The biggest professional challenge I face is time management. I cringe at process and all things operational. Anyone who knows me understands that I struggle even with email. I’d rather occupy my time with bigger, broader things. Which is why I use Omnifocus.
But reality dictates that in order to create the time to do the things I love, I have to get things done. So for years I’ve stuck to David Allen’s organizational system described in his book, Getting Things Done. GTD just makes sense to me. And since 2008 I’ve applied the GTD principles on a Mac program called Omnifocus. Omnifocus has evolved as my go-to application for project and time management. After Evernote, it’s the most important tool in my digital box.
Recently the Omnifocus group released Omnifocus 2 which represents a substantive overhaul in design and usability. It’s evolved as a beautifully designed productivity tool that you should consider for serious time and workflow management. For the iPhone, Omnifocus offers a beautiful app that leverages all of the functionality of the iOS 7.
The power of Omnifocus lies in its capacity as a powerful relational database for every task and project in my life.
Here are few strengths of Omnifocus that have kept me pulled in…
Easy capture. Life comes fast. The capacity to capture things as they pass is critical. Omnifocus allows me to dictate reminders to Siri who, in turn, automatically sends them to my Omnifocus in box. Brilliant.
Process with ease. In GTD, input processing is a critical step for success. Omnifocus makes it a cinch to turn inputs into actions and actions into projects. The robust inspector allows maximum control over how my action appears and behave within the program. Actions are organized in projects and folders that I create.
Working in Context. Omnifocus allows me to zero-in on the tasks I need to be doing based on the context of my work. Even across the dozens of projects on my plate, there are things that I can only do a certain places and times. Knowing what I need to do where is key to keeping my mind clear and focused.
Waiting as a context. OmniFocus’s Waiting context is brilliant. Any time I begin a task and I’m awaiting someone’s response, I can park the task in the Waiting context, rendering it ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ This clears the clutter when something is out of my hands. Whenever I want to see what’s waiting, I check out the Waiting context in my menu bar or pull up Forecast View, which lists all the tasks due including those classified as Waiting.
Forcast. Omnifocus offers a killer perspective called Forcast. This allows you to see the coming week or month with regard to multiple evolving projects. The UI is smooth and beautifully designed..
Calendar integration. And Calendar events integrate with my Forcast perspective so that I can get a complete look at my week ahead with both action items and appointments in one view.
Review. Periodic review of all current projects is another key element in the GTD system. And Review is a tool that allows you to comfortably audit all of your existing projects to ensure they are on course. I conduct my reviews on Monday mornings.
Synchronization. Omnifocus synchs between my mini, iPhone and MacBook Air. The experience is uniform, flawless, and free on the Omni Sync Server.
Of course, it’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
Cost. The Omnifocus Group is proud of their product. Consequently you will need to show up with your wallet if you want to wield the power I describe above. After a 14-day trial (not enough to see the power of Omni) you can buy Omnifocus at two levels. Standard and Pro. Standard is $39.99 and comes with the basic features that form the core of the OmniFocus experience. Pro is $79.99 and comes with features you can see detailed on the Omnifocus site. For most users starting out, the Standard package will serve as a great jumping off point.
Mac only. For my Windows friends this is Mac only. You can use it on an iPad exclusively in the event that this is as far as you’ve come to a Mac.
While there’s no shortage of to do applications available, few carry the power of Omnifocus. For grocery lists, these may be fine. But under the weight of dozens of critical projects with multiple moving parts, functionality and customization will limit their utility. I strongly recommend Omnifocus.
To see how the pros use Omnifocus, go Inside Omnifocus. Great profiles on its power and application.