Implementing Areas of Focus Using OmniFocus

Something I struggled with when first trying to implement GTD was how to organize tasks and projects around the different parts of my life. Right now I have several top-level folders in OmniFocus organized into different “Areas of Focus,” based roughly on priority and general urgency. I happen to be using OmniFocus to do this, but the idea is actually pretty app-agnostic.

  • Routine
    • With sub-single task lists for things I need to do on a repeating basis. For me, they’re called “Personal,” “Business” and “System.” The first two are for things that relate to those parts of my life (e.g. “Invoice clients”), and “System” is for things that relate to keeping my actual task system running, like “Perform Weekly Review,” and “Process OmniFocus inbox.”
  • Personal
    • Any projects that are non-work related and don’t fall into one of my other areas (e.g. “Make dentist appointment,” “Get things from storage.”)
  • Business
    • Administrative tasks related to running my business and client projects.
    • There’s a subfolder called “Clients,” which has subfolders for each client where I keep projects related specifically to them.
  • Apps
    • Anything to do with my own apps.
  • Music
    • Anything relating to booking, performing and recording.
  • Travel
    • Anything related to travel — booking flights and hotels, things to do while I’m there) - — business related or not. Mostly for conferences (e.g. “Cingleton 2012”).
  • Miscellaneous (single task list)
    • Single tasks, a lot of things to look up, one-step errands, etc. I try to not let this get too long. Sometimes these turn into — or become a part of — a full blown project in one of the above areas.

One thing I don’t do is let any projects live outside of this hierarchy at all. I’ve kind of waffled on whether this is necessary or not, but everything should relate to something, so I’ve stuck with it. Something that’s changed is, instead of having one top level “Miscellaneous” list, I used to have a single-task list inside each folder called “Single Actions,” but I stopped doing this since I wanted to stay away from keeping two many items in single action lists, and there didn’t seem to be any major benefit to doing it the other way.

Collin Donnell @collin