OmniFocus, GTD, and You!

Posted by Aaron West at 10:00 AM in Productivity, ColdFusion, OmniFocus, GTD

Perhaps you've been hearing about GTD for a while now. Maybe you've even read some of my posts on this topic. But for some reason you didn't do yourself the favor of picking up the book and changing your organizational habits. I certainly recommend you read Allen's book if you want to understand the full concept of GTD. I've even found reading the book two, three, or four times to be immensely helpful. However, there are things you can do to test the GTD waters without going through the book.

The Omni Group, makers of the popular OmniFocus software, have released a free PDF that serves as a crash course in the bare essentials of GTD and how GTD is applied in OmniFocus. It does have a very direct spin towards the use of OmniFocus on the Mac but it's a great read nonetheless. If you're struggling to find the time to read the entire Getting Things Done book, download the PDF and see if it's the jumpstart you need.


I'm a pretty big calendar user at both work and home. No I'm not one of those folks who manages every life event or task in a calendar, but I use them pretty heavily. I basically follow the GTD / David Allen use of calendars storing events or tasks that must happen at a specific point in time. Keeping all this information organized is nice but it's pretty useless if you don't have it everywhere you go. Back in December I blogged about synchronizing my work calendar in Entourage with Google Calendar and ultimately my iPhone. I discussed two ways to set it up. One was a free solution using off the shelf software, and the other a fee-based solution using the popular Spanning Sync. I'm happy to report seven months later everything is still working very well with Spanning Sync.

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A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Troy Malone, Chief Evangelist for Pelotonics, an online project management and collaboration tool. Troy and I discussed how the Dealerskins development team uses Pelotonics to manage projects, how we discovered Pelotonics and how it compares to similar tools like Basecamp. The interview lasted about half an hour but the Pelotonics crew have distilled it to 3 minutes of audio snippets of just my answers to Troy's questions. To listen to the interview press play in the embedded video at the bottom of this post.

If you are interested in what Pelotonics is and how one company (Dealerskins) finds it useful the interview is a good start. For more detail on the product and how you might benefit from using it check out the additional links below.

Why Pelotonics?
Pelotonics Tour
Pelotonics Info for Basecamp Users

An Interview with Aaron West from Troy Malone on Vimeo.


I've blogged about the OmniFocus task management application before and today I want to talk about a small but very useful feature: creating tasks via e-mail. As much as I dislike e-mail it is hard to exist or do business today without it. No matter where you are, at the office, home, or on the road e-mail is sure to follow. If you always looking at it wouldn't it be nice if you could create OmniFocus tasks from any e-mail client? After all, using this method would certainly fall under the category of getting things out of your head and into your trusted system.

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From time to time I've talked about productivity and Getting Things Done. It's an approach to work and life that has made a positive difference in me over the last 3 years and I evangelize GTD everywhere I go. If you've never read David Allen's book or you haven't read about the approach here's 10 questions asked of David that discuss what Getting Things Done is and what it's not.

An excerpt from gtdtimes.com:

GTD is simply how anything gets done, and the principles apply not just to any business but to any person in any aspect of their life. As soon as you have more than one thing to do, that you can't finish the moment you think of it, then you can apply the GTD methods to increase your ability to manage what you're doing well.

Click here to read the rest of David's answers.


I've been into this productivity thing for quite some time now. Implementing GTD in all aspects of my life has increased not only my productivity but my sanity as well. Add to that my affinity for gadgets and the iPhone and it's easy to see why I was thrilled to learn the fine folks at OmniGroup were releasing OmniFocus for the iPhone. I bought OmniFocus for the mac well over a year ago and found it easy to drop $19.99 on the full-featured iPhone version. Yea it would've been nice to get a returning customer discount; you can blame Apple's AppStore for not building this functionality into the store.

I've had some time to take the OmniFocus iPhone application for a test drive and here are my favorite features.

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A Lesson in Productivity

Posted by Aaron West at 10:31 PM in Productivity, Personal, GTD, Mac

Who among us does not have the desire to be more productive when it comes to spending time on a computer? Whether it's sifting through hundreds of e-mail, managing several to-do lists, or finding that obscure MP3 among thousands, it is a constant challenge to stay productive when working on my mac. Many times I find myself drifting from task to task without completing anything. Sometimes an e-mail will spawn something that I need to do, other times, I make my own lists of things that need to be done. Examples include updates to my Web site, tutorials that I want to write, e-mail that needs a response, and Adobe user group related tasks. All these items come together, at times halting my productivity, because I'm doing a poor job managing things. I equate juggling all these tasks to the term "DLL Hell" as it relates to the Linux platorm. Let me explain. When you install software on Linux, you often realize you're missing an important component (or DLL) that is required in order to get the software to run. So, you venture off to find that DLL or software piece only to discover that it too has a dependency you're missing. It doesn't take long to get lost in "DLL Hell," searching for all the necessary components. Sometimes this same thing happens to my task list. I start one task only to discover another and another.

So, I decided to combat the confusion and discover better ways to use my mac ultimately breaking bad habits and adopting good ones. What follows are changes I've made that have made the difference.

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