A Focus on Quality and Options: Why I would OmniFocus at any cost

A recent search through the App Store resulted in 2,001 apps related to task management. With so many choices in productivity management, most available free or at very low-cost, why would I pay $140 for a system?

OmniFocus for Mac – $79.99
OmniFocus for iPad – $39.99
OmniFocus for iPhone – $19.99
Flawless task management on steroids across all devices – priceless

The money I have spent on OmniFocus has always felt like a sound investment.   Even without reading the book Getting Things Done,  upon which OmniFocus was designed, the intuitive tools and detailed management options are easy to use and have gotten consistently better and better over the years.  Whether I have the time and inclination to enter every possible detail for a task, or if I find I am only able to crudely toss tasks, ideas, or reminders into the system, OmniFocus safely manages the details that comprise life.

What’s so great about the system? There are myriad options for organizing thoughts and actions particular to each item you enter into the database.  Looking for a way to efficiently manage those unexpected small blocks of time that occasionally pop-up?  Try assigning times to items as you enter them.  It’s possible to search for actions by the expected time to complete them, giving you the opportunity to make the most of those moments that seem too brief to use productively.

Need a location reminder for a task or an errand? Create contexts that help you complete geographically bound to-dos, and use GPS to prompt alerts that remind you to do something specific to your current location.

Each OmniFocus product has a terrific user interface, and offers its own advantages:

  • Mac OSX – there are a myriad of options for entering the meta-details that are best-managed with a keyboard.  There are also infinite ways to display items in the system.  Part of the “focus” is the ability to quickly add thoughts and ideas, but it also includes the ability to view only what you need to be concerned with at that moment.  It easy to create a view that keeps you on your chosen task.
  • iOS for iPhone – the power of a completely featured program in your pocket is fantastic.  The syncing ability is flawless across all of my devices and keeps me in reach of reminders, or a safe place store a burgeoning idea.  The context-based location reminders mentioned above are pretty great, too.
  • iOS for iPad – offers all the features and flexibility of the other OmniFocus apps, with the best UI of the bunch.  Plus, the iPad app includes the “Review” feature that walks you through your projects so you can keep track of the larger picture, and keep everything current.  Taking a few moments to review all my active projects gives me the opportunity to see new connections between what appeared to be different goals or projects.  Review definitely keeps things from becoming lost or forgotten.

Both the iPhone and iPad apps include the “Forecast” view which gives you a week of tasks and even includes your other calendar items along the bottom so you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your time commitments and the things you are committing to get done.  It is usually this view that leads me to lighten my task load when I consider the other items in my calendar.  I really appreciate the ability to modify my own expectations of productivity based on the reality of other things I have to do rather than have my to-do live in isolation of the rest of the world.

Many other task management tools include similar options, but OmniFocus has managed to meet me where I am, and at the same time provide support and inspiration for greater productivity by suggesting easy ways to include details and make relevant connections between tasks or goals.    I believe what sets OmniFocus apart lies in the incredible support and development  the product brings with it from OmniGroup.  I started using OmniFocus on my mac in 2005, and adopted the iPhone and iPad apps as they became available; I’ve seen these products grow-up and have been consistently impressed with the updates and innovations that come to OmniFocus.  Have a suggestion or a problem with OmniFocus?  OmniGroup wants to hear from you, and you’ll hear back in a timely manner with useful suggestions.  To me, that is as good as it gets.

While I like to think I am devoted to OmniFocus because it has worked its way seamlessly into my life, and simply works so well, I suppose there is another possible explanation.  With the constant opportunity to check out another free or low-cost productivity app it might be hard to commit and really let the time pass for the habits to develop that are essential to a successful program.  I’ve seen friends jump in and out of different systems trying to determine which is the very best one.  Spend some real money on a system and it’s funny how easy it is to commit.  OmniFocus has freed up all that time worrying about whether or not I am using the best option, and then it helped me determine a better use for that time. Thank you OmniFocus!


Published by

Gwen Essex

Gwen is a Health Sciences Clinical Professor in the department of Preventive & Restorative Dental Science, and serves as the Director of Educational Technology for the UCSF School of Dentistry.

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