Handling Deadlines and Multiple Projects – with OmniFocus and MindNode

Juggling multiple deadlines, knowing what to start and when, and knowing what we will be able to take on a few months from now is not a simple matter. Each project we take on will likely last an unclear amount of time, and we’ll have other responsibilities to take care of in the meantime.

In this video and post, I describe how I’ve been planning and setting up several long term projects using a combination of MindNode and OmniFocus.

Zen & The Art of Work — Making Decisions

I’ve been around the Intertubes for a while now, and I’m still trying to figure out the best means of handling its what’sits and whatnots.

In today’s adventures, I’ve published a post to three places:

I’ve posted once before to Medium and never to LinkedIn. That’s either wise, or it’s not wise. It could also be something else. But I’m not going there.

In any case, the post is about making decisions which, I guess, is what I did when I posted it to three places.


Courage to Pause

We can only act here and now.

Of course, this seems obvious, but it is not. In fact, there are reasons to hide from the present moment, and we can easily do so without realizing it.

Acting from the present means directly facing the real limits of time and attention. We would realize that whatever we choose to do now will take every other choice off the table, at least for now. There are many feelings that come with that knowledge.

But when we do act with full presence, we face the limits of time and attention with strength. The risks needed, the mourning of lost possibilities, and the acknowledging of fears in paths taken — all factor in to a solid decision.

It is not easy to face the current moment. But the act of doing so is simple — that is to pause.

Pausing returns us to the present. When we pause, our current world of worries and want, our thoughts and feelings, all have time to settle in conscious awareness.

It takes courage to pause. But when we do, our decisions gain strength. We find footing, courage, and adaptability to move forward.

Also posted to ZenandtheArtofWork.com

Zen & The Art of Work – Find calm in work and play.

Zen & The Art of Work is a set of exercises to help you do more and stress less.  It can help you in fields of business, school, the creative arts, home and more.  You can even learn to develop a path of mastery in whatever field you choose.  The course can help you build a new system or return to one if you’ve “fallen off the wagon”. It can also fit well with a system you already have.

Followers of the mailing list should have already received (or will receive soon) the Introduction module.  If you’re interested in getting the free sample, as well as samples of Creating Flow with OmniFocus and Workflow Mastery, sign up here.  You can also watch the Introduction in the embed below.

The video course contains 16 individual modules with 14 exercises (plus an introduction and a conclusion video). The course is the product of many years of work with clients, a compilation of ideas from therapy, many popular productivity ideas, meditation, creativity, and more.

Zen & The Art of Work marks the third piece in the work efficiency trilogy which began with Creating Flow with OmniFocus and Workflow Mastery.

As a bonus, purchasers will receive the soundtrack of the course Zen & the Piano.

All courses and books are available at ZenandtheArtofWork.com and UsingOmniFocus.com.

Here’s the Introduction:

GTD & Creativity

Can GTD be used for creative work?


In short, yes.

But, let’s consider the debate from either side:

Everyone has a valid point. Each writer moves on to lend useful ideas about how to create conditions supportive of creativity. In the end, we’re likely discussing the same thing from different angles or even using different terms for the same concepts.

All Tasks Are Not Created Equal

Tasks do exist on a spectrum. We can visualize some tasks clearly, like “Get milk” or “Schedule a doctor’s visit.” Other tasks are more difficult to envision like “Write report” or “Design website”.   The latter types of tasks are “fuzzy” or unclear in vision. We don’t know what they will look like in the end and may only have a sense as to a next step on the way there. In these tasks, much of the work is developing that clarity.

Creativity is an act of discovering what we are making in the act of making it.

To this end, the 2-minute or less oriented task is not so helpful.  But, I do not think this is a hard and fast rule of GTD. And even if it were, does it matter? The heart of GTD, at least as I understand it, is about creating a system we can trust to support ourselves. We use the measure of a clear mind in building that system.

A nice comment from Henry’s interview is:

“Systems exist to help you do the work and whenever your system becomes about the system, or whenever you’re obsessively tweaking your system in order to have a better system, then you’re missing the point.”

We don’t even have to call it GTD.  In fact, let’s go back further to the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson who described Trust vs. Mistrust as the first life stage of development. We can look at another psychoanalyst, DW Winnicott, too. Winnicott describes the importance of the transitional space in forming Play, the lifeblood of creativity.

The point is that Play requires a trusted environment to thrive. That is true for toddlers learning visuospatial skills when playing with blocks, that is true for teenagers learning social skills, and that is true for adults when trying to do good work. Therefore, our work is to develop those trusted environments within our projects, however we decide to do so.

Translating this into concrete applicable steps, I see nothing wrong with writing the task:

“Continue writing story”

and setting it to repeat regularly.  While it is not a 2-minute or less task, it does set up a rhythm of being with the work. It lessens the pressure of forcing something to happen and allows space for the work’s vision to develop over time. We discover and design an environment we can trust in that rhythm to support our own individual sense of Play.

Arranging work in this way, GTD neither conflicts with creative work nor tells us how to be creative. GTD is more about cultivating a system to support our own individual creativity, a spirit we explore, study, and discover throughout our lives.