~An Advanced GTD User’s Paradise

[Added – links to all posts in the eight-part series]

An Advanced GTD User’s Paradise
Perspective is Everything with OmniFocus
The Most Important View is Review
Adding a Personal Touch to Contexts
Playing the Waiting Game
What To Do With All That Information?
Which Search is the Best Search
Customizing OmniFocus – the Pathway to Power

While I believe a web-based GTD offering like Nozbe to be the best starter kit for the new GTD’er, those with more advanced needs may find, as I did, that Omnifocus has a great deal to offer.

Customized OmniFocus Toolbar
Customized OmniFocus Toolbar


I would be remiss if I didn’t start by pointing out some of the caveats of using OmniFocus before discussing the mouth watering details I found to be so irresistible, so read this list carefully.  If you are new to GTD or a Windows user, you may want to start with something simpler like Nozbe, or stay with what you’re using now if these qualifications are not appropriate for your circumstances.

  1. OmniFocus is a Mac client application and needs to run on OS X.  It does not install or work with Windows and is not a web-based application, though the OmniFocus iPhone application is one of the best (in my opinion, the best) GTD client available for iPhone.
  2. You will need to install the application on each computer on which you expect to access your GTD, though a single license will work for a desktop and laptop as long as you’re using one machine at a time.
  3. Most user’s find the learning curve fairly steep, so this application is not for the faint of heart, though there are video tutorials, a user’s guide, a very active support community, and support Ninjas (more about that later) to help you get started on your journey to GTD nirvana.

Having said all of that, if you are a Mac user, are willing to learn, and serious about GTD; read on to learn about what I believe to be the best of breed for GTD applications.  This application is so immense that I’ll be presenting my experiences in a series of posts over the next few weeks.

Let’s Start with some History

As any regular reader of this blog already knows, I used Nozbe regularly for over a year.  By regular, I mean I used the application at least five days a week and managed hundreds of training projects in that period of time.  And I don’t mean shopping lists, projects around the home, doctor’s appointments and the like, though there is nothing wrong with managing those activities with a GTD application, many do.  I was managing real IT training projects, some of which had hundreds of tasks, with many of those tasks delegated to others.

In February of this year, during some mandatory down time, away from my many projects due to health reasons, I started looking at Omnifocus.  You might ask, if Nozbe was working so well for you, why look elsewhere.  By the way, I am not the type of person that needs to try everything available, or even read about everything.  I usually find something that works and stick with it.  Hence my uninterrupted use of Nozbe for a year’s time.  But there were some things missing that I needed, and for which I had no immediate hope of getting from Nozbe or most other web-based GTD apps.  Here’s the short list.

  • Reporting
  • Task Notes
  • Subtasks
  • Grouped Contexts
  • Automated Weekly Review
  • More Flexible Recurring Tasks

This is not an exhaustive list, but it includes what I knew I needed at the time, in order to move to the next level of GTD.  The move itself was painful as Nozbe has no export feature.  So it was two weeks and countless hours of copying and pasting projects and task lists, and then cleaning them up in the new application. Not to mention that I needed to purchase a Mac laptop to run it on, so I could use it at work in an all Windows shop.  And of course the purchase of the OmniFocus client and iPhone application added more cost.

Was it worth the expense and effort?  After six months of using OmniFocus, I can say with no reservations it was absolutely worth it and I would do it again, in a heartbeat as they say.

In my next post, we’ll begin to look at the application, but not in a generic way.  I intend to show readers my actual projects, tasks and contexts and demonstrate the awesome power of this GTD application.  To entice you to stay tuned for more, I’ve included a screenshot of my customized OmniFocus toolbar at the top of this post.  Try not to drool ;-) John

15 thoughts on “~An Advanced GTD User’s Paradise

  1. Grant says:

    John, your toolbar looks very interesting, I will be staying tuned to learn more of how you use it. Appreciate you sharing,

  2. Mattias says:

    John, where did you find the icon for the completed perspective? The man holding a finish flag? Doesn’t seem to be included i the default application. //Mattias

    1. Mattias – many of the icons in my toolbar, including the completed icon were obtained outside of the application. I’ll be explaining the process of using images from outside the application for perspective icons in a future post. But in the mean time, I’ll send it to you. John

  3. Robert says:

    John, I came across your blog via the Omnifocus forums. Can’t wait to hear how you manage your workflow with this beautiful taskbar! I just wish it were standard in OF. Are you going reveal your workflow anytime soon? Where did you get all those nice icons from? It would be great if you could briefly mention what settings you have behind each icon too. Ciao, Robert

    1. Thanks Robert. I will be writing about customizing the toolbar soon and since you suggested it, I will include the perspective settings behind each button. I have one more post started for publishing the end of this week, but will try to move on to customizing the toolbar for the following post, Lord willing, end of next week. Thanks again for reading. John

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