My GTD #4 - New Perspectives and Shortcuts

Shortly after I published the My GTD series I decided to re-examine my perspectives and address a couple of issues I was having to improve my workflows. I've also recently bought the Pro version on iOS, and I have to say I should have done it a while back. Having the Dashboard on my phone makes things easier when I'm not near my laptop, and the potential of some mobile custom perspectives I decided to rethink my setup a bit.

In particular, I've improved on:

  • Managing my home-related tasks over the weekend
  • Handling new projects as they appear at work
  • Carrying out errands whenever I was out on the town
  • The time my daily review takes

Let's tackle each in order.

Better overview of home tasks

Sunday's can get really slow and sometimes I just want to throw out all my important tasks out the window and just do something mindless. So to make sure I'm not staring at the ceiling, I've made a Home perspective that shows me all available tasks I need to do at home.

Better handling of new projects at work

I've also created a Work perspective just in case I get a free moment or want to reassess what I'm working on. This one is also helpful when a new project lands on my desk. I bring up all the work-related projects I'm handling and make a quick decision on whether to accept or renegotiate my committment to the new project. If I do take the project, knowing what else I have on, I can start telling whomever is waiting on work from me that it will get delayed.

Running errands more quickly

I don't like standing around trying to bring up my list of errands on my phone. To speed this up, I added a new Errands perspective that contains tasks with the errands context. This perspective gets added to my OF Home Menu for easy access.

Faster daily reviews

If the daily review takes a lon time, I am much less likely to do them. Since I'm doing them every day, it's a great place to start optimizing my system to smooth things over. I made three improvements to my daily reviews.

Consolidating review steps

I added a new perspective called [WK] that just shows me two projects: Weekly Goals and Weekly Work. These are my lists of the projects I want to get done during the week, one for private tasks and one for work tasks.

I always review these lists together so it makes sense to view them together, and having them in a single perspective also enables the second improvement: perspective shortcuts.

Perspective shortcuts

I've set a new shortcut for the Dashboard (Shift-Command-D) so I can go back to it quickly during the review. For each perspective involved in the review, namely Inbox, Waiting, Forecast, [WK], and Completed, I assigned the shortcut Command followed by a number from 1 to 5 as they appear in the review checklist. Now I just cycle through each perspective in order and then back to the Dashboard. It's a small improvement but it saves me a few seconds on something I do every day, and more importantly it saves on a lot of typing.

Better trigger lists

I use a David Allen's incompletion trigger list for all my morning mind-sweeps. I've trimmed the list down to only include items which are relevant to me. Before I was storing that list in nvALT. While this was OK and nvALT is a fine tool, I would need to launch it, find the trigger list and then do the mind sweep. Since I already have a bunch of checklists in OmniFocus, it seemed silly to not also have the trigger list in there.

Settings for the Trigger List perspective

This part is simple, I created a new project under the folder Checklist and added all the items to it. I don't mind having 3-4 levels of nested items here because it's not a main active project. Once I've got all the items in OmniFocus I've set the main project and all subprojects in the list to complete once the last item is checked off and set the main project to defer for 1 minutes after completion.

Now here is where things get interesting, I've included the settings so you can recreate it. The settings are straight-forward with two exceptions. I've created a new folder called TriggerList Holder and put the Trigger List project in it [1] and set the perspective to focus on that folder. Now for the awesome part: under presentation I set the perspective to Open in a new window, so now when I hit the shortcut (Shift-Command-T) I get a new window with the trigger list along side the window with the inbox. I can check off each item as I do the mind sweep and when I'm done the perspective is empty.

Seeing just one item at a time is nice because you're not overwhelmed by the full list every time you do a mind sweep. You can take one item at a time and really think about it. I'm eager to see how much stuff falls out of my head with this new approach.

I'm excited to see how my daily reviews are affect by these little improvements. The daily reviews already feel smoother by using the shortcuts instead of using Quick Open.

That's it for now, let me know if you have any questions. Thank you for reading.

Have a Good One. Until Next Time

[1] : Why did I create a whole folder for just one list? I had some issues with the Trigger List project not being picked up by the perspective after it was marked completed. Not only that, but I couldn't get OF to add that particular project to the focus list of a perspective. Having the folder seems to be a good workaround.

-- Jay Blanco