is also good, but it just scratches the surface...

Is anyone willing to make a video or write-out of their entire workflow, not just sniplets of features - but where they go into detail for almost every possible scenario (from shopping lists over work projects, socialising, to email handling), what contexts they have etc etc.

I know the new features (tagging, SAL's on hold) won't come any time soon now due to iPad development, but could someone like Toadling, Clifton or Palmer just post how they manage their lives with OF on a daily basis.

I read something about 43 Folders' Merlin Mann being interviewed in SF - is there going to be a video of that? Can we all 'chip in' together to get Merlin to do such a detailed workflow in OF? I'd be very willing to contribute $ financially to finally get a proper workflow going!

In fact: Brian or Ken, can you just tell us your workflows? I've read all the manuals, but I really think I need someone to hold my hand here and show me how it's done (blush!). Anyone else feel this way?

Put briefly: I understand the developers are busy with the iPad suite, but can those people who seamlessly integrated OF into their daily lives give us a walkthrough =)

Comments welcome.

Ciao, Robbie

Last edited by Robbie1702; 2010-02-20 at 10:02 AM..
 
Part of the issue is most people don't want to put their sensitive information out into the public.

Here is how I deal with some of the issues you brought up:

Quote:
2) How does anyone using OmniFocus deal with not being able to put single actions on hold? - The lack of this feature just blows my mind whenever I try to use my workflow on a daily basis. There simply are single actions in my projects I want to put on hold, but there just seems to be no way to do so...!
Placing a future start date on an action and setting your context filter to active and Availability Filter to Available is how I hold the item. It then disappears from view until the start date has arrived.

Quote:
3) Waiting for stuff to be done by others. - I just want to be able to mark single actions with a tag that says "waiting". That way I could just include that tag in a perspective filter (like in Things) and see all my 'waiting for"s without altering their context or place within my folder structure.
I have a waiting for context.
If I am waiting for something to be done by others, I put a future start date on the action. If you filter by available in the contexts, then you won't see the action until that start date.

You can easily put a start date by tabbing to the start date column, then type:
tod for today
tom for tomorrow
mon, tue, wed, thu, fri, sat for any dat of the week
+1m, +2w, +1y, for adding time to today's date.

Every day I go through my waiting for context. Any contexts that are showing up I will do one of the following:
complete
change the start date if still waiting
contact the person if I need to contact them.
send an email reminder and change the waiting for start date until I hear back.

I go through any actions in my waiting for context that are showing up, until there are no actions left in my waiting for context. At which point the context will disappear from the view.

Hope some of this helps.
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Last edited by SpiralOcean; 2010-02-20 at 10:34 AM..
 
Here's another tip:

I have repeating projects set up so that I go through GTD once a day. Things like, processing inbox to 0, processing voicemail to 0. These actions are listed in a context called ingest and are at the top of my context list. I set my context filter to active. When I have completed the ingest process, those contexts disappear, and I move on down to the next context at the top of the list.
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Last edited by SpiralOcean; 2010-02-20 at 10:31 AM..
 
Thanks SpiralOcean.

Yes, I can understand the data sensitivity issue here... Maybe OF could ask Lynda.com or someone else (like Merlin Mann) to do a "walkthrough" vid with insensitive data?!

Regarding the SALs on hold, thanks for the tip. I'll try and see if start dates will do the trick. Although down the line it would be nice to see it built in properly.

I've tried the waiting for context, and I guess in principle it works. What I don't like about it though, is that you need to delete your original context for it (as multiple contexts aren't supported). But again, I guess that'll have to make do till OF 2.0.... :P

Thanks for the tips =)

Robbie
 
Robbie,

It's extraordinarily hard to answer the question, "Tell me everything about how you use OmniFocus?" People complain about the price of OF. At a reasonable, professional, hourly rate, the telling would cost in the thousands of dollars.

That said, I'm foolish enough that I'm seriously considering starting a blog on the subject. Stay tuned.

To your specific questions:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Robbie1702 View Post
1) How to handle the absence of multiple contexts (i.e. people + place + essential tool like Mac) & priorities (as high/med/low tags in Things) in OF? - Replacing the Context bar with tags/metadata would allow for all these features.
I just pick the context that seems most important. Very few of my tasks require multiple resources in such a way that it's an issue. If I need to make sure that I bring together people in a place with specific tools, then the action is to schedule a meeting and my meeting preparation includes identifying what to bring to the meeting. Life moves too quickly for me to notice that I happened to run into Alice in the lab while I'm carrying my MBP. I just don't care to slice my contexts that thinly. If I did, I would effectively have an exponential number of contexts (the cross-product of people, places, and resources) and would be constantly changing between them.

Only my high priority projects are active in OmniFocus. Everything else is on-hold or in a separate OmniOutliner file. I use ordering of projects in Planning Mode to keep the most important of the projects at the top of the list. I use flags to mark the projects that support my monthly goals. Those projects also have their review intervals set for daily reviews. I don't feel a need for priorities beyond that in OF. (I accept that others do, but that wasn't the question.)

Quote:
2) How does anyone using OmniFocus deal with not being able to put single actions on hold? - The lack of this feature just blows my mind whenever I try to use my workflow on a daily basis. There simply are single actions in my projects I want to put on hold, but there just seems to be no way to do so...!
I just set a future start date on the task and move on, or else delete the task. When the start date roles around, I push the start date ahead if I still want the task to be on-hold. More often than not, circumstances have changed by the start date and I'm willing to delete the task. I also have a few single action lists set to on-hold. I'll sometimes move single actions there, but practically speaking actions go to those lists to die.

Quote:
3) Waiting for stuff to be done by others. - I just want to be able to mark single actions with a tag that says "waiting". That way I could just include that tag in a perspective filter (like in Things) and see all my 'waiting for"s without altering their context or place within my folder structure.
I just create a task like "From Alice, completed TPS reports" and give it a Waiting For context and perhaps a future start date. There's no other appropriate context for that task. My only action is to wait. If the start date rolls around and Alice hasn't gotten back to me, then I have a new task, "Remind Alice about TPS reports". (Or more often than not, I use the two-minute rule and fire off an email reminder. In that case I push the start date on the "From Alice" task off for a couple of days.) I catch Waiting For tasks with start dates in my morning tickler review. I catch other Waiting For tasks in my weekly review.

I wrote a bit more about agendas and waiting-fors in this thread.

The common theme in all my answers is that I don't use OmniFocus for tracking what I've done. I'm almost entirely future focused. I have no qualms about changing or reorganizing projects and tasks. My goal is to have OF show me truly actionable tasks that move me toward completing projects and achieving goals.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Here's another thing I do for waiting for, I create a child of the action and assign it a waiting for context.

Example:
-Create Screencast of OmniFocus workflow
--email omnifocus support about setting up a screencast

After sending the email, I create a child that says waiting for response, and assign it a future start date in the waiting for context.

This hides the email action in my email context, and hides the waiting for action until the start date is reached (tomorrow), at which point I go through waiting for and either bug them again by sending another email, or change the start date to the future.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robbie1702 View Post
2) How does anyone using OmniFocus deal with not being able to put single actions on hold? - The lack of this feature just blows my mind whenever I try to use my workflow on a daily basis. There simply are single actions in my projects I want to put on hold, but there just seems to be no way to do so...!

3) Waiting for stuff to be done by others. - I just want to be able to mark single actions with a tag that says "waiting". That way I could just include that tag in a perspective filter (like in Things) and see all my 'waiting for"s without altering their context or place within my folder structure.
I share your pain. I really don't want my "waiting fors" to disappear until revived by a start date. I want them to appear in my regular working list, so I'm reminded of what I'm waiting for.

Also agree with placing single actions on hold. Sometimes that's the most obvious way to handle something.

This said, I've griped about "waiting for" in the past, but had practically forgotten about it, so I must be gradually conforming to OF's way of doing things.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bashosfrog View Post
I share your pain. I really don't want my "waiting fors" to disappear until revived by a start date. I want them to appear in my regular working list, so I'm reminded of what I'm waiting for.

Also agree with placing single actions on hold. Sometimes that's the most obvious way to handle something.

This said, I've griped about "waiting for" in the past, but had practically forgotten about it, so I must be gradually conforming to OF's way of doing things.
So you are wanting a way to place an action on hold, without removing it's context and not using a start date?

When you say... putting an action on hold. What is the behavior you want to happen? Can you give a workflow example? Are you wanting to put the remaining project's actions on hold?
 
FWIW, OmniFocus 2 is supposedly going to shift to a common state model for all objects in the database, so folders, projects, and actions can all be put on hold. Or at least that was the plan the last I heard (sometimes these plans change, so don't take this as gospel).

-Dennis
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpiralOcean View Post
So you are wanting a way to place an action on hold, without removing it's context and not using a start date?

When you say... putting an action on hold. What is the behavior you want to happen? Can you give a workflow example? Are you wanting to put the remaining project's actions on hold?
I have an example (as this is also one of my big gripes with OF). First, the setup:

* I use start dates for action items that I don't have to think about until that date. For example, I wanted to by tickets to see the Giants play, but tix weren't on sale until Feb. 6, 9am. So, "Buy Giants Tix" had a start date of "Feb 5, 9am". The item disappeared from my sight, and I didn't think about it until the day before, when it popped up in my list of items.

* I use On Hold for projects I plan on completing at some point, but not right now. I effect, it's my Someday/Maybe pile. I review it occasionally for items I want make active.

So, with that background, I often find that I have many single action list items that I need to put on hold, because they are no longer "important" enough for me to complete.

For example, I have a action of "Add ssl to my mail servers". It's something I want to do, but don't currently have the time to deal with it. So I'd like to select it and put it "on hold".

It's not something I want to pop up in a month or two as a reminder to take action on it, so putting a start date on it doesn't make sense for me.

I don't want to delete it, because I want it captured in my system; when I have time, and I'm reviewing my on hold items, I might pick this one to complete.

What I've been doing instead is turning it into an actual project and *then* putting it on hold. I do this relatively easily by selecting the item, hitting command-[ to "outdent" it, which makes it a project.

An option to do this for me would be much better, because it's not really a "project" in the DA/GTD sense (well... this one probably is, eventually, but I digress).

At some point, I'll write an Applescript to take any selected items, turn them into projects, and put that project on hold.

But that project is itself on hold right now....
 
 


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