Join Zack Arnold for an in-depth discussion in this video Creating custom perspectives, part of Video Post Productivity Weekly.
- [Instructor] If you've stuck with me since the beginning of this weekly course, or if you've recently binged on the lessons where I walk you through the details of David Allen's 'Getting Things Done' system, then you already know that I'm a big fan of using the task-management program Omnifocus. When it comes to prioritizing my to-do list for the day, I think that Trello is the best place to do all of my project management, and I think of Omnifocus as the best place to do all of my life management. If you haven't reviewed the previous lessons on setting up your GTD workflow in Omnifocus, I highly recommend doing so first, because this is a more advanced lesson that's going to assume you're already using Omnifocus, and you have both tasks ready to go, and an understanding of how contexts work.
So going into some of the previous work that we've already done, I'm going to jump right into my contexts. And you can see that since the previous lesson, I've created a new context that's called Email. We have all of the different contexts that we decided to assign, whether it was music work, dailies work, working on first cuts, doing notes, working on sound effects, working on backgrounds, and just some general miscellaneous busy-work. These are contexts, not projects. Remember, if we have projects, for example, we're working on TV episodes and we want to organize it by the episode, we want to organize it by a specific trailer we're working on or miscellaneous projects, this is all great.
But we then also assign contexts so we can more efficiently process the tasks that we were doing, one context at a time. Now what I want to do is show you how to create perspectives. Perspectives are where contexts really get powerful, because you can narrow down hundreds of things on a to-do list to one, two, three, whatever amount of things are the most necessary to do right now. And this gives you absolute clarity and confidence that your next action is going to be a right action.
So I'm going to show you how to create some very simple contexts, how to create some perspectives from those contexts, and then I'm going to show you how to really go deep into creating customized perspectives. So you can see that we have this new context that's called Email. All that I did to create this new context, like I showed you in a previous lesson, is you just press the plus button and create your new context, and then when you have a project, you can select the context for that specific task that's in that project. So I'm just going to go ahead and I'm going to delete this, and go into my new context that's called Email.
So let's say that I'm thinking, 'You know what, I've got a few minutes 'between sessions with a client, 'I'm going to go ahead and I'm going to catch up on my email.' If I were looking at this like a regular to-do list, maybe some of these are relevant for me to do right now, but maybe some of them really aren't that relevant. The first thing that I want to do is rather than having to dig all the way into contexts and email, I want to create a perspective for all of the email that I need to answer. So all I'm going to do is select this context email, which is already selected, I go up to perspectives, and then I say I want to add a perspective.
So what it's going to do is bring up all the different perspectives that I have, and the defaults, as you can see, are the ones that are in the sidebar. So even though these just seem like these would be settings, they're actually specific types of perspectives, or a way that you could look at your tasks. So I'm going to create a new one that's called Email, and when I go down here, what I can do is I can add the current sidebar selection so it automatically adds my email context as my sidebar selection. So now I have a context called Email.
And I'm all done and I close it, and nothing has happened. What did I just do? Why was that worth my time? What I can do is I can right click in the top bar here, go customize, and there is my email context. I can now bring it up here. And if email is something that's important for me to keep front of mind throughout the day, now I don't have to dig all the way into context and email, I can go right to email right here and it's going to show me all the tasks that require me to do an email.
Why is this important? Why do I not just want to dig through and find this? Because I don't want to be distracted by all these other things and think, 'I need to send emails but oh, 'you know what, I do have some busy-work. 'Maybe I'll do that instead of the email. 'Oh, but you know what, 'oh, there's all this sound effects work, 'or all this background work.' if you're doing it this way, you open Omnifocus, it's empty, and you click on email, you've eliminated all of the other outside distractions and brought yourself directly to the things that need to get done. But now I want to take it one step further. Now I want to create a custom perspective out of email, so you're only seeing emails that are actually important right now.
Let's say that you're working on something and you think to yourself, 'Oh you know what, 'I really should email mom about going home for Christmas.' But it's not something that you need to do today, it's not something that you maybe even need to do tomorrow, it's just something that you want to do when you have the time. And maybe you thought to yourself, 'I want to email my friend Matt 'about having a lunch meeting this month.' That's great, but again, it's not something that's super pressing. But, you do need to email Bob about the latest visual effects turnover the next time that you jump into your email. And remember, you're not going to have your email inbox open in front of you all day long so you're not distracted by the constant chimes.
And if you're thinking, 'Why wouldn't I do that?,' go to all of my previous lessons where I already talk about email management and distractions. So assuming that your email is off, and you're doing focused, creative work, you want to make sure the next time your email is open, you're reaching out to the most important people and taking care of the most pressing matters. So what I like to do is go through all of the emails that I need to send, and I flag the ones that are urgent or important. So this is one that's important. I do want to email my director, and I do want to email my showrunner.
So these are work-specific emails that are pressing to me, as opposed to these, which aren't nearly as pressing. So if this were a to-do list and I just went through things in order, and I only have five minutes, I might send three emails, but they're the wrong emails for my goals. So what I want to do is I want to break down this perspective even further. So I'm going to go into perspectives, and I want to show my perspectives so I can edit my email perspective. And the idea is, I want to filter this context and this perspective based on only the most pressing emails.
So I'm going to go down to filtering, and I want to filter by status, flagged. So what that's now telling Omnifocus is not only do I only want to see the emails that I have in my email context, I only want to see the flagged emails. So once I close this, you can see that this perspective has now filtered to only emails that are flagged. So if I want to see all of the emails that I need to send at any given time, I just go to context, email. Here's everything, this is great.
But if I'm in a hurry, let's say that I've just opened Omnifocus, it's empty and I'm thinking, 'I've got five minutes, 'what are the most important emails that I need to send 'while I have this five-minute break?' I go to my email context, and there they are. Only three emails that have the flags are the ones that I'm going to send, which means that I'm not wasting any time sending unnecessary emails. You can also create custom perspectives from projects instead of contexts. So let's say that I want a project for TV episodes.
And you can see that I've already created flags for these three emails here, and these are things that I want to take care of. But let's say that I want to know what are the most pressing tasks that I have for just my TV episodes project? So let's say that I turn these off, and I've got three emails that I'd like to send, and I have these two other things that I'd like to do as well. I want to clean up some dialogue pops, and I want to update the slates. And let's add a couple more in here. So I want to deliver editor's cut of episode 107.
I need to watch producer's cut of episode 105 before it goes to the network. And now I have some additional tasks that are going to be in this TV episodes project. So as I'm going through my daily or my weekly review, and again, I talk about how to do a review in Omnifocus in a previous lesson, what I'm going to do is think to myself, what are the most pressing tasks as they relate to my TV episodes project? And I'm thinking that right now, watching producer's cut is probably going to be the most pressing thing, and perhaps going through and, I dunno, I need to email the director to ask about coverage of scene 12.
So these are really the two most pressing things for this project. It's going to be the same process. So I'm going to select the TV episodes project, I'm going to go up to perspectives, I want to add another new perspective. I'm going to name this perspective the 'TV Episodes' project. And I want to make sure that it's focusing on the TV episodes. So I want to add to focus. You can see just like it was with the context with the sidebar selection, it's going to be focusing on this specific project.
Once again, we don't really see anything new because we want to customize our toolbar, and add our TV episodes context. But again, there's really no big difference because it has all of the tasks listed for the specific project, which is no different than going into Projects > TV Episodes. So what I want to do is go into 'show perspectives' one more time, and again, I want to filter by flagged.
So once I do that, and I go to my TV episodes, now, whatever this project might be, again, the mindset is, this is the project I'm working on right now. What is the most pressing task? Of all the tasks that I've listed that need to be done for this TV episode, what are the things that I need to do right now? So you can see that emailing the director is a pressing task. So even if I'm not in email mode, this might be something that I need to do immediately. And I also need to make sure that I watch the producer's cut of episode 105 before it goes to the network.
So even though I have all of these various random tasks, in reviewing my projects, I know these are the ones that I need to do first, and I can filter out all of the unnecessary noise by creating this customized perspective. Now while it may take you a bit of time to experiment with these features to suit your own tastes, and the needs of your own workflow, I'm sure that you can see that with a small investment of time, you can save a lot of time, anxiety, and hassle in return.
- File management
- Time blocking
- Cleaning up your email inbox
- Organizing and prioritizing notifications
- Selecting apps to help you with task and time management
- Filtering email messages and paperwork
Skill Level Appropriate for all
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