How OmniFocus Can Make You a Better Person

OmniFocus makes me a better person because it reminds me to do things, even if they need to be done at a date and time considerably later than when I realize they need to be done.

Some examples:

  • Last July, a friend of mine told me that there was a possibility that some of her artwork would be featured on a popular television show. Thing was, the episode would air sometime in the first part of 2012 (6-8 months later, in other words). I added a task in OmniFocus to hit her up about it starting on January 2 and, sure enough, I saw it and I asked her about it.

  • My son told me in August of 2011 that he really wanted a slot car track for his 7th birthday (in July of 2012). I just checked OmniFocus and there’s a task that will become active on June 1, giving me plenty of time to shop around (and find out if he’s even still interested in the idea).

  • By and large, our family abstains from eating out during Lent. I’m a pretty social guy and regularly meet friends for dinner or drinks, so I have a handful of tasks that describe the people with whom I have tentative plans to meet. They’ll all become active the Monday after Easter.

  • Our trash gets picked up every Monday morning. So, every Sunday afternoon, OmniFocus reminds me to roll the trash cans down the driveway to the curb so they’re ready for emptying the following morning. This is a simple one, sure, but I can tell you that my wife is pretty damn happy that this gets done with consistency and regularity that it does.

“Ok, smart guy, I kinda see your point, but aren’t you being a little extravagant in saying that this app makes you a better person?”

I don’t think so, honestly.

It helps me be thoughtful. Or, perhaps more accurately, it helps me act on thoughtful gestures, regardless of when the occur to me. The things listed above would have very little hope of happening if I just tried really hard to remember them when they were supposed to happen. Could I do the same thing with a regular calendar? Not really; if the thing I want to remember has multiple tasks associated with it that need to be performed in a certain order, then the calendar simply won’t work (or it will be incredibly clunky).

I appreciate that people use simpler tools for managing tasks and such. For me, though, the only way the process can truly work is when I can put absolutely everything inside it and know that I’ll see it when I need to — even if it’s something as benign as a garbage cans or as important as delighting my boy on his birthday.

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