A maintenance day

Today was going to be about getting out, doing lots and enjoying all the pleasures my local cinema could offer. Squeezing as much enjoyment out of the end of the weekend as possible.

But it panned out as quite a different sort of day.

A combination of atrocious weather, along with some timely equally atrocious reviews of the film I planned to see, meant that I stayed indoors and pottered about.

Most productively.

It was what I like to think of as a “maintenance day”, full of small but useful errands to keep life ticking over. Some laundry, tidying up, cooking, holiday planning…that sort of thing. One of the most useful of these was a revisiting of my OmniFocus settings.

Rock. And. Roll.

Anyway, my forage around in the depths of OmniFocus was prompted by a read of the ever-excellent Simplicity Bliss blog, by Sven Fechner. Sven has an incredibly helpful set of OmniFocus resources and how-to’s, which got me thinking about how I use the app to better effect.

The outcome?

Several actions were (appropriately) turned into projects, while several projects were put on “hold” and others abandoned completely. More than anything else, an attempt to simplify things so that OmniFocus is less complex, less daunting and less of a unending catacomb of folders and sub-tasks. And much more aligned with what I want to get done.

There’s no point in using any kind of productivity software if it becomes so unwieldy you dread even looking at it. Just like having the most complete to-do list is no use if you don’t look at it occasionally.

Today’s review of my projects prompted reflection on priorities, a look at the year ahead and agreeing of some all-important dates: namely, holidays! Which in turn resulted in new projects in OmniFocus and new notebooks in Evernote to research the locations.

Without sounding too obsessive about it, I’d recommend scheduling a maintenance day like this every month or so. A review of the calendar, a checking of commitments and plans. A good clear out of tidying up of all those unfinished tasks and errands.

David Allen recommends a “weekly review”, which I agree is essential if you want to keep on top of things. But a deeper, more periodic review of how things are going in general is also incredibly useful. A macro version of the micro weekly review if you like.

For me, this left me with a clearer mind and feeling a lot more in control of things. You don’t need OmniFocus for this, but it does help.

I’m conscious of sounding evangelical about OmniFocus when I discuss productivity and organisation – with friends and clients. I’m living proof that a combination of a good system and useful and usable software can make all the difference in our efforts at getting things done. Or “life”, as most people describe it.

OmniFocus can, at first glance, seem daunting and impossibly complex. It needn’t be, really. If you’re at all interested in using the app, I’d first have a read of the relevant resources on Simplicity Bliss and take it from there.

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