Completed Perspectives in OmniFocus

There is a particular perspective view within OmniFocus that I have neglected for far too long. It has actually helped to provide the answer to a situation I have been struggling with for the last three months whilst working with my latest client.

That situation is this:

I want to be able to pull up a list of tasks that I have completed, related to any given product for this particular client, as well as a log of all activity and communications that pertain to that produce.

Within just one application.

That last statement is where the problem, I feared, was unresolvable. I just couldn't think of a solution for my problem that didn't involve using multiple applications, such as Day One, DEVONthink Pro Office, OmniFocus 2 or Evernote. However, a little bit of workflow tweaking here, coupled with some research there, has led me to a workflow that really does work. Honestly.

1 - Capturing Notes within OmniFocus

The crux of the workflow comes from the use of the Notes field, within both the individual action and the project itself. I use this to keep both a written log of each action taken as well as attaching email correspondance, office files, links and anything else that is relevant to that particular stage of the project.

Like most of you, I break any project down into as many actions, or tasks, as possible within OmniFocus 2. As I work on an action, I update the Notes field. This is done by either typing, or drag and dropping directly into the Notes section of the action Inspector, or by using the keyboard shortcut ⌘ and '. I do, however, double up on the effort a little here because I make a point of copying all of the text within the Notes field and subsequently pasting it into the Notes field of the project itself. The purpose of this is two-fold:

  • When I'm in my Dashboard view, which only shows a list of actions that need to be completed, I can see all previous notes related to this action, be it links to emails, timestamped events etc.
  • When I'm reviewing the Project as a whole, I don't need to trawl through a list of completed actions and their relevant notes to see a chronological list of relevant project information and links - I can see them from one window.

2 - Completed Perspective

And so we move on to the perspective I was telling you about - the Completed perspective. OK, I bend the truth a little. For my client, I've configured a Completed - (Client Name) that is focused solely on that client's folder within OmniFocus.

 
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Now, I have a list of all projects that are registered as completed from within the OmniFocus database, in that client's folder. This is so handy as I am frequently asked for information relating to a particular project that could involve me needing to go a different application (Mail, DEVONthink Pro Office, Evernote) however I have a full history from within the root of each project now itself.

This, is what works for me. Remember, Productivity is a very personal affair and this may not work for you at all. I love the fact that I've now only got one place to look at for information related to any tasks or actions I've carried out. Admittedly, it raises the level of overhead that I have to commit when I'm processing, however the ability to be able to analyse historic projects for Lessons Learned, retrieve information quickly and efficiently as well as invest myself heavily into each and every action I carry out, makes this a worthwhile trade-off for myself.