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OmniFu - It is time to start doing! Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I had to laugh at myself as I have been staying up until 2-3AM for the past few nights entering line after line (years worth) of tasks into OmniFocus and getting them all organized to my liking!

Seems like just yesterday that I had stumbled upon OmniOutliner and been led in the direction of Kinkless. I remember having the same excitement then as I do now about feeling very organized, and hopeful of reaching an even higher level of organization and productivity.

This has been a multi-year experience for me that started with the reading of David Allen's "Getting Things Done" recommended to me by my nearly 60 year old Mother of all people. I have since crossed computer platforms, cell phone platforms, gone from paper to paperless and back again, had two children, and spent quite a bit of money on dozens of pieces of software, books, audio books, and organizational tools. I have also become a regular reader of several productivity blogs and was lucky enough to have been turned onto 43 folders and Merlin Mann's ideas for the whole time.

It has been sort of a search for the Holy Grail of productivity...always in sight, yet just out of reach. Looking back I wonder how I functioned without all of the knowledge and processes that I am now so familiar with, while at the same time realizing that I have not even gotten close to a consistent black belt level of productivity.

Perhaps some of you have been down this same road. Seems like I am always looking for that next book, the better piece of software, etc, etc. All I really need to do now is buckle down to some serious consistency with a thorough weekly review and I think I am there. It is time to stop searching and time to start doing. I am sticking with OmniFocus and going to commit to kicking some serious GTD ass starting right now. Are you with me or against me!?

Thanks Omni Group for all your hard work, and thanks also to all of you users that have been working through the various issues and shaping this program during the Alpha. I just love the way software development has gotten so user friendly these days. I look forward to seeing this program grow while I use it to organize my life and take things to the next level.
I'm with you.

Here's to the next level...
Your story reads a lot like mine. And I'm with you and OmniFocus too!

Here's to "kicking some serious GTD ass!"
I'm sort of with you on this...

Same story about the endless search but I've reached a slightly different conclusion...

I've decided that many tools just don't support the way my mind works. I've been beating myself up forever wondering why I couldn't just GTD - and that's way before David Allen. The truth is I just don't plan projects step by step like strict GTD demands. If you don't understand what I mean it's a little like expecting an artist to describe for you step by step how he/she creates their art. I'm no artist but I'd venture to guess my mind works like one. Somehow things get done - maybe not when I want them to - but they get done.

I'm struggling with whether it makes sense to invest so much time and energy in a tool that demands I think strictly linearly - something I've never really done - or just stick with what I know (pencil & paper?). OF seems to offer one of the best digital GTD solutions but will it work for me??? I'm going to give it a try but from now on tools need to adapt to me not the other way around...
I'm not a real linear thinker either. I try to be, hoping that it'll help me get things done, but usually I end up following a roundabout course.

But I still like using OmniFocus to manage my projects. The app is flexible enough that I can plan a linear project, and as things go awry, just rearrange my actions.

By the time the project is completed, its actions are rarely in the same order as when I started. And some actions have been added or deleted as things have evolved.

OmniFocus helps me think about and remember what's next regardless of the order I work.
Big projects usually scare me, so I tend to put them on hold for a while. OF really helps me (like kGTD did) cause I just start the project, enter an action and then work on the next action. Then I enter the next action, or even two if I'm particularly brave and go from there :)
Two quick comments on this very interesting thread:

1) I don't think GTD demands "linear" planning, nor does OmniFocus. GTD is merely a way of getting you to place your intentions in plain sight where they will be actionable, and OmniFocus in turn is merely a listing & recording tool.

When you visit a project so as to generate some sort of action & keep it moving forward, that's planning. And how you do this planning is up to you: a sketch pad, a mind map, etc. Moreover, there's nothing to say you can't come up with ideas the old-fashioned way - in the shower, while driving, while walking, etc. Also, I like Allen's idea of "natural planning" - it's anything but linear.

If you like paper better, there may be other reasons why this is so. But the why's don't matter; just stick with paper!

2) GTD doesn't address a few topics that many people find important: priorities, values, and (relevant to this thread) avoidance, whether deliberate or unconscious. As dijk182 has observed, coming up with just one next action for a project is a great way to slice big scary projects down into manageable bits that can actually be done. But what if you stop creating next actions - or stop doing the ones you've created? Something else is going on, and that something else is avoidance.

I find "avoidance" to be a more useful term for this phenomenon than "procrastination" - it's less prejorative and more psychologically accurate. Avoidance can consist of making lots of lists but never doing anything; reading still another book on preparing or planning, instead of actually (gulp) doing; fiddling endlessly with software, the Web, & computers (a growing addiction across the world); creating distractions accidentally-on-purpose; etc. Clearly a tool like Omnifocus can exacerbate the problem if not handled with care.

A good book on finding ways to get more work done, enjoy life more, and procrastinate less is "The Now Habit," by Neil Fore, available in paperback.

A good book on learning to make good rather than "perfect" choices, so as to do more and agonize less, is "The Paradox of Choice."

And a good program for anyone who's really struggling with avoidance, and who yearns to pursue their true values more effectively, is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Check out "Get Out of Your Mind and Into Your Life."

Last edited by Usable Thought; 2007-12-01 at 06:24 AM.. Reason: Get a few observations in here I missed.
I can totally relate to software not working the way your mind does. I have been using Notebook for just this reason. It is more or less a digital notebook that can be arranged any way you want. However, as usual with most software, there were a few areas that didn't quite match up to the way I work. So once again I was doing all kinds of crazy work arounds that I won't go into. I am still using it for keeping all required info about my projects, but have moved task management to Omnifocus. I am over trying to have everything in one program. I believe that this issue - the hope of finding a software developer that thinks just like you - is what drives one to keep on looking for more software. ....The dream of finding the perfect piece of software that thinks just like you do. GTD Nirvana! I can't tell you how many times I have thought "OK, I am going to look around for a while for something that works better for me, then I'll really be organized". Meanwhile hours and days go by of mid-grade productivity.

Paper has always worked best for me, but I manage a couple dozen projects at work at a time, and moving things forward through a Moleskin just doesn't get it done for me. However, I am jealous of those it does work for. Such a nice low tech solution. I do always carry a notebook with me though. I also carry a Levenger wallet with a notecard pocket. EVERYTHING gets written down during the day somewhere. That is my trusted system. Making sure things get captured and nothing slips through the cracks is my biggest requirement. Then I input this info into the computer for tracking. No matter what, I have a hard copy of my day.

I do not think so linearly either. For example, everyone of my projects in OmniFocus is run in Parallel (not next action restricted). I can clearly see how having only next actions available can help one focus, but my mind does not work that way. In fact I prefer it the other way. I manage construction projects with so many moving parts that it is actually more beneficial to actually review every task all of the time. This helps me keep the bigger picture in mind. Many businesses cannot use MS Project because it takes so much time to input and manage all of the data that in many instances you almost need another employee to keep it all up to date. I am trying to minimize task handling and keep in simple. For now, I am just focusing on inputing all of my data as fast as possible, doing daily and weekly reviews, and printing to paper so that I have a hard copy in the field. I can see where using the next action features is in my future though, because I can openly admit that there are tasks in my list that have been there for a while because they are actually projects and the first task to start the project is not clear. I am working on that.

@Usable Thought:
I think that I am using OmniFocus as more or less a listing & recording tool, but I am impressed by its capabilities of inputing tasks that don't start until a future date, dependent tasks, etc. Maybe one day I'll get things that tight, but for now I am happy to have all my tasks neatly organized for review by project or context.

I find that using the Franklin-Covey methodology of planning your week by reviewing your priorities/values/goals/mission and scheduling your time based on what is most important to you very helpful in keeping a good life balance. I like to use both GTD and the 7 Habits together. I think they go hand in hand. There is a white paper summarizing both in a nutshell Here. It is written for a blackberry phone program, but has a simple explanation of both practices in it and some may find it useful.

I am guilty of avoidance/resistance myself. There have been many times that I have had my lists in perfect order and instead of getting down to business and hitting productivity warp speed I instead have started reviewing my system for improvements. Merlin Mann recommended a book called the War of Art and one idea in this book was that people can be scared of being totally productive which could lead to a big change in one's life (success/upward mobility). I can't help but to think I am this way for some reason. It sounds kind of crazy. But seems to be true. I have got to get over this and make sure I am getting things done, not merely getting things captured.

Another book I found very helpful was Brian Tracy's Eat That Frog.

His Goals Audio CD was also excellent.

Last edited by oschultz; 2007-12-01 at 07:25 AM..
Originally Posted by TheSteveW View Post
... The truth is I just don't plan projects step by step like strict GTD demands. If you don't understand what I mean it's a little like expecting an artist to describe for you step by step how he/she creates their art. I'm no artist but I'd venture to guess my mind works like one. Somehow things get done - maybe not when I want them to - but they get done...
Maybe you're already really good at processing your Inbox.
I don't think " strict GTD" requires linear thinking at all , actually the book teaches " the natural plannning model " and if you've been to any of David's seminars or heard his cd's he talks about " not limiting yourself to outline style planning " ..

I've been travelling a similar road for the past 10 years starting with Franklin Quest [pre franklin-covey ] Ascend 97 ; )

Omni focus is the greatest tool I've found for GTD so far for two reasons [ymmv]
The Review feature [something I struggle with making myself do ]

and Curt's " verify next action exists " script

I am very good at capturing thoughts , projects , actions etc ..
I'm also very good at leaving them dry up and die on my action lists

Forcing myself to review my active projects and verify that nothing is sitting on my active list without a next action in place , have been a real boost to my productivity .

Personally , I think the verify next actions script should be baked into the review feature changes if they ever happen ?

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