A Few Improvements to my Evernote Organization

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Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

 

A few months ago I wrote about how I’m organizing Evernote. Have no fear! I’m still loving my basic set up, but I have made a few additions to keep important information at hand.

I’m not sure which podcast introduced me to Tiago Forte, but in the weeks after learning of him, I spent hours reading into his P.A.R.A. method – a “universal system for organizing digital information.” His idea is simple – The tools you use aren’t important as long as you have a system to organize things. Of course, any mention of systems has my attention.

I won’t get into the nitty-gritty details, but P.A.R.A. stands for Projects, Areas, Resources, and Archives. He has a 4-part series if you’re interested in learning all the details. Unfortunately, the posts are now behind a paywall though, so here’s an interview he did with Evernote that goes over the basics.

I’ve not adopted his system fully, but I did walk away with a few insights.

Take Away 1: Projects vs. Areas of Responsibility

Coming from a GTD mindset, projects and areas of responsibility seem fairly straightforward, but I was surprised to discover I was mixing them up just as Forte mentioned. He describes a project as “a series of tasks linked to a goal with a deadline,” whereas an area of responsibility is “a sphere of activity with a standard to be maintained over time.” Projects can be completed. Areas of responsibility are ongoing.

Forte argues that when you mix the two together, it’s difficult to see everything you’ve committed to, and I couldn’t agree more. Clarifying the commitments required by my ongoing areas of responsibility has given me a better understanding of just how feasible taking on that extra project might be.

Take Away 2: Make Most Used Information the Most Accessible

It’s no surprise that information isn’t equal. Some notes are used more than others. Part of Forte’s P.A.R.A. method includes keeping your notes organized hierarchically so that your most used information is easily accessible. More actionable information flows up to the top Project level, whereas lesser-used information flows down to Archives.

Forte suggests moving everything into Archives to start. As you need to use notes, move them to their appropriate level, and they will gradually end up in their respective areas. I actually tried this, but quickly found his distinctions between Resources, Areas, and Archives too arbitrary for my needs.

Instead, I settled on a simplified system. I created two stacks – one for Current Projects and one for everything else, Reference. Like, Forte suggested, I just moved my existing notebooks into a Reference stack. For any projects that require supporting documentation, I create a notebook under Current Projects. Once completed, their content will be archived to their respective area under Reference.

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(Side note: I’ve also made two other changes: Agendas now live in their own notebook for easier access, and I created a separate Reference notebook for book highlights.)

Take Away 3: Review and Improve your Notes as You Use Them

A lot of people seem to treat Evernote as a junk drawer. I’m guilty as well. Forte has a whole system for randomly resurfacing his notes and annotating them. As cool as it is, I simply don’t have time to review and revise notes each day. Moreover, I find his rules for when to highlight versus bold a bit fiddly. Instead, I’m simply trying to make a point to improve my notes each time I use them. As I use a note, I’ll clarify or highlight the portion I used.

With these three takeaways, my notes should become more and more useful over time. I’m sure that the system will evolve, but for now this seems to be a nice blend of simplicity and functionality.

 

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A Simple Solution for Integrating Goals into Omnifocus

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Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash

As each year wraps up, I, like many, start thinking about my goals. What did I set out to accomplish for the year? How did I do? Admittedly, I did pretty well, successfully completing 12 of my goals for 2017.

But there were equally as many that I didn’t get to. A handful of them are simply still in progress or wrapping up, but it was clear the others failed because I just wasn’t tracking them.

This makes me laugh because anyone who knows me knows I track just about everything: tv shows, tasks, activity, sleep, habits, how I spend time on my computer, water consumption… the list goes on…

For 2018, I set out with a plan, ensuring each goal had a way to be tracked. How to track progress on some things were a no-brainer. Tracking my weight is done automatically with Fitbit scale provided I remember to stand on it. Meditating regularly is something that Streaks can track automatically as long as the app sends the data to Apple Health.

It was the larger objectives I was having trouble with – my reading goal, financial goals, interpersonal things. They were things I really wanted to work on, but without some sort of accountability, ensuring steady progress on them was easily forgotten during the day to day activities.

Seeing as I run my life out of Omnifocus, I figured that was the best place to start, but I had a few problems:

  • I didn’t want my goals to get buried amongst my ongoing responsibilities.
  • I didn’t like the added visual clutter of prefixing each project with something like [GOAL]
  • Some of my goals like posting to this blog regularly were just tasks, not full blown projects.
  • I wanted them to live within my existing folder/project/context structure of Omnifocus.

My solution was quite simple. I simply added #goal to the Notes field of each project or task relating to a goal. With that, I created a custom perspective (project-based, grouped by folder, showing any remaining tasks that included the text #goal). The perspective gives me a list of all tasks related to my goals (at least the ones being tracked in Omnifocus) in one list.

I’ve added the perspective to my toolbar, so that whenever I’m in Omnifocus, I can see all my goals in one list. It’s become a valuable part of my daily planning and keeps me focused on ensuring I’m always making progress on my goals.

Trouble with Task Managers

I’ve been using Omnifocus for over 3 years now. It’s effectively become my second brain at this point. But lately, I’ve been running into a few hiccups.

Design

For anyone interested in GTD or task management, I doubt I need to mention how gorgeous Things 3 is. Looking at Omnifocus feels like I’m looking at a complicated spreadsheet now. I’d switch to Things in a heartbeat, but it’s lack of sequential tasks or perspectives are deal breakers. I also find that the sidebar gets quite overwhelming fairly quickly if you use a task manager to the extent that I do. If they’d add the ability to have headers in Areas, I’d be thrilled.

Sharing Lists

Now that I’m sharing tasks with another person, mainly my grocery list, I’ve had to look elsewhere and abandon my wonderfully organized list in Omnifocus. I’m back to using Reminders for now. For a brief time, I explored GoodTask and 2Do which both sync with Reminders, but found GoodTask lacking in features and 2Do just too complicated.

Tags

Testing out Things 3, GoodTask, and 2Do really opened my eyes to how valuable a tagging system could be. While not critical to my workflow, I do think there is value in being able to assign things like energy levels, priorities, or people to certain tasks in addition to just their context. Multiple tags is on the roadmap for Omnifocus 3, but it is yet another thing to be desired in my current set up.

For now, I’ve resigned myself to keep using Omnifocus. Tags are at least on the roadmap, and sharing of lists has at least been hinted at so it seems like my best bet is to keep waiting. Hopefully, the next version will feature a simplified design as well and the wait will be worthwhile. Until then, it seems like I’ll be dealing with a little more friction when it comes to my task management system then I’d like.

The Lazy Man’s Pomodoro Technique

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

The Pomodoro Technique has always appealed to me. I had visions of furiously working away in short bursts with a cute little tomato timer sitting on my desk, but the reality is it has never worked out for me.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Pomodoro Technique, it’s a time management method where you work in intervals. Traditionally, those intervals, called a Pomodoro, are 25 minutes of work followed by a 5 minute break. After 4 Pomodoros you get a longer 15-30 minute break. Those who like it say it helps stay on task and avoiding distractions.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been experimenting with what I like to call the “Lazy Man’s Pomodoro Method.”

Instead of the traditional intervals, I work for 35 minutes and then take a 5 minute break to get up and walk around. When I return from my break I have 20 minutes to do whatever I’d like, and then I repeat.

Much to my surprise, it’s actually been working, and I’ve been getting a LOT more done each day.

So why lazy?

  • It’s a lot fewer intervals to worry about. Pomodoros always seemed fussy to me. With this “lazy” interval, provided I start the interval 15 minutes into the hour, the break to get up falls right at my Apple Watch’s reminder to stand up. Once I get back to my desk after my break, I just need to set a 20 minute timer. (I’ve been using Gestimer on my Mac for anyone that’s interested.) Setting one timer vs six is a win for me.
  • I get rewarded for getting up every hour. I know it’s bad to sit down all day, but even with my Apple Watch reminding me to get up, I still have a tendency to stay sitting at my desk for too long. Knowing I get to come back and check my RSS reader for new articles, or read the book I’m currently reading helps to reinforce getting up each hour and hence keeps me from being lazy.
  • Lastly, I don’t feel guilty about procrastinating. Let’s just be honest, we all procrastinate. Having a time limit on my time wasting things on the internet is good, but I also know another one’s coming in an hour, so I don’t worry about when it ends.

Since I’ve modified the Pomodoro Technique to fit my lazy personality, my to do list in Omnifocus has shrunken considerably, and I feel a lot more productive each day because I’m not wasting my time on things that I shouldn’t be doing. Maybe it might just help you out too.

 

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Revisiting Context Organization in Omnifocus

Contexts seem to be a point of contention when it comes to any GTD system. How many should you have? What should they be? How many is too many? A quick look at the countless methods being discussed in the Omnifocus Forums show that there is no single right way for picking contexts, and when you consider the possibility of a task having multiple contexts (not currently possible in Omnifocus), it gets more complicated. The age old answer of “It depends” truly applies here. That being said, a few things stand out for me when I look at those long lists of contexts that people have.

Don’t try to do too much with Contexts

In its purest form, a context is a tool or location. II need to be at home in order to clean the shower in my bathroom, so “home” is a great example of a context. No matter how much I wish it were true, there’s simply no way I could get my shower cleaned while I’m at work. The problems tend to creep in when you start to factor in other things like energy levels, time available, or urgency.

On paper it makes sense to define these various lists to drill down to what you can work on at any given moment, but if you use something as powerful as Omnifocus, there are more options available to you for this than just contexts. There are due dates and flags to indicate urgency or importance and durations to indicate quick wins or when you’re looking for something to do during a set period of time. Prefixing tasks with a “mindset” such as “READ:” or “WATCH:” can also help you define your tasks by mode as well.

Don’t think to Granularly

When I first started implementing GTD, I thought I needed an incredibly complex list of contexts. I had geo-tagged sub-contexts for each of the stores I visited, contexts for every person I regularly talked to, and even contexts for every room in my house. Much like the trend towards fewer folders when managing email, I quickly learned that the cost of managing a lot of sub-contexts can be* far greater than the benefits especially if the contexts only contain a small handful of tasks.

*Notice I said can be. Sometimes granularity does help as is the case with my Grocery Store context discussed later.

Adding a prefix to a task can also really come in handy here. Instead of having a sub-context for a friend, consider putting their name before the task (e.g. Boss’s Name: Discuss Office Layout). You can still easily drill down to all tasks involving your boss by searching his or her name, but you won’t need to worry about a lengthy list of contexts. I do this with stores now as well.

Regularly Review and Adjust

In the paper planning world, reconfiguring your system is seen as “Planner Fail”. It’s frowned upon, probably because it takes so long to recopy everything. The beauty of software like Omnifocus is that there’s no need to recopy everything over if you need to make a change. Contexts and projects can be created, removed, or rearranged just as quickly as your life changes. While I’ve distilled my contexts lists down over the years, I still regularly consider making changes. In fact, I just got rid of two contexts today that were being used sparingly.

My Contexts

  • Do – Some tasks can truly be done anywhere
  • Campus – For work or graduate school related tasks that require me to be on campus
  • Home – For things that need to be done at home
    • Arriving – This is a geotagged context to alert me of anything I need to be reminded of when getting home (e.g. bring that item that’s been sitting in my trunk in with me)
  • People – Anything I need to discuss with a person at a later date.
  • Errands – All things I need to do when I’m out and about.
    • Shopping – Anything I need to buy.
      • Grocery Store – Anything I need to buy specifically at the grocery store.
        • Sub-contexts for each aisles – Subcontexts, in this case, allow me to keep my custom grocery perspective organized based on the layout of the store I shop at. For a more detailed explanation, I wrote about it here: Creating a Smart Grocery List in Omnifocus
  • Waiting – Any tasks that are part of active projects but are waiting on something or someone else before they can be completed.

Revisiting Project Organization in Omnifocus

A lot has changed in the 2 years since I last wrote about how I organize my projects in Omnifocus. I actually had to chuckle a bit when I looked at the projects I used to have. Things look so much simpler when you compare that list with my list of projects today. Now that I’ve been using Omnifocus consistently for over two years now, and one of the biggest takeaways I’ve learned is that how you organize your projects and contexts can make or break how well perspectives can work for you. I now pay close attention to how my projects are listed so that the most important ones show up first.

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At the very top of my projects is my Daily Routines list. This is a single action list for all the little things I want to make sure I’m doing every day to keep my life on track. This includes things like checking my calendar, flagging tasks I want to accomplish for the day, and reviewing emails. It lives at the top of my projects and stays flagged so that it shows up front and center when I’m working from my perspectives.

The next section of my project lists is my Areas of Responsibility, which haven’t really changed that much. You’ll still find Work, School, and Personal as before. However, you’ll now also find an area called Home. Turns out being a homeowner is almost a full time job in itself, so it quickly earned its own section. Again, the areas, as with everything in my projects list, are listed in order of priority so that they show up in order of importance in my perspectives.

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Each area of responsibility is organized in a similar way – each having its own single actions list for any miscellaneous tasks followed by single action lists for sub-areas of responsiblity. These are areas like personal development for work, finance under personal, and cleaning under home. After the sub-responsibilities, you’ll find sequential or parallel projects for any current projects I’m working on.

Following the areas of responsibilities, you’ll find a single actions list for my shopping list. I’ve written a couple fairly detailed posts on how I use Omnifocus in conjunction with my recipe manager, Paprika, and my Amazon Echo along with a custom perspective to manage grocery shopping, but this list also includes anything else I need/want to buy that isn’t tied to a particular project.

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Next up is the Someday/Maybe folder. For those of you familiar with GTD, this is self explanatory. For those of you who aren’t, anything I might want to do or haven’t committed to doing currently lives here. This also includes a sub-folder containing any stalled projects (prefixed with their area of responsibility) so that they don’t clutter up my lists of active projects. Another thing you’ll find in this folder are various lists of things to do or check out and places visit. I’d been keeping these lists in various locations over the years but recently decided they were better stored here in Omnifocus where I could regularly review them.

Last but not least, you’ll find a folder for templates. There aren’t any real changes here. I use it to hold lists for things that happen over and over again but don’t repeat on a regular basis (e.g. hiring a new employee or packing for a trip).

Note: I used to keep separate Someday/Maybe and Templates folders inside of each area of responsibility. Not only did it make my list incredibly long, it was a pain to browse through on my phone too. I consolidated these into single folders and haven’t looked back.

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.

Signature Update

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

Omnifocus 2 is Out Today!

In honor of Omnifocus 2 being released today, I’ve decided to post a quick summary of all my Omnifocus posts so far:

If you’re interested in trying out Omnifocus 2, head over to Omnigroup’s site for a free trial. They also have a wonderful Inside Omnifocus series featuring some of my favorite Omnifocus power users that’s definitely worth checking out.

Happy organizing!

Signature Update

Organizing Projects in Omnifocus

Today’s post is going to be all about projects in Omnifocus. Here’s where I probably deviate a bit from GTD mainly because I haven’t really gotten a good grasp on David Allen’s “altitudes” concept. I’m currently reviewing his book so that I can hopefully get a clearer understanding, but for now, what I have works.

Omnifocus is great in that it lets you put projects in folders and even nest sub-projects inside projects {something Things surely lacked}. Even better it has different types of projects and lists.

  • Single-action lists are great for those collections of things you have that don’t have a clear end like a shopping list {because let’s be real, when is a girl ever done shopping?}
  • Parallel projects are good for projects with a clear end in mind that don’t need to be completed in a specific order.
  • Sequential projects on the other hand do have an order. For instance you can’t complete turn in a paper if you haven’t even written a first draft.

Now onto the fun part – how I’m actually using projects and organizing them.

For an updated look at how I’m now using projects see my new post.

Overview

I’ve broken things down into my three main areas of responsibility. I tend to see my life in terms of being a graduate student, employee, and everything else so my three categories are Work, School, and Personal – listed in order of importance. I do this so that they show up in my perspectives in order of importance automatically.

It’s also worth noting, I try to arrange my projects and lists so that general single action lists are at the top, followed by specific projects, then Someday/Maybe lists and templates. Having things in this order pleases my OCD tendencies. The one exception to this arrangement is my folder for personal 2014 Goals which I have above my routine tasks purely because I like seeing them before my mundane tasks like clean the bathroom floor.

So let’s look at how I have my Work section organized.

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  • Single Action Lists:
    • General Work Tasks – This list is for miscellaneous tasks that don’t have a specific project. Things like turning in my timesheet, re-charge my mouse, or wipe down my desk periodically would go here.
    • Student Management – This is where I keep all my supervisory tasks to keep me on track for semesterly performance and pay rate evaluations, scheduling, tracking the hiring processes of new employees, and fun things like bringing in treats for special occasions too.
    • Agendas –  I’m a big believer in saving up my miniscule thoughts and questions until I meet with someone or have enough to make sending an email worthwhile, so I keep track of those things here if they don’t fit in a specific project below.
  • Projects
    • User Support Meetings is a sequential project to track a new departmental bi-weekly meeting I’m chairing. Realistically speaking, once this gets going it will become a single action list as these will hopefully not end.
    • Remote Support Solution is also a sequential project to track the work I’m doing to research a new remote support solution for our department. Tasks here involve working with the vendor as well as members of our department to find something that works best for all of us.
  • Someday/Maybe is simply a list for things I want to do at some point, just not now.
  • I’m going to save discussing Templates for a separate post.

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Moving down to School, I honestly don’t have much to say about this one right now as I’m currently taking a break from school. I was planning on applying to a new program for the Fall, but there were complications in getting my third recommendation letter submitted and I’ve missed the Fall deadline. Even though school is technically on hold,  I’m still tracking my application process for the Spring so I’ve left it active. When I’m taking classes, you’d find a project for each class. Within each project, I break down the semester into sub-projects by week and list any assignments within that.

Personal is undoubtedly my largest area, so let’s break it down:

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  • General Tasks is a single action list for one-off tasks that don’t fit anywhere else.
  • Shopping List is another single action list where I track things I want to buy. (Items on my wishlist also go here but with a “Someday/Maybe” context.)
  • Next I have a folder for 2014 Goals. Inside you’ll find:
    • Run a 5K, a parallel project that contains a sequential project I’m using to track my training progress.
    • Read 52 books in 2014 is a sequential project where I’m checking off my reading progress. {I’m also tracking this in Goodreads, but I like checking things off.}
    • Room remodel is a parallel project where I’m tracking all things room remodel related.
  • My next folder is Routine for things I do on a regular basis broken down further into:
    • Cleaning
    • Computer Tasks
    • Finances
    • and Personal Care
  • Up next is Blog which I’ve broken down into
    • General Blog Tasks (things like reminders to post on a regular basis
    • Post Ideas
  • And of course these are followed by Someday/Maybe and Templates as with the Work section.

So there’s my Omnifocus Project set up. What I love most about writing these set up posts is that they give me a chance to be really critical about how I organize things. Certain projects or contexts seem to make perfect sense, but when you try to explain them to someone else, you realize they really fit better in another project or context. For instance, I had a single-action list for tracking what I set my DVR to record in my personal routine tasks section, but there’s nothing routine about recording a movie once, nor do I do this enough for it to need it’s own list.

Up next I’m going to discuss templates as promised, and then to the fun part, perspectives.

Until next time,

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