Using Omnifocus Appropriately

For a long time I've been an OmniFocus user that drank the coolaid and put everything in to Omnifocus, no matter how small the idea was. Inspired by a Mac Power Users episode with Merlin Mann I've recently spent a bunch of time pulling information back out of OmniFocus though because it was just a bad idea to put everything there.

In the episode they talk a bunch about using text files for storage of items and it made me realize (maybe it should have been obvious) that OmniFocus is really only for items that are actionable. Storing random ideas for application reviews, which often only consist of the name of the application, is not a good use of OmniFocus. I can't do Wunderlist so it's not an actionable item and why is it in OmniFocus?

I certainly want to capture my idea to review GTD/TODO applications and the titles that I find as I'm reading the web but until I'm actually ready to sit and write the post on an application it's not an actionable item and should be stored somewhere else.

Enter the Text File

With the above relvelation around I moved all of my ideas for any blog post in to text files with the following format 'blog-ideax-{blogname}.txt'. Again going back to the MPU episode ending with an x makes sure that any type of searching I do will only result in the 3 blog idea files I have and not random other files with the words blog-idea in them.

I took this further when working with my DVD's. I've been in the process of ripping every physical disc to my computer. I've done about 230 and have a few items left like double discs and TV shows. Previously I had a list in OmniFocus that had all of the names of the DVD's in it. Sure I can 'rip' each of these titles but again it just seems like too much overhead to me. All of the titles moved in to 'todox-dvd-rip.txt'. So when I want to sit down and rip a few new discs I can put in an OmniFocus task to rip some DVD's and use the list to strike out the ones I've already done.

I've sat with this new scenario for a few days and I think that I've reduced the number of items I need to review/sort in OmniFocus without loosing track of things I want track. Since I'm syncing all of these files with Dropbox (affiliate) I also have the ability to easily add items from my iPhone with any one of the number of text based applications out there. Sure there is an OmniFocus iPhone client but to drill down in to a project then add a new application that I want to review always felt pretty cumbersome from the iPhone and dealing with it a second time from the desktop felt like a waste of time.


I paid for all of the applications myself but most of the links above are affiliate links.