Moving from Things to Omnifocus made me question not just the app’s capability but also my workflow. Here, I have a collection of few points I noted when moving to Omnifocus:
On choosing the application:
- Identify your workflow: how does work come to you? Digital? Paper? Do you need a digital inbox to collect your stuff or physical? Where do you get more work? At home? Work? What kind of system helps in capturing, organizing that stuff? What are the other tools/apps you work with? How can you integrate them into your GTD system?
- How flexible is the system you chose to accomodate your working style? Do you have to change your thought process to fit it’s? or is it flexible enought to fit yours? If our brain senses even the slightest friction in the way we think and the way the system works, it may not trust it and hold off to unprocessed stuff in its psychic RAM defeating the purpose of having a task management application in the first place.
- How does the system scale? If tomorrow you change the way you work, can the system easily scale back and up without hiccups? (I created Things perspectives in Omnifocus, but, tomorrow if I don’t want to view my data in this way, I can simply delete these perspectives and create new ones.)
- No system is ever perfect. Every system has its own limitations:
|Limitations of Things||Limitions of Omnifocus|
|No sequential projects – all are parallel by default||Omnifocus is not great to look at|
|No time based reminders||Has sync issues|
|No option to add locations for contexts||Has a high learning curve – takes time to wrap your head around|
|No multiple tagging in iOS apps||Too many options can be an overkill for starters or for people with few projects|
|No saved searches or smart folders||Very easy to spend time fiddling in the app than getting things done|
|No way to see all tasks once in a place||Easy to lose tasks in the hierarchy of folders should you decide to setup this way|
|No way to setup review times for projects|
|No repeating tasks in projects|
- One size will not fit all. Some like simplicity, some don’t mind complexity in exchange for power. Some want aesthetics, some want flexibility. When choosing a system take your needs & comfort into consideration and then choose a system.
- Before you abondon that system, work with it for enough time to understand its nuances, to know it in & out, and make the best of it and only then move on to a different app if you still fell it is not meeting your needs; and not because there’s a shiny new application is in the market. I worked with Things for more than two years before deciding to move to Omnifocus.
- Capture in detail: How much should you write? To what granular level? What all should I write? Answer is simple – as much as it takes to get things off your mind. If you are prone to forgetting to brush your teeth, then it should be on the list. If taking out trash at the end of the day is something you forget, it should be in the system. Capture stuff until they become embedded in your muscle memory.
- When writing a task identify if it can be accomplished alone or if it takes a series of actions. Do not list anything that might be a project as a task. You’ll end up ignoring the task as it involves more than one step and you haven’t thought about what they are because of which the task will look insurmountable to you leading to procrastination.
- No system will do the work for you. Just by putting tasks into it does not make it done nor make it cool.
- Try to move projects consciously. If you observe, in your system there’ll be tasks/projects which never seem to get done. You need to remember to get these things moving. Consciously choose to move these tasks to completionor else all you get done will be routine tasks.
- One of the criticisms levied against GTD is that it assumes every task is equally doable and interesting to us to work on it. And, it’s true. If you are dreading to start/complete some tasks/projects you’ve put in the system, then it’s time to ask yourself why? We may not like to do the task because we hate dealing with that person, we may not know the subject, we may be afraid of failure, we may be uncertain of the consequences, or something else. What is it? What fear is holding you back? How can we work to overcome that? If yes, then those should be your next actions before you can tackle the project.
- Review regularly: Your system should be trust worthy. If your brain has to believe the external system works, it has to know that the system is current with all the open loops & unfinished work captured in it and a proper review will be done to assign placeholders to ensure the task resurfaces to our consciousness when it’s due.
- Delete the tasks/projects you no longer find necessary.
- It’s more about being in the moment and relieving ourselves from stress than about ticking things off and to get things off our mind in order to focus on what’s important to us. To be in the flow I believe – getting things off our mind, processing those unfinished loops and placing proper reminders in place, working off contexts play a very important role. If we can get this right, then we can take the full benefit of GTD.
- GTD is not a list management hack. It’s a life management philosophy. It’s not only about getting things done, but also about getting things off our mind to focus on what we’d like to get done. Review your 30,000 – 50000 feet goals from time to time. Ask yourself if they can be converted to projects.
- To remain in flow, work from contexts.