A Really Good (Brain) Dump

I don’t subscribe whole heartedly to the GTD method — I only do weekly reviews on a quarterly basis — but one part of GTD I love is the brain dump. Brain dumping is the second most satisfying thing that I can do in OmniFocus (the first is a tie between checking off tasks and deleting them). I have always had one single problem with brain dumps: I forget a lot of things that should be purged from my brain when I am faced with a blank OmniFocus inbox.

A couple of months ago I was fiddling about in OmniFocus and while in Context view I started noticing that a ton of tasks were flowing into my head — things that I needed to do, but had yet to be captured anywhere. So I started brain dumping, going from context to context and getting down everything that came to mind.

Except that I ran into another problem with this: context view doesn’t offer much help if you need to create a new project, nor is it very good for brain dumping — if they aren’t staring at me in my Inbox, I will never process them. The problem is assigning due dates, start dates, projects and the like when you add an action in context view is less than ideal.

My solution for this: quick entry and double windows.

I simply ‘review’ my contexts and add actions as I think of them using the quick entry pane. The advantage with this system for me is that when I get to location specific contexts (such as Costco) I can quickly pour out things that I need from Costco in the context window (I rarely add any more information to store list actions). I assign everything else straight to the inbox using quick entry.

On occasion I will open a second OmniFocus window that just shows the Inbox and I will dump straight into that — it works better when I know that I will have a lot of stuff going on (i.e. I haven’t done a brain dump in a while).

I have really found this to be helpful — more so than just viewing a blank inbox or going from project to project. For whatever reason looking at a context that says ‘office’ reminds me of a whole mess of stuff that I need to do…

This isn’t GTD, but is about getting things done.

Originally posted for members on: February 18, 2011
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