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How do you all keep track of/manage projects? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hi all,

One of my main problems is keeping track of projects. I'm looking for suggestions on ways I can make project management easier and more efficient. How does everyone here do it?

As a background, I currently use Google Docs for project management. For instance, if I'm building an aquarium, I will create a folder in Google Docs called "Project: Home aquarium". In it will be a document where all my ideas for the aquarium are laid out step-by-step. I then create a project in Omnifocus under the same name as the Google Doc project, with the Next Actions I determined in the planning stage. As I knock of those tasks, I go into the Google Doc to update the plan, i.e. cross out those items I've completed.

That said, it's very unwieldy. Sometimes I'll forget to update the task list because I'm in a hurry, or I'll forget to input the Next Action in Omnifocus, etc. So if you have a better suggestion on project management, please let me know!
What value do you see yourself creating by trying to track the project in two different places instead of just one? Why not do it all with OmniFocus, with links to external documents if you don't like keeping them internally? I'm not understanding why you would want to maintain two parallel lists of next actions, for starters.
I'm not really tracking my projects in OF, rather, OF is more of the "bookmark" that tells me what my immediate NA is for a project. The external document is where I track the project's status. Many times the project is fairly large and requires some subprojects, I can't track this on OF and to do so would require serious tweaking (though this may have changed recently), so I opt to keep the project page separate.

I guess another example would be a mindmap with parts that have been ID'd as sub-projects. I can link multiple projects to that mindmap document, and check off on the sub-projects as they're completed.

If you all know of a way to keep track of this on OF itself, let me know as it would help me be much more efficient.
Again, I'm a bit puzzled as to why you think you can't track a large project in OmniFocus. If you want to be able to manage each sub-project with all of the project management tools, make a folder to contain all of the pieces, and make the sub-projects into projects in that folder.

Perhaps if you outlined the specific obstacles you see to managing a large project in OmniFocus (and your idea of the scale a project needs to be large) we could find some solutions...
Hmmm, would you be able to describe how you would do it on OF? I guess I don't quite know how to explain it. Apologies.
:-) I'm afraid if you don't know how to explain what your question is, no one will be able to answer it.

I'd suggest that you start by watching the tutorial videos here. If that doesn't answer your question, it may help you reformulate your question so we know what the problem is.

If you do still have questions after watching the videos and want to try asking again, it might be helpful to describe an example of a project and sub-projects, and which parts you are currently using OmniFocus for. Even better, you could include some screenshots to show what you're doing. Believe it or not, it is really hard to tell what the actual difficulty is from what you've described.

You could also try contacting the OmniGroup support gurus by email or phone (+1-800-315-6664). There's also a guy who indicates in this thread that he might be willing to screen-share with people looking for help.

OmniFocus is designed to have the flexibility to manage and keep track of complex projects. You probably won't need any hacks or work-arounds once you understand how the software works. Watching the videos will give you a good start.
OK, let me try this example.

One project is to sell our house. There are a number of "sub-projects", dependent projects, dependent tasks, etc. Where, in Omnifocus, can I have one consolidated outline to quickly update the status of each sub-project, dependent project, etc?

I realize that I can focus on just the main project folder, and that will list all the sub-folders, projects, etc, but is there a way I can view everything splayed out in an outline format?

As you mentioned, if you select/focus on a folder in the sidebar, the outline pane on the right of the OmniFocus window will display the contents of that folder in an outline.

That's generally how I manage large projects. Create a folder for the big project, then have the sub-projects in that folder, in rough chronological order. (Initial subprojects at the top, then later ones.)

When you say "splayed out" do you mean in a mindmap-ish diagram form? If that's what you need, you could export from OmniFocus to OmniGraffle, I suppose, but that's not how folks generally use the app. The list approach that OF takes seems to work for most folks, but "most" and "everyone" are different things. :-)
Thanks Brian.

I do mindmap sometimes, but generally I plan out on paper/word processor using an outline format. I just dump everything I think will be important for this project and start arranging it into key components, sub-projects, etc. Then I re-enter everything into OF.

I know I can probably do this outlining/planning in OF itself, but it's more cumbersom and it seems to flow better when I'm just writing/typing things out in an unorganized fashion first. Does this make sense, or am I doing something wrong here?
No, I don't think you're doing anything wrong, but at it's heart OmniFocus is kind of an outliner, so it's hard to make specific suggestions. It sounds like the app isn't quite gelling for your workflow for some reason that we haven't quite put our finger on yet.

Yeah, it does seem like we could save you the effort of bouncing back and forth between two lists, but we need a bit more info. If you can articulate specific friction points, we may be able to help at that point.

One shot in the dark: In a text editor, most folks outline by breaking lines with the Return and Tab keys. That doesn't work as well in OmniFocus, but there are some equivalent keyboard shortcuts that can be almost as fast.

Return - makes a new row
Command-] - indent the current row
Command-[ - outdent the current row
Command-} (Command-Shift-] in other words) - add a new indented row after the selected one
Command-{ (Command-Shift-[) - add a new outdented row after the selected one

That probably won't completely address things, but if you can think of any other friction points and communicate them here or to the support ninjas, we're happy to help.

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