3.1.13. Remembering What You've Done, with OmniFocus
This year, the Christmas / New Year holidays brought about a pair of very short work weeks. This first day back brought with it our usual semi-weekly meeting, and one of the items that was still on my list was a pair of support tickets that I had completely forgotten. My boss said "no, you know about them, you were working on them last week and talking about them!" Yet there were no active action items or projects related to these items in my OmniFocus, and I was sure that if I was still working on these issues, they'd be written down. Did my system fail me?

We checked the live site in relation to in question and they appeared partially done. "That's funny," I thought, "why didn't I have an action for the remaining items? Did my system fail me?" I was stumped, trying to remember the previous Friday. I had worked on these issues, and towards the end of the day they opened up a larger topic that we discussed in our week-closing get together (half meeting, half beer bash). Maybe I got these support tickets nearly-finished, but the week closer had killed the final one. But again, if that had happened, I would have that final action written down. Right?

Enter my Recently Completed OmniFocus perspective, which shows all of my completed actions, grouped and sorted by their completion date. I flipped back to last friday, and sure enough, there were both support tickets as OmniFocus actions, and they were both marked as completed. My system didn't fail me! I double checked our source code repository and found the related commits and was able to verify that all the actions were, in fact, completed.

So what happened?

When the support issues came in via Basecamp, our company's project management system, I then entered them into OmniFocus which I use as my personal system. With OmniFocus, I then have much more control over editing items, grouping, organizing, splitting, etc. As I completed the items, I marked them as complete in OmniFocus, but I forgot to mark them as complete in Basecamp, which caused my boss to bring the items back up in our Wednesday meeting. A new trick that I've added to deal with this is to make a new context, Work : Basecamp, with an action to go in and close out tasks and/or leave comments as necessary.

The takeaway from this is that when using OmniFocus as your complete system, it becomes a trusted resource for not only "what am I supposed to be doing?" but also "wait, didn't I do that already?"

Side Story on Bills

A few years ago, I remember getting a phone call from American Express, asking why I hadn't paid my Amex Bill. It turns out that I had just forgot to do it. I had paid the previous bill pretty close to the deadline, and then spent the next month thinking I had paid the latest bill because my brain said "yeah, I just paid that!"

Now I put all bills into OmniFocus, even if I intend on paying the bill immediately upon arrival. Why? I have a Bills Paid perspective which is like my Recently Completed perspective but focusing on just Bills, and I can refer to that if I'm thinking "wait, it feels like I should be paying the gas bill right about now. Did I do that already?" Also useful for any paper-mail or other check based situation (like my rent checks) when I notice that I have too much money in my checking account and want to see if I did pay that month and the recipient was being slow, or if I was the errant party.


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