Friday, January 1, 2016

Trying out Omnifocus

After recently wrapping up the initial release of the new LinkedIn app for Android & iOS, I took a long-awaited break over the holidays to unwind and refresh. I started taking a look at all the stuff I'd been putting off for the last few months...and realized I needed a better way to stay on top of all this.

I had over 50 constantly open Chrome tabs with things I needed to eventually follow up on. I've tried using bookmarks in the past, but I've found that if it's not in my face somehow, I'll just forget about it. I also had a collection of random files in my Mac's Downloads folder, because I needed to do something with them someday and needed to have them available for that eventuality. I also had about 80 emails waiting in my Gmail inbox for some kind of follow up or future project that would require replying to the thread. There was an assortment of notes in Google Keep mentioning ideas I'd had and wanted to look into once things slowed down. And of course, there was always the mental list of stuff I needed or wanted to do that never made it into any of these "systems"...I'd just remember them periodically and wince that I hadn't done them yet before forgetting them for a few more weeks.

This was not good in a number of ways...it was stress-inducing, for one. It also made it hard to pick something to work on when I actually found myself with some free time...where should I look for a new task? And perhaps the most annoying problem....all those open Chrome tabs slowed down my computer!

So yesterday I downloaded the 14 day trial of OmniFocus. I've heard nothing but praise about this Mac app from The Omni Group so I thought I'd see if it could help me get organized. I won't go into a lot of detail here, because I'm sure others have covered the program much more thoroughly, but so far I'm hopeful that this will help keep things organized. I spent an hour or two doing a brain dump into OmniFocus's "Inbox", converting all my mental todos into "actions", and then slowly converting my open Chrome tabs and emails into actions that had a link back to the referencing web page or email thread.

So far my biggest win is being able to close all the tabs I perpetually had open because I needed to check them for something once per day. I replaced them with a set of repeating tasks to check the pages every morning when I come into work. We'll see how this system works once I get back into the swing of things this month, but for now I'm happy with just my email, calendar, and scrum board tabs open in Chrome.

If I continue to like OmniFocus as much as it seems like I will, I'll definitely be paying the relatively cheap $39.99 price tag for their Mac app. I'd encourage you to check it out if you're looking for a good way to organize your todo list and other tasks.