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30 Days With: OmniOutliner Professional

30 Days With: OmniOutliner Professional

    Editor’s note:

     This is a featured post in our ongoing series “30 Days With” which outlines the use of a productivity tool, service, or product that we have used for the past 30 days. We want to provide our readers with an in depth view of tools and products that they are interested in and provide them our thoughts as well as ways to use these products faster and better. Enjoy.

    I love outlines and I think in them. I love to be able to quickly make a list, add children to certain topics or ideas and then easily sort that list. For many years I have used the Outline mode in Microsoft Word and then in Microsoft OneNote to make my outlines, take notes, create plans, and plan projects. This was several years ago before I switched to Mac and ever since then my use of the Microsoft Office suite (at least for personal use) has slowly been diminishing with the availability of excellent replacement apps on Mac as well as Google Docs.

    The outlining tool for the Mac is OmniOutliner Professional, plain and simple. In doing a quick search of the Mac App Store there are a few other outlining applications, but OmniOutliner is the one that wins with its feature set, ease of use, excellent interface, and design decisions.

    I have been using OmniOutliner 3 a little over 30 days now. Below is my accounting of that experience.

    What OmniOutliner got right

    Let’s first take a look at what OmniOutliner does the best.

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    Ease of use

    The first Omni Group product that I had the pleasure to use was OmniFocus. OmniFocus is awesome because of how easy it is to use and organize things, that is once you get over the small learning curve. What OmniOutliner gets right is that it uses the same type of list creation interface that OF uses that makes creating a parented list of items dead simple and super fast to do. You can easily drag and drop items, reorder them, indent and outdent them, sort them, etc. This is probably the main reason that OmniOutliner is so good.

    Oh, the export options

      Something else of note is that OmniOutliner accepts the growing in popularity outline format OPML (Outline Processor Markup Language) making it pretty darn versatile. I have taken mindmaps from iPad or Mac, exported them to OMPL, and then opened them in OmniOutliner. I could then easily organize my outline once in OmniOutliner. This is much easier than organizing in a traditional mindmapping application because organizing tends to be a more linear process than actual brainstorming. Also, with OMPL I can open up my outline in Scrivener and then sync different sections of text with Dropbox and have access to it with any text editing app I use.

      Exporting options in OmniOutliner are superb. You can even share with your Microsoft Word using friends or create a quick HTML page that you can open and view with any web browser.

      Two dimensions

      OmniOutliner gives you the option of adding multiple columns. This opens up a whole new dimension to your outlines allowing for almost any type of data to be stored like a check register, task list, budget, contact list, time log, or any other type of small “database” data.

      Two dimensional outlines coupled with the next point make OmniOutliner very powerful.

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      Datatypes

        I love that OmniOutliner supports several different datatypes. You can set a column to any data type that you want including dates and duration, amounts, checkboxes, pop up lists, etc. Another nicety is that you can then sort your rows by the columns’ data types allowing for ease of sorting your outline data.

        Something else great is that OmniOutliner has a nice short hand for durations. So, you can type something like, “12w148h” and OmniOutliner will convert it to “15w 3d 4h”.

        What OmniOutliner got wrong (for me)

        There isn’t too much that is “wrong” per se with OmniOutliner, but there is one glaring issue that I encountered for the first couple of weeks of use of the app: it’s complexity and my own tendency to want to fiddle and tweak it.

        Complexity

        There is a good quote on the Omni Group’s site for OmniOutliner,

        “If you can think it, it is possible with OmniOutliner 3 Pro.”

        – IT-Enquirer

        This is both a blessing and a curse. OmniOutliner is one of the best apps I know for creating a simple, nested list, but also templates for creating budgets, keeping an inventory of things, planning projects, etc. But there are almost endless options for font styles, line heights, tab spaces, etc. Its versatility and complicated nature make it an app that has to be learned with an overcoming of a steep learning curve, that is, if you want to use the more advanced features of the applications.

        If you are simply wanting to create simple lists and outlines, change their appearance a bit, and use them for keeping track of things, that is pretty straight forward. But, the notion of “if you can think it, it is possible,” leads to the potential for thinking that you need to tweak the application and your document to be perfect in some way.

        What can you do with this thing?

          Like I said above there really is not too much of a limit to what you can do with OmniOutliner as you are only limited by your imagination and time. I have used OmniOutliner as an intermediary step to project planning by following the process that I mentioned above by first planning a project with a mindmapping application an then importing the OPML. This is even more powerful when you find that you can easily drag-and-drop your outline into OmniFocus where it will ask you what columns in your outline match up with the inherent columns in your OmniFocus setup (name, project, context, due date, etc.)

          I found that creating quick budgets and some basic things that I would use spreadsheets for can easily be done in OmniOutliner because of its sorting and summation capabilities.

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            Another thing OmniOutliner is good for, and something that I am working on now, is using it as a way to store information, like research that I may be doing for an article, keeping track of product warranty information, a list of hardware for the company I work for, and other things that would “traditionally” be stored in a database of some kind. OmniOutliner is a great way to create a personal database of sorts, but only if you and possibly a small team are going to access and manage it. Anything larger than this, especially with need of custom reports and views, there are much better options.

            Does it replace anything?

            I can’t say that OmniOutliner has replaced anything completely in my workflow as of today, but has definitely added value to it. I could see OmniOutliner replacing Evernote for the way that I keep data (mostly research and links) while using my MacBook or Mac, but can’t do anything like Evernote can do while I’m mobile with my iPhone.

            If you just do basic calculations and sorting in Excel or Numbers, then OmniOutliner may be able to replace that. But really, OmniOutliner feels like a product of its own and if you are in need of a good outlining application, this is the app to get for Mac.

            Conclusion

            My 30 days with OmniOutliner has gone a little longer because of my growing love for the app. I love taking notes with it, organizing ideas, keeping track of small datasets, and summing up values. But, the thing that makes OmniOutliner so darn compelling is Omni’s excellent outlining engine that is also included in OmniFocus. It make organizing and moving things so easy and once you use it and try something else for outlining, you will see just how awesome it really is.

            The long and the short of it; OmniOutliner is the best way to create outlines on the Mac or any platform for that matter and if you want that, the $39.99 for OmniOutliner 3 or $69.99 for OmniOutliner Professional is totally worth it.

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            Last Updated on October 18, 2018

            10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

            10 Key Characteristics of a Highly Successful Entrepreneur

            When it comes to starting your own business and pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, it can be advantageous to go all in and embrace the flexibility of finally quitting your day job.

            Keep in mind, though, that it takes a special kind of person to take the business world by storm: a person who has cultivated the key characteristics of entrepreneurial success.

            People with these characteristics are likely to succeed, whereas people without them have difficulty moving forward with even the most brilliant business ideas.

            These characteristics of an entrepreneur are so important that I’ve decided to cover all 10 of them in detail so that you can start your business with your best foot forward.

            1. Successful Entrepreneurs Practice Discipline

            Plenty of business experts claim that you can’t get anywhere as an entrepreneur without vision or creativity, but that’s simply not the truth. Instead, the one quality that no entrepreneur can be successful without is discipline.

            To build an idea into a business, you have to have the discipline to spend time slogging through the least fun parts of running a business (like the bookkeeping), rather than taking that time to do something fun.

            Andrew Carnegie, one of the most financially successful Americans of all time, grew up working dull and difficult jobs in factories. Despite going to bed hungry some nights, he continued doing his best work. He was eventually hired by a railroad company and continued to move up the ladder until starting his own successful businesses. Carnegie is a fine example of an entrepreneur dedicated to discipline and hard work. He truly earned his dreams of prosperity and success.

            When you’re the boss, there’s no one to keep you at work except yourself — and there’s no short-term consequences for skipping out early.

            Sure, if an entrepreneur plays hooky enough he knows that the business just won’t happen, but it’s very hard to convince someone that ‘just this once’ won’t hurt (and to keep ‘just this once’ from becoming a daily occurrence).

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            2. Successful Entrepreneurs Keep Calm

            Things go wrong when you run your own business.

            Most entrepreneurs go through crises with their businesses — and more than a few wind up with outright failures on their hands. But when you’re responsible for a business, you have to be able to keep calm in any situation. Any other reaction — whether you lose your temper or get flustered — compounds the problem.

            Instead, a good entrepreneur must have the ability to keep his cool in an emergency or crisis. It may not make the problem easier to solve, but it certainly won’t make it harder.

            Honestly, losing your calm is a quick path to becoming the kind of person who gives up in the face of adversity. Instead giving in to frustration, remember classic entrepreneur Benjamin Franklin.

            Franklin kept his calm as he experimented and tweaked his inventions again and again in pursuit of success. He didn’t give up during his many failures – he chose to innovate. You can choose innovation, too.

            If an entrepreneur can handle failure without frustration or anger, s/he can move past it to find success.

            3. Successful Entrepreneurs Pay Attention to Details

            Restricting your attention to the big picture can be even more problematic than ‘sweating the small stuff.’

            As an entrepreneur, unless venture capital has magically dropped out of the sky, a small expense can be a killer. It’s attention to detail that can make a small business successful when it has competition and it’s attention to detail that can keep costs down.

            Attention to detail can be difficult to maintain — going over ledgers can be tedious even when you aren’t trying to pay close attention — but keeping your eye on a long-term vision is just asking for a problem to sneak in under a radar.

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            After a business grows, an entrepreneur might be able to hire someone to worry about the details. In the beginning, though, only one person can take responsibility for the details.

            Skeptical about the importance of details? Look no further than Howard Schultz, who grew a small coffee shop called Starbucks into one of the most globally successful coffee businesses in the world through his extreme attention to detail.

            He is famous for taking all aspects of growing a business into account, paying attention not only to financially smart business decisions, but also focusing on socially responsible business decisions. Details can take you far.

            4. Successful Entrepreneurs Embrace Risks

            No entrepreneur has a sure thing, no matter how much money s/he stands to earn on a given product. Even if a product tests well, the market can change, the warehouse can burn down and a whole slew of other misfortune can befall a small business.

            It’s absolutely risky to run a business of your own and while you can get some insurance, it’s not like most investment options. Even worse, if something does go wrong, it’s the entrepreneur’s responsibility — no matter the actual cause. In order to deal with all of that without developing an ulcer, you have to have a good tolerance for risk.

            You don’t need to channel your inner frat boy and take on absolutely stupid risks, but you need to know just how much you can afford to risk — and get a good idea of how likely you are to lose it. If the numbers make you uncomfortable, the risk is too great.

            Embracing risks is essential for growth and additional success, as well. Walt Disney, for example, could have stayed comfortable with his advances in the film and animation industries, but decided to expand his brand with a new dream: a theme park that soared above the competition. Without taking this risk, the incredibly successful Disney theme park empire would never have come about.

            An entrepreneur has to be willing to accept pretty big risks, with some level of comfort.

            5. Successful Entrepreneurs are Balanced

            You can take any characteristic too far. There’s a point at which attention to detail can become obsession or calm can become unemotional response.

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            As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to balance your characteristics, getting the most of them without going over the edge. But balance for an entrepreneur goes far beyond keeping your characteristics in check, though.

            Just as an entrepreneur doesn’t have a boss to keep them at work when necessary, they don’t have one to send them home when they’re done. If you are working for yourself, you have to decide how to balance your work and home life — and if you have a day job to add into the equation, balance just gets more complicated.

            Oprah Winfrey, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs out there, understands the importance of balance. Winfrey has a lot going on; she runs her own media kingdom, acts, produces films, publishes print, and more. In an interview with Fast Company,[1] she talks about her efforts to balance priorities and self care, saying that she must ask herself what is truly important in each limited day.

            You may or may not have as much on your plate as Oprah, but learning how to balance whatever you have going on in life will certainly help you farther along down the road as you learn to be a great entrepreneur.

            6. Successful Entrepreneurs are Passionate and Motivated

            In order to develop any of the above characteristics, you must have a foundation of passion. Staying disciplined day after day during the building of your business takes unrivaled motivation.

            Before you start any business, ask yourself if you can sustain true excitement about your idea during even the darkest days ahead of you. If the answer is yes, then good for you! Nurture your natural motivation by taking these action steps throughout your business journey:

            • Commit to making short and long-term goals. Check in with them often to stay on task.
            • Have a plan in place for the inevitable days when you feel discouraged. Make a list of things that will help keep you motivated and focused.
            • Share your ideas with trusted individuals who are just as excited as you are. They will help keep your enthusiasm rolling even when you are feeling down.

            By being prepared for apathetic days and holding fast to your authentic passion, you can actually enjoy your journey to success.

            7. Successful Entrepreneurs Adapt

            Remember this one word: flexibility. Seasoned entrepreneurs know that change is not only a part of life, but also a part of the business world. Expect change and choose to adapt.

            As a new entrepreneur, it will be tempting to cling to your original business plan with no exceptions, even if you notice it isn’t working. Good entrepreneurs know that it’s okay to make smart, informed changes in order to ensure efficiency.

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            8. Successful Entrepreneurs are Marketing and Sales Experts

            No matter what kind of business you are starting, a knowledge of marketing and sales will save you many headaches. A passion for creating a beautiful handmade lifestyle product is not enough to run a successful lifestyle brand; it is critical that you understand key business principles in addition to your natural skills or great product line.

            Not sure how to start? Taking business courses is a great idea, but you can also easily brush up on sales and marketing through free online resources. Check out these 10 Sales Skills Everyone Should Master To Be Successful to begin now.

            9. Successful Entrepreneurs Have Strong Money Management

            Along with sales and marketing skills, money management is a very useful tool in the box of the entrepreneur. Understanding how to best manage your money can be the difference between early success and early failure in the business world.

            If money management isn’t your strongest skill, prepare to hire a financial expert to help you with any tricky business that comes up. Financial guidance and knowledge is never a bad idea.

            10. Successful Entrepreneurs Ask Questions and Continually Improve

            Pride is a natural human quality, but it’s important to humbly conduct some constructive criticism every now and again on both yourself as a leader and your new business as a whole.

            Assess how things are going and be willing to make positive changes if necessary. Here’re 15 ways to cultivate lifelong learning.

            If you are always improving, then how can you ultimately fail?

            The Bottom Line

            Let me remind you of one important fact: the qualities of an entrepreneur listed here are not exclusively available to some people and elusive to others.

            Although some people may have natural strengths and weaknesses, these qualities can be learned by anyone interested in taking up the entrepreneurial challenge. It might not be easy to change old habits, but it is absolutely possible to cultivate these characteristics in yourself.

            Whether you’re a business owner or an aspiring entrepreneur, with hard work, you can train yourself to develop the qualities that truly determine the entrepreneurial spirit and future success.

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

            Reference

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