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Trying to like OmniFocus, but ..... Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
[This is not a flame posting :)]

I'm a big Omni fan. I have OmniGraffle Pro and OmniOutliner Pro. Love them both and use them often.

So, I thought I'd check out Omni Focus.

First impressions (after 3 hours of struggling): Yuck.

The interface in OF is very complicated. In my first few minutes of playing with it each project I added went away after I closed and reopened the program. I had to call support to find out I needed to fiddle with the Perspectives (change it "back" (?) to "All).

Really?

I also think the application is not very attractive, which isn't as big a deal if it's really a productivity booster, which I don't think it is either. Actually, OF sort of reminds me of using Windows. With Windows, it's all about Windows, not your applications. With OF, it was all about using and understanding OF.

Rather than being intuitive, I found myself needing to watch the OF videos again and again and still not being sure I "got it". Something is wrong when software is this complicated and too much of that complexity is lopped on to the user's shoulders.

Doing some Internet searches, I found similar feedback.

In OmniFocus, the whole concept of "context" is strange -- at least to me. Plus, you can only assign one context to a to-do. Really? The way I think of context is it's sort of like metadata. Seems very limiting and confusingly implemented. And again, you really need to understand it.

Then there are the OF views (Command + 1, Command + 2). OK I guess, but why do I need to make (and understand) this distinction? Again, IMHO, this is needless complexity lopped onto the user.

In Things, on the other hand, I can add as many tags as I want. Plus, the interface is beautiful and simple. I didn't find myself stumped trying to use the program instead of having it help me manage my tasks.

I'm sure Things has deficiencies as well and I'm not saying it's "better". I suppose it depends on the user's needs; I'm just passing along my experiences from using both.

So, although I think OmniOutliner and OmniGraffle rank among the best software in class I've used, and knowing no program is ever "perfect", I was totally disappointed with OF.

Perhaps version 1.5 would be improved?

For now, I'll either use Things or just do things in Busy Cal and forget this extra software totally.

:(

- m
 
It is just possible that you are trying to like the application, without first understanding what it is and what it is for. If you don't first understand what hole it fills, it will be quite difficult to figure out how effectively it fills it.
I don't suppose you are under any obligation to like it, so if you find that Things and Busycal fill your needs, then perhaps you are right in sticking with them.
Omnifocus is a very robust and flexible application that allows for a fairly strict implementation of GTD. You would probably have to buy into the GTD thing first, and then go back to omnifocus. Only then would you see how it shines.

3 hours would not have brought you to this point.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Declan View Post
It is just possible that you are trying to like the application, without first understanding what it is and what it is for. If you don't first understand what hole it fills, it will be quite difficult to figure out how effectively it fills it.
I don't suppose you are under any obligation to like it, so if you find that Things and Busycal fill your needs, then perhaps you are right in sticking with them.
Omnifocus is a very robust and flexible application that allows for a fairly strict implementation of GTD. You would probably have to buy into the GTD thing first, and then go back to omnifocus. Only then would you see how it shines.

3 hours would not have brought you to this point.
I don't doubt what you're saying except to say that I know exactly what my list management/to-do needs are.

I would also say that I don't want to spend a lot of time climbing a learning curve to learn (and adapt to) a strict methodology imposed by the program.

To me, and apparently to others as well, it's just not an intuitive program and if it doesn't start to feel that way after 3 hours, it's very much unlike 99.5% of programs I've used.

OmniGraffle, for example, is way more complex than OF. Yet, it's more logical and I would argue easier to use. OmniOutliner is just plain intuitive. Watch the videos once, maybe, and you're already there. Things, ditto.

I read other similar feelings from people who'd been using FO for years, not hours.

It was interesting that people tend to bounce back and forth between Things and OF. We'll see, I may be back! :)

I appreciate your reply.

Thanks,

- m

P.S. I also thought it was telling when you said in your posting above: "Omnifocus is a very robust and flexible application that allows for a fairly strict implementation of GTD." It almost sounds like a contradiction in terms (flexible and strict). And, that's exactly how the program feels to me...

Last edited by morkafur; 2012-05-16 at 11:36 AM..
 
Much of the considerable power of OmniFocus is found in the concepts you either don't understand or feel that you need. Given that, it probably isn't the right tool for you. Contact Omni support within 30 days of purchase and get a full refund.

You might read the OmniFocus and GTD white paper before throwing in the towel: http://www.omnigroup.com/ftp/pub/sof...dOmniFocus.pdf
 
Just for what it's worth...
There is no contradiction in terms in my previous message (I don't think).
Much of the flexibility implied in the GTD approach is allowed for in Omnifocus. But I think that using it without some awareness of the GTD approach would be a kind of torture. (I gather that some people try, but I wonder how successfully).

I understand the temptation to try out a new piece of software. I occasionally toy around with the idea of using Tinderbox, before setting it aside on the basis of price and difficulty. But, more basically, the issue seems to be that I don't actually need it. Perhaps you don't need omnifocus.

Good luck with Things and so on. "It it ain't broken... Don't fix it" seems like a good motto.



Declan
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by whpalmer4 View Post
Much of the considerable power of OmniFocus is found in the concepts you either don't understand or feel that you need. Given that, it probably isn't the right tool for you. Contact Omni support within 30 days of purchase and get a full refund.

You might read the OmniFocus and GTD white paper before throwing in the towel: http://www.omnigroup.com/ftp/pub/sof...dOmniFocus.pdf
I'll read that. Having downloaded and played with Things a bit, I'm seeing some things I miss already in OF (like custom perspectives -- though they didn't seem to work correctly for me). I wish there were a version that incorporated both products.

Thanks,

-m
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Declan View Post
Just for what it's worth...
There is no contradiction in terms in my previous message (I don't think).
Much of the flexibility implied in the GTD approach is allowed for in Omnifocus. But I think that using it without some awareness of the GTD approach would be a kind of torture. (I gather that some people try, but I wonder how successfully).

I understand the temptation to try out a new piece of software. I occasionally toy around with the idea of using Tinderbox, before setting it aside on the basis of price and difficulty. But, more basically, the issue seems to be that I don't actually need it. Perhaps you don't need omnifocus.

Good luck with Things and so on. "It it ain't broken... Don't fix it" seems like a good motto.


Declan
I was sort of kidding anyway and maybe just a wee bit frustrated that Omni didn't hold out (yet) a hat trick for me (me getting three of their products).

As I mentioned in a posting above, I have tried Things, but found that it is missing some "things" I liked a lot in OF.

I appreciate your follow up posting.

thanks.

m
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by morkafur View Post
I'll read that. Having downloaded and played with Things a bit, I'm seeing some things I miss already in OF (like custom perspectives -- though they didn't seem to work correctly for me). I wish there were a version that incorporated both products.

Thanks,

-m
There sort of is. "The Hit List" by Potion Factory somewhat splits the middle ground. It's simpler and less rigid than OmniFocus (and uses smart folders instead of Perspectives), but it's more flexible than Things (you can have nested tasks, etc.).

If you've been frustrated by the interface and usability and complexity of OmniFocus, while also being frustrated by the poor Wifi synching and limitations of Things, and spent a lot of time vacillating between the two, you wouldn't be the first. These forums and Cultured Code's forums are full of similar threads. Probably in the hundreds, literally.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by morkafur View Post
I don't doubt what you're saying except to say that I know exactly what my list management/to-do needs are.
LOL. Sorry but I had shared this very same idea and then realized I only know what I know and nothing else. My requirements for list management/to-do needs have evolved over the years and I'm sure will change even further depending on the circumstances and and demands that I will be facing in the future.

But to say that I know exactly what I want is often an illusion that I will fall in and out of. I can now confidently say that I will never know what I want because my list management demands will change over time.

Previously, I was a firm believer in the Franklin-Covey Day Planner management system with the ABC Priority system. It worked OK in college but it definitely won't work for me now. Then later I got into GTD, fell off the bandwagon, and then hopped back on the bandwagon when I discovered an offshoot called Zen-To-Done (ZTD). This was a simpler form of GTD emphasizing the use of habits to adopt GTD over a longer period of time.

Even now, I'm still evolving. I've been slowly incorporating parts of the "Master Your Workday Now" program into my existing GTD setup to fill up existing holes.

So it's very hard for me to say "I know what I want in a task management system."

Quote:
I would also say that I don't want to spend a lot of time climbing a learning curve to learn (and adapt to) a strict methodology imposed by the program.
But sometimes it is worth it to try something. Nobody ever said dieting and exercising would be easy. Although these fad diets like Adkin's diet or the South Beach diet try to make it look easy, it never really is.

Now, GTD is not for everyone and may be not for you at this point and time in your life. But I've found it has worked well for me now.

If you really want something to work, sometimes you need to put in some blood, sweat, and tears into a system to get it to work. The same concept applies to exercising and dieting.

Sometimes I'll have someone ask me to suggest a to-do program. I'd often suggest starting off with Hit List or Things as a way to start them off. When they've finally outgrown it, I'll scale up and introduce them to OmniFocus.

I hope Things or Hit List works for you. Some might even say to try Toodle-Do. As long as the system works for you, we can only be happy that you can get results that you want.

Quote:
To me, and apparently to others as well, it's just not an intuitive program and if it doesn't start to feel that way after 3 hours, it's very much unlike 99.5% of programs I've used.
Powerful programs are almost never intuitive. Photoshop is a prime example of a power user program that requires a bit of work and learning curve to properly utilize its full potential.

Other similar analogies would be:

iPhoto <-> Aperture
iMovie <-> Final Cut Pro X or Adobe Premiere
RapidWeaver <-> Adobe Dreamweaver


I hope you realize that 3 hours is enough time for simpler programs like Hit List of Things. You'll need to spend way more time to just figure out Final Cut Pro X, Aperture, Dreamweaver, or OmniFocus. These programs are on an entirely different level compared to the entry-level programs.

That's why many programs offer a demo period such as 14 days or even 30 days to try out a program. You'll need to spend at least an hour each day learning the nuances and tricks of a program.

Other worthwhile investments would be to hit upon the various OmniFocus resources available online that will help you gain a better understanding of this powerful program.

I can credit the "Creating Flow with OmniFocus" ebook as being a major catalyst to helping me master OmniFocus. It's well worth every penny.

http://www.usingomnifocus.com/


Another valuable source that I've found is here:

http://www.asianefficiency.com/omnifocus/


OmniFocus may not be the right program for you if you're not willing to invest time into learning the GTD methodology first. You'll need to have a reasonable grip of GTD before tackling OmniFocus. I think there are examples of folks being able to use other forms of task management systems with OmniFocus with varying levels of success.

You might also want to look at OmniFocus for iPad. I've often found this easier to use than the Mac version. Omni Group is actually taking the user interface cues they've learned from OmniFocus for iPad and will be incorporating these user interface changes into a future version of OmniFocus for Mac.

The iPad version is what actually got me into doing the Weekly Review. Once I figured out the Weekly Review, I was able to translate that into a habit that I can use on the Mac version.
 
Hey Morkafur,

"Yuck!", I'm afraid is sadly right. I've been using Omni products for longer than I care to remember but OmniFocus has become incredibly dated and it's now an unholy mish-mash even for those poor fundi-GTD'ers chasing the Holy Grail of the perfect GTD system.

If the benchmark for you is how many things you get done and the ease of doing so, rather than how you GTD'd them, then give OF a miss. There have been some fine recommendations above and I've discovered that a variety of apps combined make for the most productive use of my time, rather than desperately trying to shoehorn tasks into this old-fashioned clog.

OF obviously still has its fans but having had it since launch, read the books, used it for years, bought the iPhone and iPad versions and watched release-after-release across platforms, I've come to the conclusion that for me it's a case of watching others applaud the Emperor's New Clothes.

Of course, YMMV!

Last edited by endoftheQ; 2012-05-19 at 06:57 AM..
 
 


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