Using OmniFocus effectively requires that you get into the habit of using and reviewing OmniFocus on a regular basis.
If you’re new to OmniFocus, it will likely take you a little time to get into the habit of adding actionable items into OmniFocus and going to OmniFocus when you have some time available and are wondering “what’s next?”.
If you’ve been using OmniFocus for a while and are falling off the “bandwagon” regularly, then it could be your system has become bloated and out of date and is ready for a revamp.
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Here’s some Learn OmniFocus content to help you get into the habit of using OmniFocus productively.
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Capturing Information Into OmniFocus
One of OmniFocus’ many strengths is the ease with each you can capturing things that grab your attention. On your Mac, you can collect things into the OmniFocus inbox using the Quick Capture (Members) feature, that can be invoked from anywhere using a global keyboard shortcut.
On iOS, you can capture directly to OmniFocus using Siri. Third-party apps such as Drafts also provide convenient ways to get things into OmniFocus. And if you’re using the Omni Group’s free Omni Sync Server (FREE), you can even email tasks into OmniFocus (Members) from any device.
The key word here is convenience. The more convenient it is to get information into OmniFocus, the more likely you are to put this information into OmniFocus. If there’s too much friction, then the tendency will be to scribble a commitment down on a little piece of paper that gets buried under a pile of other little pieces of paper or to try and keep things in your head, which as David Allen is fond of pointing out, doesn’t tend to work very well.
Learn OmniFocus has a growing collection of videos to teach you some convenient and efficient ways to capture into OmniFocus. Especially if you’re relatively new to OmniFocus, two good videos to start with are Capturing into OmniFocus 2 for Mac (Members) and Emailing Into OmniFocus Using Mail Drop to Inbox (Members).
Processing, Organizing and Reviewing
Capturing is just the first step. If all you do is capture, then your OmniFocus inbox will likely become too overwhelming to look at before too long. To prevent this from happening, it’s important to get into a habit of processing your inbox regularly. It’s equally important to review your system regularly.
Reviewing could include a daily review (Members), where you decide what’s most important to focus on today, a weekly review (Members) to help keep your system up-to-date and accurate, and monthly, quarterly, and annual reviews to help keep you stay tuned in to the bigger picture of your life.
OmniFocus gives you the ability to create actions and even entire projects that repeat on a regular schedule. For example, you could have an action called “Process: Inbox” that repeats each day to help ensure that your inbox never gets to the point that you’re spending a sunny Saturday afternoon getting it under control. To see what this looks like in action, check out the Performing Weekly Reviews with OmniFocus 2 for Mac video (Members)
Stepping into Action
When you have some time available to delve into your projects and action lists, OmniFocus makes it easy for you to home in on those actions that are most relevant.
As outlined in Create a Foundation, this ease comes from designing a system that is structured to match your life. Also, you’re most likely to use OmniFocus to engage with your tasks if it’s convenient to get to a list of tasks.
The perspectives included with OmniFocus, including Projects, Tags and Forecast, combined with the ability to filter which actions are shown (e.g. only actionable ones) makes it convenient to quickly get to a list of relevant actions.
If you have the Pro upgrade to OmniFocus, you can take this a step further and create custom perspectives that can be accessed on both your Mac and your iOS devices. Custom Perspectives for OmniFocus 3 contains specific examples of custom perspectives.
Fine-Tuning Your Setup
There are many ways to automate and extend OmniFocus…and to make it an even more convenient and efficient solution. We have plenty of advice to share to help fine-tune your OmniFocus setup.