Speeding up OmniFocus 2 for Mac sync times

I’ve been using OmniFocus 2 as my to-do list app and love it. However, one of my biggest issues with it is the fact that my devices get out of sync rather easily, which causes all sorts of issues such as duplicate reoccurring tasks appearing.

This stems from the fact that OmniFocus is supposed to sync by default a minute after a change and then every hour otherwise. If I happen to check off a reoccurring task on my home MacBook and shut the computer down before it syncs, the Omni Sync server never receives the updated data. This means my iPhone and my work MacBook never receive the update either. Then if I check off the same task on a different device because I’m trying to focus on what is left in my task list and that change syncs up to Omni Sync, the next time my home MacBook syncs up (that evening perhaps), two duplicates of the reoccurring task will appear.

I was very disappointed when I emailed Omni Group’s tech support about this. Their response was basically “make sure you sync before you shut your computer down.” Unacceptable in my opinion. Especially since I had met several of their support folks at UserConf last year. Such a fundamental part of their app that just doesn’t work when you need it to.

So what is the solution? I found a blog post that explains where to find hidden settings OmniFocus for sync times! Enter in a simple URL in your web browser and modifies the setting.

I’m experimenting with these sync settings:

  • 10 seconds after an edit (instead of 1 minute)
  • Otherwise, every 10 minutes (instead of 1 hour)

The jury is still out if this solves my syncing issue, I’ll have to go a few days and see what duplicates do/don’t appear. Worst case, I’ll adjust those values down further. I don’t want to stress out Omni’s Sync server…but I also don’t want duplicate tasks again.

In the meantime, Omni Group, you should look at Culture Code’s Things app. While I am not a fan of their workflow, they get sync right. Any change syncs with their server almost instantly. You can see their sync icon magically appear/disappear within a second of a change. I never had an issue with out of sync data with their app.

Calendar Hacks

A good friend (and former colleague) Lara Hogan wrote a blog post about Calendar Hacks a couple of months ago on Etsy’s Code as Craft. There are some real hidden jewels, especially if you use Google Calendar. In fact, many of them are probably still applicable in other calendar systems.

A few I am experimenting with include:

  • Ending 30 minute minutes 5 minutes early and 1 hour meetings 10 minutes early.
  • Blocking off time to work on projects.
  • Automatically declining events for events that I don’t want to be interrupted (such as my block time).
  • Creating office hours and setting up appointment slots.

The need to be more organized

A couple of months ago I moved from my previously role leading the enterprise customer support and sales engineering teams at Dyn to the product team. It’s been an exciting change that I have relished, learning new things every day as I try to get up to speed on the inter workings of our technologies, teams, etc. However it has exposed a glaring hole I have never been good at: being organized.

In my prior customer support and sales engineering roles, I had good tracking systems that I could easily follow. For support, it was the ticketing queue. For sales engineering, it was Salesforce. I could easily see the state of the tickets I owned, the opportunities I was involved with, their status, etc. The past couple of years years when I was the leader of the team s and not in the day-to-day roles, I lived by my email, calendar,  the metrics I watched, and the simple to-do apps I used.

With my move to product, this has changed. Now I’m in charge of very important and complex initiatives that have deadlines, and many moving parts. I have to do a lot of research, planning, and brainstorming. There are a lot of different systems, tickets, people etc. that I have to keep track of on a daily basis. It has quickly become apparent that my old workflows for keeping track of what I need to get done sorely needed to be updated.

I’ve settled on Omnifocus for the past month and so far it’s worked well, although I have a long ways to go to getting my workflow nailed down. Which is probably the beauty of Omnifocus: it’s ability to be very flexible for your workflows. It’s also it’s curse: it takes awhile to setup.

In the next couple of months, I hope to share a bit more about my workflows and the different tools I will be employing to get more done in a less stressful and more successful manner. I also hope to share thoughts I have as a newcomer to the product management world.