Do Stuff

The above is one of my favorite slides from my OmniFocus presentation at Macworld. A little known secret about me is that in addition to being a computer nerd, I also enjoy woodworking.

Several years ago a friend gave me an amazing Japanese pull saw. I love this saw. I could spend hours polishing and sharpening it. But at the end of the day, I need to cut wood. The same can be said about a task management application (or any fiddley productivity software). You can spend all day adjusting settings, prioritizing tasks, and setting estimates or you can get stuff done.

When I first started using OmniFocus, I often caught myself using it as a procrastination tool. Rather than actually checking off items, I would spend hours on end organizing and prioritizing my data. Although I can be dense, when I realized that at the end of the day I still had most of the same uncompleted tasks I had at the beginning of the day, I knew there was a problem.

The trick to using OmniFocus (or any productivity application) is to not let it govern you. Use it as a tool. For me, this means I open OmniFocus in the morning for about a half-hour and I set priorities and plan my day. In the late afternoon I go back in OmniFocus and audit what happened and make plans for the future. That’s it. I spend the rest of the day checking off items and doing stuff. The iPhone and iPad OmniFocus apps are great for this. They make it easy to see your tasks and check them off as you go along.

So the next time you catch yourself in the middle of the day wasting hours “planning,” or setting iTunes metadata, or cleaning out your address book, shut the lid and get back to sawing wood.

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