Monthly Archives: March 2008

Full Text GTD Feeds

Well, I have eventually swapped my blog over to using Full Text Feeds rather than a Summary Feed. I have had a few people ask for this and feel it is the better way to go.

I have also got a cool RSS to Audio reader that is hopefully turning my blog into a PodCast that I am playing with. Seems to work pretty good and I am looking forward to getting it all working.

Getting Things Done in Las Vegas with OmniFocus

Well, I just returned from Affiliate Summit West ’08 in Las Vegas. Vegas is a 10 hour flight from the UK and we had a 5 hour drive to the airport so you could say that it was a long trip so my expectations were high, but is is Vegas after all.

Anyway, had a great time at the conference. Was a pleasure to meet people such as John Chow, Zac Johnson, and Justine Ezarik. I was gone from home for 5 nights and even though I was away, my tasks and work were not.

My current GTD system of choice is centered around OmniFocus from OmniGroup. I use Moleskine’s as my task capture device, and wherever you find me, the Moleskine is not far behind. This works for me as I can collect and hold numerous tasks on my Moleskine, and then enter them into my OmniFocus application when processing, and time permits.

MacBook Pro and EeePCI own a 17″ MacBook pro, and even though I love it. I really wanted something more portable to take to Vegas with me and the Asus EeePC had really taken my eye. All I need is web, email, and Skype to call back home at 1p a minute rather than the exorbitant rate of 55p per minute with my cell phone. The EeePC ticked all the right boxes so I bought one a couple of weeks ago and it is a fantastic little computer. It isn’t a Mac, so cannot run OmniFocus and I did not want to start looking at Linux based GTD apps, if there are any!

My mobile phone of choice is the Apple iPhone, and as the SDK for the iPhone apps is not yet out, I needed a way to leave my current system at home and still be able to record my tasks.

Sure, I could collect everything into my Moleskine’s but I do like to feel more organised than that and I was looking for some way to integrate with my OmniFocus whilst away.

I had seen an option in the OmniFocus Preferences about emailing actions to OmniFocus so I thought I would read up on the feature and how it can be used.

OmniFocus GTD

This is implemented as a Mailbox Rule within on the Mac as you can see from looking at the rule below.

OmniFocus GTD

I set the OmniFocus application to Create the Mail Rule, archive processed messages and also to process messages where the subject line starts with “–“. Cool, now let’s see a real world example of how I use this every day in my GTD system.

I configured and tested this before I set off to Vegas on my trip. So, from my iPhone I can now email myself, on one of the registered email addresses and all I have to do is start the subject line with “–“, which is something I never see at the start of a subject line and therefore unique. Now, I always carry my Moleskine, but when sat in a conference, or anywhere else where you have WiFi or EDGE connectivity I can quickly send myself this email and it adds it straight to my inbox on OmniFocus as soon as I get back to the UK and power on my Mac.

In the week I was in Vegas I sent myself around 100 tasks. I find this method a great way as I did not have to update OmniFocus with my notes from my Moleskine like I normally do. They were copied directly into the inbox waiting to be processed into the correct context and have dates assigned to them.

Now, I just use this system in its simplest form in that I just get the task added to OmniFocus. As well as this, you have the ability to add various tags to the email to automatically move it to the correct context and set various other items such as the due date etc..

These are as follows:

The first line, and any other lines starting with — (double-hyphens), become new actions. Other lines become notes for the preceding action.

To specify a project, use > (greater-than sign) or :: (double-colons), followed by a project name or abbreviation.

To specify a context, use @ (at sign), followed by a context name or abbreviation.

To enter start or due dates, use # (number sign), followed by some date expression.

To enter a time estimate, use $ (dollar sign—time is money) followed by some duration expression (like 5m, 1h, and so on);

You can also add a note on the same line as an action title by separating them with // (double-slashes). Anything after the double-slashes becomes a note, but double-slashes in a URL like don’t count.

Some examples are as follows:

— Call My Boss

— Paint the Garage Door > Household @ DIY

— Action 3 > Project 1 @ Context 1 // These are notes

— Action 4 #friday // Due Friday, because I only entered one date

— Action 5 #monday #friday // Starts Monday; due Friday.

— Action 6 #monday # // Starts Monday; no due date.

— Action 7 :: Project 3 // Written on my iPhone; colons work in place of greater-than sign.

–Action8>p2@c2#2d$5m//no spaces needed, nor full names

Myself, I would rather just get the task collected and process it later on my Mac using OmniFocus and my full size keyboard.

This is a great way to use the iPhone as part of your GTD solution. That is until OmniGroup release a native iPhone version of OmniFocus after the Apple iPhone SDK release.

Hope you have enjoyed this post and as always, I would love to hear your comments.

OmniFocus on the iPhone – GTD to Go!

OmniFocus Released

Well, after last weeks announcement from Apple about the release of the Software Development Kit (SDK) for the iPhone (and iPod Touch) I was eager to see which people announced development of Getting Things Done apps for the iPhone.

I have had an iPhone since they came out in the US as I bought one and hacked it to work in the UK. Being a jail-broke phone, I would have loved some way to sync my tasks to the phone but there have to date been no workable solution. So the announcement of the SDK was met with glee.

Well, the OmniGroup, makers of OmniFocus have announced on their blog, and via there forums that they are already working on a iPhone and iPod touch native version of OmniFocus.

Further to the blog post, there was an interesting comment from Ken Case at OmniGroup about the sync functionality of the application.

The Mac and iPhone applications will be able to synchronize changes with each other through any WebDAV server (including Apple’s .Mac), so you won’t have to worry about plugging your iPhone into your Mac to synchronize your latest edits back and forth.

(Multiple Macs will also be able to synchronize with each other through the same WebDAV server, for those of you who might be wondering about that.)

Well, this news is great. I currently love my iPhone and OmniFocus set up but I rely upon the ability to send email from my iPhone to OmniFocus as a task (More coming in the next post about this). The ability to have working copies of my GTD system both on my MacBook Pro as well as my iPhone is fantastic. I can walk around with my entire GTD system in my Pocket and the ability to update this on the fly from anywhere in the world. Could this be the ultimate ubiquitous capture device?

Anyway, you can be sure I will be keeping abreast of further developments and I will also scour for other GTD apps planned for the iPhone.

Have a great day!

OmniFocus 1.0.1 Released

Just got back from a nice weekend away with the family, turned my laptop on and OmniFocus 1.0.1 has been released.

Here is the list of updates in 1.0.1


  • Updated our error handling support to catch more cases where there is a possible problem and promote it to a crash, so that we can then fix it. Since OmniFocus always keeps its data in a saved state, the net effect of this is that any such exception won’t be able to cause data corruption.
  • Copy a workaround for a bug in Mac OS X 10.5 that can cause a crash when using the keyboard to navigate between cells in the outline.
  • Fixed exception where committing editing on a row caused that row to be collated into a different group.
  • Fixed a few glitches in the AppleScript suite that could cause scripting errors.
  • Fixed exceptions when parsing some European date formats. Updated the date parsing to log details about the date format if there is a problem parsing a date, allowing the user to more easily gather the relevant information in the future.
  • Fixed an occasional hang when performing a manual check for updates when no updates are available.
  • Clicking on a link to a recently deleted task will no longer cause an error.
  • We now ignore and log exceptions raised from Growl.
  • Fixed bug causing the available/due soon/overdue timer to fire too often in some cases.
  • iCal syncing will now deal with unnamed calendars.
  • Interface

  • The Perspectives menu now always has options to make a new perspective or save a snapshot of the current view settings into the current perspective.
  • The Clear Perspective command has been folded into the Revert to Default View command, so you don’t have to take two steps to get back to normal.
  • Actions created in context mode should no longer appear to be missing their project, once it is assigned.
  • Updated usage of shadows in the interface to match changes made in Mac OS X 10.5.
  • Empty projects with a start date will now get the normal project icon once its start date passes instead of getting stuck with the ‘pending’ badge.
  • The flag icon should now show up appropriately in HTML exports.
  • Miscellaneous

  • Various small updates to the online help.
  • Turned off some debug logging in the Clip-o-Tron 3000.
  • Software Update will now only show you builds on the same track that you are running. So, if you want to see sneakypeek builds, you’ll need to manually download one sneakypeek build main OmniFocus site.
  • Internationalization

  • Fixed several issues that would prevent internationalization. No localizations are in place, but those are in progress for a future release.
  • Already installed it and I am eager to try out some of the new functionality!

    Be More Productive, buy a Large Monitor….continued

    GTD with a large MonitorI wrote a post on the 1st of May about research that showed Large Monitors increased your productivity.

    I am writing this on my 17″ MacBook Pro laptop and using the built in screen. I do have a 22″ Dell Monitor at home but the resolution is the same as on my MacBook Pro. I really want an Apple 30″ Cinema display and I have been waiting for what feels like an age for Apple to give it it’s long needed upgrade. I just know that if I spend the £1000 now and buy one, the day after Apple will upgrade it with a brand new shiny model and I will be as sick as a parrot.

    Anyway, I was reading a post on Lifehacker about the very same topic and some of the readers comments were very interesting. The common consensus is that large monitors do help with work. Bottom line is that you can align more than one application up, so you are not currently switching between applications which I seem to spend a considerable amount of time doing.

    So, do you have a large monitor? and if so, has it made a difference to your productivity?

    Would love to hear from you all…

    SUBSCRIBE TO MY BLOGAlso, if you have not done so, be sure to subscribe to this blog with your favorite RSS reader so you can keep up to date with all the posts.

    File your Papers the GTD Way

    After I posted the three videos from Heather Schlegel (aka heathervescent) I am happy to say that Heather contacted me (through the power of Trackbacks) and thanked me for promoting her site.

    She just posted another message today telling me that her next video has just been completed, titled File Your Papers the GTD Way.

    So, here is the next video and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

    10 Step Course to Simply Get Things Done

    One of the most prominent software players in the GTD Market is Michael from Nozbe. Nozbe have just released a ten part video training course on how to get things done that is totally free of charge, even though it does relate to their Nozbe online GTD software.

    Who is this course for…?

    This course is for anyone who wants to live a more productive and happier life. Anyone. You can be a student, an employee at a small or big company, a junior or senior manager, an executive… anyone who just wants to get more done.

    And most of all – you don’t have to know the “Getting Things Done” principles or what “GTD” (abbreviation for Getting Things Done) actually is.

    If you want to get more done and be more productive – this course is for you. Period.

    Check out the course and I am sure you will agree that this is a great GTD resource.

    Thanks, and I hope you are all having productive days.

    Falling off, and getting back on the GTD Bandwagon

    I am now back from Vegas and have some great posts to write, and I managed to come home with some cash, which is always a bonus after a trip to Vegas.

    Anyway, I am sure there are loads of you have are not carrying out your GTD process as you should. Below are a set of three great Videos from Heather Schlegel (aka heathervescent). I really enjoyed them, and I am sure you will do too..

    By the way, the original posts are located here, here, and here.