Here’s a simple yet oh so effective way of getting tasks in your OmniFocus inbox for files you need to review.
I came up with this solution because I started to forget files that I wanted to review. On a daily basis I download a ton of PDF reports, Excel spreadsheets and documents that I need to look at at some point, but sometimes I’ll forget about it because they aren’t stored in OmniFocus.
Call me lazy, but when I want to create an inbox item, name it “review this file: (filename)” and have a link to this file in the item’s note section I have to take a lot of steps. I’ll open the quick entry box, write it down, find the file somewhere, drag it into the tiny notes field….it’s too many steps and inefficient.
Luckily, I found a way to automate this and I will show you exactly how it works and how you can use it.
Here’s a quick video I put together that will show you how it works with a combination of an Applescript, Hazel and OmniFocus. It’s super simple.
Now that you know how it works, let me show you how you can set it up. Here’s what you need:
Next is a designated folder where you will dump all your files. I like to call it the “hotspot” folder (I even gave it a custom icon to make it standout). I suggest you put it in your Dropbox folder (mine is /Dropbox/Hotspot/). Within the Hotspot folder, create a new folder called “Processed”. This is where all files will be moved once Hazel has processed them (this will avoid any duplicate processing).
Now you need Hazel to monitor this folder. Add the Hotspot folder to Hazel and then add a new rule. Here’s what it looks like:
As you can see, it will execute an Applescript. Here’s what it does anytime a file gets added to the folder:
- Creates a new inbox item.
- Names it: Review “FILENAME” (with the actual filename in quotes)
- Adds the date of when this item was processed in the notes section.
- Adds a link to the file in the notes section (you can click on it and it will open the file).
I have to give credit to David Sparks. I got this Applescript from one of his old posts (can’t find it at the moment) and I modified it slightly for this purpose. The script is included in the Hazel rule (download link is at the bottom of the post).
You can drag and drop any file in there and it will be processed.
Taking it further
This Hazel rule and Applescript can easily be modified to fit your needs. You can get really creative with this:
- Assign a specific folder where all financial files go. Then have the script assign the right project/list (such as “Finances”) and context right away (that way you skip the inbox).
- Based on the file name, you can have the Hazel rule do different things. For example, every filename that starts with “en “ will be imported into Evernote or every file that has the .eml extension (emails) will get a different entry name (“Review email XYZ”).
The basic idea is that you can literally dump files in this folder and the Hazel rule will determine what to do with it, and you’ll have a reminder in OmniFocus to review this file.
If you know some Applescript, I hope you can work with this. I would love to see people get creative with this.
Here are some links to get you started:
- Hazel (read our introductory post if you’re new to Hazel)
- The Hazel rule for the HotSpot folder (includes applescript)
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