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  • Switch to OmniFocus?

    Hi All,

    I am looking for a bit of advice on OmniFocus.

    I've been a GTD'er for about 4+ years now and am currently using Appigo Todo on iPhone, iPad, and the Mac at home. As my workplace was a Windows-based environment, I synced with Toodledo and used their online system at work to begin with but when Appigo released their own online version a while back I went with that.

    However, I have just changed jobs and the new workplace uses Macs. What's more, they have a group OmniFocus licence for employees - it was already installed on my Macbook. I've heard a lot about OmniFocus so was keen to check it out.

    I have just watched most of the introductory videos on Omni's website and it looks much more full-featured than my current app and therefore a bit complex. Having just changed jobs, my Todo list is the shortest it has been in some time so now is probably a good time to switch.

    But I am worried that I might be jumping into something that slows me down because of it's many features and complexity. Are there any OF users here (or former OF users) that are willing to share comments/experiences?

  • #2
    Originally posted by PeterW View Post
    But I am worried that I might be jumping into something that slows me down because of it's many features and complexity. Are there any OF users here (or former OF users) that are willing to share comments/experiences?
    Well I'm a happy Omnifocus User since 2009. I think a more powerful program is always better, I've gotten bitten too many times by thinking I'd be ok with a lesser program only to get several months or years down and need more power the package doesn't have. I've yet to reach the end of what OF can do.

    My one big suggestion is to really spend more time learning perspectives. I ignored them for the first few years. I'm working on that now.

    It's a very powerful and very useful program.

    You could also start with the Omnifocus guide that is sold here at DavidCo. It's a good basic set-up although I personally don't like some of their suggestions it's a great way to get going.

    Comment


    • #3
      Just because it has a vast number of features doesn't mean you have to use them all. Start simple, and you'll appreciate the power of it later.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
        My one big suggestion is to really spend more time learning perspectives.
        My impression - never having tried Omnifocus, only having read about it - is that the "Perspectives" are what other apps call "Saved searches" or "smart lists" or "advanced filters" etc, i.e. a powerful way to define (and save and reuse) views (custom lists) that are not included in the standard setup but which can be used over and over for reviews of various kinds.

        For example, it would be possible to define such saved searches for reviewing projects by area of responsibility (if you have not already implemented AoRs as part of your "project hierarchy") or for finding mislabeled items (e.g. tasks that neither have a project designation nor an AoR designation or finding next actions that have no context or whatever such other "rules" you have defined for your use of the app.)

        Is this what you are referring to, Oogiem? What kind of views or perspectives do you find particularly useful?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by PeterW View Post
          However, I have just changed jobs and the new workplace uses Macs. What's more, they have a group OmniFocus licence for employees - it was already installed on my Macbook. I've heard a lot about OmniFocus so was keen to check it out.
          Hi Peter,

          Macs and a group OmniFocus license sounds like a lively environment; I hope you are liking your new job.

          I am probably the worst person in the world to say much about OmniFocus. I know it very well, and have had a real love-hate relation with it. I have used it, dropped it, come back to it more times than I can count. It lacks some of the basic features of a good database that Appigo Todo and Toodledo have: completeness and orthogonality. There are things you just can't do in Omnifocus. For example, you can select all the items in a project, and sort them by criteria like due date or date added. You can't sort them by date modified, because Omnigroup decided not to enable it. In context view, you can sort items by date modified. In project view, you can duplicate an item, but not in context view. The UI is cluttered, roughly on the same order as Toodledo, but can be simplified. Sync time to iPad is still slow, but the background sync in the OF 2 iPhone app largely deals with that issue. On the other hand, OF is very solid and reliable, and no other app interacts as well with email, web clippings and so on.

          If you give it a go, here are some things that may help. I would start simple. My current implementation uses single-action lists (a special kind of project) for next action buckets; contexts are actual locations on a map. I am not suggesting this, but it gives some idea of alternatives to the strict project-context dichotomy OF expects you to use, and may help you translate your current setup into OF. If you refactor your setup, the easiest way is often to select a bunch of items and bring up the inspector. From there you can change project and context for an entire selection.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
            ...orthogonality...
            Whoa. I so had to look that one up. Need to try that one next time I play Scrabble.

            Comment


            • #7
              Sorry about that...

              Originally posted by bcmyers2112 View Post
              Whoa. I so had to look that one up. Need to try that one next time I play Scrabble.
              Sorry.

              Orthogonality is an idea taken from mathematics:
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princip...hogonal_Design

              Roughly, we don't want to parametrize the same information in different ways in a database. Completeness is the corresponding assumption that all possible combinations of values can occur. For example, when you have a todo list program that forces due items to have priority one, you are violating these principles because priority and due date are different fields in the database and represent different characteristics of an item. Generally speaking, if there is a field in a database, you should be able to set it to any allowed value and also sort on it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
                Well I'm a happy Omnifocus User since 2009. I think a more powerful program is always better, I've gotten bitten too many times by thinking I'd be ok with a lesser program only to get several months or years down and need more power the package doesn't have. I've yet to reach the end of what OF can do.
                Thanks Oogie. I agree with your comment about power and have found this with accounting/ERP software. Lack of power/features can lead to crazy workarounds.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by vbampton View Post
                  Just because it has a vast number of features doesn't mean you have to use them all. Start simple, and you'll appreciate the power of it later.
                  Thanks Victoria.

                  Originally posted by Folke View Post
                  My impression - never having tried Omnifocus, only having read about it - is that the "Perspectives" are what other apps call "Saved searches" or "smart lists" or "advanced filters" etc, i.e. a powerful way to define (and save and reuse) views (custom lists) that are not included in the standard setup but which can be used over and over for reviews of various kinds.
                  Thanks Folke - that is quite helpful. I had a quick look at the perspectives feature and was a bit confused about its purpose. I need to spend more time playing around with it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                    Sorry.
                    Why are you sorry? Like I said, I looked it up. I was taught in grade school to look up words I don't know. I think they call that "learning." As in, "Today I learned something from mcogilvie."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                      Hi Peter,

                      Macs and a group OmniFocus license sounds like a lively environment; I hope you are liking your new job.
                      Hi Michael. Thanks - my new job is Business Manager for a school (prep-Year 12) which is a sea-change for me having previously worked in "regular" businesses. I am liking it a lot and was pleased that it's a Mac environment having been a Windows user most of my life (and even DOS before that). I'm not sure how many are using OF here but have heard that one person is a real evangelist, although he's currently on leave so I plan to chat with him on his return.

                      Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                      I am probably the worst person in the world to say much about OmniFocus. I know it very well, and have had a real love-hate relation with it. I have used it, dropped it, come back to it more times than I can count.
                      Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                      The UI is cluttered, roughly on the same order as Toodledo, but can be simplified. Sync time to iPad is still slow, but the background sync in the OF 2 iPhone app largely deals with that issue. On the other hand, OF is very solid and reliable, and no other app interacts as well with email, web clippings and so on.
                      Would you say that OF has been an obstacle to your productivity because of the UI and the big feature set? I found with Toodledo that there was enough flexibility that I spent too much time tweaking and getting it "just right". Appigo is a lot more rigid so there's less temptation for me to play around with it. OF looks like there would be lots for me to play with!

                      Originally posted by mcogilvie View Post
                      If you give it a go, here are some things that may help. I would start simple. My current implementation uses single-action lists (a special kind of project) for next action buckets; contexts are actual locations on a map. I am not suggesting this, but it gives some idea of alternatives to the strict project-context dichotomy OF expects you to use, and may help you translate your current setup into OF. If you refactor your setup, the easiest way is often to select a bunch of items and bring up the inspector. From there you can change project and context for an entire selection.
                      Thanks, that sounds good. I will try inputting some of my tasks today which I guess will begin to give me a better feel for things rather than looking at the sample tasks that were there when I started it up.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by PeterW View Post
                        I found with Toodledo that there was enough flexibility that I spent too much time tweaking and getting it "just right".
                        That's been my Achilles heel which is why I'm trying to go in the opposite direction: more powerful to much, much less powerful. If you'd be so inclined I (and others, I'd wager) would be interested in an update about whether you found it beneficial to trade up from a Chevy to a warp-capable starship. Metaphorically speaking.

                        Or literally. That would also be impressive.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Some very good references to look into .
                          MacSparky's [David Sparks ] omni focus screencasts .
                          Kourush Dini's book " getting productive with omnifocus "

                          Asian Efficiency's " omni focus premium posts " any of these will save you a lot of time learning and filtering the program .

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by bcmyers2112 View Post
                            That's been my Achilles heel which is why I'm trying to go in the opposite direction: more powerful to much, much less powerful. If you'd be so inclined I (and others, I'd wager) would be interested in an update about whether you found it beneficial to trade up from a Chevy to a warp-capable starship. Metaphorically speaking.

                            Or literally. That would also be impressive.
                            bcmyers - I will post an update when I've had time to delve into OF in more depth. I was tempted to spend a lot of time on it today but decided it was probably more appropriate to get the 2014 budgets entered into the accounting system! So it might be a few weeks before I get back onto this.

                            Originally posted by ext555 View Post
                            Some very good references to look into .
                            MacSparky's [David Sparks ] omni focus screencasts .
                            Kourush Dini's book " getting productive with omnifocus "

                            Asian Efficiency's " omni focus premium posts " any of these will save you a lot of time learning and filtering the program .
                            Thanks ext555! I will definitely check these out.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by PeterW View Post
                              ,
                              Would you say that OF has been an obstacle to your productivity because of the UI and the big feature set? I found with Toodledo that there was enough flexibility that I spent too much time tweaking and getting it "just right". Appigo is a lot more rigid so there's less temptation for me to play around with it. OF looks like there would be lots for me to play with.
                              Toodledo is flexible, but you always know it's a database of individual items. OF is capable of a lot more in terms of organization and planning, but it really invites over-thinking, and items can interact with each other a lot. I bought Dini's book and was not impressed at all with the hyper-organization he favors, but it's all too easy for me to move in that direction.

                              Comment

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