OmniFocus Has a Steep Learning Curve, but Mac Users Would Probably Like It

Omni Group’s OmniFocus is intended to bring order to chaos; tranquility to a harried life; and organization to the items on your to-do lists.

OmniFocus is a task manager designed to aid you in taking charge of your everyday chores in your work and home lives. The app helps you keep track of your projects, to alert you when time is running out, and to check them off your list as you complete them, or put them aside.

The iPhone version is aimed mainly at Mac users but you also can use OmniFocus for the iPhone if you’re a PC user, although with less ease of use.

To get started, I suggest you watch the OmniFocus how-to video. You’ll probably need to wade through a 35-page manual to make the most of this app.

My inclination was to fire it up and try things to see just how intuitive OmniFocus is. Besides, I think it’s fun in a geeky kind of way to poke around to see if I can figure things out. However, the learning curve on OmniFocus is steep, I began to emphasize with that poor guy in Greek mythology doomed to push a boulder up a hill.

The top-level screen is the starting point for using OmniFocus and from here you can get to all the other functions, which includes your inbox and projects organized by hierachy, time and due date. You also can alert yourself when projects are overdue and flag those and other projects that require close attention.

It takes time to figure out how these functions relate to each other and that’s where I had the most difficulty. My life is just not that complicated!

I’m still working my way through OmniFocus but I can already see just how flexible a tool it can be for people who must juggle many projects. I suspect Mac users, especially those who already use the desktop version, would find this app extremely useful. The reason is that you can work on your desktop and then synchronize with iPhone/iPod touch via MobileMe or WebDAV over EDGE, 3G or Wi-Fi.

OmniFocus is (gulp) $19.99, certainly higher than your average task manager and most other apps, for that matter. I doubt anyone other than hard-core users who have many projects to keep track of will be willing to pay the price. It’s also worth noting the desktop client is $80, which is also a deal breaker for many people.

If you’re not a Mac user, you might want to try something simpler and more intuitive than OmniFocus.

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