After several months of discussion, planning, preparation, and writing, I am so proud to announce that I have partnered with the wonderful and talented Rosemary Orchard to co-produce the Nested Folders Podcast!

We’ll discuss all manners of productivity topics, mostly centres around philosophies, techniques, and approaches, so that listeners can benefit from our experiences, regardless of apps or systems they might use.

We’re just starting out, and no doubt we’ll iterate and improve, but I am very excited to share and learn through this new podcast, and would love to hear any and all feedback from everyone!

Also, a huge thanks and shout out to Josh Hughes for the amazing cover art. Love this!

My system has been broken. Not broken in the way that the mechanics of it don’t work, but broken in its content. Here’s what happened:

I had an OmniFocus inbox of about 40 items. For a week. And I didn’t touch them. Why? Because 40 is a lot. 40 is many. And like everyone, I have a lot to do, and getting to clarifying and organizing that stuff just couldn’t make it to the top of my attention. But I hate baggage like that.

Finally, on our about day 8 of this inbox (now more like 50), I rolled up my sleeves and I got to sorting it out. And a funny thing happened.

As it turns out, all of the actions here were totally valid things I could do, and maybe even some I ought to do, but in reality, none of them were meaningful enough to actually do.

The good news, then, is that I made good choices by ignoring this pile that had been yelling at me. The bad news is that I let that pile exist in the first place.

I think the problem is that, with digital systems in particular, it’s easy to add content. There’s no significant time involved to add items (heck, I can automate the creation of many), and there are no real storage limits. With no cost or barrier to entry, it’s really easy to pick up “I mights” and “maybes”.

My solution? Digital bankruptcy.

For a period of about a week, I went back to paper. Not because I don’t love my digital tools, because I do, but because I wanted it to be hard to take on work. If I wouldn’t be willing to write it down, why would I be willing to do it?

This really worked. I have taken on way fewer things, and done more and better with the really important stuff. Having a greater sense of what this should feel like, I am moving back to digital, but carrying with me some of the analog parts to keep inbox down.

I should say, too, that I discovered this wasn’t just an inbox problem. I was allowing way too many bodies of work in to my world, thinly spreading my attention across many projects, being massively distractable, and less available to others. I don’t blame the tools, this was a discipline problem, and I needed help to regain that discipline.

I unhesitatingly recommend The Bullet Journal Method, by Ryder Carroll. If you use a paper system, this is a fantastic approach. If you don’t use paper, the philosophies, ideas, and ways to approaching work and life are valuable for consideration in any tool sets. I’ll be rapid logging in a notebook rather than pouring everything I might passingly want to do into my action inbox, for example.

So this is my summer theme now, almost a little Jerry Maguire: fewer projects, more attention. Few people get remember Ed for the many things they did; it’s the things they did really really well that leave a mark.

A weekly status review on projects with one’s boss tends to be part of having a job, and I was recently asked about how I use OmniFocus and Agenda for this process. It was a great question, because it made me think about my workflow so that I am optimizing for both:

  1. Simplicity – having the right amount of detail and ease of execution
  2. The audience – making sure my workflow makes it easy for my boss to consume the content I’m offering up

Continue reading

It’s that magical time of year where I have to shovel my driveway four times in one weekend, but it’s so worthwhile, because I’m cozied up by the fire now while the outside is blanketed in beautiful snow that reflects the lights my neighbours have hung with care.

Also, there’s a bajillion things to do. How does one cope?

I thought that, for both my sanity and for the purposes of sharing, I’d break down my holiday construct in OmniFocus.

Continue reading

I’m a meetings guy. Largely not by choice, but a lot of my work day is meetings.

One of the biggest traps of meetings is that, unless they are very well facilitated (spoiler alert: many aren’t), it gets really easy for agreements or commitments to be made but then later lost or never acted on.

After all, saying stuff is easy.

I’ve found just the right solution to this that works for me, though, and so I wanted to write about it.

Continue reading

One of the marquee features of OmniFocus 3 is the move from Contexts to Tags. I adore this capability, but I think it introduces a lot of questions:

How do I use this?
Do I worry about how many Tags I have?
In what ways should I apply those Tags to actions?

Now everyone’s answer to this will be different (which is wonderful, and demonstrates the flexibility of the software here), but I wanted to share my own experience.

Continue reading

I was recently asked by a colleague how I approach the development of new strategies or processes or products. Essentially, how do I start to create a something that isn’t an evolution of something that is, but that is new?

In business, this is a tricky one, because not only would I need to solve this for myself, I’d also need to know how to convince others of what I’ve come up with and recommend. Going from “what if…” to having an actual plan about that is not a simple play.

Continue reading