There’s a lot to be said for turning the tasks in your productivity system into guides. Instead of checking OmniFocus to see if you need to wash the dishes or do the laundry, you’re better served by taking notice of the dishes or clothes that are piling up and then acting on that guide. After considering the role of guides vs. tasks, I’ve found there’s been a great weight lifted off of me in regards to task management. I used to have silly tasks popping up in my OmniFocus Dashboard every day. Things like “wash dishes”, “do laundry”, “brush teeth” and “take out the trash”. I then made them Considered Tasks for a while, with names like “Consider taking out the trash”. This was just as bad. Some things are best left to guides. Go through your task manager and see what mundane tasks can be left to guides. In OmniFocus, you can assign these tasks to a “Retired Habits” context that’s placed “On Hold”. Try living without these tasks for a few weeks and see if you’re functioning just as well without seeing them pop up flagged and screaming for your attention. If the guides are working, delete the tasks. If they aren’t maybe you need to work on building the habit a little more.
The best way I’ve found to improve the effectiveness of guides is to make the guides more visibile. An inbox or laundry basket with a lid is harder to see than an inbox or laundry basket without a lid. Lidded baskets allow us to shove things in, close the lid and not see what’s really there. It’s why we buy cabinets for books, videos and games that we don’t want to see—because we know that deep down we don’t really need all these things. Also, make the baskets smaller. A small laundry basket with no lid on it is going to fill up much faster than a bigger one, and with no lid to keep keep the mountain of dirty clothes at bay, the erupting volcano of laundry will get your attention in a much less nagging way than a due or flagged task in a task manager.
So, let’s bring this idea of guides to health. Our ancestors didn’t worry about eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. They found food when they could and they ate when they wanted. It’s our manmade workday that’s forced us into meals. Meals are like tasks. They are scheduled events that we think we have to get done. We should be thinking about hunger and meals the same way we think about guides and tasks. If we relied on our hunger to be our guide, we’d eat when we are hungry—instead of when we think we should eat. This idea is central to the Primal Blueprint. So while you’re trying to use your guides for handling household chores, try listening to your body about when it’s time to eat.
Another nifty script for OmniFocus. It’s called Fixxxer. It does two things. If you run it with no arguments, it will remove colonized prefixes from task names. If you pass it an argument, it will add that argument as a prefix to selected tasks. It’s LaunchBar-ready. If you want to turn off the confirmation dialog, set
use AppleScript version "2.4" -- Yosemite (10.10) or later use scripting additions use O : script "omnifocus" use OmniFocus : application "OmniFocus" -- If you want to play it safe, set nagMePlease to true property nagMePlease : true on run if nagMePlease then set question to display dialog "Do you want to remove all prefixes?" if button returned of question is "OK" then removePrefixes() end if else removePrefixes() end if end run on handle_string(argv) tell O to setPrefix(selectedItems(), argv) end handle_string on removePrefixes() tell O to clearPrefixAll(selectedItems()) display notification ¬ "All prefixes removed." with title "Fixxxer" end removePrefixes
I wrote another cool little tool using my AppleScript library. It’s called Considered. It also handles things having to do with colons and prefixes, but specifically the Consider: prefix. If you’re unfamiliar with considered tasks, read all about them here. Instead of trying to set task names to something like “Consider reviewing” with the ing, I opted for Kourosh Dini’s prefix-style considered tasks where you just add Consider: as a prefix. It’s simpler and easier to script. Here’s the code (using my OmniFocus library, of course.)
use AppleScript version "2.4" -- Yosemite (10.10) or later use scripting additions use O : script "omnifocus" use OmniFocus : application "OmniFocus" on run tell O to toggleConsider(selectedItems()) end run on handle_string(argv) if argv is "set" then tell O to setConsider(selectedItems()) else if argv is "clear" then tell O to clearConsider(selectedItems()) end if end handle_string
It’s a pretty nifty script that will toggle consider prefixes on and off. It’s set up to accept an argument with LaunchBar (either “set” or “clear”) to flip the considered switch one way or the other no matter what the current state.
I just whipped up a neat little script that uses the latest version of my OmniFocus Library. It’s called Colonize. You can use it to select some tasks in OmniFocus, and then if you run
Colonize.scpt, it’ll switch the first word of the task name into a prefix or into a bare word if the first word is already a prefix. This makes handling tasks like
Review daily logs and
Review: daily logs easy.
Here’s the code:
use AppleScript version "2.4" -- Yosemite (10.10) or later use scripting additions use O : script "omnifocus" use OmniFocus : application "OmniFocus" on run tell O to toggleColon(selectedItems()) end run on handle_string(argv) if argv is "set" then O's setColon(selectedItems() of O) else if argv is "clear" then O's clearColon(selectedItems() of O) end if end handle_string
You will, of course, need my library installed first. This script is set up to work with LaunchBar already. If you pass “set” or “clear” to the script (or on the command line), instead of toggling, it’ll blank set or clear colons.
The last bag on my list of Tom Bihn bags to write about is the Daylight Backpack (DLBP). Like its cousin the Daylight Briefcase, it’s cheap, lightweight and lacking a lot of the niceities of its more expensive brethren. That’s not to say it’s a bad bag though. In fact, since I purchased the DLBP, I’ve used it more than all my other previously purchases—and more expensive—backpacks. The main reason being, because it lacks a lot of the heavier parts of the more expensive bags and because it is 99% made of Dyneema, the DLBP is really lightweight.
The DLBP has a diagonal zip on the front of the bag and inside the main compartment, there are two staggered pockets of shallow to medium depth and one main area that goes all the way down the bag. Aaaaaaand that’s it. You’re done. No more organization. The backpack straps are plain nylon webbing. There’s no mesh back panel. No hooks for chest or waist straps. It’s as barebones as it can be. But that’s okay. Because it’s light and if purchased in Dyneema, you can roll it up and stick it inside a larger bag and make it purely a day pack. The lack of bulk and weight, which could only be achieved by removing all the fancy schmancy parts of most Tom Bihn, is key to the DLBP’s utility. Don’t buy it as your only bag. Don’t buy it to be a laptop backpack, because it doesn’t use the Cache/Rails system. But it’s perfect when you need an extra bag just in case you need one, but don’t want to carry another bag because you might not need one. It’s an awesome “backup bag”. And it’s only $80 bucks.