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Does Only the Important Stuff Go into OmniFocus?...Or EVERYTHING? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I love doing my weekly review but when it comes time to implement my actions, I get somewhat stagnant.

When it comes time to do a Weekly Review, I throw everything in there. From that big important 10 page essay to the nitty gritty laundry, daily jogging/swimming and meditation...it all goes into my inbox.

I'll create projects for everything but something about seeing such a long list in my available contexts kinda drowns me out. I'll see a bunch of available actions in many contexts and begin to think why I have such a long list, beginning to think that writing a 10 page essay does have reason to exist in my OF system, while writing in my journal doesn't really. (Though I consider writing in my journal to be of some importance as it helps me clarify thoughts concerning other areas in my life, such as health, wealth, love, etc.)

I guess i'm simply wondering how in depth people make their systems to be because I put everything in there and at the end of my WR I feel great, but the list is incredibly long when it comes time to look at my contexts and the truth is I just end up not looking at my list again till the next WR.
 
Surely you're not going to add such things as wash face, shave, brush teeth, check on the cat food, get out the milk, wash dishes, get paper on the porch, ... There has to be a line drawn. For me, since I'm a creature of habit, I leave all the things that are part of my daily routine (and that includes meditation) out of OF.
 
I use OmniFocus to help me create habits. I put projects and/or tasks on a repeating schedule until it becomes second nature to me. Then I don't bother putting it into OmniFocus.

I already know I have to pick up the kids from daycare after work. That doesn't need to be in OF. I already know that my gym routine runs Monday, Wednesday, Friday. These are habits that no longer need to be recorded.

I use OF to enter in tasks that are not on a daily or weekly schedule. Things like the one-off project for client A would go in. Or perhaps picking up a surprise gift for my wife. Any projects/tasks that don't really have a scheduled time. I do schedule things like "cut the grass". I set this task to repeat 1 month after the completion date. I had the grass scheduled to cut on March 1st. But I didn't really get around to cutting it until March 15th. So when I check off this task, OF automatically creates a new task set to start on April 15th.

I have a yearly project for my 1040 taxes. I only do my taxes once a year. So I keep it in OF. But daily and weekly tasks are automatic habits for me. I just put an alarm or an appointment in my calendar program for those types of things.

I remembered my sister used to record everything in her life - what she ate for breakfast, what time she fed the cat, how much time she spent grocery shopping, etc. It became an OCD thing for her.

I keep a journal for important thoughts, spur-of-the-moment-ideas, etc.
 
I saw someone online once refer to OF as "their brain" and I really like that description. Anything that I need to remember is something that I think should be entered into OF. My problems are: remembering to enter something into OF, integrating with other work-issued task management applications and using OF to manage what I enter into it.

How do you use your habit-making tool to make a habit of using the tool? Regular reminders a la "have you entered everything you need into OF today?"

And I'm still struggling with perspectives. I'm afraid that I'm either missing something I should be working on which forces me to just go through my entire list which isn't very efficient.
 
I use two things: an iPod touch with OmniFocus installed and a deck of 3x5 index cards held together by a small binder clip.

The 3x5 index cards is my all-purpose capture tool. I date-stamp and time-stamp every note or idea I write in. Then when I have the time, I'll enter it into OmniFocus on the iPod touch or on my Mac.

Oftentimes, I won't necessarily have the time to type it into OF on my iPod touch. It's much faster for me to just write it down and then type it in later.

So when I do have more time, I'll quickly type it into OF on my iPod touch. OmniFocus on my iPod touch is set up to sync to the Omni sync web server. So when I get in range of a wifi network, I quickly launch OF on the iPod touch and let it quickly send my new tasks to the Omni web sync server. When I get back to the office, I'll sync OF on my Mac and grab the new tasks.

I made a habit of doing a daily review.

Once in the morning to look at my calendar to see any due items within the next 7 days and my flagged items in OF (not due but some Big Rocks that I'd like to tackle today).

Then about an hour before I head home, I'll review what I accomplished today and see if there are any loose ends to tie up (i.e. inbox items that need to be processed, next actions that need to be made to advance any projects, e-mails that I will flag as something to do tomorrow). Then I'll review my calendar one more time to see what appointments, commitments I have for the next day.
 
I like the GTD idea of getting it off the mind. If it is something that is on your mind, then finding a way to have it off of your mind is useful. OmniFocus can help to the degree that it helps create lists that maintain things off the mind as well as helps to line present tasks alongside others.

You could use it quite well as mikegibb and wilsonng note for habit building. Personally, I have a number of tasks in there that are fairly maintenance in nature, and I largely can do without looking at OmniFocus. However, I keep them there as it helps me to look at the number of things going on as well as shaping/shifting the habits I have.
 
> I guess i'm simply wondering how in depth people make their
> systems to be because I put everything in there and at the end of
> my WR I feel great, but the list is incredibly long when it comes
> time to look at my contexts and the truth is I just end up not
> looking at my list again till the next WR.

I'd say that if you want to do it, and it's not an unbreakable unforgettable habit ("Remember to put on shoes before going out in the rain.") put it in there.

That doesn't mean that it's not going to land in Someday/Maybe. If you want to form a habit of writing in your journal, and sometimes you forget, then I'd say that, "Form habit of writing in journal daily" is a project. You may or may not have time for that project right now, so you may tuck it into Someday/Maybe and, for now, go on with a daily custom of sometimes remembering, sometimes forgetting.

Since you're not looking at your lists until the next review, then I'd say that it would be appropriate to do extensive and ruthless cutting, moving perhaps nine out of ten, nineteen out of twenty, even ninety-nine out of a hundred, items into Someday/Maybe. In fact, you might want to move _everything_ to Someday/Maybe and then select a minimal number of items to move back.

An added strategy could be to move some items out of your lists and into checklists. For example, if you have a dozen items like "remember to unload dishwasher before dinner" and "remember to spray mildew spray on shower stall" and so on, you could create a single project, "Improve daily household maintenance habits". Then you could create a daily checklist containing those dozen items, print thirty of them, and for a month you could work and check off that checklist every evening. (Or of course the checklist could be electronic.) Your GTD system would include one repeating item "Complete household maintenance checklist" rather than including the dozen items.

I also move similar items into lists. (Single-action lists where every item has an On Hold context of Info.) So I don't have an action or project "Read Susan Khalje's Couture book". I have a list "Things to Read" and I have an Action, repeating weekly, "Consider reading an item from Things to Read." That compresses what could be dozens or hundreds of items down to one. If I do choose that book and I decide that I want to make a full-fledged project of it, testing the sewing techniques and so on, only when I'm ready to start do I expand it to that project.

Similar lists could include Things to Learn, Purchases to Research, Garden Plantings to Plan, stuff like that. If I have thoughts about an item on one of these lists before I'm ready to do anything about it, I can add it to the note on the item.

And then there are Start Dates. If I know I'm not going to work on something this week, but I do want it to pop up and remind me rather than hibernating in Someday/Maybe and waiting for me to come find it, I'll give it a Start Date a week or a month or three months in the future. (And I'll configure my Perspectives to show only items with non-future Start Dates.)

All of these strategies are intended to leave me with no more than ten to forty current actionable actions in my perspectives. With that small a list, I feel comfortable really using it to guide my work through the week.

Gardener
 
Good advices all around. To answer more specifically to a poster above: I found it easier to integrate 1 tool / habit (GTD/OF) in my life and kick myself to keep at it for a little while, and then have it become second nature, than develop X different systems and trust them all and not be overwhelmed.

I would also encourage you to put too much rather than too little, at least for a while. It helps me getting rid of some thoughts / pseudo-projects, even if by just temporarily sitting there and being reviewed and compared with other objectives regularly.

Julien
 
Like others have suggested, I enter everything into OmniFocus that doesn't have an obvious, external trigger.

For example, I'll enter most of my household maintenance chores since it's better to be somewhat proactive with them, and it's sometimes too easy to let things go in that regard. Even then, however, some are obvious... For example, "Take Garbage Out" doesn't get an OF entry because I'll generally notice it piling up at the door and do something about it without needing an OF task to remind me of that. "Clean Bathroom" on the other hand does get a task, because that's an easier one to forget or let slip (usually when I'm in the bathroom I'm busy with things unrelated to actually cleaning it, and when I'm not, it's easy to ignore :) ).

I've setup OF to use two key things to keep important tasks on track: Start Dates and Flags. I tend to avoid due dates except for actions that have actual deadlines that include consequences (e.g. "Pay mortgage" gets a due date, "Clean Desk" doesn't). Instead, anything important gets a flag and a start date, as required. The latter is particularly useful for recurring, routine items -- I set a start date and then use "start after..." as the repeat interval. When I've performed a routine task and checked it off, it disappears from my lists and contexts until the next repeat interval arrives, at which point it pops right up again and the flag makes sure I see it.

Certain recurring or future tasks remain flagged no matter what -- important routine household maintenance, bill payments, reminders to buy gifts/cards for important events, project deadlines, etc. The use of start dates means that I can schedule things that I know will be important far in advance -- for example I have tasks to do things like renew my drivers' license, which only comes up every 5 years, but it's there, ready to "light up" when the start date passes in a couple of years.

Lower priority items get picked up during my weekly review, where I apply flags and start dates to those additional smaller things that I think I will (or really should) get around to doing that week.

Everything else is safely tucked away out of sight until the next review except in those rare cases where I run out of flagged actions, in which case I dig into specific contexts like "Home" and see what else I can tackle.

In addition to the use of normal contexts, I've created a "Hotlist' perspective that lists everything that is available and due or flagged, grouped into a single list. On the desktop, I've actually configured this context to open in a separate OF window with all other controls and extraneous fields hidden, so it effectively just becomes a simple task list that I can tuck away in the corner of my screen. This perspective also becomes my primary "doing" view on the iPhone side (and on the iPad, in principle, although I really use the iPad more for planning).
 
Fantastic tips and advice in here gang! Thanks.
 
 


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