For many years, I’ve tried to stick to a typical routine and turn it into a habit.
- Clear the inbox
- Perform a daily or weekly review of my projects
- Look at my calendar and Forecast perspective to see my day
- Check the Due perspective for any five-alarm due tasks that are coming up
- Flag and unplug various available tasks to populate my Today perspective
- Finally go to my Today perspective and work on tasks for the day
Unfortunately, I’ll typically skip a step here or there. I tried printing out a checklist and placing it on my desk. I’ll lose it or use for today’s doodle. I skipped steps because I thought I was comfortable and didn’t need to look at my planning perspectives. I was trusting myself into not forgetting anything. I’ve got this day in the bag. D’oh, that was a big mistake. I would forget about a due task because I didn’t check the Due perspective. I forgot about an afternoon appointment that didn’t allow me enough time to work on a big project that I had coming up. I had to find some way to remind myself to go through the proper workflow before I actually started working my day.
I found that I was wasting a lot of space on my OmniFocus top window toolbar and the perspectives sidebar. I had a long lost of custom perspectives that was haphazardly placed in no particular order. But then I thought about how I worked. I’ll just arrange all of my perspectives in the order that I work in!
When I use OmniFocus, I am either “planning” or I am “doing.” Here is a screenshot of the perspectives I work in:
My main goal was to group all of “Planning” perspectives in one group and the “Doing” perspectives in another group. I wanted my top toolbar to hold all of my “Planning” perspectives and the left side perspectives list will show my “Doing” perspective.
The Planning Perspectives
I arranged my Planning perspectives in the order I want to work in. I control-clicked at the top of the OmniFocus window and selected Customize Toolbar…
I can find all of my “Planning” perspectives (any perspective that doesn’t have the ‘@‘ symbol) and drag them over to my toolbar in the order that i usually like to work in when I am in planning mode.
Now I’ve finally set up the top toolbar to show all of my planning perspectives.
I will click on a perspective in the top toolbar only when I am in Planning mode. I start my planning workflow by going to my first perspective, the Inbox, and work my way rightward. I don’t miss a step when I am in Planning mode.
I intentionally grouped everything in separate areas of the OmniFocus window because I want to stay in “Doing” mode and not accidentally stray into OmniFocus “Planning” mode. There are many times where I will click into one of my planning perspectives and a time-suck hole appears. I’ll get lost in planning and curating my projects. I won’t get any work done because I forget that I am supposed to be “Doing” and not “Planning.”
The only time I visit a top toolbar perspectives is at the beginning of the day for review purposes, at the end of the day to tidy up my workspace and clear my inbox, or when I am intentionally in project planning mode.
At the beginning of the day, I’ll visit the Inbox perspective and clear up any inbox items that are in this perspective.
Next, I move on to the Review perspective and see what projects need to be reviewed, curated, and sorted.
Then I see my Forecast perspective to look at today’s appointments, any tasks that have been deferred to today or the next few days, and due tasks that are neatly arranged here.
Afterwards, I go to Due perspective to get a running list of all my overdue/due today/due soon tasks. I can see due items further out into the future in the Due perspective instead of the Forecast. The Forecast perspective is better suited to look ahead the next seven days or so.
At the end of my morning workflow, I visit the Flagged perspective to flag or unflag tasks to indicate that I would like to work on these tasks today or in the next few days but there is no really hard deadline for them.
and 7. Sometimes I will visit the Projects and Contexts perspective when I need to do some major project planning and contexts curation.
At the end of the day, I will go through the same Planning perspectives from left to right again. This helps me tidy up the day and get ready for tomorrow.
8 and 9. I also check my Completed and Journal perspective to see if a completed task will trigger a followup task for me to enter.
10 I can refer to my Changed perspective if I need to recall a project or task I just edited.
The Doing perspectives
Now that the Planning perspectives have been taken care of, I wanted to create a perspective sidebar that will show all of my Doing perspectives. I start by visiting the Perspectives Editor window in OmniFocus.
I drag my Doing perspectives in the order I want to see them in the perspectives sidebar. In this example, I sorted them out from most frequent to least frequently used perspectives. I “starred” all of my Doing perspectives to make them visible in the perspectives sIdebar. A perspective will show in the perspectives sidebar if there is a yellow star next to it,
Throughout the day, I’ll check my contexts and switch between the different Doing perspectives as needed. The perspectives sidebar will change once a month depending on what contexts I will be working on. But the Planning perspectives in the top toolbar will always remain the same. This is what my perspectives sidebar looks like now:
To help me, I also use the ‘@‘ symbol to indicate that these are Doing perspectives. I will work during the day from these Doing perspectives. If the perspective name doesn’t have the ‘@‘ symbol, I’ll stay away unless I absolutely need to do some project/task curation. The only perspectives that I will use during “Doing” mode are in the perspectives sidebar.
My iOS Home Screen
I created a similar layout in my iOS setup. At the top of my Home screen, I elected to show all perspectives by tapping on All Perspectives.
I arranged all of my Doing perspectives in the “Favorites” section. These perspectives show up at the top of the screen. The lone exception is the Forecast perspective which I classified as a Planning perspective. But I’ll make an exception and put at the very top of the Home screen. My iOS use is different when I’m on my iPad or iPhone. Having an indicator showing my past due items and upcoming due items is nice here.
All of my Planning perspectives is grouped into the “Other Perspectives” section. Dividing the Doing and Planning perspectives helps me to differentiate between the two groups.
I arrange all of my planning perspectives on my iOS Home Screen in the order I want to work in: Inbox, Review, Due, Flagged, Projects, Contexts, Completed, Journal, and Changed. The sole exception was the Forecast. I placed it at the very top of the Doing perspective because I use my iPad and iPhone differently instead of the Mac. The Forecast looks better placed at the very top to give me a count of overdue, due today, and due soon tasks in the next few days.
Grouping my Planning perspectives into the top toolbar and my Doing perspectives into the perspective sidebar allows me to switch between “Planning” and “Doing.” Do not confuse “Planning” with “Doing.” I could sit in front of my Mac all day and fiddle with my projects and watch the time pass by me without getting anything done.
I use this method of grouping all of my Planning and Doing perspectives on the Mac and iOS platforms to separate these two modes. This method gives me a built-in checklist of what to review during “Planning” mode and what to work on when I am in “Doing” mode. It ensures that I don’t miss a step.