Note: This is a followup post in my ongoing experiment with the OmniFocus Review Perspective post “Breaking Down My OmniFocus Review into Bite-Sized Reviews”
I’ve listened to Mac Power Users #414 with curiosity and seeing how MacSparky has slowly changed his system of deferring OmniFocus tasks to the future has caused him stress with the amount of maintenance he has to do when he forwards a task into the future. He is afraid that if he doesn’t defer tasks and projects, it might slip through the cracks because he isn’t reviewing them enough.
I think what he really wanted is a tickler system. He wants to be reminded of a task that might need some attention soon. He did this by deferring a task to a particular date. When that date arrives, the task shows up in the Forecast to remind him. But I stayed away from this path. I wanted the defer date to represent the date that a task or project should start. I didn’t want the defer date to be a tickler alarm.
There is a quote from Lifehack.org that defines the tickler.
…a tickler file is a reminder system intended to act as an adjunct to your regular calendaring and scheduling system.
…anything you need reminded of on some future date goes into your tickler file.
I’ve seen that I’ve been using the Review perspective as my daily tickler. I’ve been staggering my review cycles based on the SAL or the project status.
Structure: Single Action Lists and Big Rock Projects
As a summary reminder, I’ve included a summary of my folder structure as seen in other Productivity Guild posts. I have an Admin Routine folder that contains all my maintenance lists.
Admin Routines (Repeating Maintenance Tasks)
My Admin Routines are set to be reviewed every 1 week just to make sure I didn’t miss updating these lists. I might have forgotten to check off a task, delete a task, or change the task description/notes. The Review perspective allows me to check up on these lists if I need to update it.
Some SALS such as my Seasonal Routine can be reviewed every 2 or 3 months. These lists rarely change but I might want to check on them infrequently to see if I need to edit them for further clarity.
Admin Actions (Single One-off Tasks)
My Admin Actions (lists containing a bunch of one-off tasks) and Active Big Rock projects that have a lot of changes on a daily basis (Office Actions, Customer Agendas, Honey Do List) will get a review cycle of every 1 day. When I wake up in the morning and go to the Review perspective, I am forced to see these lists and mark them as reviewed. Most of the other SALs don’t change as frequently and can get a long review cycle such as every 3 days or every 4 days.
Big Rock Projects
I have a folder for every Area of Responsibility. Each folder contains a group of Big Rock projects that will improve a different part of my life.
Big Rock projects that don’t have a lot of changes also get reviewed every 1 week. I don’t expect many changes here. I might set the review to every 3 days if I wanted to check on these lists more frequently.
On Hold Big Rock projects are reviewed either every 2 weeks or every 1 month. I don’t need to look at these projects because they are on the back burner. I can check them every week or every other week to see if I need to return it back to Active status. If I am thinking of starting an On Hold Big Rock project soon, I would set a defer date and change the review cycle to every 1 week or every 2 weeks.
Setting Different Review/Tickler Intervals
Use the OmniFocus Review perspective as a tickler system. Do not use defer dates. Not every project needs to be reviewed on a weekly or daily basis. Projects and SALs that are modified frequently will have shorter review cycles so that we can stay on top of any changes and we won’t be caught unaware. A shorter review cycle can also update these lists to reflect current reality. Projects and SALs that don’t change a lot can have a longer review cycle, Active projects will have a shorter review cycle than On Hold projects. We want to focus on Active projects and review it more frequently than On Hold projects.
It will be interesting to see the new updates to MacSparky’s OmniFocus Video Guide. I didn’t quite understand his original workflow of setting a bunch of defer dates for tasks when he only wanted to use the defer date as a tickler reminder. Using the Review perspective as a tickler enables me to keep a closer eye on Active projects and SALS while also casting an occasional eye on the On Hold projects. I think I’m sure that I don’t have any projects falling through the cracks in the last 6 months I’ve been using the Review/Tickler method. I’ll report back in a few months to see how the experiment is going.
If you have any new workflows on how you do your reviews, send a post! New ideas are always welcome!