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July 25, 2022, 7 a.m.
How Professor Inger Mewborn and Jason Downs Use OmniFocus

Today, we’re joined by Professor Inger Mewborn (Director of Researcher Development at Australian National University) and Jason Downs (Deputy Director, Quality and Standards at La Trobe University). Collectively, they host a great productivity podcast called “On the Reg.”

Show Notes:

In this episode, they talk about using tags to stay sane, teaching others how to stay productive, and implementing a magical combination of both OmniFocus and the Bullet Journal. Professor Inger, also known around the interwebs as “Thesiswhisperer," may even school Andrew on a few Australianisms along the way (Milk Bar?  Who knew?).

Some other people, places, and things mentioned:


Andrew J. Mason: You're listening to the Omni show, where we connect with the amazing communities surrounding the Omni group's award-winning products. My name's Andrew J. Mason. And today we talk to Professor Inger Mewborn and Jason Downs about how they use Omni focus.

Andrew J. Mason: Well, welcome everybody to another episode of the Omni show. Today, we're honored to have Professor Inger Mewborn and Jason Downs here to join us. And if you've never crossed paths with these two, you are in for a treat. And in fact, I'm going to actually let them both do their own intros because it's such a varied and wide range of expertise. And it's all awesome. So Professor Inger, why don't you take it away?

Professor Inger Mewborn: Yeah. Thanks. I'm Inger Mewborn and I'm director of research and development at the Australian National University, but I'm better known on the internet as thesis whisperer. I do research on research and I help people get their PhD. And my good friend, Jason Downs, who's with us we met we think about 12 years ago. We should have put the date in our diary, Jase, at another university where we both worked. We now have a podcast together called On The Reg about productivity, but we're both just productivity nerds. That's our thing.

Jason Downs: Andrew, it's wonderful to be here with you, and it's always a pleasure to catch up with Inger. We catch up fairly frequently as part of our podcasting stuff, but we're always on the phone to each other as well. It's part of all of that. I'm the deputy director of quality and standards at La Trobe University here in Melbourne in Australia. And my main role is to handle the university's regulatory or part of the university's regulatory environment, mostly related to reregistration of the university when it comes with the Australian government. And also my other role is to handle our approach, the university wide approach to academic integrity. So educating staff, students about what it means to be [inaudible 00:01:52] right across good academic practice and to ensure that our students are absolutely some of the best in the world. It's a pleasure to work within the higher education sector in Australia. For all its foibles, it's a wonderful system that produces some absolutely stellar students and people.

Andrew J. Mason: That's phenomenal. And I am so excited to have you both on this show. Both Professor Inger and Jason are on their own podcast called On The Reg. They talk about productivity regularly. And Professor Inger let's start with you. I'd love to hear about how you first came across OmniFocus, the Omni group. When did we first show up on your radar?

Professor Inger Mewborn: Well, I stole it from Jason actually. Jason and I met. He came to one of my workshops where I was teaching people how to get a PhD within three years, hopefully. And we started talking after that. And he'd been telling me about OmniFocus for years, actually. And I'd been sort of struggling on with my getting things done paper system and my manila folders. And increasingly I'd been finding that my inbox had become my to-do list, which is a dissent into madness. Once you let your inbox start to control your life, things just don't go anywhere good. And in 2015, I had quite a lot of projects on and one day I was just going nuts and I rang up Jason. I think I was almost crying on the phone to him that I just wasn't coping anymore, despite every best effort that I'd thrown at it.

Professor Inger Mewborn: And he's like, "Oh, well, have you downloaded OmniFocus yet?" I'm like, "Yeah, yeah. I know you keep telling me to do that." And he's like, "Yeah, maybe go and download Omni. I think it will help." And he sent me a link to a Screencast academy series of videos, which were great because they explained OmniFocus in the context of the getting things done theory. And I'd read the book. And I sat down, I did the mind sweep and I spent about five hours on Sunday setting up OmniFocus and I never looked back. So thank you, Jason. My sanity thanks you.

Andrew J. Mason: Yeah. Jason, what about you?

Jason Downs: I came to OmniFocus via the Mac power users podcast. David Sparks, him back in the day. David, and Katie Floyd, who was his cohost at the time. I was listening in trying to get better at how to use my Mac to complete my PhD and to kind of just manage my life really. And Katie was a Things user and David was an OmniFocus user and I was a Things user at the time. And I'd listen to them go backwards and forwards about the various affordances of both of those pieces of software. And then one day I decided I should check out this OmniFocus thing. What is it? And how does it work? Downloaded it. Never looked back after that. Just kind of instantly fell in love with the software and went deep on it. Learned as much as I possibly could about it. And then pretty much evangelized it to everybody I come across that from that point forward.

Andrew J. Mason: That's got to be a really satisfying thing, knowing that you brought exponential productivity into somebody's life and that you're responsible for massive improvement in Professor Inger's life. I'm sure you don't hold that over her head at all.

Jason Downs: No way. Inger, I was there first.

Professor Inger Mewborn: And I have to say, you just are better at it, right? So you've set up all the automations where it tells you're going past the milk bar and you need to buy milk, things like that.

Andrew J. Mason: Milk bar. That sounds fancy.

Professor Inger Mewborn: Sorry, milk bar. That's an Australianism. Convenience stop.

Andrew J. Mason: Slightly less fancy.

Professor Inger Mewborn: I know. It does. It sounds almost like party times. But Jason was the one who... And he gets online. He tells me all these little tricks and hacks and I must admit I never actually implement them. I'm just a really basic user, but I do enjoy hearing Jason tell me all the cool stuff he's done, especially his geo location.

Andrew J. Mason: Ah, see, that's awesome. I'm nerdy enough to appreciate what you're doing, but am I nerdy enough to do that myself?

Professor Inger Mewborn: Probably not. No. Absolutely. It's sort of like watching cooking shows, right? You watch a cooking show and you go, "Yeah, I'd love to cook duck a la orange, but I'm never going to do it. But now I know." It's like that with me and Jason.

Jason Downs: To be fair though, Inger is much more thoughtful in the way in which she applies OmniFocus. I use all the tools as much as I can to be as efficient in my OmniFocus practice as I can be. But Inger really thinks it through in terms of how she can leverage OmniFocus to best help her to achieve the things that she needs to get done. She's an incredibly talented, but busy woman and spread across lots of projects. She's got a startup that she's kind of working through with her university. She's got lots of roles. She's a teacher, she's a colleague. She writes, researches. She teaches PhD students how to get PhDs. It doesn't get much smarter than that. And Inger wrangles her OmniFocus. And I learned so much from Inger just in the way in which she goes about organizing her OmniFocus to be able to manage her life.

Jason Downs: One of my favorite things that I've learned from Inger is the use of the nudge tag. Maybe Inger, you can talk about how you use it. But the way I use it is I need to go circle back to somebody about something that I've opened up a loop, but it's probably not worth me kind of really kind of managing and tracking this thing really closely, but I will need to come back to it. Inger, maybe you can talk about how you do that.

Professor Inger Mewborn: Yeah. Not just a friendly, I know this person's going to need it type of... So sometimes I just go through my nudge list and I'm just like, where are some of these people at with these things that they're due me? They're not due it for six weeks, but I just having worked with this person, and this is a university thing because people don't organize themselves usually terribly well. And so they won't have OmniFocus it'll be reminding them and they often don't use their diaries very effectively. So you become their outsource calendar reminder. I am that feature in a few people's lives. So a little bit of a nudge. I just go through my nudge list and I'm like, "Is anyone need one this week?" Just on a Friday, bit of a nudge. So something there is on Monday morning and then they can move something along. And people often really grateful for that, right? I've moved past being annoyed about the fact that I have to do it. And I see it now is more a community service.

Andrew J. Mason: That's an excellent way to look at it. And full disclosure, I'm pretty sure that Inger you used the nudge tag on me to make sure that we got the show notes out there in a timely manner.

Professor Inger Mewborn: I had you on a nudge list, yeah. But Jason actually reminded me because I've been sick this week. So he was sort of like, "So hey." And I'm like, "Oh yeah, my nudges." And I went back through my nudge list last night. I was like, "Oh wow, these people won't get their nudges for Monday. Too bad."

Andrew J. Mason: We got to be careful about that. You never know when you're going to end up on a nudge list. Let's shift over into roles in life. Jason, you kind of alluded to all the different hats that Inger wears. Inger, do you mind breaking down how much of that works its way into whatever system that you use and what are the various moving parts of that at the 40,000 foot level?

Professor Inger Mewborn: With Omni I have each role set up as a project. So I have research, thesis whisperer, [inaudible 00:08:56], which is my startup that I have with colleagues at the university. I have Being Mrs. Mewborn, because I'm not Dr. Mewborn at home. I'm Mrs. Mewborn. So I have these sort of big buckets of things. And one of the innovations that Jason taught me was to put an adverb in there. And instead of just research, I've got doing excellent research. And I've got being a good friend. I've got being an effective political advocate. So these are my kind of general buckets. And in that way I reinforce what my priorities are.

Professor Inger Mewborn: But I also, when I look at the tasks that sit underneath those projects, then I assess is this really moving me towards excellent research? Is this making me a good friend? Is this task really necessary? And both Jason and I are using the bullet journal as well to help us reflect and set priorities and do reviews that keep it values focused and keep the priorities in sight. Because it's very easy to just get caught up in the sort of everyday sludge and lose sight of those long term goals.

Jason Downs: Yeah, I do the same thing. I've got effectively a project list inside OmniFocus about being a great husband or being a fantastic dad for the kind of the personal side of my life. But also in the work site I use OmniFocus extensively to manage all of the various different projects that I've got on the go. My work, it spans across the university and it intersects with a lot of different parts of the university. And so I have to manage them not only separately at times, but also have to manage the way in which they sometimes overlap and integrate as well.

Jason Downs: So having all of that located together in OmniFocus really allows me to be able to see that from a very high level and be able to think through where are the efficiencies here? What's the one thing that I can do here that will probably knock off four or five tasks elsewhere on my list at the same time?Prioritize that way. Both Inger and I, we have lots of roles within the formal roles that we hold at work. A lot of informal work that goes on as well as part of all of that, managing committees and doing all that sort of stuff in the background. OmniFocus allows us to capture it and keep track of it all.

Professor Inger Mewborn: And I do say the tagging system is a really good way. So you can of course see things by projects or see them via tags. And I do say to people in my life, it shows how much I love you if there's a tag with your name on it. Right? Because it means I'm tracking something to do with you or I care about you and that cuts across Jason's saying sometimes people are involved in multiple aspects of your life. And so when you're sitting with that person, first thing I do when I have a meeting, so with my boss is I have her tag up and she doesn't know what I do. She always goes, "Oh, you're doing something in that magic program that you use." I'm like, "Yeah. OmniFocus." And she's like, "Yeah, yeah. That one." I'm like, "You could download it." She's like, "Yeah, yeah. That one. What does it say about" blah? So both of us count on it to be an external shared brain for us. So I also have some tags to people that I find problematic. So it's either I love you or you're difficult.

Andrew J. Mason: This is a first for me. I have never heard of the problematic tag. I have to be a hundred percent honest. I've heard of people tagging things with agendas or things to remind, or like you mentioned, the nudge tag. I've never heard of somebody creating a tag saying if this person has this tag, that means that there's something problematic here. I think it's brilliant.

Professor Inger Mewborn: Yeah. That's an issue. There's a few people. I'm not going to say how many. And it's all part of, I mean, Jason's an expert in this, but stakeholder engagement, right? When you're doing big projects, like both Jason and I do across multiple stakeholders with change, people get narky. So this is an Australianism. They get upset and they're touchy. And so I do have a little touchy tag as well with the person just in case I've forgotten. But usually I remember who those people are. So whenever I'm in a meeting where those people are present, I pull it up and sometimes I've got records there of some things or concerns that they've raised in the past. And so I can make sure that I'm addressing those concerns and speaking to those concerns and bringing those concerns forward in what looks like an artfully natural way that I probably wouldn't bring up that thing in the meeting if that person wasn't present. But I make sure that I do. So they feel heard and listened to, and just pours a bit of oil on troubled waters.

Professor Inger Mewborn: So universities are full of passionate people with soundly held opinions and they know they're right. And so navigating that personality landscape, it takes some skills. It's been 25 years for me and counting and I'm still learning every day.

Jason Downs: And it looks like magic from the outside. Right. Because they can't see that you are doing that.

Professor Inger Mewborn: Yeah.

Jason Downs: And so the notes filled in OmniFocus in each task is just brilliant, right? Because that's where you can put your notes about that particular task or that particular person that you need to manage really carefully and sensitively. And it just looks like you're just across it in a totally brilliant way.

Professor Inger Mewborn: And I've often been upset that Omni's not shared in the cloud. So my team can't access it, but I've come to embrace the fact that it's private to me. And it's my view on the world. And it's got all my secrets in it. And I use Microsoft Teams a lot and it's [inaudible 00:14:04] on Teams to manage tasks with other people, but often have a shadow and Omni task that goes with it that has got my political notes. I'm probably giving too much away now. I [inaudible 00:14:17] did this much detail Jason, about Omni. We haven't had a show about Omni. We should do it.

Andrew J. Mason: So that's a really important slice. Language, the power of language to move your brain in the right direction as you're structuring the outcome of these projects, how they look. That's a really important thing. I do agree with that. Not just a thesis, but an excellent thesis. I think that makes a huge difference. What about review? How does your review structure look? Is it a more traditional? Is it completely organic? How does that process kind of play out for both of you?

Jason Downs: I think both Inger and I have our approach and our use of OmniFocus has developed over the years and where we I think both sit now is that we use OmniFocus in conjunction with the bullet journal. So the bullet journal is a really useful analog addition to a very slick digital environment. The way I utilize the bullet journal is it adds a layer of friction that makes me slow down and really carefully consider what's going on in my life. So OmniFocus is excellent for all of the input and all of the capture and being able to move things around and set dates and tags and have location aware perspectives and all that sort of stuff. It's just brilliant for all of that.

Jason Downs: But coming to the end of the week or more, when you have to set up your bullet journal for the next upcoming month and you sit down and you work through your OmniFocus list and you go, okay, what am I going to tackle this particular month? What am I going to prioritize? And which ones am I going to let slide for another month? David talks about having to negotiate with others, but also with yourself about what arrangements you're going to have with yourself about getting things done. And the bullet journal really, for me, it slows me down, makes me become very, very thoughtful about what's on my plate and then choose very, very carefully what I'm going to engage with over the next month or so into the future.

Professor Inger Mewborn: The other thing that the bullet journal does is it's good for capturing just the ephemeral what's passing by. As Jason says, creating a friction filter before it gets to OmniFocus. I actually use the forecast for [inaudible 00:16:22] OmniFocus almost exclusively. That's where I sit most of the time is seeing what's coming up today, tomorrow and next week, whatever. And I use the number count at the top of that to judge whether I'm overdoing it. As Jason said, very active person, creative, want to get into things. And I have suffered episodes of burnout and mental health issues from just overdoing it. What Omni does is it gives me almost what speed am I going in my life? At one point the Omni, I had 179 separate tasks that I was tracking through the forecast view at one point. I mean, it foreshadows a question, I'm sure you're going to ask us is what mistakes have you made?

Professor Inger Mewborn: When I first took up Omni in 2015, it was such a power boost and I went nuts on it. And because suddenly it allowed me to have this kind of superhuman, and everyone started responding to me completely differently because I was the person who said, "On the 18th of April, I sent you an email that asked for" blah, blah, blah. And now it is the 23rd of June and I haven't seen X, Y, and Z, right? So it was almost a power trip, I have to admit it. And so I overdid it. I took on too much. And then in 2017 had another crash. And now I use that headline stat to say, how many things can I actively manage in my life? I was very happy when I got it down to a hundred. I was even happier when I got it down to 50.

Professor Inger Mewborn: I'm ecstatic now that it's down to just on 30 and I think 30's about where I should be in terms of tracking multiple things that are going on. And the bullet journal has really been that last bit of the process that's enabled me to sometimes just let things go and not let things progress and sometimes let some people, instead of doing the nudge tag and the difficult person tag and doing all that management for other people, some people I've strategically decided just to cut loose.

Professor Inger Mewborn: And so the bullet journal enables me to make that decision knowingly. And I've still got a record of what happened, but I'm not tracking them anymore. They're on their own. So that process of review is really important. I think the reflective quality of the bullet journal, where you have to be honest with yourself. You can have collections about your habits. You can have collections that reflect on what you're reading, things like that. It's sort of those two things act very well together in my view,

Andrew J. Mason: There is so much here. This idea of purposeful friction, what a concept, because we're always interested in that next trick or that next tool that allows us to move things faster. And the fact that you're saying I know that tendency about myself and therefore I'm going to purposefully introduce friction in order to slow me down and cause me to be more mindful, more thoughtful about what I choose to do, how I approach my life. I love that.

Andrew J. Mason: And I really love what you say, Professor Inger about the number, getting my number down to 30. I feel like this is a OmniFocus or productivity support group. Hi, my name's Andrew. My number's down to 30. We all go through that hazing process. What do you say to the person that's not been using any software? Very often, they're in a place of transition, a new job, new role in life, a parent, husband, or wife, father, mother, just something where things shift a little bit and all of a sudden you have more responsibility and they're thinking, how do I take this on? And they're looking at some sort of software, some sort of productivity trick hack. What's your go-to best advice there?

Jason Downs: OmniFocus is such a powerful piece of software. And for people who do have lots of things going on in their lives in lots of different areas and who are committed to managing those effectively, I think OmniFocus is brilliant for all of that. It allows you to be able to split stuff out and to get that kind of whole constellation view of everything that you've got going on in your life. That's really good for people who are committed to pulling together a practice, a productivity practice that's going to be effective. But for people who are starting out on this particular journey, I recommend keeping it as simple as you possibly can. You can do it within OmniFocus and OmniFocus will expand its capability along with you, but pick one thing and focus on that one thing and practice that one thing within OmniFocus until you've got that kind of really, really humming, because what you need to see is the success, how the software can help you to become successful at that one specific thing that you've decided to focus on.

Jason Downs: So for example, let's say you've got... I'm a huge fan. If I have to repeat something, I'll set up an automation if I possibly can or a system and OmniFocus is really good for that. So back in my teaching days, I had nine different classes I would run across the world, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, here in Melbourne, where they were repeatable processes. I would just focus on my teaching and how can OmniFocus help me with my teaching. And then you go through a couple of semesters where OmniFocus really lightens the cognitive load. You don't have to remember what to do every semester, right? Because you just repeat the same structures that you had last time. Maybe the content would change a little bit, but the I need to put a welcome announcement on our learning management system to welcome all the students into class.

Jason Downs: Once you automate that and it reduces the cognitive load, you can see the success that you get out of that. And you can just repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat. Then it just becomes a case of expanding that. Okay, so now I've got one project that's working. It's just humming along. What else can I add into that? And then focus on that next one and just build it slowly. And it won't take that long before the learning that you generated in your first project filters through into all of the subsequent projects that come along afterwards and you become super efficient in being able to manage your life through OmniFocus.

Professor Inger Mewborn: I must say, just to add to that, when Jason went on long service leave, he's the most super efficient teacher you have ever met in your life. The university had to replace him with three professors that were paid twice as much as he. Each one of them paid twice as much as him and they couldn't cope. And that's because none of them had OmniFocus, right? None of them had the smarts that Jason did to think through the problem and go, how do I actually stop this from becoming? I can just imagine the hell that those three professors were in. And I think they welcomed you back with open arms and no doubt their [inaudible 00:22:46] left because there's no one I know like Jason who can do three continents, 600 students, 30 tutors. You can just imagine the number of plates that he had on the end of sticks.

Professor Inger Mewborn: I always imagine OmniFocus is managing my plates on sticks. They're spinning like in those carnivals and you've got to agitate the stick and agitate the stick and then keep the plates spinning. And no one could do that when Jason wasn't there. So that's one thing I do. I mean, the thing that I do with people and Jason's right, I've often made the mistake and I still do it today. I have this workshop, which is about how to finish that huge writing project and get on with your life. And I'm often commissioned by other universities to do it. And I ran it on my own. And it's got an overview of basically every kind of productivity technique that you can imagine. And it's overwhelming for people. And people by the end of it, in fact, people come up to me afterwards and kind of like, I'm a little bit of a crazy lady.

Professor Inger Mewborn: Do you really do all that? I'm like, "Yeah." And they're like, "This doesn't seem very healthy to me." And I'm like, "Sometimes it isn't." But the one thing that I try and teach them is just lists. If Omni focus is just too much at the moment, you need to understand what a list can do for you. And that there's different types of lists. So in this case, although I'm not a huge fan of every bit of Cal Newport's work as Jason well knows, I give it a bit of a feminist critical reading of Cal Newport, but one of the techniques that did pick up from him, I think it's [inaudible 00:24:10] how to be an A grade student, was the idea of a master list and then a punch list for each day. And so Omni can just act as your master list, if that's all you want.

Professor Inger Mewborn: And then you can punch list things out in a bullet journal day by day. And so just getting people to just, as Jason says, start with one thing. And if that one thing is understanding how a to do list can work for you and there's many different varieties of them and that you can make them your own, that you are not a slave of the to do list, that the to do list actually supports you. I think a lot of the people that come to me and say, "You're really successful with [inaudible 00:24:46], you've made it work over many years," blah, blah, blah. "Tell me your secrets."And then I do.

Professor Inger Mewborn: And then they say, "Yeah, nah, I don't want to do that." And then you're like, "Well, I can't really help you, but at least please go and make a list. I'm begging you." And the other thing that Jason and I talk about often is how we sit in meetings with people and they don't have a pen in their hand or a keyboard [inaudible 00:25:07] and they don't write anything down. And we're like, "How do you relying on this bit of meat at the top of your head?" Let's do all that for you.

Andrew J. Mason: You ever just like, I would feel so much better about this meeting if you would just take this pencil and this pen and just at least hold it, please?

Professor Inger Mewborn: Yeah, please. Please take my pen.

Jason Downs: Yeah, it makes my skin crawl. You're in a really, really important meeting where some big decisions are being made and people are just kind of leaning back in their chairs and you're like, "Oh, dang, you should probably be keeping track of some of this stuff."

Andrew J. Mason: Talk to me about, is there anything in either of your systems that you would consider to be unique to you?

Professor Inger Mewborn: You pointed at me, Jason. I don't know what you want me to say.

Jason Downs: [inaudible 00:25:52].

Professor Inger Mewborn: You make all the unique things and then I just follow along. I do what you tell me to do.

Jason Downs: I don't know whether other people do this, but when I set up projects in OmniFocus and I have sub tasks, so you have that kind of top layer, the project container. And then underneath that, you'll have all the tasks. I use the notes functionality in that top layer to put all of the links to all of the digital assets that I need to run that particular project. So links to files in one drive or out to Dropbox or something like that. So that they're all in one spot. So if I'm in OmniFocus and I need to get to one of those digital assets, it's really easy to be able to do it. Just go to that top layer, go to that notes. There's the link, click that. And away we go. We've got everything on hand right there.

Professor Inger Mewborn: You have never told me that tip before.

Jason Downs: Really?

Professor Inger Mewborn: No.

Jason Downs: Oh, dang Inger. You must get on that. Right?

Professor Inger Mewborn: [inaudible 00:26:52]. Totally holding out on me, dude. That's actually quite genius.

Jason Downs: It's a brilliant way to be able to kind of keep everything located in one spot and then-

Professor Inger Mewborn: Yeah. [inaudible 00:27:03].

Jason Downs: Because those tasks, as you tick off tasks, you can't put those project asset links into the task because as you tick it off, it disappears. Right. But if you hold it-

Professor Inger Mewborn: You know what I've been doing. I've been just cutting and pasting my notes. Yep. I'm not even to tell you what I've been doing [inaudible 00:27:19].

Jason Downs: The other thing, this is how I engage with OmniFocus. There are important things that you need to do. And there are important things that you need to do that you don't need to think about. And the things that are important that you don't want to think about, or you don't need to think about, but still need to get done. OmniFocus is brilliant for that. So for example, an example that some people might be able to relate to would be if you are on some sort of form of medication and you need to get that medication filled on a regular basis, right. Then you put in a task in OmniFocus to go to the chemist and get your script filled out on the third Thursday of every month or whatever it is. That's the last time you ever have to think about that, right? It just turns up on the last Thursday or the third Thursday of the month or whatever, and you just go and do the thing.

Jason Downs: But you never, ever have to worry ever again about whether or not I've been taking my medication, whether I've got enough medication. All of that sort of stuff is just dealt with and completely outsourced out of your head to OmniFocus and it's just really important stuff, but you just don't have to think about it. And to be able to offload that cognitive load into OmniFocus, to be able to manage that part of your life is just absolutely brilliant. And making sure that you think about the way in which you utilize OmniFocus to be able to support your life in ways that doesn't add cognitive load to a already very, very busy life is a great tip I think in terms of being able to manage not only your life, but the way in which the software can support that.

Andrew J. Mason: So excellent. You think about automation as Omni automation requiring all this coding skill. I've never really thought about the fact that repeating tasks are a form of automation. That's something that you can do to leverage your cognitive ability in time. That's awesome.

Professor Inger Mewborn: And we are all grownups, right? And we're all parents and we are responsible for more than one person's things in your life. Right? So especially with kids, I actually I bought my son OmniFocus as a uni starting present.

Jason Downs: That's the-

Professor Inger Mewborn: I'm that parent.

Jason Downs: You're the first.

Professor Inger Mewborn: I'm like, "I'm giving you the gift of productivity." He's not quite there yet. And he's all like, "I don't get it." And I've got this theory with teaching. Well, it's not a theory. I mean, every teacher knows this, that unless the person has experienced the pain or the problem, they're not as receptive to the lesson. Right. So he's only starting to now experience the pain of having multiple things going on, work and friends and uni and stuff. But he is a big [inaudible 00:29:55]. That's the other thing I bought him was the Notion database. And I think those two things can work incredibly well together as well. Because Notion is your own personal Wiki. And he's used that extensively for all his class notes. And I look at him jealous. I wish I'd had that early in my life, but I'm starting to teach him how you can take the link from the Notion thing into the task for the assignment and that you can break the assignment down into stages and he's getting there.

Professor Inger Mewborn: But I also think often when I'm coaching him on things like that, and also on writing, there's so much privilege packed into the fact that he's got a parent who knows this stuff and how much... Jason we've reflected on this, haven't we? That we just weren't taught it in life. And that someone should teach you this at school. How do you manage and organize yourself and what tools are available to help you do it? It's just such an incredible boost. It's a whole grade point average. It's taking up a whole grade at uni just because you know when something's due. I never knew that. I just reacted. I just stay up all night the night before.

Jason Downs: Yeah, yeah.

Professor Inger Mewborn: Just amazing.

Andrew J. Mason: Hey, what's that phrase about the student emerging when the teacher's ready and it circles all the way back to the beginning of this, when Jason was talking about sharing the gift of the idea of OmniFocus with you and you're like, "Yeah, yeah, that sounds great." And then when you finally get it, you're like, "Is this what you've been talking about? Why haven't you told me about this?" And you're like, "I've been telling you this entire time." This has been a blast. Thank you both so much for joining us. I would love for you just to share how people can connect with you and keep in touch with you. I'm sure they've had a great time listening as well. And if they want more, how can they do that?

Jason Downs: I think there's a couple of ways that you can get in contact with us, both Inger and I are very active on Twitter. You can find me there @Jason Downs. But also if you want to listen to us talk about some of this stuff and we do go deep in our podcast called On The Reg. You can find us there. We tackle productivity as part of living a values based balanced life and making sure that we capture all of that. And we share those techniques in that podcast quite extensively. Inger's much more prolific across the internet than what I am. So I'll let her talk about that.

Professor Inger Mewborn: Yeah, I should say if you're encountering On The Reg for the first time, just know that for the first half an hour or so we just crap on. That's an Australianism, sorry, about whatever's happening in our life. So if you're a long term listener, often I've looked at our stats and there's a lot of people that actually just stay and tune in for the first half an hour, which mystifies me because we just catch up on whether Jason's been out in his boat fishing or what kind of stakeholder engagement problems I've had. So that first half an hour is chat. So if you want to get to the productivity stuff, skip past the first half hour. But we try to have relationship with our listeners and that seems to have evolved over time. You can find me at thesis whisperer on all the things. I'm on Facebook. I'm on Twitter.

Professor Inger Mewborn: I have large follower base on both. And of course my blog, The Thesis Whisperer has been there for 12 years and I publish once a month and I write about all things that are related to being an academic, being a PhD student, and a lot of stuff about writing. So if you go there this month, you'll see that there's a very long post on writing. And there'll be a new one soon. For the first time in 12 years, I missed my self-imposed publishing deadline of the first Wednesday of the month, because I've been sick this week. But then I think the post that's up there at the moment has been getting a lot of... You'll see. It's a little bit rude. I get more clicks when I've got titles like that. And so, yeah. And really you can find us and talk to us on Twitter. You won't just talk to each other during the day about stuff as well.

Andrew J. Mason: Thank you both so much for showing up on the show. We are honored to have you. It's been a blast.

Professor Inger Mewborn: Great. Thank you so much, Andrew. We've really enjoyed it. Thanks for asking us.

Jason Downs: Yeah, thanks Andrew. It's been a pleasure.

Andrew J. Mason: Hey and thank all of you for listening today too. As always, you can drop us a line at The Omni Show on Twitter. We'd love to hear from you there. You can also find out everything that's happening with the Omni group at