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I'm having a hard time tying omnifocus with my time management. I'm not a super user and perhaps there are some better ways. I know that GTD gets away from managing time directly but it helps me at least to know what I have to do during a week and when I have time to do them. So, I usually take my to do items and plan my week accordingly during my weekly review. I'm simply wondering what's the best way to take my projects and to dos from OmniFocus to something like iCal. Any thoughts? Btw, I'm familiar with organizing by perspectives and syncing with ical but just haven't found this very workable yet and looking for further tips.
Thanks,
Miro
 
I've been reading "Master Your Workday Now!" to get a different perspective about priorities, urgencies, and personal productivity....

I consider OmniFocus more as a task management tool rather than a time management tool. I'm managing tasks in OmniFocus. I'm managing my time in BusyCal.....

I often schedule one big rock into my workday. That's the one project that I would like to finish or make major progress by the end of today.

Then I use OmniFocus to choose from available tasks that I would like to get done.

It's so hard when our best laid plans are laid to waste. I used to plan to have three Big Rocks done by today. But then something called "Life" happens. A phone call from a customer, an unexpected visit by a client, meetings that oftentimes go beyond their allocated time slot, personal things such as my wife calling me to help her with a flat tire.... All these distractions would break apart any scheduled projects.

So I'd often look to BusyCal to do the critical tasks (projects and tasks that have to be done by the end of day). When I finally have a little time throughout the day, I'll then turn to OmniFocus for tasks that will help me advance a project that doesn't have a hard deadline.

I'd consider OmniFocus as part of my toolbox. It's not a replacement for my calendar or calendar program. Time management belongs on a calendar. Task management belongs in OmniFocus.
 
Thank you for the input. I agree with what you say about planning for the most part. However, one of my business coaches put it simply; If you schedule what you need to get done during a week you'll get more done that week then if you haven't scheduled things in. So, while I'm in agreement that planning is not a set in stone kind of a thing to do, setting intentions ahead of time of when I'll get things done helps me tremendously. Of course, I learned to leave lots of room around managing time for unexpected things. With that, when it comes to working with the calendar. In the end, I take tasks out of the OF and put them in the calendar since my tasks are in OF. So, a streamlined process of doing this would be helpful to me.
 
Well, I usually use Steven Covey's "Three Big Rocks" idea. I choose three projects that I want to either get done this week or at least get some major progress accomplished.

In my workweek, I'll block out times during the day that are unavailable and won't be interrupted. In BusyCal/iCal, I'll make an appointment block such as 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM > Work on Valentine's Day advertising project.


During that time block, I'll let phone calls go to voice mail, quit Mail.app, and cut off all instant messaging services. I notify my coworkers that I'm not to be bothered and re-route tasks to someone else or leave it in my inbox. I bought one of those Open signs that has a clock on the reverse side. I'll change the time to the end of the time block and hang that on my office door. So it'll tell people that I'll be available after 12:00 PM.

Then I'll just work on that one big rock or project. I'll change my OmniFocus perspective to focus on the project only. I'll work from that list until the time block is over or the project is finished.

So iCal/BusyCal just blocks off my time. Then I switch to OmniFocus to look at my next steps. I usually don't like to clutter iCal/BusyCal with all the Next Actions that are needed for the project. Then I just check off the tasks as completed in OmniFocus.
 
I do the big rocks easier since there are a few of them. I hear some others using just flags in OmniFocus to do a similar approach. Personally, blocking out times ahead of time like you do has proven to work best for me. So, that part is great. But.. So, do you really handle all else via OmniFocus (i.e. to call at a certain time, appointments, meeting time, other time sensitive reminders, etc, ..)? I'm learning maybe that's what I need to get better at. So hard to give up the nice layout of a calendar for time sensitive things though. I guess I need to just be ready to jump on things when the OF reminder pops up? So far it seems a little easier to see on my daily calendar if there are any time sensitive stuff.. I would love it if you tell me a little more how you handle the time sensitive things, will you? Let's say you have an appointment at 3pm that day. From what I gather that stays in OmniFocus. How do you know you have that during that day for example?
 
The 3pm appointment I would not put in OmniFocus. That is an example of something which must be done at a certain time, and for that, a calendar (possibly with a reminder function) is the right tool. For something that must be done by a certain time, such as submitting a paper, OmniFocus is the right tool. Meetings, appointments, anything that has a specific time where it takes place, all go in the calendar. Everything else (preparing for the meeting, making the appointment, etc.) goes in OmniFocus. Check the calendar in the morning to see the "hard landscape" for the day. Maybe even block off some time to work on the big rocks if you like that structure. Whenever the calendar doesn't have you doing something, draw next actions from OmniFocus suitable for the context(s) in which you find yourself.
 
Thanks for explaining that further. That does leave me with my original question though, at least it's clearer now. let's say I have two dozen thing in OF with time sensitivity (ie 3pm appt). So far I'm doing this manually. i appreciate all further advise on all this. enjoying the thread..
 
I've tried using flags in OmniFocus but my personal style is to put a sheet of paper with the three big rocks for the week and the major deadlines for the week.

THREE BIG ROCKS FOR THIS WEEK
1. Create Valentine's Day marketing campaign
2. Prepare for Mother's Day marketing campaign
3. Son's birthday party - Friday night 6 pm

DEADLINES FOR THIS WEEK
1. Friday 3 pm Quarterly Expense report due


whpalmer4 has some great ideas about that in his previous post.

Maybe you can use the Due perspective in OF to show all available actions that are sorted by due date. The ones at the top should probably be done first as their due date is much closer.

In my BusyCal calendar, I have appointments only. I don't even really bother with tasks in iCal/BusyCal. I'd rather have all my tasks entered into OF rather than have tasks in OF and iCal.

If I have a Friday 3 PM meeting that says "Quarterly expense report due" in iCal, I'll create an appointment in BusyCal for Friday 3 pm "Quarterly expense report due". This is an event or appointment to remind myself of the deadline.

But I'll create a separate project or task to prepare for this Friday 3 pm project. I read in the book "The Now Habit" to do a reverse schedule. I work backwards from the final due date and set different tasks between the due date to today.

So I'll have 3 different tasks due on these days leading up to Friday:
Thursday 4 pm - print out quarterly report
Wednesday 4 pm - Enter all expense invoices into Excel spreadsheet
Tuesday 4 pm - Gather up all the expense invoices

When I look at the Due perspective, I can see all the available next actions sorted by due date. This will help figure out what's coming up.


Usually your overdue tasks will show up in red in OF. That should be a red flag to tell you to get off your butt and get to work.....

But hopefully you'll be able to knock off your tasks way before your deadline.
 
At the risk of stating the obvious here: It helps a lot to make sure you have a good mental distinction between things that need to be done AT a certain time (calendar stuff) and things that need to be done BY a certain time (OmniFocus stuff).
 
 


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