Task Capture with Siri & OmniFocus

November 10, 2015 • #

I’ve talked before about the concept of “ubiquitous capture” and how achieving a system where you never lose an item is an ideal for a seamless GTD setup. No matter what task management tool you use of the hundreds of options, both automatic or analog, there are still moments when a fleeting piece of info we want to remember — either something new to do or an idea or breakthrough on an existing project task — slips through the cracks. The best system for managing all of your collective “stuff” is any that you trust to be the go-to place for all the things that require your attention.

In any GTD-esque system, the two core concepts are capture and review:

  1. Capture anything on your mind so it lives in a system, not in your head.
  2. Review your “inbox” on some repeated schedule to process things into the right place, grouping things by project, adding deadlines, or filing into contexts.

When I got started building my personal workflow, I found the biggest initial hurdle was a reliable mechanism for getting things into my inbox as quickly and readily as possible. I’ve tried notebooks, cards, text files, and most digital task apps to try and find a single tool that works, but there was always friction and things would get forgotten. My short term memory is horrendous, and most things needing to find their way into my inbox would occur to me while getting ready in the morning or while driving or biking to work.

Enter Siri

True ubiquitous capture is achieved by using whatever tools are most reliably available to you, and for me that’s OmniFocus and my iPhone. OmniFocus 2 for iOS added a built-in Reminders capture feature to pull things added to a specific list over into the OF inbox. Then using the “Siri, add this to my list…” command when dictating gives you hands-free, fast access to append items to the inbox. I say things like:

  • “Add assemble new furniture to my inbox list”
  • “Add get flu shot to my inbox list”
  • “Remind me to take out the trash when I get home” (using location-aware contexts in OF)

With Siri set up this way, I now have a wider funnel for capturing anything I’m thinking about anywhere I’ve got my phone. So even when I’m in the car or working in the garage and some random item pops into my head, I can make sure it doesn’t slip through. It’ll be there waiting in my inbox for the next review when I’m processing my workload.