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.

Must be done today.
Should be done today.
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.

Mac OS X, Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux together in Parallels worlds

So I bought two seats of Parallels a week or so ago. I couldn't resist: It was buy one, get one free. (And still is through December 31st.) Now my desktop Mac at work and my MacBook Pro drive the latest versions of OS X Leopard, Windows Vista and Ubuntu Linux, all from the same desktop, running in ... parallel. Who needs to choose between Mac and PC when there's Parallels?

Stuck with StickyWindows

Following up on my previous post on trying to remove StickyWindows, it apparently did not work. Upon rebooting, the f***ing application was there again in the preferences panel.

I am really hating StickyWindows. What kind of application embeds itself permanently into your computer? Malware, spyware, rootkits... WTF!

Donelleschi, you have worn out your welcome.

Do not install StickyWindows unless you know for sure that you will never ever want to uninstall it, because you won't be able to.

When I have time, I'm going to do some deeper digging to remove this stinger from my computer. But I have work to do.

Unsticking StickyWindows


StickyWindows is an app I thought I would like, but after nabbing and grabbing windows and generally distracting me from my work, I decided to uninstall it....

...except that I couldn't. Searching through the Applications folder yielded nothing. Searching through Applications Support in the Library yielded nothing.


The app was there in the Preferences Pane, so what I did was find the file in the Preferences folder and delete that. I'm not sure if there are other pieces lurking around my hard drive still, but I found that experience supremely annoying.

Bad on you, Donelleschi!

Me not available

When the Apple Store came back up after revamping, somewhere around the WWDC this week, I went to and was redirected to the Apple MobileMe page.

But for the past 2 days now, has been down. DNS is hell.

Yojimbo without .Mac (update)

Via my Lijit stats, I see that quite a few people are coming here searching for a solution of syncronizing or backing up Yojimbo without .Mac.

Alas I don't have an answer. I gave up and signed up for the .Mac service, despite their claimed "right" to snoop through or destroy whatever I put there. I'm using much more encryption on my entries now, that's for sure (and probably a best practice anyway).

I wish there were another answer. Alas....

EULA blues: How can I synchronize Yojimbo without .Mac?

After comparing many programs for my regular note-taking, I keep returning to Yojimbo. The tagging system and spotlight support are enough for me to find my misc notes. Syncing via .Mac has a nice wrinkle in that it will merge changes to individual files, so if you update a file on one computer, and another file on the other computer, when you sync them both changes are reflected on both machines. Still, while the tagging approach can be fast, creating more complex relationships is difficult, if not impossible. In the end, Yojimbo is not ideal, and I'm still planning on trying alternatives, but this is what I have.

What's worse, I'm kind of painted into a corner because BareBones has decided, in their wisdom, to provide no way at all to export your items except one at a time. There's also no way to export for backup, unless you want to manually back up the Yojimbo Application Support folder in your user Library.

This means that, out of the box, the only way to move files or back up your notes in Yojimbo is to use .Mac ... which is not ideal, when you consider the rather objectionable .Mac EULA, that includes such lovely items such as:

Subject to any specific license agreements for various .Mac software
features (including third party software), Apple may change, suspend or
discontinue any (or all) aspects of .Mac at any time, including the
availability of any .Mac feature. Apple may also impose limits on the
use of or access to certain features or portions of .Mac, or restrict
your access to any part or all of .Mac, in all cases without notice or

In other words, they can just kill your stuff without consequence. Oh sure, they would never do that! But if not, then why do they claim the right in the agreement?


Apple reserves the right to terminate your access to .Mac at any time,
with cause or without cause, in the event of any breach of this
Agreement by you (or anyone using your account or any sub-account),
your infringement of Apple's or .Mac's or others' intellectual
property, or any other circumstances which, in Apple's sole discretion,
merit termination. Any such termination may, if Apple elects (and
subject to applicable law), be without any refund to you of any prepaid
fees or amounts.

Translation: Apple can arbitrarily cancel your account and keep your money, and you have no recourse.



Translation: Apple can look at all your private files.

Why would I pay $99 a year, or more, for service under such terms? So this is now what I'm trying to avoid.

So does anyone out there know of a way to synchronize Yojimbo between machines without .Mac?

RIP Microsoft?

A few weeks ago, I started telling friends my wild and crazy prediction that Apple will own a majority share of the personal computer market within three years. Apple's biggest weakness is in their vertical monopoly over their own hardware. OSX is fabulous, but their hardware is crap, let's face it. You simply have to figure the cost of Apple Care into any Mac purchase because you can count on some sort of hardware problem.

Despite this -- and who's to say Apple won't change its tune regarding hardware? -- Apple's star is definitely rising, while Microsoft's is in a self-inflicted crash and burn.

Paul Graham, in is post, "Microsoft is Dead," has the quote of the month:

Microsoft's biggest weakness is that they still don't realize how much they suck.

The same could be said for a number of companies. Graham recognizes that a number of folks will scoff at these assertions.

Half the readers will say that Microsoft is still an enormously profitable company, and that I should be more careful about drawing conclusions based on what a few people think in our insular little "Web 2.0" bubble. The other half, the younger half, will complain that this is old news.

Graham still succumbs to the notion that all "applications will live on the web—not just email, but everything, right up to Photoshop." Such black-and-white thinking may provide a poetic flourish, or add drama to pronouncements on the future, but my own sense is that the general public is going to start noticing the pound of privacy flesh web companies, like Paul Graham's employer, demand for the convenience of the services they offer.

The desktop is not dead, but it is changing. So is the web (duh), and just as desktop übercompany Microsoft is feeling the heat for their business practices and strategic decisions, we might see the same thing happening to the übercompanies of the web before too long.

My 5p4m-less life

I have a new technological love affair: SpamSieve. 200+ fewer love notes in my in-box every day.

Alas, I'll just have to do without all that helpful unsolicited information. I'll miss notices that I need to go tell my bank my bank account number. I'll not see all those customer inquiries about my eBay items I didn't realize I'd put up for auction. I'll be oblivious to the fact that I've been approved for a $347,978 mortgage. Warnings to avoid enhancement pills will escape my notice. Forget about cureall [sic] stores and veiny illustrations of male appendages. And the Nigerian Minister will just have to find another lucky soul.

I never realized just how much baseline stress receiving so much useless and offensive crap was causing me. My email is clean, and it's quite a lovely day today.



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