Omnifocus folders: grouping projects

Tags: gtd

I’m currently updating my GTD setup. I use omnifocus for that.

One of the handy features is that you can group your projects in folders (and subfolders, should you be so inclined, which I’m not). I use it to bring a bit of order in my huge project list, as I have 50-100 projects, which is quite a normal number if you don’t make your projects too big.

I use a couple of targeted folders:

  • Big long-term projects, like building my model railway. I don’t want to turn that into one mega-project. Instead I have smaller specific projects for digitalizing a certain locomotive, figuring out the track plan for one of the stations, building a station building.

    Another example folder from a few years ago was “preparing the new house” with projects like “new window in the roof”, “install the kitchen”, “paint the staircase”.

  • Longer-term roles. Half a year ago, my four year period as my church’s secretary ended. So… that was a folder, too. A project per meeting, as 50% of my work was meeting-centric. Preparing the calender beforehand, gathering info, mailing people. Handling the tasks resulting from the meeting afterwards.

    Omnifocus made it easy for me to put something on my todo list for a meeting half a year in the future. I don’t think I ever forgot anything. GTD realy shone for me during this time! I’m not that organized and neat by nature. The fact that everybody was happy with how I did it is a testimony to GTD :-)

    The other projects in there were for specific projects like “clean out the archive”.

    Next year a big part of my work will be devops/sysadmin/cleanup/quality work. That’s a nice big role that deserves its own projects to drive it forwards.

The rest of the projects is grouped into:

  • Generic work.

  • Personal.

Splitting projects between the two, for me, is practical. As with any ordering, there are projects that are bound to fall in two categories at the same time. You’ll just have to make a judgment call for them. In my case, some open source projects are both a personal hobby and they’re use a lot at work. So sometimes I work on them in the evenings, sometimes during office hours. Ah well.

An additional comment about the targeted groups: they are great for focusing attention and ensuring progress. So I use them sparingly. Every year I try to pick three goals/areas upon which I want to focus. One or two of them invariably ends up as a folder. This just seems to demand projects and progress :-) logo

About me

My name is Reinout van Rees and I work a lot with Python (programming language) and Django (website framework). I live in The Netherlands and I'm happily married to Annie van Rees-Kooiman.

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