Getting the right things done Franklin style (almost) using OmniFocus

Task management can be a challenge if you have a lot of stuff going on. "Urgent" things are always distracting you: the phone rings, colleagues interrupt you, a client asks for help, emails, newsletters, snail mail, IMs, Tweets....

You could be buzzing like a bee, getting a whole lot of things done, but not getting done the right things.

I would love to be using a Franklin-Covey Planner program on my Mac, but they don't make one for Mac. So the choices are:

  1. Run the Franklin-Covey Planner on Wine or Windows using Parallels;
  2. Run the newer Franklin-Covey software on Windows using Parallels;
  3. Use the kludgey online version;
  4. Use the Franklin-Covey system on paper; or
  5. Adapt an existing Mac-friendly app for task management, with workflows to make it as close as possible to Franklin-Covey.

I've tried the first four, and after total fail with each, I'm now going with the last option.

And I think I found something with OmniFocus.

OmniFocus and Getting Things Done

I've been trying out OmniFocus off and on since the OmniGroup was doing private alphas. They have come a long long way. The app is much much improved now. They've really nailed some usability shine.

But I confess that the main reason I went back to OmniFocus (after working with Things for a few months) was that there's an OmniFocus iPhone app that syncs with the desktop versions over MobileMe. (So far, Things has syncing across wireless, but not via MobileMe.) And the iPhone app itself is quite robust, including geotagged contexts (which is helpful when out and about running errands).

That said, I'm not a GTD acolyte. Dogmatists can bark at the urgent and the easy. I don't have the time, and need to focus on the important.

OmniFocus and Franklin-Covey

The Franklin-Covey method involves a daily review of the tasks to be done. Each item is given an A, B or C, or left in a long-term "sometime" pile.

A
Must be done today.
B
Should be done today.
C
Could be done today.

In OmniFocus, I use the flag feature to mark the A items.

Context isn't everything (but it sure helps)

One of the wonderful things about OmniFocus is the Context feature. You can sort your tasks by context -- where you are, what program you're using, etc. At first I had a hard time figuring out context, but now I've gotten the hang of it.

What Franklin has that GTD doesn't

The needs are not covered.

  1. To live.
  2. To love and be loved.
  3. To feel important.
  4. Variety.

Governing values are not covered.

Long-term objectives are not covered.

Those things are more homeworky than specifically task-related, but you are supposed to work those things as reference points to make your prioritization process easier.

Speaking of prioritizatin.... If you have too many things to do? There is no prioritization, no automatic escalation. You have your top things, flagged, and the rest. Getting out of reactive mode and into proactive mode seems to be pretty much outside of the GTD system. You're on your own there.

In OmniFocus, I use the color coding for what's due in the next 24 hours and what is now past due to sort of have an upcoming lower priority list.

It's not perfect, but it's something ... a kludge to make what otherwise is a pretty cool and useful (by being available by all my Macs and my iPhone) app.

For some sage advice on getting over last year, check out paulag01's BlogHer post.

Comments

Thanks for sharing this. I love learning about other people's implementation of Personal Productivity systems.

You are absolutely right about being proactive...it's a personal choice!

@troymalone
Pelotonics

I've been familiar with the Franklin planner system for about 20 years. I used an early Mac software they had (I think some 15 years ago), plus software for the Palm, too. I too was sad to see them only focus on Window products. Understanding the Franklin method, I can understand where your focus is in comparing it to GTD's method. I found an old, but still good article online that compares GTD to Franklin at http://www.writingonyourpalm.net/column040202.htm

One program I want to try, but haven't yet is Life Balance (see: http://www.llamagraphics.com/drupal) Life Balance has a top to approach (compared to GTD's bottom up approach) This is very similar to the Franklin/Covey method. If you decide to check it out, please let me know. I'd love some feedback on it. Honestly, ever since Franklin dropped Mac & Mac/Palm support, I've felt like I've been spinning wheels trying to create my own stuff ... unsuccessfully and for quite some time :(