Part 2 Workflow – Left Out on the Ramp

Part 2 Workflow – Left Out on the Ramp
May 28, 2020 Comments Off on Part 2 Workflow – Left Out on the Ramp OmniFocus Gatekeeper

Part One was not the meatiest of reads but I hope it did set the scene for this first step in my aviation workflow.

Now we start to look at each step that I introduced you to in Part One. So, get comfortable and read on about The Ramp.

The Ramp?

The airport ramp, apron, flight line or tarmac is the area of an airport where aircraft are parked, unloaded or loaded, refuelled, or boarded.

In terms of GTD we can view the Ramp the same as the Inbox, the place where “stuff” starts out.

My analogy of the Inbox being like the Ramp at an airport goes a bit further than just a holding area. If you speak to any CEO of an aviation company they would tell you that having a plane on the Ramp or Apron would mean that the company was losing money:

  • Daily charge for using the Ramp
  • Plane payments/rental
  • Airport costs & taxes
  • Etc.

The way to think of this is that unless there are passengers sat on the plane or there is freight in the belly then you are leaking money. The task that is sat on the Ramp (GTD Inbox) is costing us personally, professionally, and as a business.

In my professional role of Project Manager I have to be able to cost each task, identify the risk and therefore the costed impact if a task is late. I also know how long each task will take, and when late, how much this task will impact the delivery time of all other tasks that follow. This is known as the Critical Path.

As you can see, the quicker you clear that task off the Ramp the less of an impact it will have on you and your system.

Let’s Get It Into Perspective

I need to make clear that the creation of a perspective in OmniFocus is a Pro feature. If you have not paid for, or subscribed to, the Pro edition of OmniFocus you will not be able to create the perspective that I describe further into this article.

Plan your day better with OmniFocus time estimates

…good intentions need to be tempered by reasonable expectations.

Before going any further I need to be open with you: I used to regularly fail to accomplish what I planned for each day. When the morning began, big plans were put in place but at the end of the day, a pile of undone tasks would linger in my OmniFocus “Do” perspective. These would then be passed on for the next day’s action list… and so each day would repeat what had passed previously.

It quickly became demoralising to watch the pile of Do’s grow, and I often felt out of control when looking at what seemed like a reasonable list of things to accomplish in a day’s schedule. Clearly, good intentions need to be tempered by reasonable expectations.

Enter time estimates. Over the years of being a professional Project Manager I have learned to be thorough in my work and part of that has been a fundamental use of estimates with tasks. When I started using OmniFocus, I never really used its ability to assign a time estimate to projects and tasks. It seemed like a lot of extra effort for very little return: all OmniFocus really does with time estimates is sort/ filter.

But time is a critical dimension of doing: without time, there is no doing. It should follow that time estimates are just as important. An action without time is just a statement, time without action is just being lazy.

So here is the RAMP state Perspective that I use with my OmniFocus workflow:

Task are collected and placed into The Ramp, I don’t use the OmniFocus Inbox Perspective as I need to apply an extra rule on what is filtered in the perspective:

  • All Available tasks
    • without a Tag or
    • without a Project or
    • without an Estimate

Unfortunately the OmniFocus Inbox perspective does not give me the option to include the Estimate filter (might be able to address this in Omnijs, but that is a project for another day).

Still on the topic of time and entering estimates, the physical act of being able to check the total time scheduled on the day’s planned items helps to:

  • Remove anxiety from giving yourself too much to achieve
  • Remove lowest priority items until the list is doable.
  • Clarify next actions. In cases where it was difficult to assign a time estimate, I realised I hadn’t clarified the next action well enough.
  • Clarify what is feasible for the day. For example, not using the estimate you are at risk of opening yourself up to crowding your plan with unrealistic goals and at the end of the day you only complete a fraction of the planned workload. If you had the estimates it would be clear that all was not doable, instead you now sit disheartened, questioning your workflow and letting the word “DISTRUST” enter into the subconscious mind.

When can I start using the time estimate?

You can start right now. No need to assign estimates to everything in your OmniFocus database; just estimate what you’re looking at for today.

Having seen how simple this process is, so many of my clients wish that they had done this years ago.

Go on, give it a try!

Keep Safe

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