Can paper replace OmniFocus?

Can paper replace OmniFocus?
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(Justin DiRose) #21

I feel like this system could rock really well in a Bullet Journal format. Have a spread for active projects, on-hold projects, and for your project list. Your “dashboard” could be your daily list from reviewing your current projects. Contexts seem like they would be different though. You would probably have to limit contexts to tasks that can take place only within that context, and are best described by context (vs. say a project).

Obviously you’d lose the slice and dice tech that OF allows. I also think you’d have to rely on your calendar more to help remind you of time-bound tasks vs. due alarms.

The more I type this post out, the more I think I might be able to get away with a system like this.


(Wilson Ng) #22

Slicing and dicing with OF will be missed but trimming down a workflow to the bare essentials will be important in focusing. I think I might not miss the slice and dice if I had to get back to paper. I readjust my workflow and will probably still find my workflow smoothly running.


(Joe Buhlig) #23

I can’t say this is necessarily a bad thing. It would simply force a different system altogether. And as Wilson mentioned, simpler.

This is important but only to those who don’t already do this. I do. I still use tool and location contexts extensively. It wouldn’t be too hard to find a way to carry the days potential tasks around this way. Or maybe the lists themselves are at the locations. There’s not much need for my church list at home. I can only work on it at the church.


(Wilson Ng) #24

I do have a notebook at the office that I use. I refer to omnifocus and write down a few tasks to work on today at the office.

I have another notebook at the house for today’s tasks.

I carry my hipsterPDA and it contains a list of the errand items when I’m outside.

I normally don’t refer to omnifocus on my iPhone to look at the list of today’s activities. It’s easier to open my notebook at the house or office when I’m at those locations. It’s also easier to walk around with my errands index card when I’m outside.

I use paper this week so I can resist opening my iPhone and refer to omnifocus. When I’m done looking at omnifocus, I might get distracted. Since I have my iPhone in hand, I may as well open twitter or Facebook. That leads me down through the rabbit hole of distraction. I stay focused when I don’t have my iPhone in hand.


(Joe Buhlig) #25

Interesting. I tend to only use the hPDA for writing down new things.

It sounds like you have more of a paper system than digital, Wilson. OmniFocus appears to be mostly cold storage and reference form a task standpoint. But all working processes are on paper. Is that fair?


(Wilson Ng) #26

OmniFocus for storage and Paper for execution

Yes, I do miss paper and this was a compromise. For tasks, I’m running a hybrid. I use the digital system to store everything. Then I work from paper. It doesn’t feel redundant. It’s more of an intentional process. I made my decisions about what to work on today and put those intentions on paper. I don’t decide from OmniFocus anymore.

This was my self defense mechanism against distraction. If I reach for my iPhone, I go into iPhone mode. I’ll check OmniFocus but then I get distracted and check Twitter, Facebook, or whatever news alert comes my way. If I am in doing mode, I’ll go to my notebooks or hPDA. There are no notifications. No distractions. The notebooks have my tasks and nothing else.

I’ve been doing this for a year now with varying results. Sometimes I’ll go back to digital but I eventually return to my current workflow. I think I’m getting more comfortable with the notebooks at home or the office. I’m thinking of just getting a whiteboard and erasable markers for the house for my honey-do list around the house. We’ll see what happens.

It’s interesting to see the analog vs digital struggle in my life.

I use the hPDA to write down my errands tasks. But if I need to capture new information or tasks, I just flip it to the other side and capture new inputs. I fear that I might take out my iPhone while shopping and then leave it in the shopping cart to grab something from the shelves. Then it just takes a simple distraction and someone swipes the iPhone out of the shopping cart. If I don’t take out my iPhone, I won’t lose it. Sometimes I hate fumbling for my iPhone when the hPDA is more convenient to capture. I’ll use the iPhone to take pictures of items at Home Depot for my home renovation project.

I’ve seen a friend of mine using his Kindle. I asked him why didn’t he use Kindle on his iPad or iPhone. He said it was distracting. If he wants to read his Kindle book, he might get distracted and play a quick game of Plants vs Zombies or hit Facebook and WhatsApp.

For my journal, I go digital with Day One. Sometimes, I might write on paper but then I’ll take a snapshot of it with the iPhone and capture it into Day One.

In the end…

I don’t think it’s necessary to replace all my analog systems with digital. They can work hand-in-hand. But I can easily go back to analog if needed. Digital promises easier workflows but sometimes analog does the job better because it’s a simpler structure and probably more bulletproof.


(Joe Buhlig) #27

Update time. I tried @wilsonng’s method of using the hPDA for my task list for the day…

Dumpster fire. Won’t be doing that again.

However, it did teach me that I really needed to redo my OmniFocus contexts. So guess what I did?! New contexts! Which means I’m now working on a full article on the bit. :wink:


(Wilson Ng) #28

I used the hPDA mostly for errands only on one side and flip it over to the reverse side to capture.

For my office and house, I have separate notebooks at each location to write down today’s task list.

Looking forward to checking out your context reboot.


(Justin DiRose) #29

I’m so burnt out on screens today, I’m thinking paper again. Obviously, this is a very emotional moment. OmniFocus mostly fits the bill for me, but, as one article I read puts it, I’m only forcing myself to stare at a screen all the more.

Screens make me feel so much less present.
I took my journal out and began to process through my goals. I was not only able to do that, but pay attention to my son and avoid cramping my muscles while doing it.

However, I’m not convinced GTD would be a system I would follow.

Who else uses paper and uses a system other than GTD?


(Joe Buhlig) #30

Weren’t you trying out the Bullet Journal at one point? What happened there?


(Justin DiRose) #31

Yes I tried it halfway for a few days. But it wasn’t the full on Bullet Journal system. I used some hybrid mess of OF, paper, and other stuff which led it all to fail because I wasn’t fully committed one way or another.


(Wilson Ng) #32

Screens make me feel less focused. That’s why I use OmniFocus as my bucket list to hold all the stuff. Then I pick a handful of tasks or projects to work on. I write those down on a notepad and get to work on the notebook. The more I look at OmniFocus (or whatever task app), the more disconnected I feel.

I work on my planning phase in OmniFocus and Doing phase on paper.

For now, it’s the only way I can work. But I guess it’s because I’m not always in front of a computer all the time?

I wonder how it would work for someone that has to sit in front of a screen? That would allow for too many interruptions. E-mails keep surging in, notifications are binging at you. It drove me crazy (in another life and another job many years ago) and I had to turn off everything.


(Joe Buhlig) #33

Do you have a whiteboard? :smile: This is something that has been amazing for me and it’s actually a very big part of my working day. I’ll use the whiteboard to sketch out the layout of a website or even the file structure of a new plugin. Sometimes it’s even a place to do a brain dump or lay out all my projects per day of the week. It’s rarely for long-term use cases but it’s great for short-term, temporary writing.

I bring this up because I try to split up my working bursts with either the whiteboard, a notepad, a phone call, etc… That let’s me cycle between them throughout the day and saves me the constant staring at a lightbulb.


(Joe Buhlig) #34

Me and the whiteboard are going to spend some time together this afternoon. I’m learning where OmniFocus works and where it doesn’t for me. Collecting notes for a write-up on this for sure. :+1:


(Josh Rensch) #35

I think you are missing something…

https://www.amazon.com/Sticky-Notepads-Different-Designs-Lifetime/dp/B01KMVV5PA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1505739723&sr=8-1&keywords=emoji+post+it+notes


(Justin DiRose) #36

I’m almost convinced now OF can be replaced by paper. Definitely so in it’s entirety if you’re willing to deal with a little overhead. And very much so if you can mix some high level planning tools in.


(Wilson Ng) #37

I’ve minimized the digital by only using it as a bucket list. Then on a daily basis, I transfer a small selection (3 most important tasks) plus a handful of flagged or optional tasks and one Big Rock project to focus on.

Then I put away OmniFocus until the end of the day or when I am capturing something. But then again I can capture on the Hipster PDA and transfer later to omnifocus.

but yeah, paper does look like a feasible workflow with some adjustments to how we plan the day out.


(Joe Buhlig) #38

You mentioned this in your journal. How are you handling your contexts? Or with Agile Results, did you abandon them?

I’ve started a process on my whiteboard that takes care of some of my higher level planning. But it’s a level I’ve never done before so I have no idea if this will actually work or not.

I’m still loading up the board at the moment but the general concept is simple. I write the name of the project on a big Post-It and put it where it belongs. I’ll eventually figure out the metadata I want on each card like the start/finish dates, level of complexity, who’s doing the work, half payment made or not, etc… Right now I just need the big picture.

The Active column in the middle has week numbers on it so I know which projects I’m handling each week and can see when I free up.

The colors tell me the dollar size of the project. From lowest to highest, green, orange, and pink. Again, this gives me a nice visual.

I don’t know how this will work out in the long run. I had a slight overwhelmed moment on Sunday and needed to do something to give me a handle on what I have moving. And this came out of it.


(Justin DiRose) #39

I abandoned them. I never really relied on them anyway, so it wasn’t difficult.

It’s really been all about the visuals for me. I really like your approach here.

I just realized I didn’t respond to this. I don’t either in my work cubicle or at home. My home office is in flux right now with a new baby on the way. I may be losing it!

I think I’ll be looking into one for work. For right now I’m using a legal pad. Works pretty ok at the office.

“Become one with the lightbulb. Become one with the lightbulb. Become one with the…”


(Joe Buhlig) #40

I recorded an episode with Drew for #whims yesterday about this. But I’ll give you a sneak peak here.

I’m in the middle of a trial run on this. I have learned a lot in my short span with a notebook as my primary and I can already tell that I’ll need to rebuild it at least once. Here’s a look at my index of lists:

The big takeaway at the moment is the clarity of using tools for a singular purpose and the lack of a specific structure for tracking my tasks. Any task manager has a way the designers expect you to use it. Analog tools don’t do that. You can do whatever you like. When I go to write down project support ideas, I don’t have to worry about making it text. I can just draw a picture. :framed_picture:

Again, I’m in my infancy with this but it’s looking like something I’ll give a few months before making a full decision on it.