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I have just started 'trying' to get my life in shape w/ GTD, Omnifocus, and iCal. Omnifocus and GTD so far have been great, but I am having trouble understanding iCal/Omnifocus sync functionality.

When I sync iCal/Omnifocus, nothing actually shows up on my Calendar, only on a to-do list, which sort of repeats OF functionality a bit. I was imagining that I would be able to set start due/dates within OF, and those tasks would appear on my calendar...is that possible or do I just have it setup improperly?

How are people finding OF/iCal sync functionality in terms of actual usability?

Thanks all,

Apeman88
 
I just turned off "Show Tasks" in iCal because I found it didn't add anything to my work flow. I have my actions in OF, my appointments in iCal.

I'm new to all of this too though, so I might be missing something.
 
As far as I understand, the only reason to sync OmniFocus with iCal is if you want to then use some third-party device or software that is capable of syncing with iCal To Dos (e.g. Palm device or an app like Anxiety). If you don't use such a device/app, then syncing with iCal doesn't buy you much.

And if you're an iPhone user, iCal syncing will soon be entirely obsolete. Ugh, am I drooling on myself again? :)

-Dennis
 
Thanks for the replies.

I was hoping to be able to limit duplicate inputs if possible. So for example I have a meeting on June 30th at 1PM, (context) work:San Francisco, (project) New app:marketing, I would have to enter that in both iCal and OF independently?

I guess this goes to a best practices question, but would that sort of event/action even exist in OF in the GTD framework?
 
My interpretation of GTD and David Allen's message is that appointments that occur on a specific date belong on your calendar (iCal) and everything else goes on your action list (OmniFocus). This is what I've been doing and it has worked well for me.

So in your example, a meeting on June 30th at 1PM, I'd make an iCal event. I'd put nothing in OmniFocus unless there were some additional actions I needed to perform relating to the meeting (e.g. notes or a presentation to prepare ahead of time, questions to ask during the meeting, follow-up with something afterwards, etc). If I were to add something in OmniFocus, I might also include a start or due date that corresponds to the date I have for the event in iCal.

Hope this helps.

-Dennis
 
I have struggled with the action list / calendar question for a long time, too. Ideally I would like to see an app which has both a robust project/action list like OF AND a calendar. Although actions and events are two separate things according to GTD, they are integrated, such as belonging to the same project or the need to do certain actions before the event (as in the example in the above post from Toadling).

I have not done this (having just gotten the idea from reading the posts in this thread), but here is one possible solution:

- Enter your events in OF under the correct project with a context of "Meeting" or something similar.
- Sync the "Meeting" context between OF and iCal.
- In iCal, drag the resulting ToDo onto the calendar at the correct day/time slot and it is made into a calendar event.

This way you have a record in a single place (OF) of everything associated with a particular project but still have the advantages of having hard events on the calendar which is where the belong.

As I said, I have not tried this, since I have to use Entourage at work, which is Exchange server-based (any good ideas on Entourage/OF integration or syncing iCal/Entourage???).

Eric
 
Personally, I use iCal for the items that are fixed in time - repeating meetings I need to schedule around, or singleton events that nevertheless occur at a specific time/date.

OmniFocus holds my big stack of items that need to get done on the macro level, but don't need to be scheduled at the micro level. (I use the 'Due' column in OF a lot more often than I use the Start column.)

iCal 'pushes' events to me; I 'pull' actions from OmniFocus when I'm between those events and am not sure what to work on next.

In general, iCal *or* OmniFocus will notify me of something, but not both.

(We've heard from several users that they'd like some sort of status report generation in OmniFocus; I think that would probably also help folks feel comfortable with this sort of divided workflow.)
 
OK, I understand the divided workflow.

I can see some real room for integration between OF and iCal (or other cal). I understand that projects are not generally based on a calendar, but if a task has a start/estimate/due date, it just makes too much sense to have those represented on a Calendar without having to enter them twice...or at least an option to add them to a calnedar...

Thanks for the input everyone
 
I'm brand new to this stuff and I'm browsing through the forum to get my head around how best to use OF.

I'm particularly interested in iCal syncing and I had hoped that the iCal sync was about scheduling time around contexts rather than individual actions/tasks.

If contexts are about things like 'where you are' or 'who you're with', then I'd have thought that scheduling time in your calendar to perform actions associated with a particular context would make sense. A simple example might be to schedule some time in the calendar to go the the grocery shop thereby ensuring that you have time in your day to perform all of the actions associated with you 'shopping' context.

Interested to hear what you guys think about this approach and also any tips as to how this might be integrated into the workflow.
 
Perhaps OmniFocus' integration with iCal would be a bit clearer if we did a better job of explaining two things:

In OmniFocus, the "Start" Date is really a "Defer Until" date: it's a way of taking something off your lists until that date, it's not intended to be the exact moment that work is scheduled to begin. (For that sort of schedule-based planning, you might want to check out OmniPlan.)

But perhaps more importantly, the goal of synchronizing with iCal is not to synchronize with iCal itself: the real purpose is to synchronize with OS X's only built-in task database. (We mention "iCal" because that was the only built-in Tiger application which could access that task database.)

The value of synchronizing with the system's task database is so that you can synchronize those tasks with other applications or devices which synchronize with OS X, such as BlackBerry handsets, Palm OS devices, Windows Mobile devices, and many mobile phones. (If OS X doesn't have built-in support for synchronizing tasks to your mobile device, you might want to check out mark/space's Missing Sync products.)

Of course, that sort of synchronization isn't nearly as nice as putting OmniFocus itself in your pocket, which is what we're doing for the iPhone and iPod Touch versions of OmniFocus.
 
 


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