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Some advice needed on having an "work on this list" Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I've noticed that everytime I open OmniFocus I get sucked into the app and start playing with it instead of actually doing something. Or I become hesitant of checking OF because I know I will get overwhelmed with both the program and the content (yes I know). I've been playing different filters etc but it just doesn't seem to work.

What I would like to do is to once in a while (a couple of times per week) determine what I should work on for the next day(s) and have that list easily available to me.

Is there some easy way to do this? Any advice?

(yes, I know I should do this within OF but it seems that it doesn't work for me - I've been trying to do this for a long time but it just doesn't work for me)
 
You can drag and drop actions from OmniFocus into another application (TextEdit, for example) and make a little list of what you are going to work on. Those items in the list will be links to the OmniFocus actions, so you can just click on them to open OmniFocus to that action and check it off when you've completed one (then close or hide OF before you get distracted!)
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
You can drag and drop actions from OmniFocus into another application (TextEdit, for example) and make a little list of what you are going to work on. Those items in the list will be links to the OmniFocus actions, so you can just click on them to open OmniFocus to that action and check it off when you've completed one (then close or hide OF before you get distracted!)
Dr. Palmer, you make an interesting suggestion. I'm impressed with how you always mention a feature that might be potentially useful. Clearly you know OF well. That's why I joust with you. I'm hoping I might learn something.

I perceive Jem's point to be that he's lost in the features, that he loses his trajectory and gets far afield in his navigation from what he was trying to do. Would you agree that his point is yet another indirect allusion to the fact that, while OF is feature-rich, it lacks at the Perspective level the capability for using Perspectives in an integrated, cyclically repeatable way?

Instead, one gets tangled in application features. One actually loses perspective (lower case "p") and becomes confused by the myriad potential alternative navigational paths, and trying to figure which would be most appropriate for getting things done.

I think that, though OF may possess just about all that it needs to be a "trusted system" for capturing what one needs to GTD, its current inability to manage workflow in a definable and cyclically repeatable way (together with its lack of reporting capabilities) allow the user to get easily lost in the features. This tendency is built in, I believe, given the application's lack such meta-level management capabilities.

Getting "lost", ie., losing one's presence of mind as to one's intentions, because of the complexity of feature combinations, coupled with lack of documentation of many of them, undercuts OF's capabilities as a "trusted system" of record.

But I'm not trying either to "slam" OF nor to be provocative. On the contrary. I'd suggest that, if any software publisher could produce GTD software with flexible capabilities for user definition of GTD-process-navigation, it would be Omnigroup.

What do you think?
 
I think everyone has a differing ability to focus at times, and that it probably doesn't have a whole lot to do with the application, any application. I spend a lot of time working with kids in my son's first grade class, and they seem a lot like a lot of adults I encounter -- possessed of the attention span of a squirrel on crack at some times, and insanely focused at others. That ability to focus seems to vary quite a bit with the desire to actually get some work done, too.

I don't find Jem's request to be all that strange. I remember postings from someone who had difficulty concentrating if the sidebar list showed any contexts other than the ones he was actively using at the moment. There are plenty of people walking around who can't resist tinkering if there's something to tinker with, especially if the alternative is doing something that isn't nearly as interesting. Some of us get caught up in a desire to polish things that just don't really need to be polished, too. For example, I wrote some applescript the other day to look at projects where I had no more actions to complete and set the completion date of the project to the precise date and time of the most recently completed action in the project. Why did I do that? Beats me, I rarely even look at the completion date! It sure seemed important at the time, though :-) You can say "well, if OmniFocus was a simpler program, you wouldn't have those opportunities for distraction" and to some extent you would be correct, but I actively use most of OmniFocus' complexity, so that wouldn't be attractive, and even a seemingly simple program such as TextEdit actually has a bunch of cool stuff to play with, and I could easily waste a few hours exploring it in some detail. If Jem has figured out that a personal secret to success is to minimize the time spent in the presence of distractions, good for Jem! The notion that "I don't get to spend any time playing with OmniFocus until I complete these tasks" might even be a spur to productivity...

Some of us do well working or studying at the library because it is nice and quiet and there are thousands of books there to consult if needed. Others of us find it difficult or impossible to work there because there are thousands of books there in addition to the one we need to read, and the temptation to investigate them is hard to resist. Does that make the library somehow flawed? No, it just means that we might be better off grabbing the books we need for the next week and studying elsewhere.
 
When I'm fantastically behind and need to force myself to put my nose down and get stuff done quickly, I use a variant of what Bill suggests. Rather than TextEdit, I use OmniOutliner. I have an OO document named On Fire, set up with white text on a bright red background. I don't always use it, but when I need to crunch through some things quickly without distraction it's a lifesaver. I copy the items over, minimize the OF window, park the bright red window in the corner of my screen, and get busy.

Most of the time I live out of OF. I feel like I have a finely tuned set of perspectives now, so I have very little temptation to tinker anymore. My main motivation for using my On Fire document is to avoid my procrastination habit,. That habit lead me to do tasks other than those that should be demanding my attention (or to, um, post on the OF forums).

Cheers,

Curt
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jem View Post
I've noticed that everytime I open OmniFocus I get sucked into the app and start playing with it instead of actually doing something. Or I become hesitant of checking OF because I know I will get overwhelmed with both the program and the content (yes I know). I've been playing different filters etc but it just doesn't seem to work. ...
I don't think the solution is to NOT use OF, although I can only talk from my perspective, which could be wrong for you. Still, I think there is a way to stay in the tool and MAKE it work for you.

A trusted system that you don't trust isn't really that valuable. I'm sure there are a bunch of solutions. Mine is to do a review of Next Actions each day, and to Flag any tasks that either 1. must be done today, or 2. I'd like to do today. :^} They aren't tied to a time so I won't put them in my calendar. If I can get those done I can move to my repeating tasks that have Due Dates, or other Next Actions. It's even possible that I can remove the flags from items if I change my mind and need to re-prioritize.

This might work for you in that it forces you to stay in the Flagged view once you've decided which items belong there. By sticking with this view all day it's much easier to focus. Using the two-step process lets you tweak OF in the morning, (or the night before) but forces you to DO the tasks during the day. If I don't get them done, they are still flagged tomorrow.

I agree that a system like this invites you to constantly tweak, and really that's not a bad thing until you allow yourself to feel like tweaking is a success while you have 5 flagged items that you didn't do. :^}

Also, the advantage of flagging over setting dates is that you never have to move the date forward.

I hope this helps. This works well for me syncing to the iPhone.

-Mark
 
I've been experimenting for a few days. I've set up a document (using Nisus Writer) with a list of things that I need to do.

Obviously it's just been just a few days but it seem to work much better than trying to use OF. Let me explain that a bit: my problem with OF isn't that I doesn't trust it - it's rather that I get sucked in trying to configure it (obviously there is something I need it to do but haven't figured out how to) in various ways. Because of this I sometimes avoid launching OF to check what tasks that are available - not good.

Using the text document gives me a simple uncluttered view that doesn't distract me. On the other hand a text document seem to work poorly for organizing projects and the associated tasks - there OF is superior.

So I'll continue testing this combination: OF for planning and "trusted storage", and a text document for the list of things to do during the day(s).
 
I've created a context called "!Today". At the start of each day, when I plan out which tasks I'm going to do for the day, I drag them from their real context to !Today. It's a poor cousin to proper tagging, but it works for me.
 
Instead of creating a special context for "Today", why not flag the tasks you're interested in completing today, then use a "Flagged" perspective to show only those tasks?

That keeps your Contexts intact (so you can see all your calls, etc. grouped together) and it's really fast. With a single click on a Perspective icon (which you can keep visible in the toolbar all the time), you've got your clean simple view of your hottest items.

Collapse your contexts in the sidebar as much as you want/need to. Expand your list in the main window. Grab a snapshot. Then you're all set. No distractions. No dragging stuff around.
 
Not a bad idea. I started that way, but something about it didn't work for me in 1.6. And now I use flags to distinguish "I have no choice but to do this at some point; the only question is when" (get car inspected) from "I would like to do this" (get car washed).
 
 


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