Project Planning for 1 person (not a team)

I’m juggling a lot of different stuff in my business, and it’s mostly just me. I use OmniFocus to manage all the tasks I have to tackle — but I am looking for something that will help me map out a timeline of several projects.

I publish a local magazine six times per year, I publish material to a related website all year long, and I do some online broadcasts of local sports. I have advertisers to keep track of, and some of my content is seasonal, and based on whether I have a sponsor. (For example, the “winter scoreboard” is sponsored by a different business than the “spring scoreboard,” so I have to change that out.

Does anyone have a suggestion for something that would let me visualize all the things I have going on over the course of the year? I’ve looked at OmniPlan, but man, it’s pricey. I’m willing to pay if it’s useful for a single person — but if I’m going to be using 1/10 of its capability, I don’t want to spend that much. Can anyone help me out with a recommendation?

Oh, and I did trigger the OmniPlan trial — but it expired before I could test it out because I had too much going on at the time and didn’t realize it when I started the trial.

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Great question. I have a similar issue. I stumped up for Onmniplan but I’ve been too busy to really set it up properly so that it fits with my workflow. Have you looked at Notion? That has some project management aspects to it and is much cheaper.

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I hadn’t heard of Notion, but I’ll check it out. Summer is the time when I do a lot of planning, so I have to figure this out fast. If Notion looks promising and I try it, I’ll let you know.

Do you have Standard Omniplan? Or pro?

I would love to hear what you decide on. I am in the same business and have never really found the perfect project management for publishing and advertisers.

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I have about 8 CRM apps on my iPad, none of them used. Have you used Daylite or tried it out? They supposedly are a CRM and a project-management app, and I need both those things to track sales and content. I wanted to avoid the monthly fee, but if it can do part of what Omniplan does, plus help me track on the sales side, it would be worth it.

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Perhaps something like Trello or Asana could help here? They’re both what I call “visual” project management tools (Trello more so) and have integrated reminders.

From my limited use, Asana seems to have a few more traditional project management tools. They’ve got a pretty overview on using the tool to manage content here:

Thanks, Meredith. I am using Trello for some limited things. (For example, I have a board where I track advertisers who I need to renew for the 2018-19 year.) I think I need something a little more robust for what I’m thinking. I’ve never used Asana, so maybe I’ll look at that.

As an example, when the high school football season begins, I’ll be livestreaming video broadcasts of the local high school’s games. I know the date of the first game, but I need to line up staffing, finish my ads, test my equipment and make sure all the technical stuff is in place. There are more things like that, all involved in the one overall “project” of football broadcasts. Omnifocus is great for keeping track of the tasks — but I am to the point where I’m having a hard time even remembering what all the tasks are.

Of course, you may be right — maybe Trello WOULD work. Thinking it through in my head, it’s possible it could help me visualize well enough to make it work.

(Can you tell I’m at a loss as to what I should do next?!)

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Setapp has a couple of options if you’re a subscriber. Aeon Timeline and Merlin Project Express are a couple. Also, consider some of the mind-mapping apps (Setapp has a couple available). Several are free or low cost.

BTW: I am a Setapp user but have no affiliation with them.

Aha - I do have Setapp. I think that may be where I need to start! (And I will probably be checking out multiple other options at the same time.) Thank you, Tony.

I use Excel (any spreadsheet app would work, as would OmniOutliner) when I’m at the starting point of project planning, even if it later ends up in a more complex tool. I group things up by category, flag any interdependencies and then break out the subtasks. I have a column for due dates and durations, when I know them. It gives me a nice, visual perspective on things and the room to tinker with dates and dependencies. Excel has more than enough functionality baked in that you can assign formulas to calculate dates and create a cascade.

It then tends to go into MSP (I use Windows 10 at work) if it’s going to turn into a long term project. If it’s not, well, at the very least I have a good map of what I’d like to do.

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Trello powerful management for projects with lots of moving parts. I am biased because I did not have to wrestle alligators to make it work. Kanban based…

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I’d second the recommendation for Notion! I use at the personal level and through a student organization I help lead and it scales well to both levels.

The big thing about Notion for me is just how flexible it is. Kanban boards (Trello), databases (Airtable), calendar views, text notes, embedded PDF documents, almost type of file or link can live side by side in the same page (kind of like a document/whiteboard). I’m still working on best practices for it, but it’s been a really great experience.


You might want to implement personal scrum on top of your OmniFocus setup. Make use of the “defer until” date to schedule future tasks and have a special Context which status is “on hold” for those “maybe” tasks. As you know, the “Forecast” view can also overlay your calendars and you can mark out your “seasons” over there as multi-day events in a dedicated calendar.


Interesting idea, thank you. I do think there are probably some aspects of the new Omnifocus that would help me in the way you describe. I’m still trying to get my head around how the changes can help me tackle some of these issues.

I too tried loads of CRM apps but am currently trying out Cloze (mentioned on another thread) and finding it really useful.

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I regularly need to zoom out and visualize my various projects from a high level and have been using Aeon Timeline for a couple years and I really like it!

It is full of features for different types of users (novelists, historians, project managers etc.) and can feel overwhelming at first but if you start with a “project management” template you can get started pretty quickly.

They just came out with an iOS version and I love using it on the iPad. Being able to view the current quarter or the whole year at a glance really helps me get perspective and stay motivated.


Visualisation of activities and “computing” a project plan/schedule/cost estimate–like OmniPlan, Microsoft Project, Primavera–are different. I have long experience these project management tools, especially Project (for small and huge projects). For their intended purpose they are fantastic and a great tool for computing schedules (including Critical Path to allow milestones to be targeted), costs (to allow budgets), resource planning, progress tracking and measurement, Earned Value Analysis, … (the list is long). What professional Cost and Schedule Engineers do for “projects”, i.e. investments with a beginning, middle, and end. I’m not at all sure you are talking about your “stuff” being real projects.

David, from what you indicate, you are not going to be happy with using a professional Cost and Schedule tool to “keep track” of stuff. I don’t have full visibility of the plethora of tools (web-based and PC-based) that might visualise how you want to visualise, so I can’t offer a list of ideas. Sorry.

There are a number of project visualisation tools out there… probably more on the Windows platform than on Mac. But with VMWare and Parallels who cares? (Some are extremely beautiful and often senior management “loves and expects” them without realising the cost/time to produce). The big problem then is feeding these apps and keeping them up to date.

I notice that with OmniFocus (which I use extensively for my personal “keep track of stuff” tool) you can export to a CSV. You can get out of OmniFocus task name, status, start date, due date, duration, etc. I don’t see how to get the project logic (successors and predecessors), but maybe that doesn’t matter for visualization. Surely that data can be munged to import into any of the project schedules (but I would not recommend it even if easy for visualization) or one of those visualization tools which may work.

Bottom line: if you are looking for a tool, start with taking a look at Milestones Professional from Kidasa. Yes, it needs Windows, but who cares? You have a business to run. That can take the output from your Omni Focus to create a “visualization”.

But take care and think through how you will keep it alive. The real project tools, e.g. Project, have ways to productively keep track of actuals and the knock-on changes in dates/costs/deadlines. For you, maybe your planing just lives in Milestones Pro. Or your planning can live in Omni Plan. I stress this because I see over and over that the biggest time waster by many people in thse sorts of things, especially in small to medium size-ed companies running project investments is munging the data from here to there to make “pretty” presentations at the expense of having a viable project plan/schedule.

Tread carefully else you’ll get overwhelmed with tools and lose site of what you are doing.

Update: from comments above by “Anthonylhrig”, I took a quick look at Aeon Timeline demo copy. Can import CSV from Omnifocus and does what appears to be great visualisations. At first glance, seems to be one-way. After seeing this, Milestones Pro probably not what you want (but what it does is what you want), and maybe Aeon Timline is a good first stab.

Same warning, though. Getting stuck in the tool trap can sometimes lead to a time sync. But if the time spent results in something useful for the business (and your “head”), go for it!


I’ve been using OmniPlan for a few years and now prefer it to even MS Project. For me, it was extremely easy to pick up, especially after the complexity of Project, and I find the interface extremely intuitive. I’ve been managing projects for a long time though, I first worked in project management back in 2001, so maybe this is why I found it so easy to understand. The output also looks great.

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I have exactly the same challenges - one-man band looking for basic project management, a step or two above Things or task manager, but not quite full-blown business tool. Notion certainly looks great, so thanks for that recommendation.

PS. Oh, I’m so happy that MPU has moved the forum out from Facebook - this is certainly the right place to get help and inspiration.


While I really do like Notion, my biggest gripe is that they don’t offer an option to use their servce with end-to-end encryption while only using their macOS/iOS apps.

Obviously end-to-end encryption wouldn’t work with their web version, but I would at least love to have an option, especially when I have to trust them with all that data.

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