This post is gonna be long... sorry while I get rid of diarrhea of the mouth ... The is an example of how I use a checklist to make sure my OmniFocus workflow is clicking.
In my pre-GTD days I resisted the idea of using a checklist to run my morning ritual. I had a Franklin-Covey Day Planner but never really utilised it to its fullest potential.
When I first started OmniFocus and GTD, I never really became productive. I had the most awesome projects and the coolest contexts. But for some reason, it never clicked. I would forget steps such as capturing, processing, and reviewing. I would try to tweak my projects and contexts to no avail. I was trying to tackle my workflow from the wrong direction.
It wasn’t until later that I finally figured it out. I skipped steps and I skipped often. Some days, I wouldn’t clear the inbox. Other days, I just want straight to doing but no project reviews.
When OmniFocus 2 came out, I was finally able to create a checklist directly inside the app. I set up my OmniFocus toolbar as my Planning checklist and my sidebar as my Action checklist.
Here is my current Planning workflow/checklist. All of the perspective buttons are arranged from left to right in the proper order that I want done.
When I wake up in the morning, I will click through each perspective from left to right:
- I’ll go to my inbox to see if there was any inbox items that need to be processed into different projects or Single Action Lists
- I go on to the Review perspective and process any projects that need to be reviewed.
- I visit the Forecast perspective to see my day. I can see deferred items and due items here.
- I check the Due perspective to remind myself of any overdue, due today, or due soon tasks that will show up here.
- I scan the Flagged perspective to see if I can unflag any task that may have been flagged accidentally. These are my Priority B tasks which have no real due date but I would like to work on them in the next 1-4 days. I have thought about putting a custom perspective that shows both due and flagged. That might save me from referring to two perspectives. But I have found that separating the Due tasks from the Flagged tasks lets me see my task list more clearly. I do want to differentiate between Priority A (Due) and Priority B (Flagged).
- I hit the “1 thing” perspective to see anything else that can be done. This is basically a context perspective that shows the First Available next action from all of my active projects. There are tasks in my active projects that aren’t flagged. I can review tasks that aren’t flagged and might need to be flagged so that I can be reminded to do it in the next 1-4 days.
- I look at the default Projects perspective if needed. I usually do this once a week to make sure my projects are up-to-date. Otherwise, I will see my projects in the Review perspective.
- I can also optionally look at the default Contexts perspective if I need to fiddle here.
When I click on each perspective icon at the top toolbar, I know that I will be hitting all of the perspectives in the order I want to go through. I go through the icons at the top toolbar during the morning ritual. I won’t touch them until tomorrow morning.
I intentionally placed my planning perspectives at the top toolbar. I reserve the left sidebar for my Action perspectives. These are the perspectives that I use throughout the day when I am working.
I start at the top with my Today perspective. This shows a list of tasks that are due or flagged. Eventually, I work my way down when I need to. I go to the Big Rocks perspective when I need o focus on the 3 Big Rocks projects that I have chosen for the week. I go to my @on-the-go perspective when I need to run errands. I go to my Admin perspective when I need to do administrative work (usually routine tasks). I might go to the @people perspective when I need to talk to people. Then I have my @office, @app, and @house perspective when I need to work at the office, doing computer work, or at my house respectively. If I find larger time blocks, I might check the @60 min or @1+ hour perspective for longer tasks. I can skip around the different action perspectives based on my current context. Am I at home or the office? Am I outside running errands? Or am I sitting right in front of my computer?
Keeping the planning perspectives at the top toolbar ensures I get through my morning ritual checklist. Then keeping the action perspectives in the sidebar ensures that I can see any of these perspectives/lists when I am in action mode.
No matter what task management app is used, I try to make sure I have my workflow set up. The OmniFocus toolbar and sidebar allows me to keep separate checklists for the planning perspectives and the action perspectives.