The Techie Scheky series offers tips and tactics for being more productive and creative through technology (especially with a Mac).
After talking about how I take all of the varying types of tasks in my life, I thought I’d run through the various ways that you can create tasks in OmniFocus using their Quick Entry or Quick Clipper. This post looks to show you how to create one or multiple tasks using Quick Entry, how to create a variety of tasks using the Quick Clipper and how to make Quick Entry in OmniFocus work with Evernote.
Too lazy to read? I’ve got you covered!
Quickly Creating Tasks in OmniFocus
When setting up OmniFocus, go to preferences, select the General tab and set the Quick Entry shortcut. I use Control-Option-Space as suggested by David Sparks. From there you can quickly capture a task and add it to your inbox or fill out any relevant information including the project this action is related to, the context, a start or due date and any notes you might want to add at this time. You can also use the setting to add estimated time. Once complete, select save and your task will be added to either the inbox or your selected project.
I also find that Quick Entry serves as a great place to do a brain dump. If you just want to get everything out of your head, use your keyboard shortcut to evoke the Quick Entry box and start entering your tasks. Once you’ve entered as much information as needed for each task as needed, type Command-Enter and you will get a new entry line. Once you’ve cleared your mind, hit save and all of your tasks will be added into the proper locations.
Using The OmniFocus Quick Clipper
Oftentimes, you are going to want to add text from a website or a specific file to your task. OmniFocus makes this easy with their Quick Clipper. Start by going into your preferences menu, go to the Clipping tab and select your shortcut. Again, per David Sparks, I use Control-Option-Command-M. With a little extra help, it can also create links that take you back to emails in Mailplane and Mail.app or notes in Evernote.
Once you set a keyboard shortcut for the clipper, you can create a task that includes any highlighted text from just about any application.
While this only works natively in Safari, you can highlight text, use the clipper and not only will it add the highlighted text, but a link that takes you directly back to the page. This is great for creating tasks that require you to reference a webpage at a later date. Sure you could just use a bookmarklet, but I love having the direct tie in between the task and the site.
Oftentimes you’ll need to use one or more files for a task. Simply highlight file(s) you’ll need, use the clipper and links to the files will be added into your task. If, like me, you work between two computers, you can save files in Dropbox in order to have links work seamlessly across computers.
While you can add The OmniFocus Clip-O-Tron 300 to Mail.app directly from the Clippings Preferences inside the OmniFocus preference menu, I’m not a big fan of Mail.app. Thankfully for all of us Gmail folks out there, the team over at Mailplane came up with a great solution. It’s a plugin that allows for all of the functionality of the clipper in Safari, except instead of linking to a webpage, it links directly back into your email message. Every time I have a message that I cannot follow up on immediately, I use this clipper to create a follow up task in OmniFocus. It’s by far the easiest and fastest way I’ve found to defer email for response at a later date.
Paper and I have a contentious relationship. I suck at it and it hates me. So part of saving my sanity was finding a way to properly store reference materials in a way that they could quickly be called up for use at a later date. While my love affair for my ScanSnap 1300 (affiliate link) and Evernote is a post for another day, it does play a major role in getting paper off my desk and into my system. When scanning something that requires follow up, I scan it in, right click the image on the main Evernote page (or by selecting Note menu option from the actual note) and select “Copy Note Link”. From there, evoke Quick Entry (or the Clipper if you select the note name in Evernote) and paste the link into the notes field of your task.
Bonus: One minor inconvenience of both the Quick Entry box and Clipper is that they only work when OmniFocus is open. Thankfully Shawn Blanc came to the rescue with a solution for all of you Keyboard Maestro or FastScripts users out there.
While this may not cover everything in your own personal workflow, I can tell you that just about anything digital and even most of the paper on my desk is out of whatever inbox it came from and into OmniFocus in a way that empowers me to take action at a later date. It’s helped me clean up my life and get more done; hopefully some of this will help you do the same.
Have a better way? I’m always interested in hearing one!