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How do you use a calendar to plan out tasks and projects? This question is probably less about OF and more about effective use of a calendar.

I've been using Omnifocus for about a month, now, reviewing every single action in every single project each night to create a to-do list (by flagging) for the next day. I get more done (and forget less) than ever before!

Now, I'd like to start planning for longer periods of time using a calendar. I think I'd like to "action plan" a week in advance, placing next actions on the calendar so that I no longer have a daily to-do list, but a week-long agenda.

Any thoughts or links (especially with pics) would be extremely helpful!
 
I don't mean to be negative, but just a word of caution: personally, I think you're heading in a direction that's not well-supported by the tools and will ultimately yield disappointing results.

I think this post by Brian on a slightly related topic highlights the issues nicely. He suggests that items stored in your calendar app and items stored in OmniFocus are really two distinct types of data.

And, of course, if you're following a GTD approach, be sure to read David Allen's book (if you haven't already). He has some very interesting things to say on the different roles of calendars and action lists (like OmniFocus).

I hope this is of some help, even if it's not what you were hoping to hear. :-) Perhaps others might have something to offer that's more supportive of your original plan.

-Dennis
 
That's helpful. Using a calendar for anything but the "hard landscape" might not be the best idea.

Still, I wonder if building a (flexible) week-long agenda will allow me to plan my work at a time when I can look at the big picture of projects and tasks. That way, when I'm trying to knock out work I don't have to re-evaluate what I should do everytime I'm ready for a new task. Afterall, I have a pretty good picture of what contexts I'll be in at the beginning of the week.

I'm open to new ideas, but I'm especially looking for tips on putting an idea into practice.
 
This isn't exactly a calendar-based approach, but I think it goes well with your idea. Have you thought about putting projects on hold on a weekly basis? You could look at your calendar for the week, estimate what "on task" time you'll probably have, pick the projects you'd like to work on, then put all the others on hold. Now when you're ready to get some things done you'll have a very concise list of actions to choose from in the moment.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt

Last edited by curt.clifton; 2009-05-28 at 06:24 AM.. Reason: s/your/you're/
 
I actually use a very similar approach.

Every evening, during day-end review, I mark the items that I plan to do next day by flags. This way, I have a list of things I want to focus on the next day.

I would love to create a similar list of things that I want to do later (say "tomorrow" or "this week") and perhaps have flags of different colors available for that.

Alas, that is not an option today.
 
Agree that the tool doesn't really support a calendar planning approach , that's why I use omni plan along with it .
It's very easy to export only flagged projects for the coming week to omni plan and see if they actually fit the week .
Obviously this isn't strict GTD but I've found strict GTD really is designed for people with lots of meetings etc on their calendar .

I'm often asked for " time-lines " on things and omni plan helps me factor in that only 60-70% of my time is really available for non-routine tasks and projects .
 
@tarun101: I had that same thought! I saw that someone on the forms uses set duration times to set priority; I wonder if you could set a duration of 10 min for "today", 20 min for "this week", etc.

@curt.clifton:
Shortening the list will definitely be helpful. I'm going to start doing that right away, but I feel like I may need another solution. How can I hide "on-hold" projects?

@ext555:
I haven't really used OmniPlan - it seems a little intense. I also wonder if I can look at several projects on a schedule at once the way I can in OF (or the even on a calendar app). I'll try the flagged export/import and see if that helps.


This is really helpful!
Any other related best practices -- how do you schedule your time on a week or month level?
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by alexjander View Post
Shortening the list will definitely be helpful. I'm going to start doing that right away, but I feel like I may need another solution. How can I hide "on-hold" projects?
In Project Mode, in the View Bar, the left-most "lozenge" lets you set which projects will be displayed. If you change that to "Active", then on-hold projects and projects with future start dates will be hidden.

In Context Mode, if you choose to show Available or Next actions, then actions from on-hold projects will be hidden.
__________________
Cheers,

Curt
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by curt.clifton View Post
This isn't exactly a calendar-based approach, but I think it goes well with your idea. Have you thought about putting projects on hold on a weekly basis? You could look at your calendar for the week, estimate what "on task" time you'll probably have, pick the projects you'd like to work on, then put all the others on hold. Now when your ready to get some things done you'll have a very concise list of actions to choose from in the moment.

I also do what Curt suggests. I try to aim for 5-10 projects and 10-12 single action items for the week. This seems to be a manageable amount for one week. The number of projects depends on the complexity, the due date, etc. (I may have a couple extras if there is just a waiting for or a quick email involved). Of course, this can quickly change as new things come my way during the week, so I am flexible. But having this number available and the rest on hold is a good goal for me.

Eric
 
A SOLUTION!
How I Action Plan using OmniFocus and an agenda/planner.

In the past, I've struggled with using OmniFocus beyond the "right now," and have even demanded a calendar feature. I wanted to update the community with my current solution.

I had been flagging things I wanted to do today/tomorrow (suggested by Tarun101).

At this point, OmniFocus helps me plan my day/week, but I mostly refer to my paper agenda throughout the day.

First of all, firm events go into the calendar (CalGoo for me). These are meetings, dinners, classes -- anything I would want to remember to show up for outside of my normal routine.

I created an "Action Plan" perspective based on OF's Due perspective: Contexts:Due:Due:Remaining:AnyDuration:AnyFlagStat e.

I set due dates on tasks in OmniFocus. However, I don't use them as deadlines, but agenda setters. It's basically a guess as to when I expect to be able to work on a task (and sometimes it's weeks out). I also set due dates on tasks that I just don't want to slip out of my periphery (this is to help compensate my sometimes weak review habits).

At the beginning of the day/week, I pencil tasks into my weekly planner.


At this point I would like a quicker way to modify due dates (drag-and-drop on a calendar?). But it seems that OF is working for me more than I'm working for it, and that makes me happy.
 
 


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