First impressions on OmniFocus – Ultimate task manager

Brian Bojan Dordevic
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President at Alpha Efficiency

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First thing that made me think whether OmniFocus is good or not, was that it’s Apple only credo, that they follow for so long. You can only get OmniFocus on iOS and OS X. While this keeps it limited for anyone who isn’t totally under Apple umbrella, it has it’s own advantages.

Since I basically migrated from Evernote, I have some major complaints about Omnifocus, but also I have major kudos as well. Omnifocus is a near perfect task manager, especially for “GTD” practitioners. Omnifocus is a robust database, but it has great features. I will review all three parts of this state of the art software.

Desktop Client: This is the weakest link in the OmniFocus chain. The desktop application seems great for capturing information and web clipping, but learning how to use it efficiently has it’s own learning curve. You have to give it some effort, prior to utilizing it properly. What I found amazing, and great, is that some guy wrote a widget for OS X Dashboard that lets you clip with ease. I am using dashboard frequently, so I find it awesome.

desktop client omnifocus

One of the power user tips I recommend is to actually save your Omnifocus backups in your Dropbox folder, so you have your OmniFocus database with you, even in case you aren’t near your computer. OmniFocus backups can be quite big, as they add up through time, so you should watch out on that. The Asian Efficiency guys are having a neat trick, with the use of additional program that is basically a maid for your OS X, deleting unnecessary files.

iPad client: This is the area where you can see how much effort Omni Group is putting into their new products. So far, I know that the development of the new desktop client has been stalled in order to finish up and brush the iPad application. It is truly amazing, and worth the money. I bought it by accident. I wasn’t ready to pay 40$ to get it, but once it already happened, I was totally cool with it. I didn’t have a choice, but I was happy with it.

It has a SLICK design, which is following the Apple philosophy of simplicity, and intuitiveness. Seems that anyone who is following Apple design guidelines when it comes down to app creation, is having massive success. And Omni Group made a hit with this product. And I assume quite a bunch of money, while adding value respectively.

I found one tiny bug. It won’t show your calendar events in Forecasts on iPad. I will try reinstalling the application, and see if it’s only happening on my end, or it’s indeed a bug.

iPhone client: My all time favorite, pocket client. Forecasts is great, it helps me manage on the go, integrates perfectly into the calendar. Allows reminders, and bunch of other things. Collection of information on the go, with the help of audio recording and pictures. It gets the job done.

Spectacular thing about iPhone app is that it has geo located contexts. It can show you your tasks right on the map. I know that iPhone 4s users are in for the threat, because Siri is already integrated, so you can input your tasks into OmniFocus instead of default reminders.

Sync: Now there are couple of solutions offered for your sync. I have chosen to give Omni Group a try with their free beta syncing service. I am not impressed, but the service is still in beta and for this kind of pricey software, sync should remain free as a function.

It offers also WebDAV syncing service, along with Mobile Me. I assume there will also be an option in the future that will allow iCloud sync. Omni Sync is a bit sluggish, but it gets the job done.

OmniFocus flaws: Even though OmniFocus is great, there are some features that I miss terribly. The Number one feature is designated email, where you can send stuff to your inbox. You won’t miss this function while you are in front of your MAC, because of it’s deep system wide, integration. Right click anywhere and you are already clipping.

But once you get on your iPhone or iPad, you will have to copy and paste, and go back, and fourth between apps. That is unnecessary friction, but for the time being, I don’t have any other solution, and I am waiting on the Omni Group to fix the issue.

Desktop client needs a revamp. It has some awesome features, but the design behind it, isn’t as awesome as those on iOS. This is going to be fixed soon, when OmniFocus 2.0 comes out, but until that time, I feel as the desktop clients’ only purpose is to collect information. I have to clarify that this point of view comes from my newbie perspective.

Regarding Evernote integration, during my email correspondence with OmniFocus PR team, they said it’s going to be on it’s way, because apparently a lot of people asked for it, myself included. By a chance, I am also getting traffic based on keywords “Evernote OmniFocus integration”. That certainly explains the demand for this feature.

OmniFocus advantages: Apart from the minor flaws, which I assume will be fixed in the near future, I can safely assume that for the time being, OmniFocus is the best task manager out there! It has significant power user features, like estimated time for time completion, and recurring tasks, grouped by projects, and contexts. It offers different perspectives which you can switch according to your mood.

A huge advantage of OmniFocus is it’s evolving community of users. They have forums, where people are discussing their strategies, and tips, and tricks behind this great platform. They are engaged and helpful, which is in all honesty, the biggest strength of any platform.

Verdict: This platform is created for specific audience, GTD practitioners in particular. I am a firm believer, that even people who aren’t following David Allen’s GTD methodology, can draw massive power out of it. You will have to reconsider getting this software, in case you own some non-Apple devices, like Android tablets or Windows phones.

Second thing that you need to consider is whether your task load requires OmniFocus? Do you really have that many things going on? OmniFocus is definitively not for beginners! In order to know weather OmniFocus is the right tool for you, you should answer these questions:

  • Is your current task manager giving you headache to look at it?
  • Do you have too many tasks for you to organize?
  • Are you using Apple products only?
  • Do you practice GTD?
If you answered all of the questions above with Yes, than this platform is the perfect match for you! Give it a go! It has 14 day free trial, before you make your decision. It’s a pricey application, but if you are going to stick with it, it’s definitively a good bang for your buck. And lastly, I myself, completely moved to OmniFocus, and I am considering making it my one, and only task manager utility. If this is not the thing for you, check out Google Tasks and Evernote as task manager, until your needs grow, or until you improve your hardware.

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