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OmniFocus Series Part 07: Workflows and Devices

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Asian Efficiency OmniFocus Series

Up to this point in our OmniFocus series we’ve given a lot of data about how to get started with OmniFocus. The next couple of parts will put everything that you’ve learned together – and show you how to go from “how to get set up” to “how that set up makes you more efficient when working”.

In order to do that, we’re going to revisit Tom, and take a look at a day in the life of Tom Jenkins (with OmniFocus).

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Morning

Tom’s morning begins with him waking up. The first thing he does, is reach for the bottle of water he keeps by his bed, and drinks it. He then stumbles to his computer, where he already has OmniFocus open (from the night before), in the correct Daily Actions view, as such:

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Morning Ritual View

Tom's Morning Ritual

He start checking off this list, one-by-one:

  • Bathroom
  • Breakfast
  • Get changed

After getting dressed, Tom drives to work (he lives in LA remember!)

Work

Once at work, Tom sets up his laptop and again, loads up OmniFocus.

This time, he opens the Plan: Work perspective, where he then proceeds to flag his six most important items for the day. In the case of today, Tom has chosen:

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Work Planning View

Working out what Tom has to complete today.

He then puts OmniFocus into the Today: Work view, and starts working. Of course, Tom works on his most important task first, and he also has to juggle meetings, phone calls and other interruptions in-between getting things done.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Work Today View

Interruption free. Note the absence of any sidebar or toolbar.

As he goes about his day, if he has an idea that he needs to capture, he simply highlights, right-clicks and then selects “send to inbox”:

OmniFocus Workflow: Clipping from Web

Sending from Safari.

OmniFocus Workflow: Web Quick Entry

Quick entry from a Safari clipping.

He can also use the quick entry shortcut to enter to-do items:

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Quick Entry

Quick entry about those darn TPS reports.

Around noon, Tom breaks for lunch. While waiting to buy a sandwich, Tom has a brilliant idea for his company’s next social media campaign – he pulls out his iPhone, goes to OmniFocus and does a “quick entry” – and proceeds to record a quick audio sketching out the idea:

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' iPhone Quick Entry

Quick Entry on the iPhone

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' iPhone Audio Note Recording

Recording an Audio Note.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' iPhone Audio Note Recorded

Audio Note Recorded.

While eating lunch, Tom loads up and checks his personal emails on his iPhone. Anything of importance, he simply selects and copies, then opens up OmniFocus and pastes it as a new quick entry item in the inbox.

Back in the office, Tom of course, continues to work on those six items he flagged in the morning. But he also has to attend meetings. Rather than take his laptop into a meeting, he instead takes his iPad, and opens up the built-in Notes application. When Tom returns to his desk, he can then instantly convert these notes into OmniFocus inbox items via Apple Mail (under “notes” in the MobileMe section):

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Quick Entry from Apple Mail

An inbox item from Apple Mail.

(Note: this can be done for Notes imported from the iPhone as well)

Before he leaves work for the day, Tom does what we call a Clear to Neutral. He takes all the work items from his inbox, moves them to his business inbox, and processes them. He turns them into tasks, into projects, into future reminders.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Work Inbox

Tom's Work Inbox

Once this is done, Tom switches over to his Plan: Work perspective again, and assigns his six tasks for the next day. He’ll check this again tomorrow morning.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Work Planning for Tomorrow View

Assigning tasks for tomorrow.

He also loads up his Completed: Work perspective, and writes his boss a quick email summarizing everything he’d accomplished during the day.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Completed Work View

An overview of what Tom has completed today.

Evening

As Tom leaves the office, he loads up the Errands context on his iPhone, to see if there’s anything that can be done – namely, pick up his dry-cleaning and grab some groceries.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' iPhone Errands Context

Running Errands.

Once Tom is home, he unpacks his laptop and opens up OmniFocus and his Plan: Personal view. Just like at work, he flags six items to complete and then switches over to Today: Personal to start working on them.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Personal Planning View

Planning his evening.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Personal Today View

Distraction-free view for actually getting things done.

When Tom is reading later MacWorld than evening on his iPad, he comes across an article about a new piece of productivity software that is interesting – he highlights the text, copies it and pastes it direct as a new quick entry item in the iPad OmniFocus application.

OmniFocus Workflow: Copying from iPad App

Copying from an iPad application.

OmniFocus Workflow: iPad Quick Entry

Quick Entry on the iPad.

If Tom finds himself bored or unmotivated to complete actions, he can simply load up the Anti-Procrastinate view and start knocking out easier items:

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Anti-Procrastinate View

What Tom does when he's bored.

At some point in the evening, Tom gets around to processing his inbox for personal items, and turning them into tasks and projects too.

OmniFocus Workflow: Tom Jenkins' Personal Inbox

Tom's personal inbox.

As his day winds down, Tom opens the Daily Actions view in OmniFocus, and proceeds with his Evening Ritual. This is his wind-down to sleep, and as he checks off the last item, OmniFocus remains open and ready for use the next morning.

Closing Thoughts

So now you know what it looks like to be effective with OmniFocus (and a few other Asian Efficiency-endorsed ideas and concepts) – it’s an ubiquitous tool that you use throughout your life every day, to take notes and to help tell you what you need to know or do next.

If you would like a copy of Tom’s updated database, you can find it here.

Edit: Click here for part 8.

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6 Comments

Posted by James  | July 3, 2011 at 8:17PM | Reply

This is a great post. Your blog is awesome for someone looking to set up and implement a GTD system. When setting up the morning ritual checklist – do you set the tasks in the morning ritual checklist to repeat? If so, how do you stop them from cluttering up the forecast view (especially on the iPad).
Thanks – James

Posted by AE Aaron  | July 4, 2011 at 5:57AM

Thanks James! You can’t really prevent your morning ritual checklist from cluttering up the forecast view – just something you have to conceptually work around =)

Assuming you make ti through your morning ritual by the time you start your day though, there shouldn’t be too many items there from the checklist.

Posted by Stephen  | May 29, 2012 at 6:20AM | Reply

Helpful overview, thanks … but does this poor guy ever get a rest or his he always on his Mac or iOS? ;)

Posted by Adam  | October 18, 2012 at 2:07AM | Reply

Stephen, it’s called: “more things done” ;-p

Posted by dave  | October 22, 2013 at 10:47PM | Reply

why the separate inbox for work?

Posted by Thanh Pham  | October 23, 2013 at 1:14PM

Some people find it easier to categorize info that way.

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