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Personal Productivity Book Review: “Creating Flow With OmniFocus” by Kourosh Dini

Personal Productivity Book Review: “Creating Flow With OmniFocus” by Kourosh Dini

Disclaimer: I am a Getting Things Done geek which is a productivity system creating by David Allen. This article assumes that you have a clue of what Getting Things Done is. If you don’t, check out David Allen’s site for more information.

    Over the past half a year I have reluctantly adopted using OmniFocus for my personal productivity system and core Getting Things Done implementation. I use the word reluctant because I don’t solely live in an OS X environment. I actually develop on a Windows machine so not having the OmniFocus client on my main machine has made me quite apprehensive in adopting this awesome tool. I figured that since I had my MacBook and iPad though that I could use these to make OmniFocus work in my life.

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    One of the main reasons that I have decided to use OmniFocus as my personal productivity tool is that it does a great job of automating my projects and next actions for me. To get this type of automation OmniFocus is a little difficult to setup and because of that it is hard to explain just how to do it. This is where the new e-book “Creating Flow With OmniFocus” by Kourosh Dini comes in.

    At first blush

    I first heard ramblings of “Creating Flow With OmniFocus” on the Mac Power Users podcasts as well as a few others and was intrigued to find out what it was about. The cost of the book is a hefty $30 but after reading some of Mr. Dini’s articles about implementing OmniFocus, I had a good idea that it was well worth the money.

    The book is huge. Coming in at 551 pages in the PDF version. It is stuffed full of tutorials and screenshots to show you just how to implement some of Dini’s techniques. The book is typeset beautifully and is extremely well written.

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    When I bought the book I was thinking that it was going to be all about implementation because of what Mr. Dini explains on his sales page. But after getting into it I found that this book was about the practical and even spiritual side of the Getting Things Done method. This was something that was welcomed and a bit of a surprise to me.

    What’s inside

    Like I said before this book is full of useful examples and information and Mr. Dini delivers a “full spectrum” solution to implement your productivity system in OmniFocus. Here are just some of the things that you would find inside:

    • Understanding basic principles like project and task handling, certain view modes, hiding tasks, filters and the Inspector, contexts, and the inbox.
    • More advanced project stuff like focusing, outlining projects, quick entry, creating templates, and using repeats and time information.
    • Setting up a “routine maintenance” plan and strategy, creating basic and advance perspectives, and using multiple clients (iPhone and iPad).
    • Advanced principles like implementing a “Core Design”, handling tasks done today, calendar review, dealing with calls and agendas, and even email workflow.
    • More advanced stuff like prioritization, GTD’s “Horizons of Focus”, attention and time.
    • 20 awesome pages that tie up all the loose ends of the system that is implemented throughout the book.

    Yep. There is a ton of stuff in this book and it took me about a week to get through it all. There was a lot of the basic stuff about OmniFocus that I already knew, but going back and looking at it even for the useful keyboard shortcuts was worth the time.

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    A few qualms

    If you are looking for a simplified approach to using OminFocus this book may not be the best choice. There is a lot to setting up the system that Mr. Dini entails and if you are happy with using simple projects and context of OmniFocus, the manual that ships with OmniFocus coupled with Don McCallister’s excellent tutorial videos from ScreenCasts Online will do the trick.

    Is it worth it?

      In one word?

      Absolutely.

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      This is by far the greatest tutorial on a piece of productivity software that I have ever laid eyes on. It’s concise and straightforward and it shows you just how to make OmniFocus become the most powerful GTD client on any operating system.

      After applying just 10% of what this book offers you will gain a much better understanding of how OmniFocus can support a variety of productivity system implementations and can help you automate your next actions on projects more effectively.

      Not only do you get practical advice in this book about setting up OmniFocus, Mr. Dini offers some excellent advice about productivity and creativity as well. In fact, some of his writings on the understanding of what David Allen means by a “trusted system” and making time for creative actions is the best that I have read.

      So, if you are an OmniFocus user and you have a portion of uber-geek in you, I highly suggest picking up “Creating Flow With OmniFocus” by Kourosh Dini.

      More by this author

      CM Smith

      A technologist and writer who shares advice on personal productivity, creativity and how to use technology to get things done.

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      Last Updated on May 28, 2020

      18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)

      18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)

      No one can dispute the countless benefits technology has brought us. Undoubtedly, it has allowed us to connect, perform, improve, and leverage our resources beyond what was once imaginable.

      If you’re not taking advantage of some of the hundreds of time management apps and tools out there, you’re definitely missing a trick.

      But with so many apps to choose from, how do you know which ones to use?

      Well, this will depend on your needs. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 18 of the best time management apps that can help you with the most common challenges of managing time.

      Let’s dive straight into the list.

      1. Rescue Time – Use Your Time Wisely

        If you have doubts if you are using your time sensibly, this app will send you weekly reports to indicate what things are stealing your time. Aside from its automatic time-tracking feature, this app also has distraction blocking and efficient report tools.

        RescueTime helps you avoid being overwhelmed by too many tasks. This app also has a team software that’s dedicated to time management among team members. With this app, you may be shocked to discover how much time you’re actually wasting.

        Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

        2. Remember The Milk – Keep on Top of All Your Tasks

          If you’re struggling to manage everything you have to do, and you work with many different devices, then this is the app for you. It’s a great free tool that is compatible with your mobile, computer, Gmail, Outlook, etc., and it allows you to sync all your devices for easier time management.

          This app will help you to manage your tasks easily and reminds you of them – wherever you are. You can share tasks and lists with others, making it a great tool for teams as well.

          Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

          3. Focus Keeper – Boost Motivation to Complete Tasks

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            This app is based on the principles of the Pomodoro Technique, and it is aimed at individuals who procrastinate and feel overwhelmed by tasks. It has a simple, efficient user interface that is easily customizable based on your needs.

            Focus Keeper is designed to enhance your focus and remove any anxiety you might have with time pressures. This is a great app to use if you want to prevent yourself and your team from being burned out.

            Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

            4. Toggl – Keep Track of Time Spent on Projects and Tasks

              Effective time management starts with being clear on exactly how much time you actually spend on your projects and tasks and through analysis – working out how you can manage them more effectively. Toggl allows you to do all this even with its simple design.

              Toggl includes great time-saving features integrated with its intuitive interface. This is a great alternative to time-sheets if you need to track how much time you spend on different projects.

              Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

              5. Dropbox – Store and Send Large Files Easily

                There are many apps that allow you to transfer content from your computer to other devices, but Dropbox is free and it is easier to use than the others. With the Dropbox app, you can even access and share important files on the go. It is an easy way to share your files and documents with others for improved productivity.

                Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                6. Evernote – Keep All Your Notes in One Place

                  Evernote is a free productivity tool that allows you to capture all your ideas, thoughts, and images in many different ways (e.g., with voice, notes, or images). You can even record your meetings, interviews, speeches, and ideas, create lists, add voice or text attachments, and share your files with friends. You can also sync Remember The Milk with Evernote to better optimize your time.

                  Available iOS, Android, and Desktop

                  7. MindNode — Focus on Tasks at Hand With Mind Mapping

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                    Mind mapping is a great productivity technique, and Mindnode is one of the best free mind mapping apps available. It helps you to become more organized by focusing your thoughts – thereby gaining clarity on what needs to be done.

                    This app allows you to customize various visual tags and templates to suit your needs. You can also easily share your documents with others.

                    Available on iOS and Desktop

                    8. GoodSync – Back Up and Sync Your Files Effortlessly

                      This software allows you to back up, restore, and synchronize your files easily. It supports folders from a variety of locations, and it has filtering options that let you exclude subfolders from synchronizing.

                      This app also allows you to sync files to and from your phone. If you have never backed up your files before, you should definitely take a look at this tool.

                      Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                      9. MyLifeOrganized (MLO) – Manage Your To-Do Lists Effectively

                        Check this out if you find it difficult to manage all your tasks, work with your to-do lists, and organize your goals. This task management software helps you target what you should be focusing on to reach your objectives.

                        MyLifeOrganized is one of the best task management apps for focused work. It automatically generates to-do lists with priority actions for your immediate attention so that you can track your progress methodically.

                        Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                        10. 1Password – Have All Your Passwords Remembered

                          1Password allows you to keep all your passwords in one encrypted database – protected by one password. This saves you time when you forget your passwords and need to retrieve them. This also allows you to use various passwords for different accounts so you don’t compromise on security.

                          Available iOS, Android, and Desktop

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                          11. Pocket – Keep Your Eye on the Ball

                            When you’re surfing the web, it’s easy to get distracted by enticing and fascinating websites. That’s why you need effective time management apps like Pocket. You can use this tool to save your ‘finds’ to access and read later on at a convenient time. This prevents you from getting distracted and negatively impacting your immediate work.

                            Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                            12. Focus@Will – Boost Your Attention Span

                              This amazing app combines neuroscience and music to boost your productivity. According to the developers, it’s possible to increase your attention span by up to 400% using Focus@Will, making this one of the best time management apps available.

                              Focus@will is ideal for those who find it difficult to focus while studying, working, or reading. It also helps you control your ADD.

                              Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                              13. Alfred – Interact With Your Computer in a Smart Way

                                This small and simple tool allows you to launch your documents, project files, folders, and bookmarks with just a few keystrokes. This makes life so much easier as you don’t need to go through the start menu to access what you want. The only downside is that it’s only available for macOS.

                                Available on desktop (macOS)

                                14. Forest – Boost Your Focus by Growing a Forest

                                  Forest is a unique reinvention of time management apps. This unique and fun app helps you stay focused and on-track by making you focus on another thing.

                                  The concept is simple: whenever you want to focus, plant a virtual tree. If you stay focused, the tree will grow. If you lose focus, the tree will die. As the app’s name implies, you can grow multiple trees to create a virtual forest!

                                  Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop (Firefox Add-on)

                                  15. Trello – Track Your projects in a highly visual way

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                                    Trello is a hugely popular app that you may already be familiar with. It works by allowing you to create cards for tasks that you need to complete. Each card moves across the Trello board, which is typically broken into columns such as To Do, In Progress, and Completed. This serves as your cue to start working on and completing the associated tasks.

                                    Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                    16. Quire – Unfold Your Ideas

                                      Quire is an innovative time management app that helps boost your team’s productivity. The strength of this app lies in its features for collaboration and ease of sharing. You can streamline and adjust your workflow based on your team’s needs and preferences.

                                      Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                      17. TimeTree – Have a Shared Calendar With Your Family

                                        This TimeTree app allows families or teams to share multiple calendars and appointments with each other. So, whether you’re planning a party or running a local sports team, Time Tree can keep everyone up-to-date with all current and upcoming activities and events.

                                        Available on iOS and Android

                                        18. Todoist – Capture and Order All Your Tasks and Activities Easily

                                          Todoist is close to being the ultimate digital to-do list and one of the best time management apps out there. It’s available via browser and app, and it lets you schedule all your tasks and activities. Each item can be flagged for priority as well as a given due date. There is also a neat option to add notes to any of your tasks.

                                          Available on iOS, Android, and Desktop

                                          Final Thoughts

                                          The above list covers what we consider to be the very best time management apps and tools available. And the good news is that many of them are completely free of charge!

                                          So, what are you waiting for? Select the ones that will be the most valuable to you, and begin boosting your productivity now!

                                          More Productivity and Time Management Apps

                                          Featured photo credit: freestocks via unsplash.com

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