Leveraging OmniFocus to maintain weekly Agenda

Leveraging OmniFocus to maintain weekly Agenda
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So I use OmniFocus to manage my tasks but I also have a weekly meeting with my boss and am looking for a way to use OmniFocus to automate my weekly agenda. Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions? My boss is pretty specific about how she likes things but I want to figure out a way to make it as seamless as possible.

I’m fine with purchasing additional software if necessary or add automation but ideally I would have a process where my emails become tasks use airmail for this) and when I add steps to the tasks they are reflected in a way I can use my task list as my agenda. In theory my weekly review is my weekly meeting with my boss.

Any thoughts? Tips? Suggestions?

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When you talk about weekly agenda, or you talking about your list of things to do for the week or are you asking about making a weekly agenda review? I’m going to wander around and see if I can hit bullseye.

I would suggest creating an outline or mind map of what your Weekly Agenda or Weekly Review looks like. Prepare the next week’s agenda with a Weekly Review list.

An example might be:

  • What happened this week?
  • Are there any follow up tasks for any items completed this week?
  • What do you need to review for next week?
  • What do you hope to accomplish next week?
  • What actions do you need to do? Any due items or deadlines to meet?
  • Are there any new inbox items that needs to be processed and taken care of?

Create that checklist. Print it out and stick it on your wall for easy retrieval. For my weekly agenda, I don’t always use OmniFocus. Some checklists stay outside OmniFocus. I don’t like to clutter up OmniFocus with routines such as “brush teeth” or “weekly review”. I put a 30 minute calendar appointment reserved just for the weekly review. You might be able to do 15 minutes or even a couple of hours. My daily review takes care of most of my review items. This helps to reduce my weekly review down to a minimum.

Here’s a basic Weekly Review checklist from David Allen’s GTD web site. Customize it to fit your own needs. Nobody has the same weekly agenda checklist.

As you start to use a weekly agenda review, you’ll add or subtract to it to fit your needs.

I do see that many OmniFocus users (and other task app users) create a daily checklist and a weekly checklist inside their own task manager and go down the list.

The sooner you can create that weekly agenda checklist, the better. Having a checklist helps to speed up the process. You won’t worry about accidentally missing something during the weekly agenda review.

Here is something I’ve done with Keyboard Maestro to help speed up my daily review…

I’m also tinkering with a similar KM macro group that creates a floating palette to house my Weekly Review. My own weekly review has a checklist of tasks that aren’t part of the the daily review. One example is to look at the next 3 weeks and see if I need to get something started now to prepare for a future responsibility. I also have a list of questions for myself to see if I am hitting my monthly goals. Do I need to change expectations or do I need to put a little more attention into a project/goal that has fallen behind?

I don’t think you need OmniFocus to be the one tool for your weekly agenda. A simple piece of paper with my weekly agenda is sufficient for me. I have a two page spread in my notebook that lists the MITs (Most Important Task) that i want to complete in this week’s agenda. I use Fantastical in the one week view to see my appointments. Sometimes I’ll print it out and put it in my notebook for reference.

I make appointments with myself and schedule tasks that needs attention during the week as well.

I hope you’ll be able to share with us some of your experiments, Michel.

Great ideas - I’m going to spend time tomorrow digesting the detail you provided

Here is the good news: My tools are: Mac (Office Computer), MacBook Pro (personal computer but connected to work network so I can access share files remotely or in meetings, iPhone XS, iPad Pro (also connected to work network), and Apple Watch series 4 with cellular. So I’m totally connected with all of the devices and synced with work.

I have Omnifocus, Hazel, keyboard maestro, airmail 3, etc. admittedly i don’t use hazel or KM nearly enough.

my weekly meeting with my boss is really just a meeting to discuss the status of all of projects.

I have a basic outline that I follow and add the specific tasks to the sections as they come and go.

Some come on as an FYI and then I drop them the next week. Some stay on for weeks at a time and are big meetings/projects and she expects me to give an update like “followed up by email with X on xx/Xx, will follow up again on X”
Currently I use Omnifocus for my tasks and then update a word document - but I’m really ADHD and I have a hard time keeping the word document updated during the week so I then feel like I waste an hour or so just prepping.

She’s a horrible micromanager (totally unaware) so it makes it that much worse

Oh good. that makes it more clear. I have my own “agenda” with my schedule and list of things to work on. But in this case you’re talking about the agenda to share with your boss.

Do you have a checklist of questions regarding each project

I wouldn’t worry about not using it enough. I admittedly didn’t use KM except for one thing - my end of day daily review. Then it slowly crept into my work life and I noticed myself doing something at least 3 times. That’s when I started figuring out how to automate certain things. Slowly I built up my KM library to around 20 macros that I use every week. You’ll find a place for it.

if there are enough Finder related events, you’ll find yourself using Hazel more often.


Do you have a checklist of all the items that needs to be discussed?

Maybe…

  • Who? - who has been delegated a task
  • What? - describe the current task being worked on for a project and possibly the next 2 or 3 tasks coming up.
  • When - Are there any scheduling conflicts or critical dates that we need to remember?
  • Where - an optional question for me. It’s usually the office location. But maybe there’s a workshop located somewhere else.
  • Why? - Has the goal changed or morphed? Sometimes a project has a different conclusion or result. It might be time to see if the goal no longer is aligned with the company with smaller returns

As long as you have a checklist for each agenda item, you’ll be sure all the bases are covered.

I use Omnifocus as a capture tool to assemble my agenda. Then transfer it over to a Word document or OmniOutliner to present to the group.

I’ve used KM to create text snippets to speed up the typing process. You can use TextExpander to do this as well. I can type .my to get Mary Young. Whenever I need to mention her, I just type in the abbreviation. I type in .de to expand to Delegated to:. Then .wf to represent Waiting for:. I use .@em to expand to followed up by email. next follow up: '.

I also have Hazel set to look in the download folder. If I rename something to \ag, Hazel will move that file to an Agenda inbox folder. It’s easier to look at all the downloads needed if they’re already in one place. I don’t have to double click a folder to open and move it in.

Maybe you can make a list of all the little things that gets repeated? A common text phrase? A Finder action where you move files around? Create an Outline template file to make it easier to fill in the blanks?

Setting up initially requires extra time but will save more time in the long run. Then the process of creating a weekly agenda isn’t as cumbersome.

I’ve seen Scotty Jackson from the OmniFocus Discourse and Slack channel using the Agenda app for his agenda. You might want to visit him at https://heyscottyj.com and ask! He does more meetings than me and might be able to post you in the right direction about his meeting workflow.

HTH

When reading this my first thought is to create a tag for your boss’ name and add it to every project and task you capture that she’s going to want a status update on.

Then you could create a custom perspective showing those tasks (active and completed) so you could very easily bring them up during the meeting or even write up a quick report beforehand and send it to her so your meeting is more efficient (I.e. spending less time asking “what’s the status of X” and instead talking through challenges and questions that come up). I’d imagine any busy manager would appreciate that.

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Great idea, @justindirose. But I like to CYA (Cover Your @$$). I need the printout of items discussed to make sure I didn’t miss anything. Boss or client might complain and tell me “I don’t recall you telling me this.” Then I can whip out the weekly agenda to show her “yes, I did discuss it with you. It’s here on the December 15 agenda notes.” Document everything!

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@wilsonng and @justindirose Thanks so much… I tried the boss tag but then everything had her tag so I decided to use tags to prioritize and also to assign them to the “topics” of our agenda. In theory, I should be able to pull up the topic and be ready to discuss at a moments notice.

OmniFocus has also helped me in creating SOPs. I am extremely ADHD and I never Can go from A to C without hitting Z first. My boss is a lateral thinker so Omnifocus has helped me add steps and then I can move them around and I have my checklist that I offload to an assistant to type up.

I wanted to use Asana since it syncs with Omni, and it would allow her to see my status updates anytime anywhere but she doesn’t like that idea. I have started using Skype with our entire team to have short convos vs. endless emails but she also refuses to use skype.

She is someone who I think the phrase “you can do it whatever way you want to, as long as it is my way.” She thinks she is being flexible but in reality, she is not so I am trying to help myself overcome that so I can stay in a state of Zen.

The positive is she is a methodical unemotional rational thinker who balances out my hyperactivity.

If I had to do a lot of meetings, I might give Agenda a shot. Thankfully, I am spared from daily and weekly meetings.

But here’s a link to what Scotty Jackson has about using Agenda for his meeting agendas.:

And Scotty returns once again to talk about his use of Shortcuts, Agenda, and OmniFocus.

Scotty is a frequent contributor in the Agenda Discourse community.

He is also seen tinkering in OmniFocus on the OmniFocus Slack Channel and the OmniFocus Discourse.

If this is the case, do the best you can to meet that without being unrealistic.

To be honest, OmniFocus may not be the best tool for you to manage this. You may want to just copy/paste a list of completed items into a note or email and send to her. But like @wilsonng said, documentation will be your friend.

@wilsonng and @justindirose Thank you so much for your feedback. I think the best thing to do would be to figure out a weekly status meeting agenda template that kicks butt and maybe set up some some automation of my own with KM, text expander, etc. And possibly Agenda down the line.

Do you have any recommendations on where to learn Markdown?

MT

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For Markdown, I’d start with the original spec at Daring Fireball. This will cover most of your needs.

https://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/syntax

It does look like Agenda has a “checklist” for you to check off.

I don’t use Agenda but I did tinker with it once upon a time. I didn’t find a use for it because I don’t do a lot of meetings.

But from what I recall, you can use it as a way to incorporate checklists and document progress in a project. OmniFocus isn’t great at creating reports or keeping a complete log.

I usually use OmniFocus for my own work but if I have to collaborate with others, perhaps a collaborative tool such as Asana or Todoist is appropriate?

I went a different route in learning Markdown. I tried Ulysses and hit Command-9 to make the “Markdown” window show in Ulysses. Then I dragged it to a different part of the screen. This creates a floating window showing all of the Markup codes. I would move it to the side of my screen and reference it every once in a while. I started using the basic such as bold, italics, and headers. After frequently writing in Ulysses, I got the hang of the markdown codes I used the most. But I’ll leave the floating window on the side for some of the other Markdown codes that I don’t use a lot.

Having on on-screen guide helped me a lot in. I don’t use all the markdown codes. I just needed to remember the ones I need the most. iA Writer and Ulysses seems to be a couple of the popular markdown editors I’ve played with.

:clap: :clap: :clap: for including a positive.

I have the same problem you have wrt wrangling agenda items for a person. I haven’t figured it out yet, but I wanted to share what I’m doing as a bandaid (and also share that I’m eyeing Agenda as a potential solution). I think it’s pretty close to what you’re doing already.

I create a task that basically says “Tell [Person] such and such.” and give it a due date of the meeting date and time, and also tag it with @Person.

I just went to my “boss,” who is my academic advisor and looked for some examples as an illustration.

For our meeting last Thursday, I had these as tasks in OF, some of them had notes or attachments. All of them were tagged Person: David and each belong to a different project where the task exists (and was likely created) in context:

  • Talk to David about timing of general exam
  • Talk to David about the Wb4LL cohort
  • Ask David if he’s heard from the committee about timing
  • Talk to David about applying for the BTtoP grant
  • Tell David about email from Gonzaga
  • Ask David about argument strategy for SOI
  • Talk to David about Phase 2 protocol edits

Good luck with solving this one, @jmichelt . It’s truly gnarly. Also, please let us know if you find something that works for you.

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I think I might just put all agenda items in Agenda and leave OmniFocus for my own actionable tasks. I usually use OmniFocus Quick Entry to capture items. But I might transfer something from the OmniFocus inbox to Agenda for discussion points. Then perhaps a link to a task in the OmniFocus project?

Thanks - So I think what I am settling on is using my existing Agenda Template and using the Headings as my tags.

Use waiting for @PERSONA when I am waiting for a person. I am going to set my weekly review to occur during my Prep session where I can just update my agenda based on the status of my projects.

In theory - everything in OmniFocus with work should appear on the agenda.

I am going to restructure it a bit though and include wins/challenges at the beginning and complete projects/tasks then things I need assistance with and finally status updates.

This allows me to highlight the positive, use the meeting to accomplish something (i find a weekly meeting extremely useless and think it should be at most every two weeks.) and then just have the run through at the end

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@10ch @wilsonng @justindirose

So, I made changes to my weekly agenda with my boss.

Every project in Omnfocus correlates to a work task I discuss weekly with my boss. I schedule my weekly review to occur in omnificus when I am preparing for the meeting.

In addition, I am using the applescript to show projects I’ve completed in the last week. We came to an agreement that we are going to cut back on status emails so if she emails me asking me a status of something, I am going to use a tag to display those specific things we need to discuss (so I dont have to remember them).

I may add additional applescripts to help me quickly put my agenda together. But I basically am taking the approach that my agenda is for me so instead of just focusing on status updates I have moved discussion topics to the beginning; as well as my wins/challenges from the prior week; and for my benefit we I have added completed project section (from the apple script) where they come off of the agenda after that week.

I am going to start using an excel sheet to track the projects I have completed and how long they take. I have a horrible time assigning durations to projects to this will help me figure out actual durations and use the information going forward as I assign other project duration time. (it will also help me compile an SOP which my boss would like to have because everything will be tracked and all in one place so easier to put together.) Omnifocus has helped be tremendously because it is very hard for me to go from A to C without going to M and P and Z first. I am able to move specific tasks around.

Thanks again everyone!

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Have you considered using a time tracker like Toggl? There are some pretty sweet integrations (iOS and Mac) which allow automation of time entry creation. I use it heavily to track project-related time so I don’t have to do it otherwise. Of course, this may not be useful (or allowed) to your company. Figured I’d give it a shout-out though!

Great work with all the AppleScript use, too. I’m not versed in writing it, but it’s extremely powerful when you can use it!

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I have considered it, especially since I now have a mac at work. I can probably use toggl even if it is blocked because while our security is super strict (work for a academic medical center); if a site is blocked and there is a business purpose they will add it to the whitelist pretty quickly (actually this site was blocked into a games category and they fixed it within 2 hours of me requesting it be whitelisted. Also, Mac users are not subject to the same security as windows users.

One of the challenges I have is at the office I utilize Office 365 on parallels in Windows 10. I really want to get into using Airmail 3 or Spark and Fantastical but it is a work in progress.

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So I just subscribed to SetApp, and they have Timing. Is there a reason you prefer Toggl over Timing? I am not opposed to making work pay for Toggl, but I’d like to know what it offers timing doesn’t.

Thanks (oh, and Merry Christmas)

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