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I fear I am applying the application incorrectly and/or not as intended. I have read DA's book and viewed the tutorials but still do not feel at ease with the programs. I am trying to set up the system as a start-up business owner who wears several hats on a daily basis. Each hat represents a future department human resources (employee payroll, benefits administration, hiring, de-hiring, etc), finance (accounting, bookkeeping, budgeting, bill collecting, etc.), sales (soliciting and closing of new jobs), job management (scheduling jobs won, tracking time and material to provide accounting), mechanic (equipment maintenance and repair), and more. In theory, as we grow, each department will become somewhat autonomous—at least separate individuals will take over the responsibilities.

That being said, I have set up project folders for each "department. Potentially, this might be the incorrect way of setting OF up. I read some threads and maybe these should be contexts. That worries me because I cannot relegate an action to more than one context. Again, perhaps I am not setting things up correctly. Example: I need to go to the post office to mail invoices but I also need to go to the post office to mail proposals. This would be two entries (not efficient) for the same errand. Another example: I need to talk to a client about a job we are working on but I also need to talk to the clients accounts payable department about a past due invoice.

How do I properly set this up? Are there examples available to see online for different industries? We are in the property management industry.

I have other newbie concerns also but let this be a starting point.
 
When I first came to OF and GTD I had a similar situation with a lot of questions about how to set up the best system. I read lots of post about best practices, and I finally realized that the beauty of OF is that it allows such flexibility to set up a system that works best for each individual's needs. There doesn't seem to be any right way, but at the same time there are also a lot of common ways to use it appropriately.

One of your questions asked if it would be good to set up all of your different "hats" as contexts. This doesn't seem to be the way to go. Contexts should always boil down to a place, an object, a state of mind, a person, etc. "Finance" doesn't work well as a context since that could mean any number of things. In your examples, "Post Office" would work really well as a context, a grouping where many actions spanning different projects/departments can live. So, you can click on the "Post Office" context and see every action that needs to happen there from any project you have set up. Or, you can widen that context to a more general "Errands."

Your idea of setting up all of these different "hats" as folders seems to me to be perfect. You will have many open projects, and the best organization is to probably divide them up by your areas of responsibility. Some people divide projects by Home/Work or Work/Creative, etc. You can even go with more finely detailed folders nested inside other folders. It is always a balance between good organization vs. a cumbersome mess of folders/projects. Whatever helps you focus in on a set of grouped projects is best.

As far as multiple actions in one context from different projects, here too you can do things in a variety of ways. If OF is truly going to act as your external brain, you want to make sure you don't have to stop and think, "Did I already add 'Go to the Post Office' in my accounting project, or should I add it to the new proposals project?" I would add it to anything as it comes to mind, with the appropriate due dates, etc. That way, when you click on your "Post Office" context, you might see multiple actions needed there....perfect! That is exactly what this is designed for. Maybe one of the actions isn't due quite yet, but as long as you are there, take care of it.

Another way to take care of it is to use the note feature. You can add one instance of "Go to Post Office" in one of your projects, and then create a list in the notes of all the things you need to take care of there. As you are thinking of the post office in your accounting section, add a note to take care of something for your proposals section - doesn't matter how it's organized in the system, it just gets done.

I'm not sure if this was helpful, but I am happy to try again on this or help out with any other question - OF has been an amazing system for me and I am happy to try and give my experiences with my best practices.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don1 View Post
That being said, I have set up project folders for each "department. Potentially, this might be the incorrect way of setting OF up. I read some threads and maybe these should be contexts. That worries me because I cannot relegate an action to more than one context. Again, perhaps I am not setting things up correctly. Example: I need to go to the post office to mail invoices but I also need to go to the post office to mail proposals. This would be two entries (not efficient) for the same errand.
In my opinion, you should not worry about the fact that you might have multiple "take XYZ to post office for mailing" actions active at once. If you set the context for those actions to something like Errands:Post Office, OF allows you to easily view all of the actions you might take in a given context, such as a trip to the Post Office. Those actions have nothing to do with each other except that you accomplish them all in the same place, so trying to somehow combine them into one is not the way to go. If you did somehow manage to do so (perhaps a daily "Take daily outgoing materials to Post Office" action) you would still need some means of tracking all the different items that should be handled in that task, and you've lost the accountability from any given project for the materials being handled properly. If you forget to take the proposals on the trip to the Post Office, you've still got the incomplete action there to remind you that it hasn't been done in my scheme, but in the "Take daily outgoing materials to the Post Office" scheme you've lost track. You can't look at a project and know with any confidence that you took that document to be mailed

Quote:
Another example: I need to talk to a client about a job we are working on but I also need to talk to the clients accounts payable department about a past due invoice.
Again, I would decompose this into multiple tasks to be tracked separately. A good model is to consider how you would keep track of the things to be done if you had some people you could delegate the work to. If you had your accounting department call the A/P department, and your creative genius talk to theirs, with a little bit of success hopefully those two roles will be filled by different people, right?
 
These comments do help. Additional advise is appreciated. I am much better at seeing something already set up and modifying it to my needs than creating something from new. Presently I will stick with the Department/Project setup and will need to tweek the contexts provided by OF.

I wonder if I am setting things up correctly? Example: finance project>bookkeeping task list>pay bills. Do you or do you not list the bills individually (which the accounting software already does) and there are many. Of course paying a bill has several tasks if broken down. There is the task of paying/reporting the bill in the accounting software. There is the actual printing of the checks (computer context?) if that is the appropriate method. There is the making a payment electronically (online context?) if that is the appropriate method. Then the post office trip (errand: post office context), if needed.

Perhaps creating a "pay bills" task set to a specific day of the week and recurring weekly and just using the accounting system to manage the specifics of who. The payment methods would then not be recorded. Isn't that an important part of GTD?
 
Track things at the level of detail that you need to track to make sure they get done. You'll have to decide what that level of detail is for yourself. One of the factors I use to decide that for myself is how likely I am to be called away from a task, and how much context I'll need to get back to where I was before being interrupted, and to ensure that all the necessary steps are completed. If it is crucial that steps be carried out in a particular order, or with a particular timing, I'm going to put more detail into that project, because it will help guide me through the process. Many things may turn out to be cookie-cutter operations (paying the bills for regularly recurring expenses, for example) and can be neatly handled with repeating projects or Curt Clifton's Populate Template Placeholders scripts (available here) so you don't have a lot of extra typing to do. And there's nothing that says you have to track everything in OF, either, if you have something that does the job for you now. It might be reasonable to have a monthly "pay recurring bills" action that just reminds you to run your accounting package and cut all the checks there if it gives you the tools you need to track the payments.

Every month or quarter, take a little time to think about how well your tools served you, and where improvements would be welcome. You don't have to get your workflow, list of contexts/projects, organization, etc. perfect the first day. OmniFocus will let you evolve a system that works for you.
 
Early on with my experience with OF, I learned what level of breaking down actions I was comfortable with. In the most strict aspect of GTD, you are supposed to break everything down to its most atomic level of action. However, I found that it became more work to spell out each step of certain activities and then mark them as complete rather than just assume I knew the small steps to complete something. If I had an action to make a PB&J sandwich, I didn't need to list every step along the way to make that sandwich complete.

Your situation sounds like if you had actions to pay your bills and your accounting software is set up in a way to make sure everything gets paid, then I would leave it at that - no need to duplicate all the specific actions in OF where you have to return and mark everything complete. OF can just remind you to head over to your accounting software to make it happen. For example, I do film/DVD production. If I have a project where I need to create a disc, I don't list every action in OF (Import footage, make menus, author DVD, burn disc, etc) since all of those steps happen in the software I use to make the DVDs - it would be extra work to enter all of those actions unnecessarily. But I do use OF to create an action to tell me to make a DVD as a part of a certain project.

And you mention an issue that OF wouldn't have recorded that each specific bill had been paid and how - unless you need some sort of record in OF of completed tasks or your accounting software doesn't have clear alerts if certain bills are unpaid, then I wouldn't worry about it. As long as it gets done, then it shouldn't matter...
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by needles27 View Post
And you mention an issue that OF wouldn't have recorded that each specific bill had been paid and how - unless you need some sort of record in OF of completed tasks or your accounting software doesn't have clear alerts if certain bills are unpaid, then I wouldn't worry about it. As long as it gets done, then it shouldn't matter...
To underscore this: OF is, in part, about making sure that you don't lose track of things that need to be done. Bookkeeping software is about making sure you have detailed records of things that you have done. If you need to check whether you paid a particular bill, look in your checkbook (or your bookkeeping software).
 
Again, many thanks.

I wonder if there is a feature or script that will do this:

A job is entered as a project. Once that project is complete I check it off in OF and it disappears. I then have to enter it as a invoice task. Can I make so that once I complete it as a project it automatically gets moved to or is created in the invoicing project folder?
 
Why not have invoicing be part of the project? Make up a job template that does all of the steps you do for each job (including getting paid), and use it to create a project for each job. It sounds like you are making a project for each job to do the job part, and then tossing the business of getting paid into another project that commingles the financial end of all of the jobs.
 
I am getting how you are organizing your projects, and it might be working against you - if you have projects organized in folders by "new business" and "marketing" and "invoicing" etc, then that makes the possibility that one of your Jobs would have actions spread all over the place - and if that works best for you, then great. But it does create situations like the one you mentioned, where a new project comes in the door, and you have to go around to many different OF projects scattered in many different folders to update every action needed to complete this job. I do what whpalmer suggested which is to make one OF project (living in a folder named "Active Projects") for each work project I have open. That way, this one container can have every individual action needed to complete the project - from making a phone call to get the new business to depositing the check in the bank.

Last edited by needles27; 2009-06-02 at 12:13 PM..
 
 


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