I am always interested in doing a performance review to refine my workflows. When something doesn’t feel quite right, I’d like to get to the root of the problem. I introduced a workflow where I arranged my workflow in OmniFocus into a group of planning perspectives (located at the top toolbar in OmniFocus) and a group of doing perspectives (located at the left sidebar). You can revisit that workflow here:
(July 18, 2017)
It’s almost a year later now and I noticed my workflow slowly changing. My doing workflow remained the same but I felt some friction in my planning workflow.
This was what my review workflow looked like:
I started my review workflow with these perspectives:
I performed a planning review at the end of each day:
When I am doing intensive planning, I would work in perspectives six through ten:
7. Contexts (now called Tags in OmniFocus 3)
My doing perspectives in the left sidebar was fine. I flowed easily between perspectives throughout the day.
Remaking the Planning Workflow
TL;DR: I moved Due out of my daily review. I can view due tasks in the Forecast. I eliminated Flagged perspective because I usually flag in the Menu perspective.
My planning perspectives didn’t feel quite right. I was using a few perspectives on a daily basis (Inbox, Review, Forecast). But there were other planning perspectives (Due and Flagged) I ignored because I didn’t feel as much value in them on a daily basis. The idea behind the large planning perspective group looked good in theory but I rarely found myself using a lot of them.
A perspective should be used during a distinct workflow. After a year of experimenting, I needed to re-clarify the purpose of each perspective. I am not a big fan of having long reviews. I used to do a weekly review every Sunday morning that lasted up to 3 hours. That was way too much time for me to dedicate in one time period. I also noticed which planning perspectives I used during my End of the Day review and which planning perspectives were infrequently touched. I decided to shorten my daily review. I broke up my planning perspectives into two groups:
The EOD Review (End Of Day)
I have my Due for iOS app set to nag me to review near the end of my workday. I open OmniFocus and check these four perspectives.
- Visit my Forecast perspective to review any deferred and due tasks that weren’t finished today. I also look at the schedule for the next two days to determine how much free time I have. I also look head to see what’s coming up in the next couple of days.
- Go to the Inbox to process any new inbox items that I have here.
- Review any projects that appear here. I have projects pop in here every day. Projects that have a lot of changes get reviewed more frequently. On Hold projects and any active projects that don’t have a lot of changes will appear weekly or monthly.
- Check my Menu for available tasks to work on. This perspectives shows all of my available tasks. I can flag any task (not due) to force it to appear in my Dashboard. My Dashboard perspective (or Today) shows only due or flagged tasks. The Dashboard is a more focused version of the menu.
I shrank my End of Day Review workflow down to these four perspectives. Everything else is moved into the Planning perspectives group.
My Planning Perspectives
These are general maintenance perspectives that I do not use daily but will need them every once in a while.
- Visit the default Project perspective to perform project curation. I preview my tasks grouped by projects here.
- Check into the default Contexts perspective to see remaining tasks grouped by context. OmniFocus 3 has renamed this perspective to Tags.
- Project log shows all of my completed tasks grouped by projects. There are times when I need to see what I completed in a particular project.
- The Completed perspective shows all of my tasks grouped by completion date. It’s a great way to see how many tasks I completed in a particular time period.
- The On Hold perspective shows any projects that are on hold. This is the direct opposite of my [Big Rocks perspective] which shows all active projects. I visit this perspective when I have finished a currently active Big Rock project or if I need to review a project and I’m trying to kickstart it.
- I can look at the Due perspective when I want to see due items that are much farther into the time horizon. I can view due tasks in the near future by looking at the Forecast.
- The Schedule perspective is something I’m still playing with. It shows a list of tasks grouped by defer date. I’m unsure what I’m doing with this but it might be handy to see older tasks and delete them if they are no longer relevant.
- Everybody should have a Changed perspective. This allows me to review any items I may have changed. I might need to undo or revise a task here.
- The Stale perspective shows all of my projects grouped by Add date. As old projects grow stale, I might consider deleting it or delegating it to someone else.
These nine perspectives are planning perspectives but I don’t need to review them every day. I use them when needed.
The Inactive perspectives
I have just one perspective that I no longer use: the Flagged perspective. I flag and un-flag projects and tasks in the Contexts perspective or my Menu perspective. This perspective became obsolete because I rarely visited it. I might reconsider this default perspective at a later date. But for now, it gets placed in a section called Inactive. I might have other perspectives that I no longer use here.
Breaking up the perspectives
Hopefully, a future version of OmniFocus will allow us to group perspectives. For now, I used a fake perspective to give headers. I have headers for EOD Review, Planning, Checklists, and Inactive.
Here is what my new workflow looks in OmniFocus 3 for iOS:
- Look at your OmniFocus perspectives and see how your perspectives are grouped.
- Create a daily review perspectives workflow where you can review just the necessary projects and tasks. This is your daily review workflow.
- Move everything else to a Planning group. This is your planning workflow when you need to do general maintenance on your projects and lists.
It’s interesting to see how small subtle shifts in workflows happen after using OmniFocus on a daily basis. I actually look forward to doing the dreaded daily review now. I feel comfortable knowing that it won’t take long. Currently, I spend about 10-15 minutes on the End of Day review workflow. All of the other planning perspectives are grouped separately away from my End of Day Review group. I’m ready and primed for the next day.
I’m looking for new ways to change my review period. It doesn’t have to be a drastic makeover. It can be a subtle move such as grouping my perspectives. Share some of your tricks and ideas of what workflow tweaks you may have made over the last year. This is an experiment that started in OmniFocus 1 and is still going on today.