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how do you use OF to decide what to get done next? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I empathize with your situation. It's difficult to know the environment that you are in. For me, part of GTD was slowing down the email chatter. Checking email twice a day (morning and afternoon) and processing the email inbox down to 0. (in theory checking twice a day, in reality I usually check email when I send email as well).

One suggestion you may have or have not tried. Do you have an email context? You could process your email inbox to 0, using OF to add actions to the email context. Then right after processing switch to the email context and process all those emails.

One other trick I sometimes use is the draft email box for messages that I want to respond to. When processing the email inbox I hit reply then save as draft for emails that I know will take a while to respond to. Then have an action in OF to process all draft emails.
blewis, my workplace is much less email driven than yours sounds, but there are still email conversations that I have to participate in promptly for similar reasons to those you have. My strategy is to quickly file the email to which I don't need to react. Then I use the OF clippings service to generate action items for things that I need to follow up on outside of email or at a later date. Those emails can also be filed once their actions are captured. Having purged those things from my inbox, I'm left with the email that warrants an immediate reply. I then crank through those.

I try not to check my email more than once every 2.5-3 hours. I have a repeating OF action to check email. If that item isn't on my action list, then I'm not allowed to check email (unless I'm waiting on something urgent).

There are certainly days where all I do is respond to email. I've just had to accept that. To me the two keys are:
  1. accurately determining which emails truly need a response, and
  2. maximizing my efficiency in processing my inbox.

Another efficiency item on inbox processing is to limit my categories for filing. I just have two mail folders for archival purposes: Personal and Professional. This makes filing effortless. Most every email clearly falls in one category or the other. If not, I save it in both.

Originally Posted by blewis View Post
Maybe I'm not looking for solutions so much as empathy? In the real madness of dynamic, scattered, and voluminous information, GTD seems to really be breaking down on me and not really helping me focus.
I don’t have the solutions, but here’s some empathy: empathy rays, empathy rays, empathy rays ...

GTDing has made a huge difference for me in some ways, while falling flat in others. But, over time, I seem to be gradually finding more and more ways in which GTD and OF can work their magic. It’s incremental.

Here’s a tip:

I have an @meta context in which I work on my GTD and organizational skills. I have a daily action I call “five-minute meta.” I have done it almost every morning for months. It’s just a few minutes of exploring OF, looking for ways to exploit it, poking around at random, cleaning things up ... reading the OmniFocus forums ... ;-) This was my 5-minute meta this morning!
@ Needles27

Regarding Due Dates, I've chosen to use my Calendar (iCal) for hard fact, I'm currently using it as a replacement for a tickler file per GTD methodology.

The upside is that I'm very used to "listening" to my calendar for time sensitive things. A potential downside is that OF becomes a more "voluntary" task master - IE, if I don't choose to look at it and choose to get things done - I don't.

Anyone else have thoughts about using iCal this way?
@ SpiralOcean,

Good for you!

I suspect this is more how OF is meant to be used (if that can said) - and feels like it might be more GTD-like as well.

Please let us know how this works for you. My thinking is this might be a good solution for procrastination.
As well, you can install for free which offers a simple view by context list - and allows quick entry to OF.

"Originally Posted by sgbotsford
I agree.

It is SOOO easy to get sucked into the planning and record keeping and not get anything done. Much of the time getting *something* done is good enough. The planning helps to get the important ones done if you can't do them all, it helps you combine tasks effectively (especialy errands) and it helps you from getting into a trap where something is stuck until something else happens. (What do you mean the new shower will take 3 weeks to get here?)

I get sucked in and dither a lot from project to project. (I've got the attention span of a gnat.) Often at the end of the day, I've made some progress on 8 different things, but haven't finished a single action. I'm hoping that OF will help me focus, and spend less time flipping from one thing to another.
If you haven't finished a single action, perhaps you are making your actions too big. Yes, it makes the list seem even more daunting to have a lot of smaller actions (vacuum floor mats, pick up trash, clean windows, file gas receipts) vs. some bigger ones (clean car) but sometimes the smaller actions are a better match to attention span, energy/motivation, available time, etc. You'll probably make more progress getting a bunch of those done (even if you might not finish the whole project) than picking up and dropping bigger, less-defined tasks. It doesn't take that long to list a couple of steps and check them off, and you'll recoup the little time it takes with your increased productivity.

If you're running 10.5, check out the OmniFidget widget available from the OmniFocus product page. You tell it which context(s) to work from, and it just pops up one action after another for you to do (or skip)."
Originally Posted by ext555 View Post
one way to relieve the stress created by the red items [red is a stress creating color for me also ] is to use the " preferences " Menu and choose " style " and change the " overdue items " to a color less stressful for you [mine are orange ]
This is a great idea - thanks!
Originally Posted by needles27 View Post
This is a great thread. I am always so interested to hear how other people are using OF. Also, for Bigcloits last comment - If it were me, I would just set a start date for when your friend gets back into town in three weeks, without a due date. That way, it won't show up on your available actions lists until then (he's not in town, so why put it into your field of view) and after three weeks rolls around, it will show up as available. And, if you use Growl, then you will even get the reminder that "Joe's in town - call him." Then, if you are doing your reviews (or even immediately), you can put a flag on that one to put it into your higher level of attention.

BUT, that is the beauty of OF - everyone can find their own way to make it work best for you. I certainly don't want to make it sound like this is the only way - just a way that I feel works best for me and keeps stress of red actions to a minimum. Hope you find a system that you like!
I didn't realize that you could set a start date without a due date - that is brilliant. Thanks.
Since making this adjustment (using primarily start dates instead of due dates), the things that are actually due stand out much better, and I'm much less stressed about work. Thanks again for this great tip. I can't believe I didn't realize this before.
Originally Posted by Christopher View Post
Since making this adjustment (using primarily start dates instead of due dates), the things that are actually due stand out much better, and I'm much less stressed about work. Thanks again for this great tip. I can't believe I didn't realize this before.
Yeah, I’m really making good use of that strategy as well now. Can’t recommend it strongly enough. Also, the combination with Growl is particularly potent: just a gentle nudge when the action becomes available. “Oh, I can do that now, okay, cool.”

Also going well is the pausing of many projects that were previously supposedly “active.” Weeks later, I can definitely confirm that this was a really important thing that I had been missing before. Limiting active projects to projects that are actually active was the critical strategy I needed to declutterize my main OF views.

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