Planning and scheduling

I couldn’t decide whether to post in here or in Software - it’s a software related question but also a more generic workflow question.

I am currently in the middle of writing a number of design documents for a project I am working on and I’m looking for a way to keep track of where I am.

OmniFocus, which I use for both work and personal tasks, is fine for the high-level view, e.g. “Write document on X” but it seems a bit fiddly for anything more granular than that. I use iThoughts on a daily basis and have used that to map out the sections of the document and that works well. I have been looking at the task options that you can assign to nodes in iThoughts, which may be all I need to use, but I’m open to other options.

Pure writing apps are out of the picture as everything has to be produced using Word, Excel and PowerPoint, with the collaboration features of SharePoint for document storage, etc., and I CBA messing around writing in one app and then converting to an Office document when it’s finished. I’ve done that in the past and it’s a pain. All my supporting notes are written in OneNote[1].

What do the collective use for these types of scenarios? I think some sort of project planning application might be a bit of an overkill (or not), but I would like something to track the items on my mind map and then be able to schedule which sections of the document I need to complete on a daily by day plan in order for it to be ready on the date it’s due.

[1] I’ve gradually started to move away from multiple apps to do the same job, hence Office, DEVONthink for reference/archiving, Drafts, and that’s about it, but that’s a story for another day.

That Sharepoint requirement is tricky. I know someone who used Trello for a similar workflow,using Microsoft Flow as a bridge, but I remember he had trouble with attachments.

You mention OmniFocus. I don’t understand what you mean by it being “a bit fiddly for anything more granular than that.” Not what I think at all. Level of detail and “granularity” controlled between the keyboard and seat, not Omnifocus!

The level of detail you quote “Write document on X” is very high level and may well be suitable to put in your Calendar.

If you create a folder “Writing” and then under that “project” for each of the design documents, e.g. “Document on X”, and then inside each of those projects write in all the tasks that you wish to identify and track with your scheduled dates. Then as you complete items, say “done”. As you need to change your plan, i.e. the dates, change them individually or in bulk. Use Tags on tasks if useful. Make some useful perspectives (some showing all tasks, all un-done, all done, by tags, by … whatever).

I say OmniFocus as it’s the only bit of software you mention that has any close connection to dates, tasks, etc. Anything beyond that list would entail a learning curve for you.

There are project planning apps, but all would be a step-out for you and some of the more sophisticated but famous ones will probably be over-the-top.

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The SharePoint requirement is for the document itself, not the planning I am doing while writing it. That has no dependancy on any other systems.

Incidentally, I’ve just had a Teams conf call with two colleagues, one of whom had some questions about one of the solution designs that he is currently working on. Being able to work collaboratively, while working remotely - it’s been nearly four weeks since I’ve set foot in the office - is pretty awesome.

What if you created a Custom List in SharePoint (based on the task template) to manage all that? Can also add fields to the document’s SharePoint entry to track/plan actions for the document. Pretty simple to add these custom lists and fields.

Maybe more useful that using OmniFocus.

(I sort of forgot about SharePoint, but on seeing you mention it I was reminded of it being an idea inside your software list)

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Maybe, then, that I am not sure about cluttering my OF database with 20-30 additional task items per document that I am currently working on. Some will be quite short-lived, perhaps a week at most, some could drag on for a couple of months.

Since writing my original post, I have delved into some of the options in iThoughts. You can assign tasks to the nodes, with rollup options for the parents tasks, dates, effort, etc, so it maybe that this is all I need. Will have a play, given the mind map is already written, and see how it will work.

It’s possible. I have done some work with custom lists and forms in SharePoint in the past, although I am no means a SP developer by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t have the need to make my musings available to the entire team.

I’ve frequently used TaskPaper for this sort of thing. TaskPaper can be as simple or complex as you want it to be, and is good for tracking steps in progression of tasks.

If you follow the same progression of tasks for other tasks, a TaskPaper document can be saved and reused as a template.

I think you’ll be better off making SharePoint work for you. I think it would be a “kludge” to make iThoughts work for you; but if if it works, go ahead!

No need to be a “developer” to setup SharePoint to make some really good lists. Avoid SharePoint “development” at all costs!! Start with the generic Task list and tweak, e.g. add a field that is a lookup to the Document in the document library. Make some views “by Due Date”, “by Start Date”, by Done/Not Done, by document, etc.

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I will have to find some time to have a play around with my personal O365 tenant over the weekend and see what I can make it do, after seeing that someone has had similar ideas to myself and has earlier this afternoon set up a couple of SharePoint lists and an instance of Microsoft Planner in the Teams site.

I use Microsoft Planner with one client who is heavily into MS environment. While not as good as Trello it does have many of the features and of course can only be accessed by those who are in the ‘team’ or can access the SharePoint group.

Zenkit might do the job. Like a more flexible version of Trello and available on Mac, Windows, iOS, iPad and others.