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Let's Discuss Personal OmniFocus Philosophy and Where You're Currently at. Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hi everyone! I've been a member of the forums for some time and an OF user for well over 6 years. I'm 24 years of age and GTD/OF have truly assisted me in great aspects of my life, yet like the majority of you, to some extent i'm sure we all want to push ourselves into the next level of higher thinking when it comes to getting sh*t done. Apologies on the language, but admittedly (like you), i'm passionate about on the matter.

Seeing as how OF is a much more bare bones DIY structure, as perhaps say to Things (Does that app still exist?), I've molded and had fun with my system throughout the years. I've fiddled with contexts, project structure, and even to the point of how and what I name my projects... all in the attempts of bettering my productivity. I feel GTD and OF have assisted in my attending UCLA, a university in which I love to death. I'm currently a student and am in transition between graduation and finding a job/career, but that's beside the point.

Admittedly, aside from procrastinating at the moment I felt it interesting to ask this forum in particular about their personal approaches and attempts in better molding their OF system, if you do it at all. Members such as BRIAN, WHPALMER4, and others have been more than instrumental in providing not only tips and guidance, but overall encourage in these forums and think this thread as somewhat of a nudge in asking for further assistance in where my OF system can further evolve into.

(Like I said, I'm procrastinating at the moment)

Anyhow, I'll start off my mentioning that years ago all of my projects were incredibly structured. I would devote 2 hours to a Weekly Review with projects containing anywhere from 5-15 action steps. Truth is, I quickly learned that projects change and evolve themselves at the actions themselves come into fruition. Then I lowered my action count and even then I condensed it to having projects with no more than 3-5 actions. This isn't even to mention the approach I would take dependent on which Apple device I was using. This summer I implemented an approach in making sure all my projects were no more than 2 action items deep. Even then I don't feel thats the appropriate solution, as elegant it may seem.

Here I am, looking to tear down the structure of whatever approach I have currently in my system, coming to terms and an honest realization within myself that all that matters is the end long as I'm more than content with the manner in how it got done/completed/approached.

My current philosophy, 6 years in: OmniFocus doesn't matter (Sorry OF, I love you to the point of entertaining the thought of middle naming my future son OmniFocus); it only exists to assist my true daily productivity. What's helped me tenfold is looking at my available actions every morning and writing on my whiteboard the 3-4 primary actions of the day that I must get done. This is the reciprocal of years of tackling 10-15 minor action items and then hoping the 3 other most important items would get done as a sort of continuation in the momentum throughout the day. I feel much more content in tackling the 3 biggest important action items of the day and then going for the little mundane bi-daily action items. Yet still, it isn't the easiest approach to take. Studying is crucially important, but running errands at the grocery store seems easier to tackle on a random given weekday.

Enough rambling. If you're interested, let's discuss this one out. I feel this thread should focus more on the personal foundations we all have within our system and truth be told, would love to see everyone's individual perspective regarding the matter.

Actually, here's an interesting thought I just had.

Do you those around you know, or do they already know of the system you implement on perhaps an almost religious basis?

Friends and family I suppose know I check my phone quite a bit daily, and I'm sure to them they assume its some sort of to-do checklist.. Aside from my sister knowing about the title OmniFocus and GTD, aside from my best friend and girlfriend, only they know I tackle a system with intended goals and actions daily.

I don't know why this seems interesting to me at the moment but I can't help wonder how the dynamic of how you individually interact within you system is affected accordingly based as to who around your social circles and if they know of and perhaps even implement OF themselves.
I started out much like you, where I was mapping out projects fully. Now I just get 1 actionable item in the project. When I'm in action mode and come to that action, if I resist doing it I ask myself 'is there something else that needs to happen to complete this action'?

If there is, I create a child action and do it if I'm in the correct context, or do the next item in the context that I'm in.

Once that child action it complete, the original parent action shows up again and I try to complete it. If I can't complete it, I go through the same process mentioned above.

One of the issues with the iPhone version is the inability to create child actions on the action that I'm on working on easily.

I've found for most of my projects, this dynamic on the go process saves time and helps me to move forward. I don't need to plan out an entire project, just do the next thing. There are still projects where I need to do more planning, but even those projects will change as I move through them.
OmniFocus is my master list of projects and tasks. I pull out my due tasks and several projects/next actions that I want to focus on for this week.


I've personally learned to streamline my projects into as few steps as possible. Sometimes, I'll plan just the next two to four steps and no further. If I do try to plan out the steps, I'll look at a project during the weekly review and see if the next actions needs tweaking/refining. I'll modify a project's next action list based on the progress and whatever unforeseen circumstances occur.

I've learned to ween myself off of OmniFocus. In the beginning, it was my crutch and I did everything and anything with it. Over the years, I've learned to keep stuff in OmniFocus but only reference it when I need it.

I would do my weekly review and look at my due/due soon perspective.I write on the whiteboard all due/due soon projects and their next actions on my white board. I know that these are time-sensitive tasks/projects that I'll need to focus on. I don't put due dates on anything unless it really has a hard deadline.

Then I'll select one or two other big rock projects and the next action. These are the important/non-urgent projects that I would like to make major progress on this week.

Afterwards, I'll hide OmniFocus and focus on the projects/tasks that are on my whiteboard:

• Due/Due Soon
• Big Rock Projects (Important/Non-Urgent)

The only reason I will go back to OmniFocus is to enter in new tasks/projects when inspiration hits me or when something comes into my inbox that I must record. Sometimes I won't even use OmniFocus. I might get distracted and start looking at other next actions to do instead of focusing on what is already on my whiteboard. I often just get out my trusty notepad and write down project ideas/tasks as they come in to my inbox. At the end of the day, I'll process those into OmniFocus.

If I feel I have sufficiently completed as much as I can today on all the whiteboard items, I might just pop back into OmniFocus and look at my "Next Actions available" perspective to se if there are any random tasks that I can accomplish. I will only look at this perspective when I have attained enough progress on my whiteboard items. By hiding OmniFocus, I never get tempted to look at trying to look for another more pleasing/easy next action to accomplish. Or I might get distracted and start tweaking projects/next actions once again. This usually ends with me just burning an hour away and pretending that I actually got something because I was "planning."

I know that OmniFocus will always be there for me when I need it. But I try not to keep the OmniFocus program visible on my computer or on my iPod touch.

Previously, I would feel glorified in keeping OmniFocus open and seeing all those distracting next actions that make me sick. I would feel sick because I'd see a long scrolling list of next actions. But now that my whiteboard holds just the projects/next actions that I want to work on, I feel more "focused." Or should I say I feel more "OmniFocused"? ;-D

Last edited by wilsonng; 2012-11-08 at 08:17 PM..
I have only been a GTD convert for the last 2 or 3 years. I have spent the majority of that time moving my task system form one app to the next in a constant search for the 'perfect' system for me.

I always return to OmniFocus but it lack a certain something that other apps have - although OF beats the other apps in all other aspects.

My latest 'system' (as was the last one) is the perfect system for me - please see here:

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