Omni apps and New Year's resolutions

by Linda Sharps on January 12, 2010

I was going to write a post about managing New Year's resolutions, then I thought maybe the topic of New Year's resolutions has gotten kind of tired and no one even does them any more, then I thought well it's still a good subject because everyone's got goals no matter what time of year it is, then I got distracted by this photo and laughed for about ten straight minutes because HAAAAAA, then my boss was all hey have you got that new blog entry written yet, and I was like OH YES INDEED JUST FORMATTING THE HTMSQLCSSWTF FOR THE WEB INTERFUNCTION.

Anyway, if you happen to have made some resolutions this year, how do you plan to stay on top of them? With some software, perhaps? Maybe even some Omni software? (Is my incessant eyebrow-waggling and elbow-jabbing getting annoying yet? HMMM?) Let us take a look at some of our fine productivity applications, with creating and managing resolutions in mind.

First, OmniGraphSketcher. If you're anything like me the idea of spending your free time creating graphs is about as appealing as, oh, creating pie charts. Which is to say, not all that appealing. Unless there's actual pie involved.

At first I wasn't sure how to translate my goals into graphs, but the more I thought about it the more ideas popped into my mind. Here's an example of the progress I've made towards one of my 2010 resolutions, which is to run a half marathon on February 28th:

Nov_Dec_pacerun

These charts document the training runs I did in November and December, with the bar chart representing the miles I ran, and the line graph along the top representing my pace.

Now, as our lead OmniGraphSketcher developer gently chided me, this isn't exactly a best practice example, because they have different y-scales. Which I think means I should have created separate graphs for pace and mileage to make it more clear what I'm analyzing. But I kind of like the way it looks as is, so you'll just have to pardon my rebellion.

I'll be honest, I hadn't played with OmniGraphSketcher much before putting these documents together, and what do you know, the things we say about it are actually true! It's super easy to use, it's nowhere near as painful as certain other programs that rhyme with Shmexel, and the results are very pretty even if you're kind of a mouthbreather when it comes to data visualization. And hey, how motivating is it to actually see the steps you've made towards completing a goal? Much more rewarding than, say, counting your foot blisters.

Moving on to OmniFocus! OmniFocus is probably the most obvious choice for goal management, and the key to making the most of it is turning those high-level ambitions into actionable next steps. There's, you know, a whole school of thought on how to do this (you may have heard of a little system called Getting Things Done?), but the idea is to spend some time thinking about what you need to do in order to keep that resolution. A nebulous, undefined goal doesn't do you much good, right?

Bad:

eatbetter

Better:

resolution_healthy

One option for managing your big goals in OmniFocus is to keep an action simply titled “Review 2010 Resolutions” (or whatever), and set it to repeat every few months. Note that dragging a project or action into the note field of another will create a link back to the first item, so you can add little shortcuts from your resolution items to their respective projects.

Lastly, OmniGraffle! Perhaps unsurprisingly, the overall Omni response to my request for personal goal-focused information that I could slap on our public blog was not unlike a Zork session:

>SEND EMAIL

Time passes.

Eventually after some truly pathetic begging on my part (the things I do for this blog! And you thought I just posted silly links and typos!), one of our esteemed Support Ninjas, Kris, sent over a really neat OmniGraffle document that's modeled after a chalkboard he and his partner have in their home. The top and bottom circles represent their individual goals, with their mutual goals in the yellow center circle.

OmniGraffle_goals

Goals inside the circle are targeted for 2010, goals on the border are within the next year or two, and anything outside of the circle is scheduled for the two to five year range. “We use this to be clear about what our priorities are and where we're at with them—not to mention all the secret juju that comes from visualization,” said Kris, right before he whipped a throwing star at my head for mocking his desire to learn the banjo.

He also shared these tips:

“The cool thing about having a Graffle doc of this is that it's easy to edit, rearrange, re-prioritize and add new things as they come up… then reflect those changes at home. I can keep a PDF copy of the file with me so that when I'm out shopping (for instance) I can pull up the ol' Goal Board and evaluate the purchase against my priorities. Also, the actual Graffle doc has this really cool capability where you can assign an action to an object—clicking an object (with the selection tool) will open a URL, a file, run an applescript, etc. I use this to link to things that I desperately want—again, the mystical power of visualization. I also use this to link to my OmniFocus projects that reflect these goals.”

Awesome, right? Don't ever question the power of visualization, people.

So! How about you folks? Do you have any tips to share for making all your MMX dreams come true?