My Omnifocus Set-up (Part 1)

I am a huge fan of OmniFocus (OF). I am so dependent on the software, I’m not sure I could function without it. Although there has been much written about the use of OmniFocus, I have yet to see anyone else that uses the software quite the way I do. In this entry, I’ll introduce you to my OmniFocus set-up. In future entires I’ll demonstrate how I use this set-up to maximize the impact of my work in my personal and professional life.My set-up is an amalgamation of many different things I’ve read online. I’m sure, after seeing what I do, others will continue to build on my ideas.The struggle to keep on top of one’s commitments is not new. Before Getting Things Done and OmniFocus, the go to resource for productivity was Stephen Covey’s First Things First (amazon link). This book suggested breaking down your personal and professional lives into various roles (e.g. Researcher, Clinician, Mentor). Each week, within each role, you were to decide up to three important tasks to accomplish (based on both urgency and importance). Each task could be added to one of 4 quadrants:Covey's QuadrantsThe fact that not all urgent tasks are important, nor are all important tasks urgent was a complete revelation for me. Once I understood this, it was much easier to prioritize my personal and professional life. Per Covey, in order to maximize productivity, one is to spend the majority of their time in Quadrant 2 (Not Urgent, Important). Rather than working on projects haphazardly, Covey recommended spending the vast majority of time focused on Quadrant 2 projects. I choose to define Importance as the project’s impact on my long-term goals.I have blended Omnifocus and First Things First (and a little bit of Agile Programming—but that’s an entry for another time) to develop a system that’s truly my own. In the image below, you can see how I organize Omnifocus. I have four high-level folders: Weekly Priorities, Single Tasks, Projects, and Meta.ProjectsMy Weekly Priorities Folder contains three folders: Maintenance, Weekly Priority, and On Deck. The Maintenance Folder contains all the projects to keep my system running—reminders for my daily, weekly, and monthly reviews. The Weekly Priority Folder contains my weekly highest priority level projects (both personal and professional) I chose during my weekly review. The On Deck Folder contains other important projects—if I’m ultra productive and blast through my priority projects, I look in the On Deck Folder for next tasks to accomplish.The Single Tasks High Folder is self-explanatory.The Projects Folder contains two subfolders: Professional and Personal. Within each of these subfolders I have folders that define each of my professional and personal roles. For instance, my Professional Folder contains the following role folders: Administrator, Clinician, Communicator, Consultant, Fundraiser, Innovator/Entrepreneur, Mentor/Teacher, Researcher, Society Member. Each new professional project is placed within the folder of one of my roles.The Meta Folder Contains my Someday/Maybe project folders (things I’m interested in, but have not yet committed to doing). I also store my completed and dropped projects here.After defining a new project, I place the project into one of my personal or professional subfolders. In the Notes Field of OmniFocus, I use Text Expander scripts to label each project by Covey Quadrant. I then may use OmniFocus Perspectives to quickly locate ALL my projects of a particular quadrant.Window_and_PerspectivesUsing these methods, I am able to juggle a huge number of concurrent projects, each week prioritizing those most important to my personal and professional life. In case you’re wondering, I do most of my heavy lifting / organizing on my Mac. I primarily use OF on my iOS device as reference.In a future entry, I’ll explain how I use this set-up in my daily, weekly, monthly, and annual reviews.