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Don't Give Up On OmniFocus: Here's Why... Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Let me start by saying I am likely the most head-in-the-clouds, perpetually late, go-to-the-store-to-get-milk-and-come-home-with-swedish-fish "guy" you've ever met. I know a few people in this regard that are worse than me, but largely they are the type of people who just don't care. Myself on the other hand, I care way too much. When I come to a meeting 15 minutes late it's often because I forgot the printout on something I was working on, or I needed to get my laptop to be more effective during the meeting, and so on. So, when I heard about a book that claimed it could solve all of my problems, I was skeptical, to say the very least. I am largely anti-self-help, but what I found with GTD is that is more of a non-fiction kind of self-help. Now this, I fell for. Head over heels.

I found myself hiding the cover of the Getting Things Done book when I was reading it, because I know far too many people who are perpetually on the self-help train, always searching for their next read that will "change their life", and I didn't want to be that person. It didn't feel like me. So when I started getting really excited about implementing GTD during my reading, I kept jumping back and forth between my own excitement, and the skeptical side of me that told me it was all going to fade away once I read the book, and none of it would end up being useful.

Over the past year or so, I've tried so many webapps, so many applications, for so many platforms. I've spent a bunch of money on notebooks, pens, paper, supplies, a labeler, a modest filing cabinet, a PDA, and so on. Throughout the whole process I told myself on various occasions: "Come on man; Don't be a sucker. You can't "Beat" life." After feeling like so many applications didn't fit, and after forgetting my UCD (Ubiquitous Capture Device) on numerous occasions, I was pretty much ready to give up. That is, until OmniGroup announced they were developing a GTD-esque organizational application, and beta was coming up soon.

I jumped at the chance and fired off several emails to try and convince them to let me get first dibs. Throughout the beta, those thoughts of failure were still there, but now I had something that was special, something that only I had access to, and there was something very magical about that. This seems to be a recurring problem for a lot of would-be GTDers; It's hard to download an application someone else wrote and still feel like yourself. After all, this application is going to house your life.

I think that analogy is rather fitting, coincidentally: The House. If you're going to be living in something for a long time, you'd better damn well feel comfortable in it. You better like the color it's painted. Or should you?

You see, something I often forget is that humans make the best of a situation with what they have. Research being done over at Harvard suggests this to be true. In fact, they believe that our minds synthesize happiness to make us happy about realities that we cannot change. You are likely to be just as happy, and in many cases /happier/, for instance, letting someone else pick the color of your house, than you are if you had the choice. Indecision breeds unhappiness. "Just make a f****ing decision, and get on with your life!" Is this not a GTD-esque mantra?

So, after a couple of bumpy roads on the proverbial beta-highway, I found myself really starting to love OmniFocus. I found myself trusting it. And today, I feel like it's a part of me. I have never, in all of my years programming and testing software, ever been so gung-ho about feature requests as I have with the development of OmniFocus, and I suspect it is because I believe that there is something about OmniFocus that is mine. It is /my/ house, in a way. Indeed, the information inside of OmniFocus makes the entire application. Without it, what in God's name would I sort? What perspective would I look at?

All of these tiny little personal revelations have added up, and today I have a system in OmniFocus. I could go on and on about my personal system (which is really nothing special, so don't start thinking I'm keeping a secret), but all I can relate to you is this: a number of my terrible habits have gotten some loving TLC by treating OmniFocus /as if/ I loved it. Anyone can critique an application into submission, but when it comes to implementing GTD, you'd better put your ego aside and remember why you're downloading it in the first place.

So, my advice to up-and-coming GTD'ers, black-belts who have lost their way, and anyone looking to get more organized in general is this: Remember that the grass will always be greener, and there will always be some new application with some new feature, but I can tell you from experience that if you give OmniFocus the chance it deserves, you will reap tremendous rewards. I live in an OmniFocus house, so I'm rather biased, but I'll be damned if this isn't the best color paint I've ever seen.

[1] The Misguided Pursuit of Happiness @ Google Video
 
Thanks for this inspiring essay, it appreciated! :)
 
I wish to thank DEVN for his topic.
For the past twenty years I have hardly worked tring to find the ideal method about dealing with information. I am always on rush and I have tried everything what could exist about like heuristic, list, notes in brief every kind of mehod i could find, to be quiet about my stuff.

Well I am not a perfect man, and i have a lot off difficulties to be organised anyway i guess nobody is...

3 month ago i decided to quit with all that thinking than there was no solution and thinking that finaly i was just unable to find any solution about getting things done. I thought well i shall do things as they come ad if i dont do them then they have not to be done ! Well in fact nd i was realy desespered !

Then one day i was surfing on the web looking for heuristic topic on wikipedia. They were taking about a new way of thinking call GTD. Well i thought things can't be worst for me and as i am unable to manage information (but curiously very good on business) may be this will help me to be more productive and less stressed.

Then I hardly red the david allen book. For a french boy it is a very difficult exercice for there is a lot of typical american and comon vocabulary that i never heard about and no book translation.

In the same wikipedia article they were talking about some GTD software and searching on google i sudently discovered omnificus. Of course i knew omni software. I have tried some of them but i always thought they were a bit complicated but i decided testing omnifocus. The first time I tried it it was very buggy. I thought "well it a real mess..." what we call in french "une usine gaz !!!!".

Even all my information sudlently desapeared (why ?) and I spent 3 hours to put in on again !!!!.

and finaly after paying it and using it for two weeks i decided to forget it since it is finished. During this time I hardy worked on GTD methods and tested some others softs.

Today must say than OMNIFOCUS is great ! Yes it is difficult to get into it. Yes it is complicated to find the good GTD methods about infos. Find what project to create and what context too. Yes There are a lot of fonction, I still dont understand (for example the perspective).

But the video is clear (I saw it 7 times) and I wish they will do a better one with more example and give more explanation.

Omnifocus is for me one of the best soft I ever worked with. I have indeed very and hardly worked on it to get my black belt and i think i am near it. It has been done with sweat and tears because it is very powerfull and sometime no clear at all.

I think it needs priorities, a better module about perspective I still dont know, whow i can get a window alone with only my tasks and many little things like that. But it is wirth to buy it and using it every day. the quick entry is fantastic. Watever i do if i have an idea i just get it and boom it's done. I only have to review things once a day, once a week and it is ok.

At night I do my paper list with the help of omnifocus. I know i could get rid of this habits but for me it is the best way to be productive during the all day and i can go everywhere with it.

So Don't Give Up On OmniFocus is is realy a gordgious soft and I congratulate each of you who are working on this project for it has changed my life !. Many thanks indeed and continue and improove it in the same way.
 
If you came to meetings 15 minutes late at the company I work for, you wouldn't last very long!

Omni Focus lacks any kind of implementation for multiple contexts (tags, keywords) and until it does it is very limiting, as noted in a few past threads in which many other users also expressed interest in that.
 
There are an equal (or greater?) number of users who feel multiple contexts aren't necessary. In fact, I might even go so far as to say some feel multiple contexts are more of a hinderance than a help.

Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing this feature, but it certainly isn't a deal-breaker.

@devn - Nice post. Very inspiring!
 
Ah yes, the token "But it doesn't offer X feature!" statement...

I'm willing to bet you a thousand dollars you can implement multiple contexts in OmniFocus without them implementing it for you. Note that some of the steps below are extraneous or unnecessary, and I have marked them with a "^^", but for the purposes of demonstration I left my thought process in.

Observe:
- create a folder "My New OmniFocus Feature" ^^
- create 2 sub-folders "@1", and "@2".
- create a project "Drink Milk" under "@1".
- give this project a task "Milk Cow".
- give this project a context "Barn".
- hold down option and drag "Drink Milk" to "@2", to copy the project and its task into our other sub-folder.

Now, I want to be be reminded of this when I'm at my barn, -or- in my field. Switch over to the context mode:

- make a new context "Multi-Context" ^^
- drag "Barn" and "Field" into "Multi-Context"
- go up to view, sort by context
- click "Multi-Context" to view all of your muti-context actions under it
- voila.

-OR-
You could do something like this if you have a common couple of contexts... Note that this will only work with two contexts, but check it out:

- go into preferences and under "Project and Context Names", make sure "Show full hierarchy, using separator" is checked
- now, create a project "Drink Milk"
-- give it a task "Milk Cow"
- switch over to context view
- create a context "Barn"
-- create a sub-contexts "Field" (where else can you milk a cow?)
- switch back to your planning view and give your "Milk Cow" task the context "Barn : Field"
- voila.

-OR-
I want to remember to milk my cow when I'm at my house, in the field, or in the barn.

- create a project "Drink Milk"
- give it a task "Milk Cow"
- give the task the context: "Barn, Field, House"

I want to remember to slaughter my pig only when I'm in the barn, or the field.

- create a project "Eat Pork"
-- give it a task "Slaughter Pig"
-- give it a context "Barn, Field"
-- give the project another task "Cook Pork"
-- give it a context "House"

- now search "Barn"
- search "Field"
- search "House"
- voila.

If you want to be clean about it, go over to context and drop your multi-contexts into an overarching context to manage them more efficiently.

Are these perfect solutions? No.

I will say this: I don't think multiple contexts are a good idea. It blurs lines between where work is supposed to occur, where you expect work to occur. In a word, it's "dirty".

If you want multiple contexts, then I think you should just be putting those tasks into an "Ambiguous" context, but that's just me...

Cheers,
Devin
 
 


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