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by ryan davis

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The Dumping Grounds

Published 2012-05-08 @ 12:00

Tagged productivity, omnifocus

This is part of the Productivity Pr0n series.


According to 43folders:

The Collection stage is where all stuff is gathered together in an unstructured manner. This stage involves writing down whatever things one can think of that needs doing (possibly using trigger lists), and all places where relevant information might accumulate, such as in folders and drawers, are emptied into one place.

The important part there is that it should be as easy and quick as possible to get that thing out of your brain and into the trusted system.

What that means to me

As I’ve said elsewhere, I use omnifocus. I’ve been using it religiously since it came out and for a couple years I used it solely as a dumping ground for all my ideas, todos, and lists. I was burnt out enough that it didn’t serve any other purpose. But knowing that I had a place for all that stuff to go and it wouldn’t get lost or forgotten really helped me deal with that burnout.

For me there are two parts to this phase:

  1. It must be easy as hell to get things in. Easy to the point where you don’t lose concentration on what you’re actually doing.
  2. It must be trustworthy. I need to know that what goes in is safe and accessible.

If nothing else, omnifocus solves this problem perfectly.

Omnifocus Quick Entry

By simply hitting a global keybinding, omnifocus’ Quick Entry window pops up:

omnifocus quick entry

This lets me paste/type my tasks in quickly and as soon as I hit Cmd-S, it’s gone and I’m back to work. There are several other ways of capturing new tasks, but this is the one I use 90+% of the time.

If you provide extra information for project and context, it’ll automatically get filed into that project w/ the correct context. Otherwise, it goes in your inbox and you can organize later. This lets you quickly choose which path you want. If you just want to capture and go, don’t bother filling out the info and you can get back to work in a few seconds. If you’re in planning mode, you can take the time to provide all the extra info you want and things will wind up in the right places.

What I put in omnifocus

Anything and everything! I have 3 hierarchies: personal, nerd, and work as well as some miscellaneous groupings for daily/weekly/monthly repeating tasks. In personal I have things as varied as errands I need to run, to music I want to buy, to things to study, as well as one titled “Live Volcano Vacation”. For my nerd hierarchy, I’ve have a folder for every open source project I work on and presentation I’m planning. Random ideas go in here. Yaks go in here. And I use software to sync from bug tracking systems into here. I’ll explain these more fully in later posts.

The important thing to understand is that if I want to do something and I can’t do it right now, it goes in omnifocus.