Posts Tagged ‘Productivity’

The Omni Group

I tried, I liked, I bought… $79.95 later I am the new owner of the OminGroup’s Task Mgmt application OmniFocus and let me tell you, it is worth every penny.

My List Obsessive History

I’ll admit I haven’t tried 100 different task management tools, so this review will not be coming from that extreme point of view.  However, I have been a “LIST” guy for as long as I can remember.  I used the pen and paper approach for years, before going digital and building my own lists using MS Word and Excel.  I then transitioned to MS Outlook for my task management needs until recently when I bought a Mac and once again needed a new system. I took the trial of Things for Mac, which I wrote about in an article last week [Things Task Mgmt Review: ‘Gets Thumbs Down’], before taking OmniFocus for a spin.

First Impressions: Mmm…That’s Nice.

After installing the trial, it didn’t take me more than ten minutes before I was comfortable with the system and was managing tasks efficiently.  OmniFocus is extremely easy to use, intuitive and beautifully simple. It can handle personal tasks bagged and blindfolded with ease, but for me OmniFocus’ real value lies in its ability to handle heavy lifting.  Currently, it smoothly manages the 100+ tasks and growing, that make up my life (personal, multiple businesses, and goals).


  • Get Things Done: OmniFocus is built on David Allen’s Get Things Done (GTD) system for task management.  Not only will OmniFocus organize your stuff, it will also help you get stuff done (kind of the objective here right?).
  • Inbox for Mental Relief: The application has an “inbox” for the first part of the GTD system, Collection.  It’s quick, it’s dirty (in a good way), and makes it easy to process the inbox and sort them into action items and projects.
  • Stay Organized: You can organize all action items into folders, single-action items, projects, and tasks.  The final nail in the coffin for my unhappy trial with the Things App was the inability to create sub-items.
    • Creating Sub-Items: With OmniFocus you can add in sub-folders and sub-tasks.  This was a must-have for me.  I have many irons in the fire and need the ability to break things done without having to make new projects for everything that requires more than one step (as with Things).
    • Drag & Drop: All items in OmniFocus can be dragged and dropped into other folders, projects, or tasks (as subtasks).
  • Color Coding: Uses in-line color-coding to differentiate between contexts and items due.  Also, colored icons are used next to projects in the navigation panel, signifying what projects have pending tasks that are past-due, due today or due soon.
  • Expand/Collapse: With the ability to expand or collapse any item with sub-items, OmniFocus handles navigating quantity with ease.
  • Views for Quick Navigation:
    • Projects: View shows everything broken down into folders, projects, tasks and sub-tasks.
    • Contexts: Context view is extremely helpful.  Context describes the means of getting a task done. For example “Pick up Groceries” would fall under the context of “Errands”, where “Write Saturday’s Blog Post” would fall under the context “Mac: Online”.  Therefore when running out for errands you can view the just the errands list, print it out and take it with you.
    • Due: View and print everything Past Due, Due Today, Due Tomorrow and Due Within the Next Week.
    • Flag: Sort tasks by anything you’ve flagged for review.
  • Shortcuts: One of my favorite features is the inbox shortcut.  From anywhere on my Mac, say surfing online, I can hit [Control+Option+Space] and open a small entry window to enter a thought or task directly into the inbox without having to break my concentration.

    Direct to Inbox: Shortcut

    Direct to Inbox: Shortcut


  • Price: I’ll admit I was a bit shy of the price at first.  $80 seemed like a hefty price to pay for a list and for the first week, I was on the fence; “it’s awesome, but is it $80 awesome?”  I think that if OmniFocus lowered their price a bit, to say the $50 range, it would beat the pants off of the Things Application.
  • No Sorting in Nav. Panel: You cannot automatically sort projects within the navigation panel.  If you sort them by name it will sort projects in the main view, but not in the navigation panel.

In summary, the task management application OmniFocus rocks, and is a superior tool for those of you that have a lot on your plates.  I’ve personally got over a hundred tasks in my list so far and OmniFocus makes managing them cake.

If you have any questions, comments or your own thoughts on OmniFocus, leave a comment and I’d be happy to get your feedback.

Other relative posts that may interest you:

Things Task Mgmt Review: ‘Gets Thumbs Down’

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With an heaping plate of To-Do’s piling up, I recently decided to start looking for a good task management application and recently downloaded a free trial for the Things Application for Macs. I was originally attracted to the Things application for its simplicity in design, the good online reviews, and admittedly the price ($49.95). I used the application for about a week trying to test out the advantages of the features modeled after the Get Things Done (GTD) method made popular by David Allen. The following is a review of what STOPPED me from buying Things.

Here is a screenshot for the Things Application:

Things App. Screenshot

Things App. Screenshot

The Fallout: No Sub-Folders, No Sub-Tasks!?!

Things is a sufficient tool for simple task management and probably a decent system for some. However, after a few days of using Things, I noticed that I could not make sub-folders or sub-tasks. Perhaps it is only a personal preference, but I am big on organization and want to use task management software to not only organize my personal tasks, but also my thoughts, upcoming events, business tasks, and all my entrepreneurial irons in the fire as well. Not having the ability to break tasks down into its counterparts was a big turn-off.

The ‘Get Things Done’ System (GTD)

I believe that the developers of the Things application were trying to follow the GTD system as close as they could and this is the reason that they set Things up this way. In the Get Things Done system, tasks are defined as single-action items. Anything requiring more than one task is considered a project. Therefore, a task could not have a sub-task because then it would be considered a project and a new project would need to be set up.

Things ‘Gets Thumbs Down

But for me, I have quite a bit of ‘things’ going on in my life and many projects that I am working on. I am in need of a task management application that can help me with some heavy lifting and organize not only my personal life but my multiple businesses as well. With so much going on, I can’t create a new project for anything I need to do that requires more than one step because I would have over a hundred projects going on at one time. This would make Things very difficult and cumbersome for me the way it has been set up.

Conclusion on Trial

If you are looking for a Task Management application for only limited personal use, Things may be a sufficient option for you. But if you have a FULL PLATE and will demand more of your task management tool I suggest you look elsewhere.

Right now I am testing a trial version for The Omni Group’s OmniFocus Task Manager and for an extra $30 ($79.95 Total) so far it is definitely worth it. I’ll be writing a review for the OmniFocus application in an upcoming article.

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thinking monkeyDisclaimer:  Thinking less can be dangerous and must be used wisely, serious action may occur.  Not advised while driving, with credit cards, or taking exams.

Why can it be so hard to take action?  Is it fear of failure that paralyzes us, or perhaps laziness?  I am not one to think of myself as neither fearful of mistakes nor lazy, yet at times I can find it difficult to take hold of a goal and take immediate action towards the fulfillment of that goal.  As odd as it sounds, I would advise myself to do less thinking and more doing.

Action starts with conscious thought.  Physically, we must think, before we act.  But can we think too much?  Growing up, undoubtedly we have all heard that we must “think before we speak” and to “think about the consequences of our actions” before acting on them.   But for some, we can think “too” much before we act.  Over-thinking our actions can paralyze us into inaction.

In his blog post, Task Ninja: Form the Action Habit, Leo Babauta advises to;

“Stop thinking so much. Thinking is a good thing. Overthinking isn’t, and it gets in the way. Put aside all the thinking (analysis paralysis) and just do.”

Lesson Learned: Stop thinking so much. Don’t wait until tomorrow or until the goal or plan are crystal clear. Get out there and do something.  Trust your intuition and take chances.

Update (2/20): Just before posting this, I happened to find a great post I would recommend reading. Check it out; Is Analysis Paralysis Stopping You from Taking Action?, Vincent offers 7 Tips for combating the Over-thinking virus.

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Delete, unsubscribe, remove, cancel; these are a few of my favorite things. Lately I have been a huge advocate of the frequent use of these powerful tools:
delete button

  • Checking myspace.com once every 3 months? Delete!
  • Getting newsletters you don’t read? Unsubscribe!
  • Subscribed to a blogger that doesn’t blog or worse, blogs about irrelevant topics? Remove!
  • Using, or rather not using a SaaS (Software as a Service) that you’re paying for? Cancel!

The Internet is a wonderful resource and can provide loads of value to our lives. But its use tends to fill up our cups everyday with e-goo that, in the end, provide little or no value. It took me a long time to become a fan for the delete. With time (or lack there of), I began to notice that I was wading through useless emails, having accounts with useless websites, and not reading blogs I subscribed to. From this, my passion for eliminating the unnecessary was born.

Is it really that hard to remove the e-goo from our lives that does not provide us with value? On second thought, e-goo with no value can be easy to delete, but it is that stuff that has just enough value, even a small amount, that can be the problem.

Consider Pareto’s 80/20 Principle. You use 20% of your e-stuff, 80% of the time or 20% of your e-stuff makes up for 80% of the total value. Would I be able to find this website again without bookmarking it if I needed to? Yes. Ok then don’t save it. The more you wade through your own e-goo, consider how much time it sucks out of your day. Whether it’s 2 hours for 40 emails or 2 seconds to find that bookmark amongst the thousand, it all takes time, your time, and that is something that you cannot get back.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and flex those delete muscles, throw out that old pair of shoes, and take back your time. Value your time, and use delete as daily practice.

Lesson Learned: The e-life can keep you connected and enhance your life, or it can drown your time and attention in a cesspool of digital e-goo. Your choice…

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The Nature of Focus

I Lack Focus T-ShirtIs it possible to focus on more than one thing at a time?

Here is an experiment for you. Look up after reading this paragraph and FOCUS on something across the room. Pick one thing to focus on, a clock, picture, anything. Bring your attention to the object. Bring it into focus. Now, keeping the object in focus, use your peripheral vision to see everything else. Notice anything?

What I want you to notice is that once the object you’ve picked is in focus and is holding your attention, nothing else in view is in perfect focus even though you can “see” and identify many other things. Not only is the peripheral view out of focus, it is impossible to bring another object into focus and attention while maintaining your focus and attention on the original object. Focus must shift between objects in order to become clear.

Cell phones, text messaging, email, Twitter, facebook, advertising, and daily deadlines are pushing and pulling to get our attention and focus every waking minute of everyday. As technology has gifted us with the ability to stay connected, we are challenged everyday in the ability to focus on the task at hand.

Lesson Learned #1: Take a hint from the experiment above on how we are hardwired and learn to manage and limit those things that compete for your attention. Because even nature demands that we focus on one thing at a time.

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