OmniFocus on your Wrist

The Most Focused Version of OmniFocus Yet.

I stopped wearing a watch years ago. It was a conscious decision. I rarely needed (or wanted) to know exactly what time it was. When I did have someplace specific to be at a certain time, I relied on my computer (and later, my phone) to advise me when it was time to get going.

When Apple announced the Apple Watch, I decided I was going to try shackling my wrist once again. The tan line would be worth it to see if it could help me be more productive with less friction. I’m still getting used to it, but I’ve already noticed that for some things, I do prefer the watch. I can reference, capture, or update without getting distracted by myriad unrelated (hence, unimportant) things.

One of the apps I’m most interested in is OmniFocus. I’ve used OmniFocus for tracking tasks and projects since it was some AppleScripts for OmniOutliner, and I couldn’t wait to see how the watch would affect how I use OmniFocus to get things done.

The Transitive Property of Importance

Why you should—or shouldn’t—care about what they care about.

The Transitive Property of Equality is one of those mathematical principles that’s so intuitive, you don’t think about it, and most people don’t realize that it has a name.

Simply put, if A = B and B = C, then A = C. You can break a $10 bill into two fives, ten ones, or a five and five ones. No matter how many pieces of paper you have folded in your wallet, you have $10.

The same principle applies to importance. When planning how you spend your time and attention, it’s appropriate to focus on what’s important to you and shut out everything else. That doesn’t mean you’re a self-centered boor.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/sezer66

When Everything’s Important, Nothing Is

You really can get more done by focusing on less.

Spoiler alert: in The Incredibles, the villain, Syndrome, is trying to destroy the superheroes, not by attacking them directly, but by creating the technological equivalent of super powers so anyone can be super. He’s stopped before he can get that far, of course, but that’s the plan. It’s the end he has in mind.

Syndrome knows that it won’t be enough to kill them. He has to remove what’s special about them. Unique. “When everyone’s super,” he concludes his monologue, eyes narrowing in resentment. “No one will be.” (For a more in-depth exploration of how this works, read The Fountainhead. It’s same plot, with no capes.)

This isn’t just the stuff of disillusioned geniuses in bright spandex and weighty philosophical tomes. You’re doing this to yourself every day. It’s destroying your productivity. You’ve decided that so many things in your life are important, nothing is.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Jezperklauzen

Talk to the Duck

Let a little yellow friend help you find the answers to the tough questions.

One of the most useful programming techniques I’ve picked up is called Rubber Duck Debugging. They definitely didn’t cover this when I was in college.

How many times have you ever discussed a problem with someone else, only to have this inscrutable problem become blindingly clear mid-sentence? The person listening doesn’t even need to understand what’s going on. There’s something about just talking the problem through that helps us gain new insights and understanidng.

This is the principle behind Rubber Duck Debugging. It involves discussing the problem with—yes—a little yellow rubber duck. It can help you sort out all kinds of problems, not just code-related.

Keep Asking Why

Our daughter’s favorite word is chocolate. (Or maybe iwannawatchteevee.) But close behind it is why.

You know this phase. The inquisitiveness. The insatiable curiosity. The realization that there are reasons behind what we do, and trying to understand how all the pieces fit together—including motive.

Then at some point, we stop asking why. We stop questioning. We stop looking for the understanding that will give us greater insight into what’s going on around us. That insight leads to influence.

Sakichi Toyoda, the founder of Toyota, developed what he called Five Whys. It was an iterative question-asking technique used to get to the root cause of a problem. Start with the problem, and keep asking why it happened. Three-year-olds intuitively understand it.

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/mizikm