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Beginners guide - using omnifocus to find a personal strategy of how to use omnifocus Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I'm laughing, sort of!

Are you lost?

After 5 months of omnifocus I decided that i needed to start digging deep into the forums to see if I could find a way of working with OF that i was happy with.

The more i dug into the forums the more it was like opening a can of worms

I'm now in the laughable position of finding a "personal strategy of using omnifocus" by using a tool called omnifocus! If that makes sense

As of yet i've still not reached the point where i'm happy that i have a strong personal method with OF. Daily i have thoughts of how can i do this better.

The more you go through the forums the more you realise that it's just personal taste and preferences. You got to find your own way with OF.

Having had 5 months with Omnifocus. I would do things so differently now.

This is what I should have done (Hindsight is a great thing):-

I should have either worked with Omnifocus just in the planning mode or I should have used a even simpler (temporary) GTD program (The simplest) to master the idea of the planning mode (i.e. organising and structuring your projects). There is so much to do at this first stage, before bringing in the ideas of context and due dates etc. I know that i would have eventually returned to omnifocus as i do rate the products sophistication in the context mode (not sure that you'd get that from other programs - not that i've tried any)

If i had my time again then I would have acted sooner this piece of information:-

PLANNING mode is where you set-up tasks & organise into hierarchy......

CONTEXT MODE is where you can ignore the hierarchy & concentrate on working

I'm not sure where this advice was from (either omnifocus help or on the forum somewhere?)

But this was a really significant turning point for me. I ended up going back to the planning mode and i started to get a hierarchical structure in the planning mode. I should have done that before ever contemplating the ideas of contexts and due dates.

My advice is:- Only once you have mastered your plan for a hieratic structure of projects should you then embark on trying to get to grips with omnifocus context idea (that's just a personal viewpoint & i'm sure that others will have their own way)

What to do after you've done that is up to you. Obviously a move on to context was the next stage for me. I'll post a further post in the next few days to say how I'm organising OF to work for me (if you are interested in what i have to say then search for my profile wayne4 for my post).
I'm just wondering whether you had read the book "GTD" before you started working with OF? Maybe that might have made a difference if you hadn't?
But why read through a 300 page book when, when 10 words would have made the break through for me:-
Here's the 10 words
"Sort a hierarchical structure between projects in the PLANNING mode"

i.e. apply a hierarchical structure to your list of projects.
Up to that point i was using "edit" "sort" "by name"...which was constantly sorting my projects from A-Z rather than the priority order of projects.
Originally Posted by wayne4 View Post
But why read through a 300 page book when, when 10 words would have made the break through for me:-
Here's the 10 words
"Sort a hierarchical structure between projects in the PLANNING mode"

i.e. apply a hierarchical structure to your list of projects.
Up to that point i was using "edit" "sort" "by name"...which was constantly sorting my projects from A-Z rather than the priority order of projects.
There's actually quite a bit of useful content in the book, certainly more than 10 words' worth :-) Much of what I think is useful for the process of getting set up with GTD in OmniFocus is concentrated in part I of the book, which is only about 80 pages. But remember, OmniFocus isn't designed to be used ONLY with a GTD working style, and you don't have to adopt GTD to get value from it.

Nothing wrong with sorting projects from A-Z, either, if that's what works best for you. I use daily reviews, start dates, and flags to manage the prioritization of my hundreds of projects, and sort the projects A-Z in the sidebar (with some categorization in folders so all the related projects are together, but still sorted A-Z).
It is interesting to read the initial post. There are many different ways to use OF. Diving into these boards looking for "the answer" is going to be fruitless as OF was designed to work within the context (no pun intended) of David Allen's book. If you read the book, Mr. Allen goes through great pain to NOT specifically show you how to execute his paradigm. I hesitate to call GTD a "method" because that implies specific, physical, instructions. Rather it is a way to change your way of thinking about, and doing things and keeping track of it.

That said, I was struggling until I started to PLAN in project mode and WORK out of context mode. I wish that little piece of GTD has resonated more clearly with me. The interesting thing about OF is that, in my opinion, OF for the Mac excels at planning (while the iphone version that is pretty painful) while the iPhone excels at working out of context mode and the Mac interface is just a bit too busy/distracting.

-- Kevin
I don't know that I agree with your conclusion, but I do agree with your premise... OF is a journey. It is a very robust tool that adapts to an individuals personal style of working GTD. This forum is a great asset in learning how others are doing it. I actually read the GTD book a couple of years ago and tried to implement it and eventually it fell by the sideline because it was too complicate to marry to my world without something like OF. I've tried other attempts at organizing and fell to similar fate. OF has given me hope that I can get and stay organized. I've made several shifts along my short OF journey.

The one thing I'd recommend is trying to keep it simple at first and don't make too many changes too quickly. You want to give yourself time to adapt and then slowly evaluate and tweak your process. Some things I initially though I'd not like or do I eventually realized I needed and liked.

The two phases of Plan and then Do are great foundational concepts and I do have more work to do on the Plan side.
Wayne4, there are many other principles contained in GTD which I found invaluable. In fact, I personally wouldn't even advise people to use OmniFocus without having read it. The reason is that GTD is all about changing the way you look at, organize, and respond to work, and without some of those principles, OmniFocus will just become another way to become overwhelmed and distracted. Just my two cents.
I'll second (or 3rd or 4th) that reading Allen's book is really worthwhile. A lot of lightbulbs went on for me, and I don't know that I ever would have gotten to the point of using OF effectively without it. There's a reason Allen has been so successful -- he's rather good at this stuff!

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