~OmniOutliner is my “New” Favorite App

Long time readers of this blog know that I have a love (let’s call it a craving) for productivity methods and applications. Perhaps its because I always seem to be managing so many professional projects at one time, (currently over 20 network storage projects). With my ever increasing workload, anything I can do to speed my workflow is essential in keeping my commitments, not to mention my sanity.

The GTD method, and applications patterned after that method, have taught me a lot about managing tasks to be more efficient, and have helped me keep up with the frenetic pace of business life.

Nozbe and Omni applications in particular, have played a significant role in my development, so first I’d like to say thanks to Michael Sliwinski (Nozbe) and Ken Case (Omni), for their significant contributions to this industry and my personal growth.

Having refined task management over the past few years for myself, I have turned my efforts toward helping my project teams to organize their efforts a bit more. I have learned to do that by providing timely meeting notes that identify specific task assignments and due dates, and creating project plans to provide a bird’s eye view to keep our entire team on schedule.

I know that some task management applications (notably Nozbe) can be used in a shared environment, but that hasn’t worked for me in the past, due to the large number of disparate team members I work with on a daily basis, and their need to focus on their project tasks and “keeping the lights on”, while leaving the project and task management efforts to me.

While I have used OmniOutliner for the past two years for all of my note taking, I have, over time, added it as my primary tool to conduct research, gather information for estimates, document project requirements, create project plans, and record testing results.

The reasons I have expanded its use beyond simple note taking are two fold:

  1. Using OmniOutliner is fast, really fast.
  2. OmniOutliner Pro allows outlines to be saved as templates for reuse.

I’ve used Word and Excel for many of these tasks in the past, and often get slowed by inserting and reorganizing rows, indenting and outdenting, dealing with the outline formats, etc. With OmniOutliner all these formatting tasks fade into the background after you learn a few keystrokes to do all of those things. This allows me to focus my attention and energy on the content instead of the tool.


Having the ability to open a new outline based on a template that is used on a frequent basis, saves a great deal of time. This is important to me as I run (sometimes literally) from meeting to meeting during the day. I have OmniOutliner running on my MacBook Pro, and simply open up a new outline based on the appropriate template, as each meeting is started.

Selecting a Template
Selecting a Template


The best way to demonstrate how I use OmniOutliner is to show you some of the templates I have created for my work. Perhaps this will initiate some thoughts on how you might put this extraordinary tool to good use to improve your own productivity, and perhaps even those with whom you collaborate.

Meeting Notes template ready to use
Meeting Notes template ready to use
Completed Meeting Notes
Completed Meeting Notes
Completed Project Plan
Completed Project Plan
Completed Project Research
Completed Project Research
Testing Results
Testing Notes Template

That’s all for now, and thanks for reading, John.

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