OmniFocus - Convince me

Trial lawyer, here.

My day is hectic, filled with substantive phone and live conversations, appointments, research, tons of document drafting and prep, court, and office management. I could be talking about a speeding ticket on a lawnmower in one moment and a class action against McDonalds for disparaging the Scot-Irish in another.

convince me to use OmniFocus.

I hear so many good things. like Mulder, I want to believe. . . .

Caveat. I’m very impatient AND lazy.

But I’m slow. . . .

OmniFocus is not a tool for those who are always putting out firestorms (operating at the urgent and important levels of the Eisenhower matrix). You will spend more time setting up what to do than you will doing. OmniFocus is also not a tool for those who need to layout long term projects (the 50,000 ft or above levels in the seven habits or other getting things done books). You will spend more time viewing the leaves rather than viewing the forest.

The convincing seems to be that you have to decide when you will stop being too lazy to try it.

If you do decide, pick one corner of your work life. Do not try to tackle everything. For example, decide that you will try OmniFocus only to manage your schedule and work flow for document drafting, prep, and submission.

You will have to be METHODICAL (not slow) at the outset about disciplining yourself to use it for this one corner of your work plans. Only then could you hope to have success to set up a methodology that will avoid frustration from being impatient to simply “get stuff done”.


JJW

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I’m not going to even try.

“hectic”. “Filled with”. Telling comments. They don’t suggest you spend a lot of quality time on your Mac.

You don’t indicate you have time or interest to learn OmniFocus.

That being said, what problem in your life are you trying to fix? specifically as you now perceive it? what will life be like after you get there?

Are you trying to find a way to capture “todo’s” (and thoughts), categorize them, then use different views of that info to discern something? I wonder if that really of value of you even have time, but it’s your call.

If you are simply just capturing thoughts and “to-do’s” on the fly as you and then process (at end of the day, week, or never) a simpler task mgmt tool might be in order.

I use Things. There are others. (I used to use OmniFocus–for many years. Impressive and powerful, but I don’t need it).

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I’m with @rms here. We don’t have to convince you of using a tool that could potentially help. If your life is crazy, seek the solutions and the help (there are a ton of resources here about OmniFocus and other apps, as well as people more than willing to discuss), but it’s nobody’s job to design your own workflow for yourself. Especially if you’re impatient and lazy. Designing workflows and potentially a life that goes with it is a journey of self discovery and that requires work and patience. Tough luck.

Now if you want to discuss use cases and resources, that’s a different matter.

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I’d suggest listening to David’s episode on The Omni Show. He gets into some detail about how he organizes his law practice in OF and how information goes in and out of OF.

I agree that OF is not actually great for a hectic, reactive day. On such days I’m usually working out of a scratchpad because I don’t have time for much else. OF is great for a very full, planned out day if you set it up right, and it also helps get done the right little things during lulls.

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I would venture that no to-do app is great in responsive mode. Indeed, in those moments, quick capture is the best, followed by a quick sorting and processing at the end of the day in the main system.

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I use Omnifocus as a mega-To Do app and I love it. I use an applescript to send the tasks to Fantastical and it serves me beautifully. I don’t require all the multi task project stuff except for organization but it is available to be expanded if I need it.

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Gonna go out on a limb here and say find another solution, based on these two criteria alone.

From my personal N=1 experience, there was significant upfront investment of time and patience in setting OF up in a way that made sense to me. I spent a lot of time reading manuals and watching videos, some of which requires further financial investment.

Have you tried other tools that are a little more simple and pre-set up like Todoist? You may want to investigate something like that before jumping into OF.

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I prefer the Things App to Omnifocus. I’ve used both so I speak from experience. Things is easier to setup and use and doesn’t have a steep learning curve.

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Echoing so many others here. Sounds like that is not going to work for you. I’ve used OF since 2009. For me it’s perfecg. But it takes a long time to get comfortable with the power it has and to adapt it to your specific needs. For me the ability to handle the weeds, tiny details of fast moving projects and the forest, decades long big projects with many subparts is unparalleled but it took a long time to get to where it all works for me.

You have to decide what your problem is and then search for tools that will solve it. Don’t pick a tool based on the fact lots of other folks use and like it. Pick a tool based on what it will do for you.

Both of those attributes indicate to me that you need to decide what your problem is first then search for a tool to solve it. I’ll bet that OF isn’t it. OF seems to work best for the methodical, detailed, meticulous and patient users who spend the time to get it really fine tuned for their needs.

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Wonder if Omnigroup has this as a persona.

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Yep. OmniFocus isn’t just a task manager, it’s a task manager construction kit. Getting full value out of it really requires putting in some effort to customize it to fit your needs.

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I switched form OF to Things this year. OF is great and all, but it was too much for me. I don’t really have many projects, I just have tasks I need to do and I didn’t want to mess with different views (perspectives) to see what was due anymore. Things is a better fit for me for that reason. I open it and it show me what I need to do today. If I am not going do it today, I just leave it or reassign it to another day. It’s all very straight forward. I don’t need to do reviews or set up a custom perspective, I just check today.

My only complaints is doing things early. You kind of have to jump through hoops, especially if it’s a repeating task. It’s not difficult, just takes more work than I would like.

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Things is great if it meets your needs and you fit into its model. If so, use Things.
OmniFocus is awesome if you need the flexibility and power. If so, use OmniFocus.
One is not better than the other.
However, one of these tools will fit your life best. If you don’t need OF’s power, then it makes little sense to invest in it.
If you need OF’s power, it makes little sense not to.

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There are many methods of task management that work for me, but not all of them work for my workload.

For example, if I’m doing client work or teaching or am finding myself on committees, I generally benefit from a granular, date-based approach like OF. But if I’m in a writing mode or something more creative, granular approaches suddenly become burdensome and ill-fitted. Tools like Things, Trello, or pen and paper work better.

Of course, the reality is that work is both of these things at once and I think that’s why there’s so much flip-flopping between different approaches (speaking for myself :wink:).

I find myself using (and returning over and over again to) Omnifocus because I am on top of things when I use it and my work always involves the need to get back to people, remember small details/intentions, etc.

Bottomline → if I had your job, I’d be using OF because I wouldn’t be able to keep on top of things otherwise.

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@sidvicious so I just have to ask if your handle “vicious” reflects the way you advocate for your clients! :laughing:

This. I’ve been using OmniFocus for 6/7 years now, and couldn’t do my job to the standards I have set for myself. It was a case of needs must for me, I took on a new job with a new employer and I sank within the first 6 months; multiple simultaneous projects etc etc. OmniFocus (and GTD) saved me.

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I’m going to weigh in to state that productivity is not about the tasks, it’s about how you relate and approach your tasks. The system that works for somebody may or may not work for you.

Given that from your description your day is really crazy, you need to try and take control of it. You only have 24 hours, so I’d suggest the hyper scheduling/ time blocking approach using the Calendar and as a quick capture tool use Reminders for personal stuff. See how this works out and then reconsider in a couple of months. Don’t over complicate things, if these basic tools don’t make any effect Omnifocus, Things, Todoist, Amazing Marvin or whatever won’t magically work.

A weekly planning session on the calendar worked wonders for me.

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I concur. The detail will vary so my example will not apply to others but I get to the office at 6 and my calendar is blocked from 6-9:30 with no meetings, calls, etc., so I can get deep work done. The rest of the day and evening is for meetings, calls, interrupting, what have you. I’m able to protect that 6-9:30 time about 95% of the time. Occasionally an urgent matter must be dealt with in that time but I’ve gotten very good (and so has my EA) at saying “no” between 6-9:30. As a result, I seldom feel “hurried or harried.”

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That also depends on the work environment. I happen to work at a company that is mostly calendar-driven so that makes time blocking the obvious solution. If OP is a solo professional or his colleagues don’t honor his schedule it becomes harder. Because then it’s a matter of assertiveness: “I can’t help you now, but I have a slot for you tomorrow at 09.15”