Articles

Creating OmniFocus projects from templates and calendar events

Today I want to showcase one of my most favorite automation workflows I am regularly using on my iPad.

When preparing regular events or projects in your task management, it might often be helpful to create templates for frequently occurring tasks.

For example, if you need to prepare some materials for every group meeting, why not have a preset or a mock-project from which you can copy-paste an instance every time you need it. This way, you won’t forget some small task which might be forgettable yet essential.

In this article I’ll go over the process to create templates for new OmniFocus projects, and how to connect it to calendar events for more conveniently creating new projects based on new calendar entries in one click.

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A close look at the task management beast OmniFocus 3

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OmniFocus entered its third release cycle with the release of OmniFocus 3 for iOS.

The app became one of the most prominent task management suites on the Apple ecosystem. It is an often recommended solution for to-do, especially if investing in Getting Things Done workflows.

However, it also comes with a relatively high price and a learning curve. Is OmniFocus worth the effort, and can the solution help you with your productivity needs? I’ll go through all the features in detail and let you decide what you think about them.

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My thoughts on OmniFocus 2 versus 3

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And there it comes, a new major release for OmniFocus: The task management suite which is available since 2008 gets into its third release cycle. The predecessor is award winning and one of the most recommended productivity suites for the Apple ecosystem. So, what’s it all about?

I have been a regular user of OmniFocus for many years (since OF1 days,) so I’ve seen many iterations and new feature upgrades. The version 3 comes with many new features and an updated look-and-feel.

I have been testing the new version since the beginning of closed beta and discuss some thoughts on how OmniFocus 3 improves over 2.

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Notebooks with audio recording and OCR in Notability

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When going digitally with your paperless workflows and the Apple Pencil, the need for a great note-taking tool comes pretty soon. The Pencil is a great piece of hardware, but its built-in iPad apps feel pretty lacking.

Notability comes with more features: The note-taking app optimized for the Apple Pencil can work with loose pages of notes, lecture slides, books, and virtually anything convertible to the PDF format. Your annotation will get indexed and are searchable through handwriting recognition (so-called OCR.)

It also features some rather unique audio recording tools, which allow you to record a meeting while taking notes on it. Later, you can watch the note-taking process as a video while listening to the recording.

I take a look at this app, to see how it compares to other applications when comparing things like the look-and-feel of handwriting, and more.

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Elegant and simple brainstorming with MindNode 5

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Brainstorming is ubiquitous in project management, research, and entrepreneurship. Often, it is done on white boards or alike, but with the digital world there come digital options.

MindNode 5 is the new product cycle of MindNode, a digital mind-mapping tool for iOS and Mac. That makes it a great utility for working over larger distances, where you can’t sit in the same room together and use a white board.

Mindmaps can be exchanged as files, like PDFs, images, or proprietary mind mapping formats. There is also web-sharing to send people a semi-interactive link to your mind maps. Therefore, your collaboration partners do not even need the app.

All-in-all, mind mapping as a brainstorming tool makes an elegant yet simple step from analog to digital.

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Exporting Markdown from OmniOutliner

Both for my day job as a researcher, as well as for this website, I often prepare papers and articles by first writing an outline. In an outline, it is easy to structure articles, re-arrange sections or subsections.

One of my favorite apps in the past has been OmniOutliner. It can export documents to text, XML, word, and others. Unfortunately, it is missing an exporter to Markdown. Luckily, there is OmniJS, the automation scripting language developed by OmniGroup.

In the following, I will showcase one way to use OmniJS, by creating a Markdown-like document from an outline, and exporting it to another app. The scripts works on both iOS and macOS.

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Elegant GTD on Mac and iOS with Things 3

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Things 3 is the third iteration of Things by CulturedCode, an international company with its headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. Things is a popular task management software made for the Apple ecosystem. In its previous version, Things 2 has been around for years and grew to be one of the major solutions on its supported platforms. The suite is available for the Mac, iPhone/Apple Watch, and iPad.

The updated version comes with a new interface, a redesigned workflow and its own solution to task management. They promise the new iteration to be easier to use, more reliable and just in the right spot to serve for all your productivity needs.

As one of the main players for personal task management, can it hold up to its high expectations?

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Getting the most out of the Apple Pencil

The iPad as a 9.7 to 12.9 inch tablet is a great companion in daily life, including work. Many productivity applications like task management tools and writing apps can make it a great replacement for a laptop for light work and in meetings.

The Apple Pencil, which is now available for any iPad (non-Pro bought after Spring 2018 or any previous iPad Pro), is another great addition to this. While often discussed along the lines of art and drawing, it can be used for handwritten notes, document annotations, and more.

In this article, I look at five recommended apps for different use-cases. I take a look at something to replace traditional handwritten notebooks, something for directly working with PDF files, and then some integrated solutions for larger projects and notes spanning multiple documents or notebooks.

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A close look at the GTD beast OmniFocus 2

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With its initial release in early 2008, OmniFocus grew to be one of the most prominent task management suites on the Apple ecosystem. It is an often recommended solution for task management, especially in the lines of Getting Things Done.

But, it also comes with a high price and learning curve. Complex applications often need to be studied, customized and understood, before being able to use them.

Is OmniFocus worth the effort, and can the solution help you with your productivity needs? This article will cover this productivity suite in all details.

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Get nagging reminders and timers with Due App

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There is an important document to hand in, so you create a reminder for it. Unfortunately, it pops up once, while you do something different, and there is goes. Next, it is already to late, as it got forgotten or buried below other notifications.

Due is an app which tries to solve this and similar issues. Despite its generic and hard-to-Google name, it tries to find its own niche. It focuses solely on ways to literally remind you: With nagging repeating reminders every few minutes, customization for alerts, and more.

I take a look at this app to see in which niche it fits and why you should consider dropping your money on it.

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