Why automating task entering into OmniFocus is not a good idea.
I recently saw the posts by David Sparks and Michael Schechter who made an effort to make entering tasks into OmniFocus “easier”. I’ll oppose their workflow and I’m going to explain why below.
The setup generally looks fine. The snippets MacSparky try to make it easier to add general tasks into OmniFocus. For instance:
- Set meeting with $name re …
- Plan new project to …
- Complete section on …
The problem I have with this is that the titles of these tasks are too general. They have no clear outcome. I tried this in the past but soon (about 1 week) I realized the tasks slip under my radar, because I just couldn’t remember them.
Why is that? I don’t know exactly, but after giving it some though I realized that I just need to make a conscious decision or else I don’t care. When I make things “easier” I need to take into account whether it’s something I really really really want it. In case I really want it, then I also set better tasks in my task management system.
"Set meeting with" may sound fine for most people, but when you look at it closely, it says zero to nothing what I actually want to achieve with that meeting. It’s just a task I’ve added so that it’s out of my way. I never even considered whether it’s something I want to do in my life.
It just came to me after reading their articles, when I did my ritual closing of unnecessary tabs in Safari. I look at one and try to think why I left it open in the first place. When it’s something like, and this is something that could be generalized with a snippet, “I want to come back to later” then I just decided that I still want to defer my decision until later. Later when I look at the thing again, this time in OmniFocus, it annoys me again because I still don’t know what to do with.
I never do meetings without a purpose. When I set a meeting, I want to achieve something. Meeting people is pointless otherwise. Calling someone re something is wasted time too. “Call Fiona to set a date when we go out for lunch later this week” is a task with a set outcome.
Read more on setting SMART outcomes.