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Hi all

I do a weekly radio program on a community radio station (ie its a volunteer position). And I'm looking for ideas to make it easier to track the program preparation. I've tried a number of approaches, and all have flaws.

What happens on my show ? Most weeks I interview someone live, perhaps different people in different segments. Some weeks I may prerecord a phone or field interview which I then edit (a very time consuming task!) and put on CD. For either live or prerecorded interviews there may be more or less research required, and I also prep the questions. I also ask the interviewee for a short bio.

Getting the people to interview varies greatly - sometimes they contact me and other times there are many emails back & forth as we discuss date and content.

Some weeks I have a co-presenter whose role in preparation varies greatly from zero to quite collaborative.

Most weeks I go to the radio station library and select my music, but at a pinch I can source it all from my own iTunes library. Sometimes there is a strong link between the interviews/other content and the music, other times the latter is really just a filler.

I have at least one other segment that I need to prepare - more on where ideas come from later.

After the show each week I need to thank any guests, update the website, and file my notes. I also like to download the show from the stations's logger and listen back to parts.

At any one time I have a forward plan of guests pencilled in for specific dates - this lives in a Pages doc. It changes a lot and there are lots of blanks.
I also collect lots of ideas - some are in Omf as notes or links to websites.
Others are in a paper tray of newspaper articles and scribbled notes that I think of the "pond". As each program looms closer, and ideas/guests haven't presented themselves to me, I go trawling in the "pond" of ideas or the Omf Ideas project and see what I can find.

The final drawing together is the running sheet (a Numbers doc) which gives a minute-by-minute listing of what should happen when. I never stick to it, but at least I know where I need to speed up or slow down. As I get more experienced with presenting the show this running sheet is getting less precise (eg I now just allow 4 mins for all tracks unless they are under 2 or over 5 mins). During a week's preparation I usually do a rough version about 2-3 days from broadcast day to see if I have any major holes and to see how much music I need. I do the final version either the night before or the morning of the show).

So what have I tried in terms of Omf?
Initially I had a template from which (using Curt's script) I would create a new project (I started with just being one week ahead, but now I have 2 weeks of future programs). As time went on the template got more and more elaborate, but still seemed to create more work than it saved, and I would forget to do things. For example, the tasks and the dates due differ for a prerecord vs a live interview. But then I had so many task & sub tasks that when I looked at it, there was no quick way of seeing what I had to do, in terms of admin emails, or some research and question prep. So I avoided looking at at, and essentially relied on memory - the opposite of good GTD practice.

So then I tried a different approach and cut the template right back, and created an Omnioutliner doc for each week. Now my Omf tasks essentially tell me to look at the OO doc to see what needs doing every day from Wednesday (my program airs on Monday). But I still need to put things like 'Waiting' tasks into Omf, or other little jobs that I need to pop up in front of me when I'm crunching though my tasks. But it all feels very messy and I feel like I'm spending too much time tweaking the system rather than doing the work.

The post-program tasks are straight-forward and sit nicely in the template.

So my questions to the forum essentially are does anyone else have this sort of work for which they successfully use Omf and/or has anyone got any suggestions on my current setup ?

[Having just typed all this out, I've had an idea - maybe I need to need make my running sheet in Numbers more integral to the preparation process. Current columns are Minutes, start time (calculated), item (eg "CD") and then notes which is most of the width of the page. Perhaps there could be more columns on the right (that I dont take into the studio) where I track stuff.... but if I'm not careful I'll be building Omf in Numbers - scary thought!]

(I've been using GTD and Omf for quite a while and am quite comfortable with perspectives and contexts, and all of Omf's goodies. I can read Applescripts and make minor changes, but wouldnt like to write anything from scratch.)

Maybe instead of trying to build a giant one-size-fits-all template, how about a folder per show, with smaller, more focused templates that better match the particulars of each show?
Thanks for your reply whpalmer4.
I had considered partial templates, but feared that it would be even more tweaking as I copied & pasted each bit in. But I have been thinking in terms of a PROJECT per show. If I make each a FOLDER as you suggest, then all the sub-template bits (eg prerecord interview) can be projects already sitting there with status PENDING, so its a simple matter to change it to ACTIVE.

So now I just need Curt's template copier to work at folder level. Does any one know if that's a hard modification ?

You would just have a set of templates for prepping interviews, putting together music, whatever chunks seem appropriate based on your past experience. Make a new folder for your upcoming show, populate with the items you'll need, and you're off. No changes to Curt's script required, as the only real change is the scale of the project templates.

I don't think that modification would be too, too hard. But it would probably require a few hours of effort. I'm afraid that time will be hard to come by until June.



My first thought was that your Omnifocus structures seem to be too tightly tied to your show. I agree that it seems logical, if you have a weekly show, to have a weekly container for your work that represents the show. But I don't think that it actually works. It seems to me that the show would come together _after_ much of the work is done, so what do you hook that work to in the meantime?

For example, let's say that you want to interview Person X on your show. You get contact information, you send emails, make phone calls, coordinate your schedule, discuss the content of the show. Those are all tasks that should be tracked in OmniFocus, but until you know what show Person X will be participating in, you don't have a show to hook that work to.

I'd say that instead, this would be represented by a project "Recruit/Schedule Person X for future show". That project would be in a high-level folder "Radio Show", and depending on how fine-grained you like your system, there might be an intermediate folder, "Manage Guests".

Similarly, "Complete on-site interview of Person Y" would be a separate project, not a substask or subproject of a specific show. This project might be in "Manage Guests" or "Prepare Content", or, again, if you don't like things that fine-grained, it might again just be under "Radio Show".

Each weekly show probably would be a project, but I see it as mostly a project that's fed by other projects - rather than being a holder for all of the complexity of all of those tasks, it would just refer out to them, and they would refer in to it.

I think that this structure would let you think more globally, across multiple shows. If you decided that you'd like to organize your guests, or content, many shows ahead of time, it would support that. And it might provide a structure for the firmer ideas that are currently just in the inspiration soup.

Gardener: There's much merit in this approach - especially as it would help me to think beyond next week's show, which has been a problem. Most guests prefer more than 3 days notice!

You're spot on in saying "It seems to me that the show would come together _after_ much of the work is done"

So I think there's scope to combine the two approaches in that a template could be used to create the tasks to track a person's involvement. And clearly each week's show is a template too, though different from my current one.

This split approach between development of ideas, and packaging up a show would then also support spending the first part of each week on the development of any future show (say 15mins to an hour per day), while the second half of the week can be more focused on the coming show.

I'll ponder more on this.

Thanks Curt for your offer to update your script, but I may not need it afterall.

I can see having a template which just is a checklist for putting together the major components of a show (interview, music, bio, promo blurb, etc.) and then a set of templates for the various forms the nuts and bolts projects for those components might take. You could even specify links to those components as arguments to the template that does the overall checklist, although that might be excessive geekery to some :-)

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