2019-04-17 – Managing the BIG Picture with OmniFocus 3 (and complementary apps)

2019-04-17 - Managing the BIG Picture with OmniFocus 3 (and complementary apps)

Learn how to use OmniFocus in combination with complementary productivity apps to take purposeful action that's guided by a bigger picture of your life and work.

Productivity can be defined simply as the process of producing results in life and work. Without a sense of direction and an awareness of what's important to you, productivity can devolve into little more than getting more efficient at going around in circles.

This session is designed to help you adopt practices that support you in putting your time, energy, and attention to good use. We'll explore some foundational principles and will look at how OmniFocus can be used to help monitor and guide your progress.

Mastering the Wheel of Life

During the session, you'll learn about the Wheel of Life, a simple yet powerful tool for keeping an eye on the BIG picture of your life. It provides a snapshot of what your life looks like and is a practical way of emphasizing inner reflection.

Completing the Wheel of Life exercise typically only takes a minute or two. Going through this process regularly (e.g. once a month) can help you determine what areas to focus on and is a great way to monitor the progress that you're making across all areas of your life. It's also helpful for identifying areas that aren't working as well as you'd like.

Before watching the session, you might want to take a moment to download the Wheel of Life PDF. Keep it handy in digital or paper form as you go through the session.

Horizons of Focus

You'll also learn about Horizons of Focus, a key concept in David Allen’s Getting Things Done approach. David talks about how our life spans multiple altitudes, or perspectives, and how each of these levels plays an important role in the overall picture.

The “runway” level is where the action happens; we crank through widgets (literally or metaphorically) and attend to items on our calendar. As we gain altitude, our perspective shifts to Projects (Horizon 1), Areas of Focus and Accountability (Horizon 2), Goals and Objectives (Horizon 3), Vision (Horizon 4), and ultimately to Purpose and Principles (Horizon 5).

Managing the BIG Picture with OmniFocus 3

Staying On Purpose

Ideally, everything we do at the runway level is in alignment with our Purpose and Principles. In practice, it doesn’t tend to be this simple. In this day and age, it’s very easy to get caught up in the busyness of day-to-day life and to be dominated by distraction.

To keep life and work on track, it’s important to be intentional about setting aside time for reflection and strategic planning and to be mindful of how you’re spending your time and attention. When used effectively, OmniFocus and complementary productivity apps can help you approach your life and work systematically — freeing your mind for creative thought while also helping you navigate the path forward.

Session Overview

Watch this session and learn techniques and best practices for:

  • Taking a snapshot of your life using the Wheel of Life.
  • Using OmniFocus to help ensure that all of your Horizons of Focus receive the appropriate amount of attention.
  • Deciding where to start when you're faced with a big project.
  • Determining what to keep and OmniFocus and what’s best kept elsewhere.
  • Conveniently referencing notes that are stored in Apple's Notes app, Evernote, and Day One.
  • Overcoming inertia and getting started when facing a big project.
  • Using OmniFocus to be intentional about creating time and space, so that you have the opportunity to rest and rejuvenate. Spending time doing nothing, a practice the Italians call "dolce far niente", helps foster a highly productive life.
  • Capturing goals and ideas in a way that brings ease and focus to future projects.
  • Using OmniOutliner and MindNode alongside OmniFocus to plan projects and actions.
  • Managing goals separately from projects for both personal and collaborative pursuits.
  • Using collaborative apps such as Asana, Trello, and Airtable alongside OmniFocus to track and make progress on goals.
  • Staying motivated when working on longer-term objectives, especially in those cases when you’re investing a significant amount of time and energy and not seeing significant short-term progress.
  • Using repeating actions and projects to help keep your day-to-day actions in alignment with what’s most important to your life and work.
  • And more…

Additional Resources

  • Horizons of Focus PDF — This session includes an overview of an aspect of the Getting Things Done (GTD) approach called "Horizons of Focus". For a printable summary, download the Horizons of Focus PDF from the Getting Things Done website.
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear — James Clear's book Atomic Habits was referenced several times during the session. You're encouraged to read this outstanding book and to subscribe to James Clear's excellent mailing list.
  • BrainChains by Theo Compernolle — If you're interested in gaining a deeper understanding of why we need to take breaks and get an adequate amount of sleep, the BrainChains book by
    Theo Compernolle is an excellent resource. It's exhaustively researched and contains a wealth of practical information.