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Organizing vs Doing! Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Although I am not new to the Mac or the never-ending hunt for the perfect organizer, I am relatively new to OmniOutliner (and only just the other day started using KGTD, which I love!!!). So, with a certain degree of Omni newbie humility, here are some thoughts:

1. Elegant and efficient vs a work avoidance tool. There have been many great ideas submitted here, some that I agree would be wonderful to have in an organizer app. However, some strike me as being, well, a bit much. In my opinion, there are some people (certainly nobody here) who spend far too much time organizing their work and very little time actually doing the work. Or, put another way, with a slight variation to an old adage: Life happens while you're organizing.

I used to work with someone who had a very minimalist approach to organization. (Boy, is that an understatement!) He had so much going on in his many businesses and life, I for one could never keep up (not many could). Anyway, his two "organizational tools" were one of those Month-at-a-Glance deskpad calendars and a small notebook that he carried around with him. That's it! I remember many a meeting where you would look around the table and some would have their laptops out, others their PDA's. But him, just a pen and that small notebook. And he would be the one who would get things done far ahead of the rest of us. (That's when I learned a valuable lesson: When in meetings, always be mindful of the one with the small notebook. He/she is probably the one to focus on.) I know it's a matter of whatever works: this man's "system" or yours. But for me, I want something that will support me in my work, not be the work.

2. A hammer is sometimes just a hammer!
We've all seen this, in this forum and others, where some want a certain product to do things that it was never intended to. All things to all people! But, probably like many of you, I just want an app to do elegantly and efficiently what it was designed to do. Whenever an app goes beyond that, then "software bloat" becomes a huge issue. I sense that Omni is always mindful of this, based on their products that I have tested and used so far. I hope that OminFocus will end up the same way: elegant, easy-to-use, fast and efficient. If somebody out there wants a backscratcher in their software, well, then, uh, buy one! But, please, let's keep OminFocus as clean and as focused (sorry!) as possible.

3. The beauty of a gentle learning curve. I am one of those weirdos who actually enjoys reading manuals (software and others) from cover to cover. But, when first opening any application, I also want to be able to figure it out pretty quickly too without the manual. (One of many reasons why I use a Mac.) That has been my experience with each of the Omni products I have tried. But there have been other apps (we all have our horror stories, I'm sure) where that has not been the case. One that comes to mind for me? LifeBalance. (I mention it here only because someone posted that they wanted OmniFocus to use it as some kind of a model. Don't, OmniPeople! Please, don't!) I tried LB last year, and abandoned it after one month. My overall impression is that it is one of those products which is far more interested in helping users organize their lives rather than helping them live it. So, whenever I read here that some want OminFocus to contain things like project value ratings, relativity weighting tools (my words, not yours), scoring models, mood ring values, astrological chart comparisons, and so on, I want to throw up (I schedule it of course!). As I said above, I think the good people at Omni have a very grounded sense of precisely what it is they want their products to do. I hope that continues with their design of OmniFocus.

Anyway, thanks for reading. Like you, I cannot wait for the OminFocus debut. And, to the OmniPeople, thank you for all that you do. Your products are powerful, simple and elegant. Please keep it that way.

Nice post, John. It seems an inadequate response, but it pretty much says it all: +1. =)
Well thought out post John.

I believe you make excellent points, but would like to add a couple of my own.

I agree there is a fine balance between software gloat and a simple app. But either one can create headaches.

If an app is too simple and is not addressing issues that it should, then it becomes more work. Too many software companies make 'simple' apps as an excuse to get out of the work it takes to make an elegant app.

And too many companies make bloated apps as an excuse to get out of making an elegant app.

Your... life happens while you are organizing... is also a valid point.

The problem with software... I want it to do the organizing... not me. Your example of the man who got all kinds of things done with nothing but a simple pen and notebook is inspiring, and I know there have been many people in the past who have gotten many things done with simple tools.

In my case, I have a palm and use life balance and I get more done than the plethora of people at work who have nothing other than a notepad and pen. Not to mention the difference it makes when I can search for a note in my palm about some arcane information that is needed and watching them shuffle through 20 notepads trying to find the same lost note.

I do sometimes wonder if the time spent organizing is worth the time... I am still answering yes. Even if it is for piece of mind that something isn't lurking behind the corner that I have forgotten about.

My point is... much of the amount of information you are responsible for depends upon the type of job you have and also the amount of responsibility you feel for the information that floats by you.

A construction worker who digs ditches is not going to have much need for organizing their information. They come in, their boss tells them what to do, they do it and go home.

But in this new workplace, more and more people are responsible for managing themselves. To make sense of the bazillion pieces of information floating by and new ways of determining what the best thing to do at any given time is. This includes what we have to do at home as well as what we do at 'work'.

The model is changing...

We need new tools with the new model. We need tools that give us less work and not more.

In response for Life Balance.... they have never attempted to organize your entire life. You do as much as you want to do. I think they have the best model out there for GTD. That isn't to say there's no need for improvement, there is a lot of improvements that could make less work for the user.

There was a user on the Life Balance forums named Ratz who posted a model of using GTD with LifeBalance. That posting opened up Life Balance for me. One of my perceived problems with Life Balance is they tried to remain too open. An application that allows a user to use it how they want. If they had focused toward a GTD model, they would have had more success.

We agree on making a hammer a hammer. Create a GTD application that is elegant and the application will sell. Not an organizing application that can be used with any system that you currently use.

I'm hoping OmniFocus will also show some of the insight for making less work and being more organized.

If you haven't read Getting Things Done by David Allen, you may want to pick it up.

Here is one of the best articles I've seen on creating a simple app:

Last edited by SpiralOcean; 2007-03-25 at 12:19 PM..
It's interesting, I have the same thoughts about balancing my checkbook, or creating a budget for money. Is it worth the time spent into knowing how much money I have to spend? I keep answering yes.

If I had a lot of money... a lot of money... then maybe I wouldn't need to track it all.

If I had a lot of time, or chose a job where all I did was show up and ask the boss what I need to do for the day, then maybe I wouldn't need to organize.

But I don't have either of those. What I want OmniFocus to be, is the boss, I want to show up to OmniFocus and say, what do I need to do for the day. And because I have made my own decisions, put my own items into OmniFocus, I am effectively my own boss.
The point of GTD is not to organize for organizing sake.

The point of GTD is to organize so when you are ready to do... you don't have to think at all about what to do.

You are at a phone... here's a list of the calls to make.
You are at a computer... here's a list of the things you can do on a computer.
You are at a grocery store... here's a list of the things you need from the grocery store.

You are spending time with Bob... here's a list of the things you could bring up to Bob.

The human mind brings up all these things in strange times. When driving home from work... oh, I need to call Bob about what food I should bring to the party. You can either capture it then, or forget about it and maybe remember when you see Bob.

Last edited by SpiralOcean; 2007-03-25 at 12:20 PM..
justG, I'm glad you liked my post. And, no, yours wasn't an "inadequate response," but short and sweet! Thank you.

SpiralOcean, thank you, you made some valid points. I'm glad that LifeBalance works for you. Ultimately, that's what this is all about: finding and using tools that help us to deal effectively with the many things we need to get done in our own little worlds in order to live much more rich and fulfilling lives. If LifeBalance helps you with that, great! And thank you also for the link to that article. I found it interesting.

Semantics can be troubling sometimes. But, in my mind, there is a vast difference between simple-ness and simple-ton. In fact, Apple is the very embodiment of the word simple, in the way I envision it at least, with their hardware design, the intuitive nature of their software, and so on. Three small examples come to mind: First, when Steve Jobs introduced Apple's remote control at MacWorld a year or so ago he held up theirs and also one of the others commonly used. It was almost laughable. Apple's was dwarfed by the other, not just in size but buttons. Yet, Apple's does exactly what it's supposed to do, without a lot of busy and useless garbage getting in the way. They essentially transferred the user's choices from the remote to the software in the computer, rendering the remote's function to that of a pointer, for lack of a better word. Second, I recall reading about one of Steve Jobs's dictates in his design overview to his iPhone development team. He wanted to be able to accomplish a specific action in no more than three steps (unlike most cellphones out there). If their prototype came back with a design that had even one step more than that, he kicked it back. My third example is Apple's System Preferences menu. Until OS 10.4 came along, whenever you closed this menu you also had to quit it as well. But, finally, Apple figured out the intent of the user: if they close that menu, they are probably done with it. So, why force the user to also have to quit it? Now when you close that menu, it quits at the same time. These are things that we probably don't even think about, which is as it should be. That's what I mean by simple. Perhaps a better term would be highly intuitive design. Anyway...

As for David Allen's book, I have read it. In fact, as far as I'm concerned, if there is anything that demonstrates simplicity it is the ideas contained in that book (Ex. 43-Folders).


Last edited by keone; 2007-04-08 at 04:16 AM..

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