Creating Checklist Templates in Omnifocus

As a planner person, I LOVE checklists. I enjoy checking things off, but I really enjoy the feeling of knowing I haven’t forgotten anything. I’m also an efficiency junky, and I try to streamline things wherever possible which is probably why I like checklists even more. As David Allen says in his book Getting Things Done, “There is no reason ever to have the same thought twice, unless you like having that thought.” There are very few things I enjoy thinking about over and over again, and checklists mean I don’t need to waste my time and energy thinking about planning things I do regularly more than once.

Most of my checklists are for things that repeat regularly like finalizing the schedule for my student employees which happens every Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter or getting new pay rates approved twice a year. These happen pretty regularly, but there are a lot of moving pieces involving different people, so if I don’t get moving on them by a certain time, I run risk of having an office without employees scheduled to work. I don’t want that, nor do I want the stress of missing something in the process that looming over me especially when these things all happen at the most chaotic times of the year. These checklists are set as repeating list in Omnifocus and help to make my life *slightly* less stressful.

Much to my dismay, some things in life happen over and over again but not regularly. Having the checklist saves me time, but having it repeat regularly wouldn’t work. These are things like a preparing for trip or bringing a new employee on board. The process is pretty much the same every time, I just don’t necessarily go on a vacation every 6 months {although I may try…} or bring a new employee on board exactly every 3 months.

In the past, I saved these lists randomly with no rhyme or reason. I had checklists saved as a Google documents, others in Microsoft Word, and some in Evernote. Trying to remember where one might be was a task in itself. Having to create a task to find a check list was silly, so in an effort to simplify, I wanted to have them in one place, and since Omnifocus is my place for tasks, it made sense to keep these checklists of tasks there as well.

In my last Omnifocus post, I went over my project hierarchy in detail, but I skipped over the “Templates” sections promising to go over them later. My templates folders are where I keep my randomly recurring checklists. I have separate template folders for both work and personal tasks, but you could also keep them all together in one folder. Each template checklist is saved as its own project, and I set the status to “On Hold” since I’m not actually working on them which prevents them from showing as available tasks.

To illustrate how I use them, let’s consider the following scenario of hiring a new student. After I’ve decided to hire a new student, I simply go to my “New Employee Checklist” template, right click it in the sidebar and select Copy to make a copy of it, and paste the copy into my Student Management single action list. From there, the only change I make is to add the new employee’s name in parentheses to the end of the checklist title. Once I’ve done that, I have a ready made list of everything I need to do from getting that new employee’s payroll paperwork submitted all the way up to making sure they’ve got all the required accesses for their first day on the job within just a few clicks.

I use a similar process when taking a trip, but this checklist is a bit more detailed. My “Taking a Trip” template includes sections for preparations, packing (broken down into categories), and things to do when I get back like unpack. The packing section includes the standard items I normally take with me on every trip, but also includes placeholders so I can list clothes for each day of the trip, and placeholders to remind me of extras I might forget like a bikini and flip flops for a hotel’s indoor pool or gear for snowboarding. The beauty of this is I get a generic list of everything I need to do before and after I leave that I can add to as I see fit. It’s also a place to keep all those things I always forget to do like turn the alarm clock off before I leave.

My use of templates is fairly straight forward and simple – just a project on hold that I copy and paste as necessary. They are there to serve mainly as reminders that I don’t mind tweaking here and there. For uber power users of Omnifocus that are really interested in the idea of templates, I’d recommend checking out Chris Suave’s Templates.scpt which lets you set variables and all sorts of crazy fun things that show you the power Omnifocus has. (Note: These were made for Omnifocus 1. I’m not sure if they will work with Omnifocus 2.)

Signature Update

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s