2016-11-17 – OmniFocus Workflows with Fraser Speirs

Learn how iOS aficionado, Fraser Speirs uses OmniFocus, the calendar and iOS automation to navigate his life and work with ease and efficiency.


Fraser Speirs is a seasoned teacher and IT expert based in Scotland. His school was the first in the world to roll out the iPad on a 1:1 basis, and Fraser oversaw the planning and deployment of this project. Drawing on this experience, Fraser works with schools all over the world as they develop their technical and educational strategies. Fraser is also an experienced OmniFocus user and Getting Things Done (GTD) practitioner and is a poster child for iOS productivity.

Session Overview

In this session, Fraser takes us on a tour of his OmniFocus setup, sharing how he’s chosen to structure his database, the daily, weekly and quarterly reviews he relies on to keep the system up-to-date and relevant and how he uses OmniFocus as he navigates his day. He also shares how he uses the calendar alongside OmniFocus to help him be intentional in how he spends his time. Frasier is an avid user of Workflow for iOS and he dazzled us with the creative ways he uses workflows to help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.

About Fraser Speirs

Fraser is the Head of Secondary at Cedars School of Excellence in Scotland, the first school in the world to roll out the iPad on a 1:1 basis. Since planning and executing this deployment, Fraser has been working with schools around the world as they introduce next-generation educational technology, teaching practices and curriculum. His years of experience in the classroom, combined with his background in software development and system administration, gives him a unique perspective on schools’ technical and educational strategies.

Frasier is also a well-known personality in the podcasting world. He’s been co-hosting the Out of School podcast with Bradley Chambers since 2012. More recently, he teamed up with MacStories founder Federico Viticci to produce Canvas, a podcast to support people in being productive on iOS devices. For a taste of Fraser’s experience with OmniFocus check out Episode #16: Task Management Part 2.

Fraser also recently launched the iPads for Barefoot College fundraising project and successfully raised £7,630 ($9,900 USD) to send iPads to rural India to help train women to build solar energy projects for their communities.

Sample Workflows

During the session, Fraser demonstrated how the Workflow app for iOS can be used to automate the creation of OmniFocus groups and projects. Here are links to the workflows he demonstrated so that you can have a peek under the hood and draw some inspiration for your own workflows.

  • Staff Cover — Creates a group within an existing project to proactively manage a staff member being absent. [workflow]
  • Homework Assignment — Used to help ensure that homework assignments are collected on the due date. [workflow]
  • Report Template — Creates a checklist to help ensure that all activities related to report cards are carried out. [workflow]
  • New Pupil iPad — Creates a project listing actions to be taken when setting up an iPad for a new student. [workflow]

It’s important to note that these workflows make references to Fraser’s OmniFocus setup. You’ll need to modify them to work with your own setup.

Additional Resources

  • Workflow Series on Canvas — If you’re new to the Workflow app, or want to fill in some gaps in your knowledge, check out the Workflow episodes on the Canvas podcast, starting with Episode #22: Workflow – The Basics. Fraser Speirs and Federico Viticci are both seasoned Workflow users who continue to come up with very clever ways to make use of Workflow.
  • Automating OmniFocus on iOS — Our previous session, Automating OmniFocus on iOS, introduces the TaskPaper syntax and walks through the basics of automating OmniFocus on iOS using Workflow and Editorial.
  • Workflow Gallery — Version 1.6 of Workflow introduces the new WorkFlow Gallery that contains an expanded library of workflows, including some that work with OmniFocus.

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