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by ryan davis

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productivity pr0n

Published 2012-05-07 @ 12:00

Tagged productivity, omnifocus

This is part of the Productivity Pr0n series.

Productivity is a very personal thing. What works for you might not work for me and vice-versa. That said, there’s nothing wrong with sharing what works for me in the hopes that I might help others or learn something new from you.

GTD Phases

I do some sort of GTD with my own little twists and turns thrown in. The main tenet that got me on GTD that I really liked was the idea that by dumping all the lists and ideas and todos out of your head. Putting all of that into a trusted system frees up cognitive space and allows you to focus on the task and hand and be more creative as a result. Bunk? Maybe… but the idea works for me. I tangent a lot less when I have this system in place. Less yak to shave.

Last year, I met up with an old friend at the Omni Group to talk about how we work (specifically, how we use omnifocus) and I dunno… something he said lit a fire under my ass and I got back in gear and moving on a lot of projects very quickly. In the 36 months I’d been using omnifocus preceding this meeting, I’d finished 668 tasks (or about 18/mo). In the 6 months after the meeting, I finished 1273 tasks (212/mo). In the last 6 months, I’ve been maintaining an average of 252/mo… so something has clearly worked for me.


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.


The Process stage is where these items are sorted, and the further activity needed by them is decided.

(again with 43folders)

This is where you go through what’s collected and either act on it immediately (eg, if it is < 2 minutes) or you decide what further action needs to happen. This is also called Do/Delegate/Defer.


The Organize stage takes these sorted items and puts them together in a form than can be used through the day for allocating tasks to time.


Personally, I don’t treat the process and organize stages as distinctly different. I’ll go into more detail on that later.


The review stage is exactly that: review what’s in the system and keep it up to date. This is, for many (including me), the hardest (or least tangibly rewarding) thing to do. Luckily, there are tools to help with this.


Over the next few weeks/days I’m going to be describing my personal flavor of productivity pr0n. I’ll be going over how I use emacs and omnifocus and what the workflow of my day/week looks like. Here is what I plan to go over.

  • The Dumping Grounds
  • Omnifocus Project Organization
  • Contexts
  • Repeating Tasks
  • Perspectives
  • Weekly Review
  • Project Oriented Tasks
  • Omnifocus Scripts
  • Omnifocus on iphone and ipad
  • omnifocus gem - BTS integration, reviewing, scheduling, etc.
  • my emacs workflow
  • autotest.el
  • rcov.el
  • toggle.el

This will essentially be a detailed continuation of my workflow presentation with more of a macro view.

See the series link above to easily navigate through these articles.

Disclosure: I used to work for The Omni Group but no longer have a working relationship with them.