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Take off your eyeglasses if you want to understand me

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In the shower stall of my room at the Jack Daniels Motor Inn is a dispenser of shower gel, conditioner and shampoo. In principle this is a good idea: it keeps tiny bottles out of the landfill, it means I never run out of supplies, and it’s a lot easier to manage when showering.

Here’s what this dispenser looks like:

How I see the shower dispenser with my eyeglasses on

The problem is that I don’t shower with my eyeglasses on, so when I’m actually in the shower trying to figure out which handle squirts which liquid, this is what I see:

How I see the shower dispenser with my glasses off

This means that, rather than being effortless, as it should be, using the dispenser requires that I memorize the order of the squirts while I’ve got my glasses on so that I can remember them when I have my glasses off (a memorization that would be a lot easier if the squirts were in the order that one might use them; but who uses conditioner before shampoo?).

I thought of this a few weeks ago when I was visiting the website of a former client.

The client had, about 5 years ago, asked me to do a high-level review of their website with an eye to making some simple design improvements. One of the things they were concerned about was making it clear, in the design, that they were not a subsidiary of the organization that was actually implementing and hosting their site for them; and so having a distinct look and feel was important to them. And at the time, that wasn’t in place.

The client went on to act on many of the recommendations that I made, including this one, and the result was a big improvement on many levels.

Which is why I was confused, when I revisited the site recently, that this distinct look and feel that they’d felt so important had disappeared.

I sent an email to the client pointing this out and, the next day, they replied that their programmer had looked into the issue, and couldn’t duplicate it: everything looked fine to them. So they recommended that I clear my cache, delete my cookies, etc.–all the things that people like me recommend to users when we think it’s their fault, not ours.

I replied that, in fact, the problem was not browser-related, that it happened in all browsers, old and new.

To aid in the diagnosis, I took a dive into the HTML of the pages in question, and, in doing so, I found the source of the issue.

What had happened was that the swapping out of one look and feel for another was something that was done in CSS: essentially the generic look and feel was the default, and the “we’re not a subsidiary, we’re an independent entity” look and feel was used to replace it by, in CSS, saying “override the default logo with this special purpose-specific one.”

The problem was that the CSS file containing these instructions was hosted on an internal server, with an internal corporate address, accessible only to people on the corporate network.

Which meant that the programmer looking into the problem didn’t see the problem because their browser could access the CSS file that solved the problem. The same thing applied to my client: they too were inside the corporate network, and so their browsers could also access the CSS file, and everything appeared just fine to them.

And so, like my problem with shampoo-blindness, the root of the issue was that the designers of a system weren’t able to take the perspective of the users of the system.

In the case of the shower stall dispenser, it’s unlikely that the designer of the dispenser, the purchaser of the dispenser, or the installer of the dispenser ever had a chance to see the dispenser without wearing their own eyeglasses. Any, indeed, it’s unlikely that the managers of the hotel have ever had cause to shower in their own rooms’ shower stalls, without eyeglasses, to experience the issue (or, indeed, perhaps none of them wear eyeglasses in the first place).

In the case of the broken website look and feel, there was no system in place to mimic all of the conditions of a regular everyday non-corporate user of the website, so problems related to inside-outside issues were unlikely to be noticed. Especially problems as subtle as a logo at the top of a web page that, to most people on the outside, looked perfectly fine.

This is a tale that we should all take to heart, not only when we’re designing or purchasing shower stall shampoo dispensers and making web pages, but anytime we’re designing anything for a broad audience.

Or anytime we’re communicating with anyone who might not share our assumptions or our language or our eyesight or our physical abilities.

Take off your eyeglasses if you want to understand me.

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sillygwailo
93 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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Managing Projects in OmniFocus

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In the lead-up to my Learn OmniFocus workflow session, I wanted to share some of the nitty-gritty details of how I manage my tasks with OmniFocus. That session will focus on the magic of Omni Automation (✨!). So, over this week, I’m concentrating on the more foundational, structural side of things, like projects, tags, and perspectives.

At this point, we’ve covered:

There’s one obvious part of the OmniFocus workflow that we’re missing, and that’s projects. So today, a quick look at how I’ve set up my project list.

Personal v Work

I have three top-level folders in OmniFocus:

  • ✨ Personal,
  • 💼 Briefcase, and
  • 🏢 Accountant.

The first and last of these are probably relatively self-explanatory.

The ‘💼’, is the overlap between these two areas of focus. If there is work I am bringing home to complete at my discretion, I might move it to my briefcase so that when I am planning the rest of my day, I can be aware of it: in these cases I don’t want it hidden from sight. Equally, there are a few work things I want to make sure I don’t want to miss: submitting timesheets, leave requests etc, and these go here too.

On the other hand, there might also be a few ‘personal’ things that I might ‘take to work’ with me. This is pretty rare, but for example my reminder to ‘drink water’ pops up here, so that it’s available in both places.

Folders

For a long time, I used folders for each area of responsibility within the top-level folders above. However, this lengthened my project list and cluttered things up (especially by the time I added a SAL for each one, plus any actual projects).

So then I tried no folders but then I felt like I had a single, long, overwhelming list.

The current approach that I’ve settled on is three main folders within my Personal folder that are based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:

  • 1⃣ Physiological / 2⃣ Safety & Security (contains housework, exercise, finances, etc)
  • 3⃣ Love & Belonging (contains anything to do with friends, family, acquaintances or even just being a good citizen of my community or the world)
  • 4⃣ Esteem & Self-Actualisation (contains all the other fun stuff, like automation, travel, and learning)

I’ve found that this works well for me. I am mainly thinking about my project structure as part of a review, and I think it’s beneficial for me to try be mindful of maintaining a balance between these areas when I’m planning.

I don’t typically nest folders any deeper than this, though there are some exceptions: for example, my university degree has a folder of its own (with folders for each subject, each containing a folder for content and one for each assessment task, just because this is a bigger project:

University projects in OmniFocus

My Work folder contains just one additional folder, which is ‘Client Work’. Keeping this separate helps to drive some of my custom perspectives.

Naming Projects

Here are some example project names:

Example project names

I have a few conventions when naming projects:

  • Wherever possible, I frame the project as an action (starting with a verb) and, for anything that’s not an action list, try to make it clear from the name at what point the project will be complete. That said, I’m also not afraid to rename projects if the goalposts shift! (This is not true of client work, covered below.)
  • Each project name starts with an emoji. This usually represents an area of responsibility or role, but is a little bit discretionary. I add these using Rocket so I don’t find them particularly onerous to maintain. As with the emoji I use in my tags: I like having them there and I think they improve scannability. This has helped me to get rid of the folders I had previously, because everything still feels ‘grouped’ appropriately.
  • Client work is named by convention. For example, a job I am reviewing would be titled ‘🔍 (Preparer): Job Type Year [Partner]’ (and we use initials to represent people). My Templates Plug-In does most of the heavy lifting here, and this helps with creating custom perspectives based on this information.
  • I have a single action list for each area of responsibility that contains miscellaneous tasks. These are denoted with a ‘∞’ at the end of the project name.
  • 2-4 projects at a given time will be marked with ‘🌟’ at the end of the name. These are the projects I’d like to focus on at the moment, and available tasks from these projects always show on the ‘Starred’ perspective of my dashboard.

Action Groups

Within projects, I use action groups to group together:

  • Habits ✯ – things I want to make sure I’m doing consistently and on a regular timeframe (drink water, exercise, clean the shower), and
  • Routine ↻ – routine tasks that need to be done somewhat on a schedule, or once they are available as soon as I get a chance, but are not ‘habits’ as such (book dentist appointments, renew passport, take a computer backup).

My ‘Move To Action Group’ plug-in can be useful for this.

These symbols are then used within a “search results contain” rule to populate the Habits and Routine perspectives on my dashboard.

Tomorrow, we’ll step back and take a look at the bigger picture. I’ll wax philosophical on what drives my current approach to task management in OmniFocus—though of course this is always subject to change as I learn and grow.

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sillygwailo
104 days ago
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An Abundance of OmniFocus Tags

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In the lead-up to my Learn OmniFocus workflow session, I wanted to share some of the nitty-gritty details of how I manage my tasks with OmniFocus. That session will focus on the magic of Omni Automation (✨!). So, over this week, I’m concentrating on the more foundational, structural side of things, like projects, tags, and perspectives.

At this point, we’ve covered my main ‘dashboard view’, more custom perspectives, some automation magic that helps with window management and navigation, and using the ‘focus’ feature and tags to switch between contexts.

Today, a breakdown of my tag structure.

Emoji, emoji and…more emoji? 🤷‍♀️

I am a prolific user of emoji in my tags (and we’ll see this in my projects soon, too). You’ll notice that the vast majority of my tags are either a) an emoji and a label or just b) a single emoji.

At the end of the day, this is mostly a matter of personal preference. I like having them there, and I think they improve scannability. In the case of the single emoji tags, these do also serve a space-saving function.

A quick note about these single emoji tags: if I have a tag that is just made up of a single, non-alphanumeric character, I will typically nest it under another tag that describes its purpose. For example, take my ‘Quick’ tag: the tag itself is ‘⚡’ but it is nested underneath another tag named ‘Quick’. That means that if I want to apply the tag using OmniFocus’ tag field, I can simply start typing ‘Quick’, arrow down once, and select the lightning tag. You’ll see this in the following examples.

Grouping types of tags

I’d like to give a shout-out to the ‘Tags Revisited’ episode of Nested Folders, which precipitated much of how I think about my tags.

After listening to that episode, I added several ‘dummy tags’ into my tag list, with names like ‘———STATUS————’. I don’t use these for tagging, but they add a handy visual separation between the below types of tags without adding complexity to the tag hierarchy itself.

I’ve found that this helps me to consider the purpose of a tag, and to group tags in a logical way.

‘Action’ tags

‘Action’ tags

These tags describe the kind of action that a task entails. Broadly, I’m currently using two categories here: contact tags (email/message/call), and tags to describe the kinds of steps involved in many of my work projects. The latter are used to group by tag in my work-based ‘Today’ perspective.

‘Status’ tags

‘Status’ tags

There are two tags included here that indicate the status of a task:

  • The 🚥 (In Progress) tag is used for tasks I’m partway through. In general, I try to avoid using this tag by ensuring that tasks are completable in one sitting (or by using a repeating ‘work on’ tasks for bigger projects it doesn’t make sense to break up). But real life does happen, so I can apply this tag when I need to. This pulls the task into my ‘ASAP’ perspective so that I can get back to finishing it off as soon as possible.
  • My ‘⏳ Waiting’ tag is an active tag that I typically exclude from custom perspectives. By doing it this way, my ‘waiting’ list only shows me things I’m waiting for now, not things I may be waiting for in the future. This tag also has a ‘Post’ subtag to group things I’m expecting to come in the post, just to group these all together.

‘Constraint’ tags

‘Constraint’ tags

This group of tags represents the people, places or things that are required to do a task. These are, in general, fairly self-explanatory.

Some points of note:

  • My ‘🏠 Home’ tag group contains each of the rooms in my house. This allows me to use my ‘Defer Tag(s)’ Plug-In to ‘defer’ particular rooms (put them on hold temporarily) if I can’t access them for some reason (e.g. someone is sleeping).
  • My ‘🏠 Home’ tag and its subtags are automatically set to ‘On Hold’ by Shortcuts when I connect to CarPlay. When I disconnect from CarPlay, Shortcuts checks where I am and, if I’m at home, makes them active once more.
  • Many of the ‘🚘 Errands’ subtags (e.g. supermarket, hardware shop) are put on hold and made available on a schedule (again using my ‘Defer Tag(s)’ Plug-In plugin) to align with their opening hours, so that I don’t see them when they’re not relevant. The ‘Time’ tags are managed in the same way.

‘Optional condition’ tags

‘Optional condition’ tags

These tags group together types of tasks that might be related or that I might want to see together in particular contexts. I have at least one custom perspective that shows me active tasks from each of these tags so that I can pull them up quickly. Again, I think these are fairly self-explanatory.

‘Helper’ tags

‘Helper’ tags

This group comprises:

‘Scheduling’ tags

‘Scheduling’ tags

This group contains:

  • ⚠ Due Today’ – Keyboard Maestro uses my ‘Tag Tasks Due Today’ Plug-In to apply this tag automatically to any tasks that are due today, to make sure it is included in my ‘Due Soon’ perspective.
  • ⏰’ (ASAP) – This tag represents things I’d like to do soon and/or which are time-sensitive but aren’t necessarily due. This tag populates the ‘ASAP’ custom perspective on my dashboard.
  • ‘TOMM L2’ and ‘TOMM L3’ tags are used for housework and are inspired by The Organised Mom Method.
  • The two ’12WY’ and ‘UNE’ tag groups are for planning out future weeks of The 12-Week Year and my university studies. You may note that there are two tag groups for each of these: I manually move weeks to the first group when the week arrives as part of my weekly review. Tasks under the ‘Scheduled’ parent tag are filtered out of many of my perspectives, so these don’t clutter other views.
  • The ‘🌟’ (Starred) tag is rarely used, but, if I want to pull in a task rather than a full project, I can use this.
  • The ‘Scheduling’ group of tags is managed by my ‘Scheduling Plug-In’ and represent the planned ‘do dates’ for tasks.

Managing all these tags

As outlined in my recent post on custom perspectives, I have a ‘Check Tags’ perspective that I use to check that all of my tasks have been tagged appropriately.

Once I’m satisfied that all tags have been added I use a keyboard shortcut combined with a simple action to apply a blank tag (‘⠀’) to the tasks. This denotes to me that the tags are complete and removes the tasks from this perspective.

I also use my ‘Reorder Tags’ plug-in to keep my tasks ordered consistently.

And that’s a wrap on my excessive number of OmniFocus tags. Coming next: a look at my project list.

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sillygwailo
104 days ago
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Switching Contexts in OmniFocus

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In the lead-up to my Learn OmniFocus workflow session, I wanted to share some of the nitty-gritty details of how I manage my tasks with OmniFocus. That session will focus on the magic of Omni Automation (✨!). So, over this week, I’m concentrating on the more foundational, structural side of things, like projects, tags, and perspectives.

At this point, we’ve covered my main ‘dashboard view’, more custom perspectives, and some automation magic that helps with window management and navigation.

A fundamental reason for taking the ‘dashboard’ approach is that my brain likes its task lists to be short and ‘do-able’. Another way that I help to achieve this is to use what I think of as ‘macro-contexts’: on a high level, what situation am I in right now? (In my mental model, I distinguish this from regular GTD contexts, which are more modular i.e. am I at my computer? am I at home? do I have Person X available to me?)

Personal v Work

I think it’s common to draw a dividing line between personal and work tasks, and I do this as well. I know that some see this as an artificial distinction, but my feeling is that this is not artificial if you are working a “jobby job” where you are paid to concentrate on a specific subset of tasks at given times!

I split these tasks into folders and, from there, my dashboard manages this for me: I can select either my personal or work dashboard; Keyboard Maestro and Omni Automation take care of the rest by focusing on the applicable folders.

My iPhone is almost permanently focused on Personal tasks because I don’t use it for work.

Focused v Unfocused (Attention Level)

This is a somewhat poorly-named distinction on my part, I admit, not to be confused with OmniFocus’ built-in ‘Focus’ feature.

In my personal life, I have a 14-month-old, and that means I typically have two distinct macro-contexts:

  1. He is awake and I’m responsible for him right now, and
  2. He is asleep (or someone else is watching him!) and I have uninterrupted time to focus on something. If you’re not a parent, think of this as being broadly akin to a Pomodoro session, except you never know exactly when it’s going to finish.

We all know that some tasks require more time and attention than others: while I’m watching Sebastian, I can easily fold some laundry or possibly even watch a lecture. However, it’s more challenging to take a shower, sit down to work on an assignment, or hunt down a bug in an OmniFocus plug-in.

If I simply work down my dashboard perspectives in order, I may end up folding laundry during that sacred uninterrupted time, and miss the opportunity to work on a ‘big-rock’ project that requires more focus. This is not ideal!

At the same time, I don’t typically want to see tasks that require my full attention when I can’t act on them, because that’s just a recipe for frustration.

My solution is to tag each task in OmniFocus with one of the following tags: ‘★’ (Focus), ‘☆’ (No Focus). Very occasionally, I also use a half-filled star for tasks that should be ‘always available’ and show up in either of these scenarios.

As part of my daily review, I check my ‘Needs Attention Level’ perspective (details in this previous post) to ensure that all of my tasks have one of these tags. (This typically takes less than a minute.)

From there, I have a series of Omni Automation plug-in actions that set one of these on hold and make the other active; or make them both available. I can use these to further ‘filter’ all of the tasks in my lists.

For example, let’s look back at the dashboard view from the first post in this series:

Dashboard view showing all tasks

Here is the same view, but this time filtered to show only ‘Focus’ tasks:

Dashboard view concentrating on ‘Focus’ tasks

And again to show only ‘Unfocused’ tasks:

Dashboard view concentrating on ‘No Focus’ tasks

This helps me keep my attention on the right tasks at the right time, which is even more crucial now that I have a toddler!

Tomorrow: do I have too many OmniFocus tags? You decide.

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sillygwailo
104 days ago
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Window management and navigation in OmniFocus (with a little automation magic)

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In the lead-up to my Learn OmniFocus workflow session, I wanted to share some of the nitty-gritty details of how I manage my tasks with OmniFocus. That session will focus on the magic of Omni Automation (✨!). So, over this week, I’m concentrating on the more foundational, structural side of things, like projects, tags, and perspectives.

At this point we’ve covered my main ‘dashboard view’, and a series of other custom perspectives. Managing this many perspective windows manually would be a recipe for madness. So, even though I’m focusing more on the structural setup with this short series, I think it’s time to introduce a few tiny sparks of automation magic to this setup.

Launching the Dashboard

Launching the dashboard ultimately looks like this:

This uses the combined powers of Keyboard Maestro and Alfred, although a keyboard shortcut or other macro trigger would likely work just as well.

1. Keyboard Maestro macro

I won’t reproduce the entire Keyboard Maestro macro here (for brevity) but if you’re interested you can download it to take a closer look. Broadly, it does the following:

  1. Closes any OmniFocus windows that are already open
  2. Re-opens OmniFocus
  3. Uses a menu item action to set the Focus mode. I have two simple Omni Automation actions set up that focus on either work or personal tasks, and they are named identically except for the ‘name’ of the focus, so I use a variable to run either ‘Focus on Personal’ or ‘Focus on B&C’, as applicable.
  4. Checks to see whether the sidebar, inspector, or toolbar are shown. If they are, it hides them.
  5. Creates a new window, navigates to the next custom perspective, and resizes the window.

The actions for the last step look something like the below. (Note that I have two slightly different versions of my dashboard (personal and work) and so, by using the %TriggerValue% variable in a couple of places, I get a little extra flexibility without having to create two separate macros.)

2. Custom workflow in Alfred

Alfred is my app launcher of choice and I’ve recently acquired the PowerPack. I regret not buying it sooner!

I’ve set up a custom workflow with two steps:

The first action is a list filter (shown below), which allows me to select either ‘Personal’ or ‘B&C’ to use as the trigger value for the Keyboard Maestro macro.

The second action is an AppleScript, which runs the Keyboard Maestro macro with the given trigger value:

Show In Project

From my dashboard view, I will sometimes see a task and want to view or edit its project. To help with this I’ve created a simple ‘Show In Project’ Plug-In and assigned this to a keyboard shortcut. This opens the selected task in the Projects view and focuses on that project. (I have it set to open in a new window, but that is optional.)

Maximise Window

When I do open a new window using the above action, Quick Open, or some other way, it is usually the same size as the window that created it: if I’m opening it from a custom perspective, it’s about a sixth of the screen. In addition, it doesn’t have a toolbar, inspector, or sidebar, which for planning and tweaking is not optimal!

To get around this, I have a custom ‘Maximise’ macro set up in Keyboard Maestro that simply resizes the window to take up the full screen and shows each of these items.

Below you can see these ‘Show in Project’ and ‘Maximise Window’ automations in action:

Open New OmniFocus Window

I also have a Keyboard Maestro macro that intercepts the ⌘ + N keyboard shortcut while OmniFocus is open. This would usually be used to add a new task, but I don’t tend to use it that way and so I instead use it to create a new OmniFocus window and run the ‘Maximise OmniFocus’ macro from above.

Consider this your regular reminder that small quality-of-life automations are sometimes the best automations!

Next up in this series: switching contexts in OmniFocus.

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sillygwailo
104 days ago
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More Perspectives in OmniFocus

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In the lead-up to my Learn OmniFocus workflow session, I wanted to share some of the nitty-gritty details of how I manage my tasks with OmniFocus. That session will focus on the magic of Omni Automation (✨!). So, over this week, I’m concentrating on the more foundational, structural side of things, like projects, tags, and perspectives.

Yesterday, I shared the details of the custom perspectives that make up my OmniFocus dashboard, and today I’d like to expand on that and take a look at the rest of my custom perspectives.

Some of these are focused around ‘doing’: they provide lists of tasks that I could act on now, that I might consider in certain contexts. Others are ‘planning’ perspectives that I typically only visit as part of a daily or weekly review.

Let’s get stuck right in!

‘Doing’ Perspectives

The first two perspectives listed here I consider to ‘follow on’ from the dashboard. They exclude tasks that are included in preceding perspectives.

Future Friend

The idea of being your ‘future friend’ is an idea borrowed from Gemma Bray of The Organised Mom Method. This perspective shows tasks that are available to work on now, that either have a due date or are scheduled for the future with my ‘Scheduling’ Plug-In. They are an opportunity to get ahead!

‘Future Friend’ custom perspective (the 4 tags are those relating to the dashboard)

Other

This perspective is a final ‘catch-all’ that includes any available tasks that haven’t already been picked up in the dashboard or Future Friend perspectives.

‘Other’ custom perspective (again, the 3 tags relate to the dashboard)

All Available

A lesser-used perspective, this perspective shows me all of the tasks that are currently available (excluding Waiting tasks and also those that are tagged with ‘L3’ which are all cleaning tasks – I don’t typically want to see these).

‘All Available’ custom perspective (excluded tags: Waiting and ‘L3’)

Waiting / Agendas / People

These twin perspectives show me available tasks tagged with ‘Waiting’ and ‘Agenda’ respectively. These are typically are also tagged with a person, so grouping these by combined tag means that anything I am waiting on from a single person is shown together.

‘Waiting’ custom perspective

I also have several perspectives that focus on people I work with regularly. These typically look something like this example, for a fictitious person with the initials ABC, and pick up any tasks tagged with that person, and also any that match their initials in brackets (this is the formatting convention I use to denote a project that they are responsible for).

‘ABC’ (Person) custom perspective

Tag-Based Perspectives

I also have several perspectives that simply show available tasks for a given tag. We’ll go into a little more detail with some of these tags later in the week, but for now, here is a quick list:

  • Quick
  • Errands
  • Computer
  • Washing Machine (ungrouped)
  • Lazing Around

Most of these are grouped by project and sorted by project order, except as noted above.

In addition to these, I also have a ‘Lazing Around (Phone)‘ perspective that excludes any tasks that require a computer; and an ‘Out Walking‘ perspective that includes nearby place tags (i.e. those that I could walk to).

Client Work / Non-Billable Work

Another simple pair of perspectives, these relate entirely to work. One includes available tasks from my ‘Client Work’ folder, grouped by combined tags. The other shows available non-client work.

‘Client Work’ custom perspective
‘Non-Billable Work’ custom perspective

‘Planning’ Perspectives

Projects (Novel)

This broadly replicates the built-in Projects perspective, but only includes tasks that are not habits or routine tasks. I typically use this for my weekly review.

‘Projects (Novel)’ custom perspective

Repeating

The opposite of the perspective above, this perspective only includes habits and routine tasks.

‘Repeating’ custom perspective

Due

This perspective shows all tasks with a due date, grouped and also sorted by that date. It’s useful to get a sense of any impending deadlines.

‘Due’ custom perspective

Stalled

This perspective picks up any active projects with no remaining actions. This is useful as a quick check as part of my daily and weekly reviews to make sure there are no projects that don’t have a next action defined.

‘Stalled’ custom perspective

Scheduled

This is a convenience perspective that replicates the Tag view of the ‘Scheduled’ tag and its subtags, most of which are driven by my ‘Scheduling’ Plug-In. In the sidebar, this perspective is filtered by the same ‘Scheduled’ tag. This provides me with a ‘forecast’ of what I’ve planned to do in the upcoming days.

‘Scheduled’ custom perspective

Needs Attention Level

I use this perspective as part of my daily and weekly reviews to quickly ensure that all remaining tasks (except Waiting/Agenda/Errands tasks) have an ‘attention level’ assigned. We’ll talk more about this in a future post!

‘Needs Attention Level’ perspective

Check Tags

This is another quick check to ensure that all remaining personal tasks are tagged appropriately.

We’ll delve into tags in more depth in a future task. For personal tasks, I make sure that tasks are tagged, as relevant, with:

  • Location Constraints e.g. ‘🛒 Supermarket’, ‘🏠 Home’, or ‘🍳 Kitchen’
  • Equipment Constraints e.g. ‘💻 Mac’
  • Time Constraints e.g. ”
  • 👣’ (Out Walking)
  • ⚡’ (Quick)
  • 🛍’ (Online Shopping)
  • 🛏’ (Lazing Around)
  • 📺’ (Watching TV)

Once I’m satisfied that all tags have been added I use a keyboard shortcut combined with a simple action to apply a blank tag (‘⠀’) to the tasks. This denotes to me that the tags are complete and removes the tasks from this perspective. Waiting and Agenda tags are also removed from this view, as they typically contain all of the necessary information when they are processed or added.

‘Check Tags’ custom perspective

As you can see, I make extensive use of custom perspectives in OmniFocus, but many of these additional perspectives are quite simple to create, with only a few rules. Several of these have keyboard shortcuts assigned in the ‘Preferences’ pane, which is a trick I somehow missed until quite recently.

Of course, I am also not averse to creating perspectives on the fly if that seems like it would be helpful in the moment!

Next up in our whirlwind tour of my OmniFocus database: window management, automating the set-up of my dashboard with Keyboard Maestro and Alfred, and a few quick automation tricks to make navigating between all of these perspectives easier.

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