One of the three core pillars of organization is the ease of accessibility.1 Today, we’ll focus on how we can assign a tag to a task with ease.
OmniFocus already helps by giving us an autocomplete function. We just type a few letters and OmniFocus handily suggests what we are looking for. We can also assign the “Forecast” tag with a key command. And for those adventurous enough to start using scripts, we can assign key commands to any tag.
While the key commands can be helpful, we can certainly create more tags than possible key commands. So relying on just the autocomplete function is important in many cases.
An issue arises, when we have several tags that start with the same letters. While typing a few more letters to call a desired tag is often not a big deal, it can become a nuisance, particularly if it happens frequently.
Usefully, the ease with which we can call a tag is more than by its name. There are at least 3 factors considered when calling a tag using the autocomplete function:
- Order of listing
- Level in tag hierarchy
To illustrate, let’s begin with my current set of tags:
Name & Order
Tags that are listed first will appear first when its letters are typed.
So, as I like to use the @Current tag quite often, I have it listed high up. That way all I need to do is type the letter “c” and it will appear:
In contrast, to tag something with @call, I type “cc”:
I actually use @Someday/Maybe with good regularity. I have simply too many tags that begin with “S” for it to compete in the midst of everything else. Listing it high means I only need to type “s”:
Consider also that the hierarchy of a tag will have an impact, too. For example, if I were to have a tag @Doug in the of top hierarchy of tags, then it would take precedence over @Tool : Desktop even though the latter is listed higher.:
@Desktop is easily a tag I’d use more regularly. In this case, I would move @Doug and file it under @Agendas : Friends. While that fits the general organization, it would also mean that typing “D” would call @Desktop first.
In this way, we can consider the titles, order, and hierarchy positions of our tags. It is useful to create them with an eye towards having them appear with as few letters as possible, preferably with one letter.
As a result, the following discussion is more about a process of organizing over time. I haven’t organized all my tags in this way in one fell swoop.
I don’t think this is the sort of thing one has to do in one fell swoop. Doing so, is more likely an exercise in procrastination. I made such changes over time only as needed, one tag at a time. I suppose that makes this is one of those more “natural formations” of organization.
But if you notice yourself typing the letter “C” and running into @Car or @Call again and again, then consider how you might arrange things. Since it’s a small change, maybe add the idea to the Inbox so that when you’re next processing it, you can do it as a quick 2-minute-or-less item. 2
- See Workflow Mastery for an in depth examination of organizing in digital, physical, or mental media. ↩
- For an in-depth discussion of using the Inbox to avoid procrastination associated with organizing, consider Being Productive, modules 6, 7 and 12. ↩
I use these principles too and in addition abbreviation. For example, I have more than 50 names in tags and if I have James Bond as a tag I make it James Bond/JB. Typing in JB works really easy
I’ve been deliberate about naming things for the same reason.
I’ve used keyboard shortcuts extensively with OF.
1. It makes it easy to name tasks so they don’t need certain kinds of tags, AND because I use OF exclusively on mobile devices, and while I use a keyboard with those device, I don’t usually have one connected when on the run, entering on the fly.
2. It makes sorting by name a bit of a dream come true. “Connect@Call: Name – reason” all groups together, separate from “Connect@Visit: Name – details.” “Shop@StoreName: – for” separates itself from “Shop@Online: Website – what I want” and “Watch@Theater: Tinseltown – Name of Show and time” is separate from “Watch@Net: YT…” or “Watch@TV: – etc.”
That requires some thought work up front, to get the shortcut I want with the fewest number of letters and options to get the desired output. I preface all of my OF keyboard shortcuts with a “z” to keep them visually separated from other shortcuts I have created.
This gives me more room to have helpful tags, which I love, and which are also carefully labelled and/or positioned for quick access!
Perspectives plus expanded tags makes it so easy to corral things by
Individual Frequent Use tags like:
Errand, Waiting, Honey Do, Today, Dashboard (soon, but not necessarily Today)
Groups of Tags like:
Where (beyond local town)
Who (mainly groups, as individual names can go into tasks)
Events (that may, for various reasons, be important to keep here as well as in a Calendar) What (not an event, but things I want to id by those specific activities)
Defer (lists of things I’m considering planning or doing, reading, watching, listening to, etc.), Docs (exactly where to find pics of docs attached to tasks, like DL’s, POLI’s, itineraries and tickets)
a mixed bag group called Priority that I still fuss with.
I think my biggest challenge, besides overwhelm from overfilling OF, is that I am so visual that I need to see just what I want to see, or I get bogged down. Unfortunately, using nesting folders to achieve this just wasn’t working well (names of folders and projects hog screen real estate and are cumbersome to shift around). I’m definitely trying to clean up my OF work space, but I’m very pleased at how naming conventions for tags and keyboard shortcuts/tasks smooth the way for data entry, tag assignment and visualizing tasks in an organized way.