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How to Setup and Use OmniFocus as an Agenda for Meetings

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of-agenda

One common thread we see among OmniFocus Premium Posts clients is the idea of using OmniFocus as an agenda tool for meetings and communication. If you’ve ever led a meeting, you know how important it is to have an agenda with notes. Without it the meetings tend to be huge time wasters. So how can you use OmniFocus for this? Let me show you a simple set up you can use.

When you have OmniFocus as your trusted system, everything you capture will usually go in there first. Instead of trying to remember stuff, you just dump it in there and and figure out later what you want to do with it. You want to make this process as frictionless as possible.

Especially if you’re planning to use OmniFocus as an agenda for meetings. It’s pretty common to have ideas you want to bring up and it should be really easy to store them in OmniFocus. There are usually two challenges here.

First, the capturing process. Since discussion items can come from many different sources you want to have an easy process for handling each input. For example:

  • Ideas from you should be quickly dumped into OmniFocus using the quick entry box (Mac and iOS).
  • If you use Drafts on iPhone/iPad – that works too. Just make sure you immediately store it in OmniFocus and do not let it sit in your Drafts inbox.
  • Ideas from emails should be easily clippable. You can either use the Clipper shortcut (Preferences > Clippings) or some apps have an OmniFocus plugin to do the same thing, i.e. Mailplane.

The second challenge is how to set up OmniFocus so it can be used as an agenda for meetings. There are lots of ways of doing this and recently one our OmniFocus Premium Posts clients wondered the same thing (and see my response below):

Love your Omnifocus Premium product and Support!

I need advice.

Throughout the week, I am constantly putting in my Omnifocus “Inbox” topics, reminders, and subjects that are to go into my staff weekly newsletter or my Friday Cabinet meeting agenda.

As I process these items out of my Inbox, what is the most efficient way to categorize these into a running list for these two weekly communication tools/events. Should the weekly memo and the weekly meeting agenda be re-occurring projects and the topics/items be listed in the “notes” body? Or should these items/topics be Single Actions that have Contexts created either as “Weekly Memo” and “Cabinet Agenda,” so that these topics/items can be sorted for future use.

Both ways work but I was wondering if you utilize a different approach or which you would recommend to be most efficient.

Thank you!

Chris L, UK

My Response

Hi Chris,

Thank you for the compliments! I’m glad you like it.

Personally, I like the second approach – have each item/topic as a separate task in OmniFocus. That’s the quickest way to dump stuff in OmniFocus and also to find, sort and organize. Like you said, use those two contexts and then have a repeating task somewhere that says “Prepare weekly newsletter and check context-X for topics”.

If you want to get fancy, in that repeating task, create a link to that context, or perspective. I believe I mentioned it somewhere in OmniFocus Premium Posts how you can create those links. Totally not mandatory to make the workflow work, just a nice extra touch that makes it a little bit more streamlined.

Simple Setup

Now if you’re still unsure on how to translate that into practical OmniFocus steps, don’t worry. I’ll show you how you can have it set up in minutes.

The easiest way is to set up a single action list called “Agenda” and you dump all discussion items in there. So whenever you have an idea, you can either dump it into your inbox or immediately move it to your “Agenda” single action list.

Agenda as single action list in OmniFocus

Use a single action list for “Agenda”.

If you want to elaborate a little, use the notes section of the task where you can freeflow and type all your thoughts about a particular agenda point (on desktop, click on the paperclip icon on the right or press CMD+’ (apostrophe)).

The next time you have a meeting, pull up the “Agenda” list and simply go through each point you have in there and check things off. It’s that simple!

Contexts

You probably noticed that I didn’t bring up what context you should assign. Technically, you don’t need one here if you’re leading the meeting. It’s okay to leave that field blank since the context doesn’t describe in any way how the “task” (discussion item) should be done.

However, you can use a context if you want to assign a person or team to go over a particular item. For example, if your agenda point is “Update on Rocket Missile project” and you want to hear from Aaron what the status is, you could assign @People:Aaron as the context.

agenda points in OmniFocus

Notice how there’s a context assigned to a person.

As you’re leading the meeting and you’re going over each discussion item, you can immediately see who should update you. So I would recommend that you leave the context field blank unless you need someone else to update you.

Advanced: You can get fancier by making a perspective for this and sticking it up on your toolbar to make your Agenda easily accessible.

For more OmniFocus tips and our recommended setup to get things done, check our OmniFocus Premium Posts.

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3 Comments

Posted by Oliver  | March 26, 2014 at 12:27PM | Reply

I have it setup the other way around: I have a context for each meeting, and projects can contribute agenda items to those.

Posted by Georgie Porgie  | April 15, 2014 at 5:03PM | Reply

It appears to me that this is forcing something to work with OF for which OF wasn’t designed for. Evernote is much more searchable and maintainable for meeting notes and minutes.
When you have a meeting, you want to maintain the notes from that meeting, and thus checking off what you discussed in OF is not the best way to do it.

Using Evernote, Tag it with whatever you want to, store it in whatever folder the subject pertains to, and then take notes.

To differentiate between minutes and agenda items, use an italic font or simply use an indented bullet.

To work with OF, create an Evernote context within OF and then when you think of things you need to discuss in the meeting, make the note in OF and then later as you review your items, dump it into Evernote.

Then, to incorporate it into it’s corresponding Project that exists in OF, drag the link of the Evernote file into the OF Project to keep them linked.

You can also OmniOutliner for meeting notes, but until their synching functionality improves, Evernote is the simplest way to do this.

Posted by Jay  | August 23, 2015 at 8:23AM | Reply

Totally agree with Georgie Porgie’s comments about using EverNote over OmniFocus for creating agendas for meetings. The items need to be saved for future reference and follow ups. This doesn’t work well with checking off the items in OmniFocus. Definitely support the idea of using OmniFocus, however, to create reminders to prepare, review, and create agendas. If the meetings are weekly, scheduled repeating tasks can be created in OmniFocus for the task items that will result in a comprehensive agenda that deals with all the items needed to move a project forward.

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