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Workflow help - GTD and scheduling tasks Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Hello everyone!

I'm posting in the hope that someone may have an answer to this workflow process I am attempting to figure out. It may be that I just don't know how to use something or it may be that I'm asking for something that isn't possible.

Here's my "ask":

I'm trying to map a workflow into my system and automate as much of it as possible - or at least make it easier to manage. Thus far, I think OmniFocus is awesome for it's iPad/Pod/Mac sync.

Here's my intended workflow.

1) an e-mail, or some communication/information arrives
2) I generate a task on this communication (I have this part down)
3) I then want to have it in OmniFocus and assign it a Project, Context, etc (have this done)

here's where I fall down.

4) I then want to start each day by taking all my "to do" items and scheduling them for specific times of the day on my calendar. (this is sort of a GTD meets 7 Habits thing). It's the "big rock/little rock" method of planning the day.

I know that calendar sync is no longer supported and never will be again. So I am wondering if anyone else has a "process" of getting items from OmniSync into Calendar so that you can plan your day.

The hard part.

Of course, I could cut and paste. However, I then break the relationship as a cut and paste duplicates the information. I change it in one location and it will not change in the other. This is the challenge. I need (or rather want) the OmniFocus and Calendar to change each other. If I update the task in OmniFocus I want the update to be in Calendar.

Now... I realize that I may have just described Calendar sync - so I may be out of luck all together. It's just that I can't imagine I am the only person that likes to place task to specific times of the day.

Any thoughts/ideas/solutions?

How crucial is it that the items actually appear in your calendar? If you aren't set on having that double representation, why not just assign start times for the tasks, and work them as they become available?
The main reason I would like them in my Calendar is:

1) Better visualization of time-blocks through the day
2) Ability to move tasks to different times as the day fills
3) Ability to assign them to specific calendars and then share those calendars to others.
I don't see why you can't move the tasks around as the day fills. Start dates aren't write-once values. I do think that planning out your day like this is perhaps wasted effort when carried beyond the minimum. Pick out the items you must do today (your big rocks). Work those to completion. Now work on what is left (little rocks). If you need an uninterrupted block of time to accomplish a particular rock, put an appointment on your calendar for that block of time. It will show up in the Forecast view on iOS, and the Forecast view is a good way to drive the work. Look at the calendar section, and see if you have an appointment. If you do, go to the appointment, and restart process when you return. If not, look at the due today portion of the display, pick one of the actions due earliest in the day, and work it until done (or the next calendar entry starts). Restart process. If you run out of tasks in the due today section, or you can't work on any of the remaining ones just yet, look at your flagged list. Take one from there, work it, restart. If that is empty, the started today portion of the Forecast view would be a good place to look (getting the tasks out of the system as quickly as possible). You'll restock the flagged list when doing your reviews.

If you're set on putting everything in the calendar, check the OmniFocus Extras and iCal Sync forums for scripts that turn actions into calendar entries. In particular, I believe Brian has contributed such a script here:

RobTrew has the framework for a different approach here:

wilsonng has some good points in page 3 of this thread:

Bottom line is that OmniFocus is built to support a style of working that doesn't rely on planning out the time at which you'll work on every task, and you may encounter some friction trying to use it in a more planned out fashion.
As whpalmer4 said, just choose three big rocks to do today. Your day will be a success if you can complete those three big rocks that can advance one of your main projects forward.

I write my three big rocks on an index card and look at just those three things. I quit OmniFocus on my computer because I don't want to be tempted to open it up to look at it.

I've heard that your productivity app can be a productivity killer because you'll be staring at your lists all day long and stay in planning mode instead of doing. Just close OmniFocus and look at your three big rocks.

I used to try to schedule tasks. But I spent more time trying to shuffle tasks into different time blocks. Then I'll be interrupted by a client or unscheduled event. Things like this will throw off the best laid plans. So there is essentially no need to schedule tasks. Just complete the three big rocks and then open OmniFocus when you are looking for other things to do.

The time I wasted on task scheduling was better spent actually doing stuff instead of planning stuff.
I think if you are truly interested in "scheduling" tasks, you can always try OmniPlan. It is a completely different program does emphasize GANTT chart scheduling. OmniPlan is better at scheduling tasks than OmniFocus ever will be.

If your work life is truly structured in such a way that you will have no interruptions throughout the day and you can actually set your tasks to a clock, I consider you truly lucky.

OmniFocus is designed more to help you with tasks that don't really have a schedule. These are the one-off or infrequent repeating tasks (once a week or greater).

It sounds like you have a daily schedule of tasks that is actually part of your "work routine" and doesn't really need to be part of OmniFocus. Some folks will also call this a habit (a procedure or action that is repeated on a continuous basis). You won't need an OmniFocus task for "Eat lunch at 12 pm." You would already know that you usually eat around noon anyways.

For repeating tasks, I usually set up an outline in OmniOutliner (or whatever outliner you prefer to use --- MS Word, Pages, etc.). I'll print out several sheets for the next few days. Then I just check off the tasks on today's checklist. I really don't find any inspiration in seeing this daily checklist in OmniFocus. It would be a false reward to see obvious tasks that need to be checked off.

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