Task management with OmniFocus: reviewing

Weekly review is a key element of the GTD system. Without it,  lists of tasks and projects quickly become outdated leading to loss of trust and eventually to irrelevance of your task management system. Although reviews do not depend on a particular software, I think OmniFocus is so effective precisely because it is the only task management app that directly supports weekly reviews. In particular it is one of its biggest advantages over Things

A review process in OmniFocus is very simple (see more in this MPU screencast):

  • Switch to the Review Perspective (click the coffee cup button in the toolbar): all your projects will be displayed, sorted by the date the next review is due;
  • Check projects one by one. For each project make sure that it is still relevant, has a correct status (Active or On Hold), and has a ‘next action’ (i.e. the task you need to do to move it ahead). Check that the next action has a Context and other necessary information such as a start date and duration assigned. Check off completed tasks and projects and delete unnecessary ones.
  • Mark each checked project as reviewed (using the icon in the toolbar or pressing ⇧⌘R); OmniFocus will automatically move it to the bottom of the list;
  • Move to the next project and repeat the steps above;
  • When the review date for the project which is next in line is in the future (e.g. next week) your review process is completed!

If you have many projects you may wish to review them by area rather them all at the same time. For example as explained here, my projects are divided into Teaching, Research, Administration, Personal, etc. During a review, I can select the Teaching folder in the Sidebar and only see teaching projects. I can even click the Focus button in the toolbar and all other areas will entirely disappear from my view. The review process can also be made more meaningful and less overwhelming by modifying the frequency of reviews for some projects. This is done through using the Inspector where the date of the next review and the frequency of reviews can be specified for a particular project.

Remember that GTD Reviews imply more than just going through the list of the projects in the OF Review Perspective. My checklist for weekly reviews includes:

(a) making sure that all ‘open loops’ from the past week are captured in the OmniFocus Inbox: this means emptying the email and physical inboxes, checking hand-written notes and calendar entries for the past week to make sure all relevant stuff ends up in OmniFocus (or other systems as appropriate);

(b) processing and organizing items in the OmniFocus Inbox;

(c) going through the OmniFocus review as described above;

(d) scheduling work for the coming week including adding necessary calendar entries and checking start dates for your various actions to make sure you won’t be overwhelmed on any particular day.

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About Aleh Cherp

Aleh Cherp is a professor at Central European University and Lund University. He also coordinates MESPOM, a Masters course operated by six Universities.
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One Response to Task management with OmniFocus: reviewing

  1. Pingback: How often is weekly | Academic workflows on Mac

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