Using Omnifocus 2 – My Workflow

It’s been a bit since my last Omnifocus posts, and I’ve been asked some questions about my general workflow which I seemed to have miseed in my previous posts that went over more of the structure and why I use Omnifocus.

Background about life: I’m the coordinator for a university help desk. I manage around 10-15 students as well as a full-time employee each semester, and that means I’m responsible for everything from hiring them, scheduling them, training them, and answering their day to day questions. I’m also one of two full time employees in the office, so I’m responsible for triaging nearly all of the support requests coming through our office for the entire university. Outside of work, I’m also getting my Masters in Human-Centered Computing, and for those of you who’ve been following along with my Condo Project, I just bought my first condo, which I’ve been renovating for the last 3 months, and recently moved into. I also take care of three demanding cats, and I try to have a social life if there’s time left over.

So let’s dive in with how I use Omnifocus (or better put, what earned a spot in my sidebar/home screen).

Note: I have the Pro version of Omnifocus. The ability to create custom perspectives like the ones below is not available in the standard version.

screenshot-1Most of my time is spent at work, so let’s start there. When I’m at my office, I use Omnifocus on my Mac, and it’s usually open to my @Work perspective. This shows anything available that has to or can be done while I’m at work (based on context) grouped by project. These are things like discussing something with a coworker or cleaning up my desk, but can also include things I can do in the background like updating my operating system because the download speeds are much faster. Phone calls I need to make during business hours also fit into this category just so that I can remember to call during my lunch break.

Outside of the office, I primarily work with Omnifocus on my iPhone, and bounce between two perspectives:

Like my @Work perspective, my @Home perspective shows anything available that has to or can be done while I’m at home (based on context), but this time grouped by context (primarily where I’m at in the house, but my Mac/Phone are also included). By having things grouped by room, I’m not constantly running back and forth between rooms.

The other perspective I use outside of the office is my Errands perspective, which shows the available tasks I need to do when I’m out and about also grouped by context. These are things like getting my car washed, picking up something from the store, etc.

@Work, @Home, and Errands are enough to cover all my tasks in Omnifocus, and give me the ability to see everything I can do at any given time depending on where I’m at. I also use the Defer feature heavily, so the number of tasks that appear in each of these perspectives is usually not too high. If the lists do get long, I usually go through and defer any tasks that I can that I can so that it’s clear what I need to focus on for that day.

When defer dates aren’t enough and I’m feeling overwhelmed, however, I have my Available perspective, which shows all available tasks regardless of context or project. This perspective doesn’t have any sort of grouping, so it’s literally just one big list of everything currently available sorted by anything that has a due date. I don’t normally use flags, but it’s from this perspective that I usually flag things, but only as a last resort when I’m feeling frazzled.

The very last perspective in my sidebar is Waiting which holds any tasks that have been assigned the “Waiting for…” context grouped by when they were added to Omnifocus. This lets me see everything I’m waiting on others for in order of newest (at the top) to oldest. I try to periodically check into this perspective just to make sure I’ve not missed any tasks that I’m no longer waiting on that might be holding up a project.

For those of you who hate reading, or maybe just wanted a summary:
– If I’m at work, I open up the @Work perspective on my Mac which shows anything I can do while I’m at work grouped by project.
– If I’m at home, I open up the @Home perspective on my iPhone which shows, you guessed it, anything I can do while I’m at home grouped by context.
– When I’m running errands, I have an Errands perspective that shows me all the things I need to do while I’m out grouped by context.
– My Available perspective shows *everything* currently available in Omnifocus sorted only by due date.
– And the Waiting perspective shows everything I’m waiting on others for.

Omnifocus is an incredibly powerful tool, and figuring out how to best set it up for your own use is an ever-changing process. Hopefully, this has given you some ideas into setting up your own perspectives in Omnifocus.

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Custom Perspectives in Omnifocus

One of the hot topics in Omnifocus world is whether the Pro version is worth the extra $40. My opinion on the matter can be summed up with, “YES! Absolutely yes!”

Omnifocus Pro comes with the ability to use the Focus feature, AppleScripts, and custom perspectives. Custom perspectives are a feature I don’t know how I’d live without. Quite honestly, it’s the one thing that sold me on Omnifocus because there isn’t anything else like it.

Omnifocus has it’s default perspectives, Inbox, Projects, Contexts, Forecast, Flagged, etc., but custom perspectives are where this app shines.

I have 4 main perspectives I work from:

  • @Work shows me everything I can do while I’m at work. {No surprise there.} It shows me only available items in my Campus and Devices contexts, grouped by project, and sorted by due date {if there is one.} Essentially it’s a list of tasks I have to be at the office to do and any tasks I can do while on the computer since I sit in front of the computer for 8 hours a day.
  • @Home shows me everything I can do while I’m at home. It shows me available items in my House and Devices contexts but unlike the @Work perspective, it’s grouped by context, not project, and sorted by project. Grouping by context means all my tasks that are in the basement are grouped together which makes it super simple to batch tasks when I’m in a particular area of the house and not have to constantly walk up and down the stairs.
  • Errands shows any available items in my Errands context sorted by project. This list shows me anything I need to pick up from a store or do while I’m out. Grouping by project lets me quickly see whether something is for my room remodel or just general shopping.
  • Waiting is my last perspective and it shows any tasks that have a “Waiting for…” context. If I’m waiting to hear back from someone or waiting for a particular item in the mail, I can quickly move the task to this list which I periodically review. It’s extremely helpful in making sure nothing falls through the cracks.

So there you have it – my 4 perspectives. I work primarily out of these contexts unless I’m tweaking how something is organized in Omnifocus. In that case, I’d right click and choose Show in Contexts or Projects depending on what I’m trying to do. Being able to see only what I can work on while I’m at work without being reminded of all the things I can’t do at home is an incredible feature of Omnifocus 2, and it’s well worth every bit of the $40 even if you aren’t planning on using the other features {which I don’t.}

And it looks this post wraps up my long winded series of how I use Omnifocus. I hope you’ve enjoyed it, and as always, if you have any questions or you want to hear more, feel free to ask.

Up next on the blog radar… I’m going to get back to posting about how my room remodel has been going.

Until next time,

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