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Getting lost in the sauce...need ideas. Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
'Evening everyone,
Wanted to toss this line out there...

OK, so I do a REALLY good job at getting all my stuff into OF on the Mac (which later syncs with my iPhone and iPad). I feel like I know the ins and outs of the software very well, as I've been using it since v1.0. The structure I have is very organized (projects, tasks, folders, etc.)

Problem is, I've got SO MUCH stuff in there (440 projects with 6227 actions) that, well, I'm finding it hard to find a solution that makes it MANAGEABLE (which I feel is different from being 'organized.')

Sure, I can easily FIND a project, or a task. But I feel like every week, I'm going in, moving due dates (maybe I just shouldn't have those projects as having due dates, huh?) and I feel like I just lose grip of everything on my plate. Granted, those 440 projects are not all high priority, a lot can be put in a "Someday" folder...

Basically what kind of organization of all your stuff do you currently do to ensure you have the detail level AND the 5- or 10,000-foot level view of everything you have? Do you have a "This Week" folder? Do you put everything else in a "On Hold" status so you're only looking at what you want to work on for that week?

I will admit that my weekly review is not done the way David Allen suggests we should...maybe that's my problem. I feel like if I miss a review, in a two week period I've got some 150 overdue tasks that have to be redated. I always feel like there's a project that SHOULD be worked on this week that's nestled in with the other 100+ personal 'projects' I have...and I just don't have my finger on the pulse.

Suggestions? Tips? Organization Stories you can share?

Maybe I just need to read "Getting Things Done" again to gain a fresh perspective...

If you can let me know what works for you, I'd certainly appreciate it...

Thanks in advance,
Hi Marc,

To me it sounds like your issue is either that you put everything into OF and then neglect to actually do anything (=lazy but organised) ;p or that you might profit from using the next action concept more.

As I understand you you have a lot of things you would like to do at some point and I recommend putting those under someday/maybe for the simple reason that, as long as you have actually important stuff to be done, those projects and actions are getting in the way. They obscure your sight on what is important to be done right now. So stuff them away and look at them when you got nothing else to be done.

Then I recommend going through all the other projects (this not in someday/maybe) and see if they are still up to date, if any are time crucial etc and mark them accordingly.

And finally, make use of next actions and concepts. I'm not sure if I understood you correctly, could you give a little insight into your daily workload? Are you doing things on the lists? Or are you occupied with other stuff? Are you adding more new tasks than you actually finish every day?
Hi Christian,
Thanks very much for the reply. Don't get me wrong, I get a lot of stuff done, but it's the important project that gets buried in the 'less important' that I find myself scrambling to complete. I like your idea of Someday (I've always known it was a 'category' per se, but I think I'll take your advice and use it for Less Important as well). So let me ask you, how do you organize projects/folders?

Do you put projects you absolutely must do that week into a different folder, or if you keep all active projects in one folder and flip the switch between Active and On Hold? That's my biggest thing, I think, is ensuring I'm working on the most important PROJECT, not necessarily the most important TASK. Hopefully I'm making myself clear.

Thanks again!
Well for once I recommend using the "due date" option pretty carefully. As has been pointed out by many people, using it on everything you want to do on a specific date can easily let you lose overview over what absolutely has to be done until that date.

I experienced that it is very tempting to put a due date on something I wanted to get done on a certain date, kind of to sort it that way. That works fine until one day you have more things marked for a day than you can actually complete (also factoring in that there is always the unpredictable, unforeseen tasks popping up etc). Then you lose track and have to reassign due dates which will get you more confusion.

That being said I have made some custom perspectives that suit me well. For one I have a "work" perspective that holds all work projects and a "home" one that holds private stuff. Those are sorted so that flagged tasks and projects are on top. That way I can flag important projects (which also flags the tasks) and then recognise those as the things I need to work on first. After being done with that I work my way through everything else.

Your daily routine could be
-1. tasks/projects that have a due date today or in the near future (for those in the near future you need to predict how long you will need to get them done -> start early enough to actually finish the work needed on the due date). That requires that you really only "due date" such tasks/projects that absolutely have to be done by a fixed date, see above.

2. Work through your "flagged" lists to capture all those projects you deem more important than others. Again, do that after the "due" ones so you do not accidentally miss a due date and get into trouble.

3. If you still have time left, do other projects that you can actually work on (contexts are useful to sort here, like using the "phone" one when you can actually make some calls).

4. If you still have time left or just want to do something not related to "daily routine", check your "someday"-folder for projects of interest. I have such a folder in which I hold several projects like "things to buy", "things to read", "places to go" etc. That way I can capture all information in one place but don't have it in the way during my daily routine.

Perspectives are really useful for such things since they allow you to create views that show you exactly those tasks you can and want to work on. For example, I might have six important and due private projects today. Stil while at the office I can not good work on them (remotely hauling the garbage out would be practical though, no doubt) though so I use the "work" perspective. Wich shows me those tasks I am being paid for to work at. And so on. Did that make sense? English happens not to be my first language :p
Something that I've had some success with that you might try is to divide out from your general work context the key type of work that you do (the type of work that moves everything else forward) and put that at the top of your contexts list. I'm a lawyer; for me, that's writing. If I put in as much writing time as I can tolerate every day on the projects I have up front, the hardest work on those projects will be done, and I am soon able to close out those projects.

I use only real, not fake, due dates; so then I can confidently stay in my writing context up to the point that I really have to leave it to handle a due matter.

I don't spend time turning projects on or off or fiddling with start dates for the most part because as long as I have actionable items in my key context those are always going to be a good use of my time.
Being a lawyer myself I can only recommend dictating, it saves a lot of time ;)
I really like Lucas' suggestion, though I don't use it myself as I don't have a convenient "primary" context like he does. It does nicely illustrate using OmniFocus' implicit prioritization scheme (sidebar order).

There's another arrow in the OmniFocus quiver that might prove useful to you. The Review functionality allows you to make sure you are regularly putting eyes on all of your projects, at the frequency needed for each individual project. Active projects can have more frequent reviews, with those on the back burner having less frequent reviews. Each day, you bring up the review mode and see the projects that are due for review, look each one over, and use the Mark Project Reviewed button (not in the default toolbar, but available if you customize the toolbar, or just use the menu or keyboard shortcut) to indicate that you've given it some attention. If you spread out the review cycles, you can get a constant amount of reviewing done each day instead of having to do a mind-numbing pass over hundreds of projects, and if you force yourself to do a little work on each one (if possible) as you review it, that's a painless way to ensure that each project gets some regular attention. For a clever idea (credit goes to Curt Clifton) on how to spread out the reviews efficiently, do a forum search for "prime number review" and read the posts.
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
For a clever idea (credit goes to Curt Clifton) on how to spread out the reviews efficiently, do a forum search for "prime number review" and read the posts.
I'm interested in checking this out, but had no luck with a forum search. Can you point me to it more directly?

You didn't get any hits with the search function? That's odd, as I get quite a few. Here are some of them:

Basic idea: make your review intervals be prime numbers (2, 3, 5, 7, 11, etc.) and you minimize the number of times that you have review cycles of different lengths coinciding. 2 and 5 coincide every 10 days, versus every 4 days for 2 and 4 or 6 days for 2 and 6. Then you take the tasks with review interval n and spread them out over that many days so that only 1/n of them are reviewed each day. You can set both the next review date and the review interval via the Inspector. Key is to do that smaller review every day.
Very useful, thank you. And I see now why I didn't find them -- just a faulty method / assumptions on my part.

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