Curiosity finally got the best of me. When I peruse new apps and lists of the “top” or “best” apps, the productivity app, OmniFocus, consistently shows up. I’m a sucker for anything that’s going to make my life and/or work easier. I would always look into it on iTunes, but the $79.99 pricetag for the Mac version, the $39.99 for the iPad, and the $19.99 for the iPhone, always stopped me in my tracks.
But I just got back from a busy weekend away and have my share of work to get caught up on. I knew a good productivity app could help me keep everything straightened out and keep me on track for getting it all done. I decided to bite the bullet and spend the $39.99 for the iPad version to see if it’s all worth it. Here’s my verdict.
One of the best parts of OmniFocus is that they do almost everything they possibly can to help you get started and answer all your questions. As soon as you open the app for the first time, you are given a project “Getting Started with OmniFocus” and two tasks related to that – watching a video and accessing the help menu. OmniFocus has a browser built-in (but it doesn’t play any video). There’s an option to open whatever link you’re viewing in Safari, but it’s doesn’t view there either. I had to switch to an iPad browser that can view Flash video. That was okay, but it shouldn’t be promoted within the app to view it. It should be noted that you need to open it another way, or there should be someway to view the video in-app. In the list of open tasks, there are also several of the most-asked questions listed directing you to the help menu.
A bookmarklet can be added into Safari so that if you come upon a link you want made into a project or a task, you can send the link directly into OmniFocus. They list very easy directions on how to set the bookmarklet up. I operate a website where I need to periodically edit articles from other writers. I have two waiting in the queue there in WordPress and need to remember to edit them when I get a chance later. I clicked the Safari bookmark to send links for those articles into OmniFocus and made them tasks. When I click those links later in OmniFocus, they will open in the built-in browser, allowing me to edit right there. However, like Safari, I can’t add images in this way, so will have to use an alternate app to do that, as I am already doing anyway.
I set out to build my projects and contexts. Instead of having many separate projects, I decided to use those for the separate places where I contribute writing, including the website I run and Make Tech Easier. I’m just keeping them open projects, and set the tasks up as repeating weekly and daily, as they are scheduled. If I have separate ideas for these articles, I can set them up as quick tasks, then add them into their projects later if I decide to go with it. When jotting down a new task, along with assigning it to a project, you can also assign it a context. These include home, office, etc. I created an additional context for my martial arts school where I instruct and do work behind-the-scenes as well.
I can open up collections of tasks in a number of different ways, such as by task, by context, by due date, etc. I can also assign map views to different contexts. One of my favorite ways is by “Forecast”. This is a forecast for the tasks you have open. Not only is it showing me what I need to get done right now, it’s gives me a week into the future. I can click on each day and see everything collected that day that will be due. You can see I have my work cut out for me today. As I get each task done I can check them off, and can choose to either see my completed and open tasks, or just the ones that are still open.
Between my writing, martial arts, and family, I have a full plate, and OmniFocus, just in the short time I’ve been using it, is already helping me keep it all sorted out. While writing this, my husband called and told me I have one less thing to do today, as his truck isn’t finished at the shop yet, so I don’t need to return the rental car. I went in and changed it right away on OmniFocus. For me, a busy person, the $40 for the iPad version is worth it. It won’t be for everyone, but for the busy people who struggle to keep it all sorted out, that $40 is nothing for an app that works well and helps so much.
What do you think? Will you ever invest $40 on such a productivity app?