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My GTD Set-up with Omni Focus Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hi guys,

I want to share my set-up which has really improved my GTD implementation. I'm experimenting with Omni Focus as my GTD tool versus a Time/Design paper-based system. I don't want to pretend this is the only way to do it or I'm some kind of know-it-all. Trust me, I'm not.

The first thing I did was set-up traditional GTD contexts and then add two more: Someday/Maybe and Might Buy. They aren't contexts in the traditional sense but after some trial and error I found it unlocked the power of Omni Focus as a complete GTD system.

My Contexts:
Waiting For
Might Buy

Then I made extensive use of folders as well as OF projects as things beyond just 10,000 foot projects. At 20,000 foot I could identify checklist items and "link" them to actions or Someday/Maybe or Might Buy. This solution came from my dislike of Miscellaneous in OF.

10,000 Feet - Projects
20,000 Feet - Areas of Focus
30,000 Feet - Goals & Objectives
40,000 Feet - Vision
50,000 Feet - Purpose & Core Values

An example some things I've got @ 20,000 Feet is a folder structure of:

Bills & Finances
- Magazines
- Credit Cards ... then each credit card is an OF project. It might not have a next action but it does serve the purpose of a checklist item at my weekly review.

By limiting myself to no Miscellaneous items I'm finding that I get more complete at 20,000 feet and I'm actually defining things at 30-50,000 feet.

Hope this makes sense and, again, it works for me.


Thanks for sharing! I'm still trying to figure out a completely successful "method" for using OF and GTD in my day to day. I've started putting some of your suggestions into OF already to see how they'll work for me. I like the idea of not having a Miscellaneous folder. That seems like it could be a potential downfall (especially for me).

I have a question, though - in your Bills & Finances section, why do you use so many folders? As I started putting this together, I tried making something like 'Credit Cards' actually a single actions list, and put in the due dates as recurring tasks. Am I missing out on potential benefits from doing it this way? Also, do you use recurring tasks, or do you do that as part of your review (other other) process?

Thanks again!
It's important not to let folders take over too much of the job of contexts. I have that tendency... the desire to compartmentalize the usefulness out of everything. So, one thing I try to keep in mind is that it's best to have the least number of folders possible (just as you try to have the least number of contexts possible).

Projects without next actions aren't very useful because they don't show up in context mode. Plus, as DA says, you can't do projects, only actions. So, in the finances folder, I would create a single project called Manage Credit Cards and for each credit card, make a repeating action whose start date is the date you want it to show up on your radar. You can also add other actions or action lists to this project when necessary, like "call to opt out of information sharing for xx card."
I'm enjoying this thread as one who has veered many times away from OmniFocus, only to come crawling back over and over. My problem (really!) is not seeking the shinier, but true confusion about how to best manage the power of OF.

Like other posters, my true, changeable contexts are very few. I seperate out errands and phone calls, but otherwise find contexts to feel superficial and imposed. (When I've experimented with TaskPaper, I thought the multiple context ability made contexts feel useful).

So, against the advice above, I actually prefer to have more folders and fewer contexts. And against the advice of David Allen, I'm finding that I often (not always) prefer to work not by context, but by project.

Obviously contexable things (like errands) I do do in a clump (via context view), but more often, I like the feeling of powering through a project, even if it means switching contexts several times.

Not trying to be argumentative...always looking for a better way. Hope this thread continues!
There's nothing wrong with that. As David Allen says, it's all about getting things done, and whatever works best for you is the way to go. It also depends on what kind of work you have to do. The more diverse and numerous your tasks, the more contexts will help you.
My latest project folder scheme has very little to do with the work and almost everything to do with the mechanics of viewing the outline.

The folders are:

- Above The Fold
- Below The Fold
-- Active
-- Idle
- Just Information
- Above The Fold
- Below The Fold
-- Active
-- Idle
- Just Information

Items in the "Above The Fold" folder are single-action lists that I want to be able to find easily - my Administrative list for small actions, my Shopping List, Paperwork Repeaters for repeating administrative tasks, my Calendar list for hard-date items that I want to see in my daily view, etc.

"Below The Fold" is where all the projects live. Active contains the projects that I'm likely to work on this week; Idle is those that I'm not. Completed projects are in a subfolder in Idle until I delete them.

Just Information is non-actionable information. It may be information to support actions (like a list of things to read to go along with an action elsewhere of "Read something from reading backlog"), or brainstorming or planning that isn't ready to convert to a project yet, even an idle project.

The goal is to keep everything but "Idle" and "Just Information" to just a few items, so that I can scan the part of the hierarchy that I'm interested in without having to scroll.

To narrow to my everyday work, I Focus on Work: Above The Fold and Work:Below The Fold:Active.

We'll see if this lasts more than a week. :)


Last edited by Gardener; 2008-09-18 at 09:56 AM.. Reason: Because tabs weren't working.
I like this post a lot. Thanks.
I use Omni Focus projects beyond just the standard 10,000 foot GTD projects. I also use them as checklist items that serve as trigger reminders for new actions or to ensure that particular areas of focus are all set or on cruise control. It makes Weekly Reviews much easier, possible and gives me a sense of being complete.

For example within my Credit Cards folder each one is an Omni Focus project item. These are not things I'll actually complete so I want to keep them separate from my 10,000 foot GTD projects. But they are things I want to monitor and can lead to actions over time.

For a credit card I might have a balance or payment due, rewards I'm eligible for, websites or merchants I'm registered at and when a new card is due because of expiration. I've also found defining Someday and Might Buy as contexts unleash a lot of power within Omni Focus.

Sometimes there are actions or someday items where as other times I'll look at this project and say, "nope I'm all set".

One of the reasons I like Omni Focus so much is it's the first tool I've used that allows me the flexibility to "keep going" as David says. That means once you get 10,000 foot complete then why not define other horizons of focus?

It works for me. I try to implement GTD book by the book and base it on sections in Getting Things Done (page 51 & 176) as well as RoadMap seminar discussions.

Hope this makes a little sense,
Thanks for the idea about including the expiration date and things that are auto-charged to a card so you can be pro-active about the expiration date. That's a great idea.
I am just trying out Omnifocus. Previously, I implemented GTD using Palm and PC, but have now switched to Mac and iphone, getting severely disorganized in the transition. One specific question (of many floating around in my head): How do people manage lists such as "books to read," "travel items," "quote collections" in Omnifocus? Thanks for any suggestions.

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