Another question I received after the recent webinar at Learn OmniFocus was to clarify the Land & Sea Project in terms of the number of channels one can use.
For details on the Land & Sea project, see the video at about 1:06:43. Its creation and use are more explicitly laid out on p706 of Creating Flow with OmniFocus 2nd ed.
A Question About The Land & Sea Projects
… I have a question regarding the Land & Sea project. I’ve been working to implement this project in my own system. The text was very clear on how to set up the project, and how to maintain and adjust it. The struggle I’m having is how to actually limit myself to three (or even five) active channels/projects.
In my day job, I manage not only people but also some projects of my own as an actual Project Manager. I typically have 5 to 8 projects on which I need to make forward progress each week. Combine those with at least one home/family type of project, and a personal project, and I would be up to about 10 channels of work! …
Channels of Work
The Land & Sea project, as presented, is unique to my own pattern of work. It provides 3 ongoing channels of work that I intend to do at some depth during each day. At the top of each channel is an active project. Other major projects wait their turn for a topmost project to complete. It dovetails nicely with Babauta’s Most-Important-Tasks (MITs).
The side image here presents an overview of all channels for the day. Each channel would be represented by some flagged, likely repeating, task and seen in the Dashboard daily.
The number “3”, as a maximum, is arbitrary. However, more does seem to become unwieldy. I also like using a maximum of 3 as it lends to a more “seasonal” approach. As the focus in one Area of Responsibility comes to an end, it is time for another. The flavor of the days gradually shifts. Further, I can ensure that at least one project is something I am really enjoying. I find that maintaining at least some playful work daily is important.
Your pattern of work may dictate very different requirements. You might even decide that a system of 10 running projects works well for you. In this case, for your analogue of the Land & Sea project, you could:
- Create a single group of tasks running parallel with 10 active tasks.
- Create a second group of tasks to hold projects waiting in line.
Later in our correspondence, Doug noted that many of his projects began with a high work volume, but then tapered after the work was established. The tasks become fewer and less demanding. For these types of trailing tasks, one can consider using the @File & Flow context.
More on File & Flow
The @File & Flow context represents a single channel that can cover any other projects that do not fit in the Land & Sea project. Examples of tasks may include:
- A repeating task to continue organizing iPhoto just a little bit more.
- A reminder to pack my business cards for the office while at home.
- Make an online purchase.
In general, I use the @File & Flow context for items that are relatively short, perhaps less than 15 minutes in length, with the crucial caveat:
The @File & Flow context should be cleared regularly.
Perhaps, when first learning its use, clearing it daily would be good. When you have a solid sense of what it does for you, perhaps relaxing it to clearing every few days might work.
Again, the important factor is that it is meant to be cleared. With this limitation, it can have either:
- A few long tasks
- Several short tasks
- Some workable combination
If there is something that requires larger tasks or longer sessions of work, then it really ought to be a part of the Land & Sea Project. Either the project would have to wait its turn, or if moved to a top position, one could then “de-activate” whatever it replaced.
The idea is that we obviously cannot completely ignore other areas of responsibility outside of the 3 major areas of focus for the day. @File & Flow gives us a purposely limited space for those tasks.