Sticking with OmniFocus


As I’ve blogged recently (read the comments to that post, too), I’ve been trying to decide once and for all which computer-based system I was going to use for my GTD setup. In the end, after experimenting with Yojimbo and spending all day yesterday in a fling with iGTD, I decided to go with the forthcoming official release of OmniFocus for my GTD system.

First of all, I’ve gotten very familiar with OmniFocus. I was one of the very first alpha-testers (that’s ALPHA, kids!) of the software when the “Sneaky Peek” versions were being made available back in the summer. I’m even a former Kinkless kGTD user, and a current OmniOutliner Pro and OmniGraffle user, so I’m a big fan of OmniGroup’s work and quite comfortable with their design philosophy.

Secondly, the cost factor turns out to be not nearly so much of an issue as I thought. The final “retail” price of OmniFocus is going to be $80, which is pretty steep. But it turns out that I was able to take advantage of three different discounts on this product. First, until early January, OmniFocus is available for pre-order at half price for $39.95. Then, there is a discount available on top of this half-price deal for licensed owners of OmniOutliner Pro 3 which drops the price $10 more to $29.95. Then, on top of those two discounts, there is educational pricing for students and faculty at schools and universities. With those discounts, my final price for the pre-order of OmniFocus was a whopping $18.71.

So, why not go with Yojimbo or iGTD?

Yojimbo is nice, and although it’s not a piece of software designed for GTD, it can be hacked into a reasonably solid GTD system with little effort. But there were just enough features that were just plain missing from Yojimbo that made it hard to work with, IMHO, over the course of the two weeks that I demo’d it. The biggest missing features were the simplest ones. For example, you cannot manually reorder the items in the left sidebar or items in the front-center pane. This forced me to resort to creative naming schemes so that, for example, Next Actions always showed up at the top of my task lists above just plain Tasks. After a while, this got to be time-consuming.

In the end, I realized Yojimbo wasn’t going to work for me because I was simply thinking too much about the system. GTD is predicated on the idea of making the act of collecting and managing your “stuff” an almost subconscious act. David Allen in the GTD bible says something to the effect that the quality system you use is inversely proportional to the amount of energy you spend thinking about it. And I was expending a lot of energy making sure that I’ve remembered to properly tag each task, that I’ve promoted tasks to Next Action status in all projects (because Yojimbo won’t do that automatically), and so on.

But let me emphasize that Yojimbo is really good at what it’s designed for, which is organizing stuff in general. One thing that Yojimbo has going for it GTD-wise that OmniFocus doesn’t (as far as I can tell) is that I can put my tasks AND my support materials in the same place (= project folder) in the software. I’ve found that my task creation, and my choices for Next Action, were much smarter when I had the support materials right there in the same spot that the tasks are going to go.

What about iGTD? After reading a comment on my Yojimbo post and checking out the iGTD website some more, I downloaded it yesterday and played around with it some. It’s much-improved since I first demo’d it several months ago. It still hasn’t fixed the problem, as I see it, of having a GUI that is very, very busy and sometimes counterintuitive. (What’s that “Effort” bar supposed to be?) But you do have the option of removing some elements of the GUI, at least. And the free price tag is awfully compelling.

But this morning, when I sat down to do my weekly review, I fired up iGTD and started to create my contexts and projects in iGTD. All was well until after having added a few tasks to a particular project, I hit Cmd-N to add a new task, and the program crashed and erased everything I had just put in. And this crashing repeated itself half a dozen more times, always after I had added several tasks and hit Cmd-N to add another, losing all my data. I looked on the iGTD message board and several others had this problem and there was apparently no end in sight until perhaps the v 2.0 release, which has not been scheduled yet. At that point, I was really spending too much time thinking about the system. If I can spend less than $20 on a system I know works well and has little to no bugs, I’ll prefer it any day over a free system that works pretty well but has serious bugs I can’t solve.

So I’m casting my lot, again, with OmniGroup and looking forward to learning the full extent of this software they’ve been working so hard on.

3 Comments

Filed under GTD, Profhacks, Software, Technology

3 responses to “Sticking with OmniFocus

  1. Pingback: Software! Software! Get your fresh software! « Casting Out Nines

  2. Heh…I love googling for GTD stuff and finding friends’ blogs. I’m using OmniFocus now to organize work stuff, and have not fully gotten into using it yet, but am trying. I want somewhere to keep random, non-actionable info I get and will need to find later; I guess OF is probably the best place if I’m already using it.

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