Quick GTD introduction video by Epipheo

Comparing the todo list with something familiar, such as the calendar, makes it exceptionally easy to comprehend the core of GTD.

This video illustrates an interview with David Allen where he talks about how to get things out of your head and into a trusted system, making the mind free to focus and be creative.

OmniFocus 2 for iPhone manual available for free

The Omni group have just released a manual for OmniFocus 2 for iPhone for free in the iBooks Store. I haven’t had the chance to read it yet, but I have a feeling that any seasoned OmniFocus user will not find it especially enlightening.

I do however like the fact that they decided to publish it in the iBooks Store. This means that I will always have it available if needed, without having to resort to keeping it in Dropbox or have a link bookmarked somewhere.

Focused distractions

In a world where more than a handful of devices1 constantly demand your attention, there is no question that distractions play a vital part of everyday life. Not only do all devices want to inform you of something potentially mundane, most of the time they want to bother you with the exact same message on every single device you own. Since notifications rarely sync their read state, you would have to clear the exact same message on all devices separately. This madness has to stop.

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  1. I use and receive notifications in my MacBook Air, iPad Mini Retina and iPhone, and I think I’m far from alone with that particular device configuration. 

How to use Gmail more efficiently using stars and multiple inboxes

Andreas Klinger describes an interesting approach to managing your Gmail inbox using a combination of the principles of Inbox Zero and GTD.

Without using any plugins, messages can easily be marked as having different statuses using custom stars while still having a good overview from the main Gmail view. The basic premise:

  • An easy to manage, usually empty inbox on the left
  • All "todos" in the first box
  • All emails "awaiting a reply" in the second
  • All “delegated” emails in the third
  • All emails related to meetings, flights, etc easy to find in the fourth
  • All done with 0 plugins, using only standard gmail features

There is just one thing keeping me from adopting this technique – I rarely use the normal Gmail interface, instead relying on apps such as Mailbox and AirMail. Not being able to use the entire workflow regardless of device will just make me not use it at all.

A lifesaver for me has been the OmniFocus Mail Drop service together with OmniFocus for keeping track of todos and waiting fors, but that is a post on its own.

Todoist Next

Todoist has just been updated and seems to have become a serious GTD contender, supporting contexts among other things. One thing it has going for it compared to Omnifocus is platform support, with clients for iOS, Android, Mac OS, Windows and even the web.

Most features seem to require a premium account though, which is why reviewing it properly will probably not happen.

Tracking habits using Omnifocus

I was recently introduced to an iOS application called Lift, which helps you achieve new habits in a social fashion. Enter the habits you wish to track and when completing a habit for the day, just mark it as done to see it disappear only to return the next morning.

Lift features tracking of days done and missed, as well as streaks and is gamified with awards for achieving certain milestones. The social aspect comes from the ability to comment and like all checked in habit events, as well as the ability to add your own comment when completing a habit.

Having to check multiple applications for todos feels counterproductive, so I tried replicating tracking habits using Omnifocus, which is already being used for everything task related.

The end result will look something like this:

Start by creating a single actions project called Habits, perhaps in your Maintenance folder. Add all habits you wish to track to the list, and assign them a context of Habits. The actions have been set to repeat every day, so adjust accordingly.

Then create a perspective similar to the following image. Note that the Habits context has been selected, and the main sidebar has been hidden prior to creating the perspective, giving you a clean list.

The reason for creating the Habits context and not just create a perspective using the projects view is that the iOS apps seem to ignore all perspectives using the projects view mode.

Now just drag you newly created perspective to your toolbar and start tracking!

There are of course some glaring pieces missing compared to the Lift app, but it could be a small price to pay for having everything conveniently integrated in Omnifocus.

An emotional take on contexts

A slightly different take on contexts in GTD which, instead of compartmentalizing the current tools at you disposal, focuses on the emotional outcome of completing a particular action.

Planning for the unknown

The author of Simplicitybliss writes about The Planning Fallacy and that we always underestimate the time when planning ahead.

Use a “Next Action” list instead of a daily todo list and work off it as much as you can while dealing with all the ad-hoc stuff showing up – this list represent commitments you need to get done, there is no obligation to complete all or any of them today

This is one of the main reasons I use GTD. Having the ability to take on ad-hoc work, knowing exactly what will be held back and what the consequences of taking on unplanned work can lead to.