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Implementing OmniFocus into my daily calendar Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I have been trying to use OF in my daily life since I bought the program and I find it to be a great tool in implementing the overall concept of GTD. However, I'm finding that organization is one thing and implementation another.

The whole idea of creating projects with specific tasks associated with them is great and I understand the usefulness in giving the user a unique view on what to do in each, specific context. However, after a few months of neglect and procrastination, I have returned to OF and started thinking more about why this application, up to now, has tended to slip through the cracks and become irrelevant. Let me rephrase this, in order to avoid sounding critical of OF. Only recently I have realized that OF does not handle calendar items, also known as Hard Landscape Items in the GTD terminology (however, I'm not saying I need OF to have a calendar).

This is a bit of a problem for me, since I do not actually see the link between the 'what' and the 'when' - I don't know what to do with the results OF generates. In other words, I am so disorganized, that in my daily life, I don't actually know how to link the specific "Actions" (from various projects in different contexts) with the time-slots in my daily life. OF helps me know what to do next; I just don't know when. This is my concern. Which part of the OF framework actually translates directly to the calendar?

I just want to make it clear that this is not a technical question about how to sync OmniFocus with calendar applications.

I'm just trying to get your opinion on how to actually integrate what OmniFocus generates into my daily life. In the Projects view I create projects and the corresponding actions; in the Contexts view I actually view what to do next in each context. So as a matter of proper practice, what do you do WITH the Contexts view in OmniFocus, while you are simultaneously staring at the next week in your Calendar?

Do you take each task and distribute it into your calendar? How do YOU do this? Would you do this during the weekly Reviews? Do you actually assign a portion of your week's calendar (bi-weekly, or whatever) to dedicate to each "Context" to make sure you address the actions within it in some portion of your week? For example, @HomeTasks will be Tuesdays and Thursdays or @Phonecalls on Mon/Wed/Fri, etc etc? I'm just trying to get an opinion on what users of OmniFocus might actually do to implement OmniFocus in their daily lives. Thanks for any comments.
 
I use the calendar to remind me to do things that need to be done at a specific time/place. These will usually be things that involve other people. For all the rest of the time, I look at OmniFocus and select tasks based on urgency and context. I don't make any attempt to plan out what I'm going to work on for the next week except to identify those things that I need to get done. About the closest I come to making a schedule is picking a bunch of things to do today, and often that will simply be to make sure I don't just choose to do nothing but the enjoyable options to the exclusion of tedious but necessary ones.

I guess it all boils down to:

Look at the calendar. If there's something you are supposed to do right now, do it. Otherwise, look at OmniFocus. Pick something to do, do it.

Repeat.
 
To me there appear to be two questions here: one is about handling hard-landscape "Next Actions" such as appointments you've made with other people, dropping the car off for a service, etc. OmniFocus handles these just fine, especially if you use the feature of OmniFocus which publishes the calendar for your iCal to subscribe to.

The other issue appears to be the "get myself to check OmniFocus". For that, the only suggestion I have is to use your daily review at the beginning of this day (or end of the previous day, depending when you do your review) to check what Next Actions you can do that day, assign start and due date/time to them, and use the "Due Soon" context to help prompt you to take action on those Next Actions.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by daniel View Post
Do you take each task and distribute it into your calendar? How do YOU do this? Would you do this during the weekly Reviews? Do you actually assign a portion of your week's calendar (bi-weekly, or whatever) to dedicate to each "Context" to make sure you address the actions within it in some portion of your week? For example, @HomeTasks will be Tuesdays and Thursdays or @Phonecalls on Mon/Wed/Fri, etc etc? I'm just trying to get an opinion on what users of OmniFocus might actually do to implement OmniFocus in their daily lives. Thanks for any comments.
I don't distribute tasks in my calendar but I do attack particular contexts on particular days. My breakdown of this is Work:Writing (which is my top priority context) on Monday, Calls on Wednesday (plus Tuesday if I don't have a lot of client meetings), Library and Errands on Thursday, and I focus on projects that are close to completion and try to ensure they close out on Friday. These aren't all of my contexts, but they are all high priority contexts that it helps for me to have a particular day to focus on them.

I also have a Work:Replies context for any emails or phone calls that I receive which should be replied to by the end of the day. I check that and my Due perspective every day at 4pm and make sure they are clear.

I hope some of these suggestions are useful for you.
 
One thing that Allen has actively advised against (and which I still have trouble with) is the idea of artificial deadlines. If you remember, this is the section in the book where he broke down the traditional daily to do list, arguing that this leads to unnecessary stress when things inevitably come up and you can't do everything on that daily to do list.

I'm like you -- I wish I could have my calendar tell me exactly what I'm supposed to be doing at any given point in the day. But this isn't as helpful as you might think. I found this article on fixed schedule productivity very helpful:

http://calnewport.com/blog/2008/02/1...of-work-hours/

In the spirit of this, here is how I use the calendar and OF without those artificial deadlines. First, think about your areas of responsibility that are fairly fixed and don't often change. Then, think about how you want your daily schedule to look, taking into account long term commitments, your goals, etc... For me, this might look like this: 6am - 8am, Get ready and get to work, 8:30am - 9:30am, daily review and follow-up, 9:30am - 12:30pm, website projects, 12:30pm - 1:30pm, lunch, etc...

Scheduling in blocks of time on your calendar for your areas of responsibility helps to focus on only those projects/tasks in OF related to that area of responsibility. For me, this takes out the guesswork when you look at a laundry list of tasks because you've already set aside time on your calendar ahead of time to make sure your major areas of responsibility are being tended to. You might create perspectives for each of these areas that are easily accessible for each respective block of time.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by pumblechook114 View Post
One thing that Allen has actively advised against (and which I still have trouble with) is the idea of artificial deadlines. If you remember, this is the section in the book where he broke down the traditional daily to do list, arguing that this leads to unnecessary stress when things inevitably come up and you can't do everything on that daily to do list.

I'm like you -- I wish I could have my calendar tell me exactly what I'm supposed to be doing at any given point in the day. But this isn't as helpful as you might think. I found this article on fixed schedule productivity very helpful:

http://calnewport.com/blog/2008/02/1...of-work-hours/

In the spirit of this, here is how I use the calendar and OF without those artificial deadlines. First, think about your areas of responsibility that are fairly fixed and don't often change. Then, think about how you want your daily schedule to look, taking into account long term commitments, your goals, etc... For me, this might look like this: 6am - 8am, Get ready and get to work, 8:30am - 9:30am, daily review and follow-up, 9:30am - 12:30pm, website projects, 12:30pm - 1:30pm, lunch, etc...

Scheduling in blocks of time on your calendar for your areas of responsibility helps to focus on only those projects/tasks in OF related to that area of responsibility. For me, this takes out the guesswork when you look at a laundry list of tasks because you've already set aside time on your calendar ahead of time to make sure your major areas of responsibility are being tended to. You might create perspectives for each of these areas that are easily accessible for each respective block of time.
The daily to-do list, putting tasks on the calendar, and artificial deadlines are not as heretical to GTD as many make them out to be. The best practice is to avoid these things since for most people it causes them to stress needlessly about deadlines that aren't real and numbs them to the real hard deadlines on the calendar.

But it's not the only practice and it's not an issue for all people. The key is being able to rapidly renegotiate any agreement you've made with yourself to assign a deadline to something. That's where something like the Defer script for Omnifocus (discussed elsewhere) can be really helpful because it allows you to, with a couple of keystrokes, say "Not today, maybe tomorrow."

So if you look at your calendar a lot (say you go to a lot of meetings) and you need due dates and/or blocked time to get certain things done, feel free to put them on the calendar or assign a due date as long as the edges are sharp enough (say a different color on the calendar or flagging instead of a due date) that you will not become numb to the distinction.
 
What I've been doing (and am still working on making work fully...) is flagging every task I expect to do today during a daily review, and pausing every project I expect to not work on this week during a weekly review.

What I'd really like is an app that uses local notifications to pop up and assist me with focus.

The app "WhereIsMyTime" is a step in the right direction. Unlike traditional time trackers, you don't turn it off. Ever. You tell it what you are doing next.

What I want is an app that looks at my calendar and my to do list. Pops up when the calendar says I should be doing something, and, instead of going away, lets me select whether I will do it, or want to be reminded again, reschedule, or drop it.

For to do tasks, I want it integrated into OF's data. I want it to show me my flagged tasks. I select one. After an appropriate interval - 30 min, say, but customizable - it pops up again and asks if I did, in fact, do that, and lets me retroactively change what I did if I did something else. It then asks me what I will do next, showing me the appropriate data from OF.

You can probably guess that I have ADD and have very few static, fixed things on my schedule.

Today, I need to go somewhere at any time between 9 and 5. I know what I need to do for work. So I'm not looking at my list very often. I've tried putting flexible events on the calendar, but calendar apps beep at you a single time and go away. You need to immediately deal with them.

Now, it's past lunchtime so I should eat and work rather than try to figure out what my ideal productivity tools would be :)
 
 


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