I'll be honest, I enjoy reading productivity books about as much as I enjoy reading about riding a bicycle. I just don't find the advice very useful in my own life. "Productivity" books can feel a lot like a pyramid scheme where each subsequent author retells ideas from other books. I've rarely found a "self help" book that provided more value than David Allen's Getting Things Done. I do, however, enjoy a good technical manual which is what brought me to Kourosh Dini's "Creating Flow with OmniFocus" many years ago. The book was just updated for OmniFocus 3 and is well worth the price of admission for anyone using OmniFocus for complex task management.
"I suspect that many otherwise well-founded productivity systems collapse somewhere when lists grow unwieldy. It is for these reasons that unless we are in a planning mode, we systematically hide tasks that do not pertain to what we want in front of us now."
Creating Flow walks a fine line between a philosophy and technical guide. It's one third instruction manual, one third cautionary exposition, and one third philosophical analysis of task management. I'm not one to adopt philosophies that I don't create from first principles but I find Kourosh's suggestions compelling. The unique perspective is likely derived from Kourosh's own profession of psychiatry but with a practical approachability useful in many other fields.
My needs and approach to task management only overlap with Kourosh's at a high level. In some aspects we are simpatico, such as our aversion toward energy-level prioritization. In other aspects we couldn't be further apart, such as his strategy of moving tasks between projects and folders as work proceeds. The book acknowledges these likely conflicts and attempts to provide alternatives even if they are not part of his personal doctrine. Even with this balancing act, the tone never comes off as wishy-washy or contrived. Kourosh clearly lives in OmniFocus and offers his experience as a sort of trail guide for the lost. He carefully avoids a prescriptive town while still outlining his own use cases.
There are some new useful ideas in the book I've rarely seen elsewhere. The end of the book is entirely focused on the use of OmniFocus perspectives and templates in much more depth than even the Omnigroup teaches. While the book has significant documentation on the application settings, much of Kourosh's attention is on how switching between perspectives and Focus mode can sift through large task lists and maintain order. Kourosh provides some guidance on what he calls "Depth" and "Launch" views and how these can balance each other. None of these are required (or desirable) for my work but his explanation is useful in considering where friction arises in large, busy task lists.
Creating Flow with OmniFocus 3 is not really an application manual. It feels more like a continuation of the concepts David Allen espoused in Getting Things Done over a decade ago. It just so happens that Kourosh Dini is telling his story with OmniFocus as the backdrop. Many pages include footnote references to Getting Things Done. But it is all presented in the framework of OmniFocus' strengths and weaknesses.
My complaints are minor for this new version. First, there is much more focus on OmniFocus for Mac than for iOS. Where there is attention for iOS, it's mostly for the iPhone version. In my life, OmniFocus for the Mac is often the last place I want to work. Circumstances force me into working from iOS and advice for how to manage these complex workflows on a mobile device would provide me much more bang for the buck.
My second complaint may be more of a feature for many. Creating Flow with OmniFocus 3 relies on "creative" work examples heavily. While I'd prefer to do creative work, my day job is much more concerned with putting out spontaneous fires and managing groups of people. Few books have helped me with these problems. On the other hand, anyone that has a creative job involving the arts or a regular consistent schedule will have ideal use cases available in this book.
This update is available as a PDF download, which makes its a perfect reference for OmniFocus. I added it to an "Improve OmniFocus" project as reference material and put the task on hold. The PDF is only a search away from anywhere I have OmniFocus.
While I'm frustrated by some of Shortcuts gaps, it has solved some long standing problems. I use apps like Drafts less because I can do basic clipboard transformations with Shortcuts, triggered by Siri. Here are a few the clipboard Shortcuts I use the most.
Paste to Drafts
This is ...
I like pretty much everything David Sparks makes. He has good insight and generally soothing style. But, like many folks I've mostly given up on Apple's iBooks platform. I'm happy to see David transition to an all new learning platform for his wonderful field guides.
Siri Shortcuts ...
As a college student in the 90's I was relieved to get a computer. When I finished college all of my documents fit on about three floppy disks. I think school today requires a bit more knowledge management and I can't recommend the Devontech products enough. Get 40 ...
I’ve had a frustrated love affair with OmniFocus for many years. My bonafides with GTD, task managers, and OmniFocus is easily discovered here on Macdrifter. This article is concerned with the latest version of OmniFocus for iOS. I dedicated myself to running my home and work projects with nothing ...
GoodNotes is a terrific app for handwritten notes. I often need a combination of diagrams, text, and plain old doodles for meeting notes. The advantage of GoodNotes has always been its excellent handwriting recognition and export. But, I've switched to Notability since a recent update that adds handwriting recognition ...
As of last week the single largest use I had for Dropbox was DEVONthink syncing. I have 10 active databases all syncing thousands of documents between my Mac version and the iOS version. With DEVONthink’s encrypted sync, I rest pretty comfortably knowing that my data is guarded against Dropbox ...
Just when it feels like interest in workflow automation is dying, I discover a terrific new site: Automation Orchard. The new site has a terrific navigation and crosses over between iOS and Mac through a single portal. I also like that the site aggregates links from other sites to avoid ...
Some tags are naturally or inherently related to other tags. For example, any file associated with the tag core for Madrid (under the complex tagging model) should also be associated with Spain. In a sense, the tag Madrid implies the tag Spain. This can be ...
I’m skeptical of any proscriptive system that claims to solve the problem of information capture and recall. At one time the Franklin Covey system was the "fix" for a busy schedule. Then there was the miracle of the PDA that attempted to replicate the function of paper with the ...
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