What do you do when the system you have built is no longer a fit for you needs?

Hi everyone,

So as you can probably tell by the heading, I have sort of outgrown my system in a way. Basically the structure of my days has now shifted dramatically and I am finding myself not trusting my system as much as I used to. I’ve also found, my monthly and weekly reviews have have started to create alot of friction.

I don’ t want to burn the system to the ground, so before I throw the baby out with the bath water i’ve got to ask the following; When there has been a dramatic shift in your life, how have you adapted your system to meet this change?

I actually just went through this a few weeks ago.

I think there’s a few different approaches you can take to something like this:

  1. Big Picture Evaluation
    You can take a look at your overall system and ask yourself, “What’s not working, and what could work better?” Instead of focusing on incremental changes, you can make broad-stroke decisions like I did above by moving away from OmniFocus.

  2. Eliminate Friction
    Another way to approach it is to identify why things aren’t working in your current system. You mention reviews are creating friction. Why is that? Is there something particular about them? Or just the time commitment? If you identify a big picture item here causing major friction, you may have to resort to option 1.

  3. Nuclear

Sometimes nuke and paving is the only way to get a feel for what you need now. Do I advocate this primarily? No. But if you can’t get a sense of what is working for you now in this season (especially if it’s not a temporary season of busyness or something like that), you might want to start from scratch. Take what you’ve learned from the last season and reconstruct a system from what you know works for you and some experiments to try in the new season with your new needs.

Let us know if you get stuck! We’d be happy to help.

1 Like

@justindirose thank you for your response. This is very helpful.

After reading your post, I am thinking about shifting to something more analog for the time being and leaving OF in the background as it is without burning it down.

That’s exactly what I did. I’m still performing my analog Bullet Journal experiment, and it’s going pretty well. At the very least I’m gaining more perspective on how things work!

1 Like

I’ve been through this a couple times and I think it’s a good thing to look at annually with or without any changes to your life.

My approach is:

  1. Do a full review of all my tools/contexts to remove anything extraneous, unecessary, and to re-write tasks and items that are not perfectly clear. This helps to get your brain very familiar with what you actually have captured today.

  2. “Lift the helicopter”: Write down large goals, focus areas, broad responsibilities. (mind mapping tools are good here)

  3. Attach projects/tasks to those items (still in notes). This is where brainstorming really starts. Capture ideas greedily.

Once you have these notes, you can think clearly about system tuning, a full system re-start, or an entirely different system altogether. Once you pick a direction, it’s a question of transposing your notes into your system.


Don’t forget to curate everything you collected in your system. Stalled projects, zombie projects, and dead tasks can start littering your system and makes it frustrating to look at.

I like to cull the fat once every six months. Delete zombie projects and tasks. Delegate projects to others who might have better skill sets capable of handling the project. Or research the project further to clarify the next actions. When I have no clue about how to work on a project outside of my skill set, I can start looking at screencasts or find someone who can mentor me on a new skill set or delegate to them.

Cleaning up after myself has been great in maintaining a mean, lean machine. Life will eventually clog up my system. Then I know I’ll need to give my system a haircut once again.


Definitely. Great advice. I actually like to do this every month.


Great advice, thanks!

I’ve just shifted to Bujo, I think one of my main issues was I was trying to make omnifocus fit to my workflow and having to intergrate a bunch of different apps to make it work. I’m trialing Bujo for a couple of months because of its flexibility as I can completely customise it to my needs instead of sacrificing my needs because of its limitations.


Welcome to the land of analog! Feel free to start another topic if you have any questions on it. I’m only a couple of months ahead of you, but I think we all could figure something out together if we get stuck.

1 Like