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Using OmniFocus & iCal together in harmony Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Recently, I have forced myself to apply the DA rule about what goes in my calendar and what goes in my lists and I thought I would share what I learned out of that applied to OmniFocus.

I found that I kept a lot of things that were due on a specific day in my lists. It made sense at the time. This software has due dates and times so it seems like the right thing to do.

Well, DA says that anything that has to happen on a specific day goes in your calendar so I decided to make a conscious effort to follow that rule.

Situation: We have an end of year Girl Scout ceremony to attend. There will be a dress rehearsal and we also need to make a costume for the little play that is part of the program. Also, we need to pick up salad to contribute to the dinner.

I schedule the ceremony and rehearsal in iCal. They are appointments and this is the obvious place to put them.

As I’m thinking of the event, I realize that I would like to get it on video. I schedule ‘Charge the video camera’ in iCal since this must happen on the day before the ceremony.

I schedule ‘Pick up 3 family salads from restaurant’ in iCal since this must happen just before we go to the ceremony.

As I’m thinking of the event, I realize that I need to bring Girl Scout dues with me. I schedule ‘Get 5 dollars cash from bank for Girl Scout dues’ in iCal since this must happen just before we go to the ceremony.

In OmniFocus, I create a project under my ‘Kids’ folder* called ‘Make costume for Girl Scout ceremony’. Since the costume needs to be ready for rehearsal, I give the project a due date of the day of the rehearsal. I give the project some actions and we are all set. We work on actions from the costume project as we have time and OmniFocus will warn us as the due date grows near.

In my old way of doing things, I would have created a ‘Girl Scout ceremony’ project and placed everything in there. My first fear was not having all the actions to complete ‘Girl Scout ceremony’ in one place. Well, I am now converted to using iCal for all ‘has to happen on this day’ actions. Everything went off without a hitch. Nothing was missed. When I look at my calendar, I know that I have those times spoken for and I can’t schedule other things during those times. Now I look at OmniFocus as a list manager and there is nothing date critical in there. Date critical things alert me from iCal.

* I generally use folders in OmniFocus to group projects by who I’m doing them for. For example, I have Personal, Wife, Kids, Work
Great post; thanks for sharing! Can you go into a little more detail on how you scheduled the short-duration tasks like battery-charging and salad pickup in iCal? I've always used OmniFocus for stuff like that and just checked my lists frequently to make sure I didn't miss anything; I'm interested in hearing more about your approach.

Somewhere in either the first or second DavidCo "List Managers" podcasts, someone described their practice in a fairly neat way - I'm probably mangling it, but I remember it as "Do at actions go on the calendar; Do on actions go in a list."

That description sounded a lot like how I use OmniFocus and iCal together; I can't quite articulate how I decide between calendar event vs. all-day calendar event vs. OmniFocus action. Maybe if I could, I'd be better able to help the folks that want a calendar view in OmniFocus. :-)
Thanks Brian

According to GTD, three things go on your calendar...
Time-specific actions
Day-specific actions
Day-specific information

The next action lists (OmniFocus) get the ‘as soon as I can’ actions

For ‘Charge the video camera’...
I placed this on my calendar the day before the ceremony from 8pm to 8:30pm which is usually a good time for me to do something like that. I set two reminders in iCal. One for 3 hours before and one for 15 minutes before to make sure I wouldn’t forget.

For ‘Pick up 3 family salads from restaurant’...
I placed this on my calendar just before the appointment for the ceremony and gave myself 30 minutes to get it done. The great thing about placing this on the calendar is that I have to consider how long it will take to get it done. It’s easy to not consider how much time things take when I’m looking at a list and I end up over committing myself and wind up late and frustrated. I wasn’t late to the ceremony because I had realistically planned out what I needed to do beforehand on a calendar.

The ‘Get 5 dollars cash from bank for Girl Scout dues’ was placed in my calendar for a thirty minute duration just before the salads task.

Now when I looked at my calendar for the day of the ceremony, I knew I had to leave an hour before the event to get all my prep stuff taken care of.

The day this actually happened, I ended up saving some time by picking up the salad and money on the way home from work so we didn’t have to rush out before the ceremony. I didn’t execute the events exactly as they were planned but the calendar allowed me to understand what needed to get done and how much time I had to work with and I was able to improvise a little to make my life a little easier. And that made me much happy. No frustrated Girl Scouts waiting in the car while daddy ordered salad.
Also, here's a couple of big differences I've noticed in my workflow now that I'm working this way.

Now I check my calendar FIRST to see what I have to do. Then, when I find free time, then I check OmniFocus to see what I can do in the context that I'm in.

Given the costume project in the first post. Let's say that I really don't have the free time to squeeze in making the costume between everything else. I would talk to my wife and kids and plan time(s) that we can work on the costume. We would use our calendars to figure out when we are free. Then, I would create event(s) called 'Work on Girl Scout costume' in iCal. When the time for the appointment(s) came, I would go to OmniFocus to see what we needed to do.
Great food for thought. Thanks!
Use this script from the forum tu turn....actions into events on iCal. It works great.

And here you will find the procedure how to install it:

So you dont need to jump between both to much. :-)
Is there any way to make this script automated to work when OmniFocus syncs?
Originally Posted by filontheroad View Post
Use this script from the forum tu turn....actions into events on iCal. It works great.

And here you will find the procedure how to install it:

So you dont need to jump between both to much. :-)
What's the script actually do then? Take dates from OF and shove them into iCal ?
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
Great food for thought. Thanks!
Ahh, for me this is displaying the need both for a calendar view (two way integrating iCal stuff), and the need for cumulative time planning.

sriggs, it seems like your "picking up the salad and money on the way home from work so we didn’t have to rush out before the ceremony" could have been pre-seen (without relying on your noticing) with well executed Contexts?

I still struggle with actions that aren't day/time specific. I'm happy with start and due, as it allows OF to make me aware so I can do actions given the right context. But I'm not a DA purist, and I like to see things together.
Yep, I'm having to looking at my calendar program for any tasks that are time-sensitive (needs to be done) by a certain date. Then I have to look at OmniFocus for my tasks that aren't time sensitive and can be done in any order at my own discretion.

Sometimes I'll look at my OmniFocus context list, look at this week's schedule and see where I can schedule myself to do a certain project or task. I usually want to delete the task from OmniFocus and put it in my calendar program as a task.

It would be cool if OmniFocus had a calendar view that shows any tasks that have a due date or a scheduled start date.

This was a productivity tip I took from Zen-To-Done. Look at my projects list and schedule three big rocks to put into this week's schedule. I'd usually like to finish Big Rock Number 1 by Tuesday or Wednesday, Big Rock Number 2 by Friday, and hopefully squeeze in Big Rock Number 3 by Saturday or Sunday.

This would make a calendar view in OmniFocus beneficial for me.

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