On Trusted Systems

One of the side effects of switching from iOS to Android was my quest to find good cross-platform tools to accomplish all of the things I was already doing with my iPhone. This meant making some compromises and getting rid of some apps I have been using for years. One of the biggest casualties was OmniFocus. If you don’t know what OmniFocus is, it’s a task-management system that allows you to categorize to-do items with very powerful filtering so you can easily capture and show tasks that you need to be doing in a particular context (that is, a place or type of job).

In an effort to find something like OmniFocus, I tried a few similar apps, and finally settled on Wunderlist. While it’s a good enough app, I slowly fell off the wagon of truly trusting the system I was using to track tasks. I also took for granted how easy it was to add a task to OmniFocus via Siri (once OmniFocus is set up to pull in reminders, you simply tell Siri “remind me to…” and it’ll automatically be added to your list, for sorting later). Once you stop trusting the list as THE place to go for all of your to-do items, it has nearly zero value to you. The tasks you do add are too large to really break down into actionable chunks, and once this happens, the inertia of a bad list takes over, making it even more difficult to use a list of any kind.

One of the most important aspects of the GTD system of task management is breaking down every project or goal into the smallest, achievable tasks so that blockers can be eliminated and progress toward completion can be made. Wunderlist just wasn’t doing that for me. So, I’ve decided to switch back to OmniFocus, even if that means I won’t have access to viewing my tasks on Android (there is no Android app for OmniFocus to sync with). What I have done instead is found an Android app that allows you to add items to the iCloud reminders list, which allows me to at least quickly capture tasks when they come to mind. I will sort these items when I’m at a computer or on my iPad, which I have with me almost all of the time.

Is this an ideal solution? Not exactly, but it gets me back in the habit of doing daily reviews in the morning and weekly reviews over coffee on the weekends. I’ve been going with this approach for about 2 weeks now and I already feel like a lot of that mental clutter is gone, which is extremely valuable to me. Being able to trust that a list is the place that I dump any and all tasks in my brain is a huge burden lifted from a forgetful guy like myself, and has helped me stay more productive at work and able to get things done around the house as well.

As Cinderella once said, You Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone). If feels good to be back in OmniFocus land – and I’m really looking forward to the v2 updates for the Mac and the iPad – whenever those actually land.

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