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June 14, 2021, 9 a.m.
How Tim Stringer Uses OmniFocus

Tim Stringer has been providing OmniFocus coaching, consulting and training to people all over the world since 2010 via LearnOmniFocus.com.

Show Notes:

On today's show, Tim shares nuggets of wisdom he's garnered along his journey with GTD and OmniFocus.

Some other people, places, and things mentioned:

Transcript:

Andrew J. Mason: You're listening to The Omni Show. Get to know the people and stories behind The Omni Group's award-winning productivity apps for Mac and iOS. My name's Andrew J. Mason. Today, we talk to Tim Stringer, founder of learnomnifocus.com and holistic productivity.

Andrew J. Mason: Well, welcome everybody to another episode of The Omni Show. Like I mentioned, my name's Andrew J. Mason. And today we are talking to founder of learnomnifocus.com, Tim Stringer. Tim's been providing OmniFocus coaching and consulting and training to people all over the world since 2010. And this man has one amazing story to share too. Tim, thank you so much for joining us today.

Tim Stringer: Oh, great to be here, Andrew, and really looking forward to our conversation.

Andrew J. Mason: Well, Tim, you have an incredible story and I'd love to dive right into that segment. Talk to us about before and after OmniFocus and GTD. What was life like prior? And what happened during the transition? And what his life looked like since?

Tim Stringer: Yeah, sure. Well, it's almost hard to imagine life before GTD. It's so ingrained at this point. But when I discovered GTD, it wasn't like discovering it for the first time. I realized that I was actually practicing GTD in many areas of my life, but what it gave me is a framework, a way of formalizing the practice, certainly making some improvements and adjustments, but it was a very natural sort of fit.

Tim Stringer: And I had a very, I think, unusual introduction to GTD. I read the Getting Things Done book when I was literally fighting for my life. I was going through Stage 4 cancer in 2008. And reading through the book, I didn't even know if I was going to be around by the end of the year. So, it was definitely a challenging and very insightful time in my life. And as one person put it, it was the best and worst time of my life all rolled into one.

Tim Stringer: But as I was going through the book... and I wasn't able to work at this point, I kind of had to put everything on hold, except getting over my challenges. But I still wanted to practice Getting Things Done, as written. So, I created several projects, including one to heal from cancer. And that was one that somehow objectified the healing process. I've heard David Allen talk about turning a problem into a project. And I hadn't heard of that concept before, but I just kind of naturally went that route. And it just felt really good to take this, definitely a very large problem in my life and put it into a project form where I could actually take action and move the needle on it, without kind of getting too caught up in the drama and going into that victim role and so forth. So, I definitely credit GTD to helping save my life. So, one of the reasons I was so motivated to do the work that I'm doing today.

Andrew J. Mason: What a beautiful story. And I love the inflection point of how this stuff comes at the exact perfect time for you. What's really got me curious is most people, when they read Getting Things Done or hear about that material, they come in with a very business mindset, "How can this help me be more productive and do more things faster in my work life?" And over time, they may find themselves applying it to their personal lives as well. You took the exact opposite direction, which I find really curious. What in your mindset said, "You know what? I think, even if I apply it in my personal life this is a direction that I should start from first"?

Tim Stringer: So, it was really just working with what I had to work with at the time. I didn't have a business challenge, but I had other challenges. And I thought, "If this works for business, maybe it could work in other areas as well."

Tim Stringer: And that was one change I know David made when he wrote the second edition is made it kind of more holistic in its scope, I would say, more of a all-encompassing. And I think it was always all-encompassing; it just wasn't immediately obvious. But I was so determined to see what this could do while I was still around, that I got creative and just took the basic principles.

Tim Stringer: Once you break the basic principles down, I don't think they're specific to any area of life; they can really apply in literally every situation. So, it was, I guess, a creative exercise as I was learning this that prompted it. And it has certainly borne much fruit since then.

Andrew J. Mason: So, we haven't introduced a set of principles and practices. Talk to me about the other side of the coin, the vehicle through which all of this flows. Do you remember any first interactions or how you came across with The Omni Group or OmniFocus, how that first entered your life and your radar?

Tim Stringer: Yeah, sure. So, once I started to practice GTD, I naturally went looking for a tool to support the practice. And I could have used pen and paper, but I've been a techie for so many years, so I definitely wanted a digital task manager. And Things and OmniFocus were the two ones that really stood out at the time.

Tim Stringer: And I ended up going with Things. Initially, I was really drawn to the interface. And it just felt like a very simple way to get into it. And I still think it's a great app. It's got a lot to offer and beautiful design. And I also found that I hit the limits on that post-cancer, as my life started to get more complicated and I had more plates to keep spinning and balls to keep in the air and so forth. And that naturally led me to OmniFocus.

Tim Stringer: So, kind of I think of Things as when I was going to be more sort of hobbyist film producer. And then when I went on to making major motion pictures, OmniFocus was like the Final Cut Pro of the productivity apps, I would say.

Andrew J. Mason: What was the driving force for you? After you had landed on OmniFocus and said, "This is where I want to run my life," that said, "You know what? Not only do I want to do this, let's start a community of people who are like-minded, where we can learn from each other at learnomnifocus.com." What started that up for you?

Tim Stringer: Yeah, sure. First of all, I got some notoriety. I was interviewed by David Allen in 2009 after I wrote an article for the GTD Times blog. And then I did the first ever customer story with The Omni Group. And that definitely helped kind of put me on the map and get recognized.

Tim Stringer: And then I was the speaker at The Setup event, I believe that was in 2013, was it? Quite a while ago. This was an event in San Francisco. And OmniFocus 2 was showed off for the first time. And there was a whole day of events and speakers, like myself and Merlin Mann, David Sparks, Sven Fechner, and Kourosh Dini. So, we had a whole assortment of speakers there. The lineup was like people waiting to get the new iPhone. It was literally going around blocks and blocks in San Francisco.

Tim Stringer: And so, I gave a talk, talking about what we're talking about today, to some extent, talking about my experience of going through cancer and how that led to discovering OmniFocus and doing the work that I'm doing. And especially after that event, I got a lot of inquiries from people to say, "Can you help me with my OmniFocus setup?" and, "I love this tool. I'm a big fan of GTD, but I'm having trouble kind of connecting the two and really having it work day to day."

Tim Stringer: So, I started to do OmniFocus consulting and coaching with people all over the world. And I was getting so many people landing on my doorstep that said, "Okay, there's no way I can possibly accommodate all these people." And I also noticed I was kind of repeating the same things over and over again. So, I would say, "Oh, I wish I had an article or a video or something that really talked to this point." So, I thought, "Well, I can't handle the numbers. And I really want some material. And so, I'm going to start to provide some training on this."

Tim Stringer: And initially that training was here in Vancouver. And that's what prompted the customer stories video. But then I realized, yeah, there was really a worldwide demand for these sorts of services. And that's what prompted me to put together a site. And I wanted it to be more than a course. I thought about doing a course. And courses are great. I certainly have gone through many myself, but I really wanted it to be something that had a continuity to it, had a community around it and something that could evolve over time as OmniFocus evolved.

Tim Stringer: So, that's where Learn OmniFocus was born. And I remember visiting The Omni Group. I think it was in October of 2013. And I thought I was going to be talking to a couple of people, but I found myself in a room with, it seemed like half the company there, giving a little presentation about Learn OmniFocus. And they had so much enthusiasm. And that really helped plant the seed for me to launch the site the following year.

Tim Stringer: And I didn't know how it was going to go. I didn't know if there was going to be enough interest to have a whole site that centers around one app, but I knew it was a very good sign when I launched the site, and I hadn't told anybody I'd launched it, and people were already signing up, almost like they were pressing the refresh button, waiting for it to come along. It was pretty much an overnight success.

Tim Stringer: And I've had people from, I think, 87 countries join over the years. And it's going strong today and just a real passion of mine. I just love the connections I get with people in the live session. I love the feedback I get after sharing the content and so forth. And it's become really I think a true expression of what I've learned during my trials and tribulations.

Andrew J. Mason: Tim, this thriving community makes me think of David Allen's statement, where he says, "The better you get, the better you had better get." And this idea how over time, you're expanding your capacity, you're expanding your capabilities, the site is growing. Do you find that to be a truth in your life as well?

Tim Stringer: Yeah, sure. And I think I've kind of made a game out of it, to some extent. When life does go awry, for instance, when a pandemic comes along or something like that, something that couldn't easily have been predicted, I use it to stress-test my system to say, "How does it hold up against this load?"

Tim Stringer: And if it doesn't do very well in certain areas, that's great. I've got that knowledge. It's kind of like when you have an actual hurricane or something. You're putting the plywood up on the windows and you already know what to do when the hurricane's coming. So, it's a similar sort of thing I think for a productivity system is how well can it handle the inclement weather that might come along?

Tim Stringer: And the more equipped my system is, the more calm I can be, regardless of what's going on around me. So, I think it's a big part of a productivity system is not just Getting Things Done; it's actually feeling secure knowing that the system is in place to help deal with whatever comes along. And if it doesn't prove to be robust enough in a given situation, it can always be built and strengthened and so forth.

Andrew J. Mason: Having so many people share their experiences in OmniFocus and what their system looks like, do you ever find yourself, as you're listening to an interview that you're conducting, being like, "Oh my gosh, why haven't I tried that in my system before?" As you just hear these things flow through people's systems, I find myself just being like, "I got to try that."

Tim Stringer: Yeah, sure. And I've had many guests ON Learn OmniFocus over the years. And I think that's really what's brought richness to the platform. And I've made all of those guest interviews available free of charge too, SO if anyone wants to check those out. Some of them are very well-known in the productivity space, people like David Sparks and Kourosh Dini. And others haven't really sort of made a career around productivity, but they've learned what they need to know and they've got some very clever ways to use their system because there are demands on their life, there's a lot they have to keep track of. And I've had a very wide assortment of people on.

Tim Stringer: And I'd have to say I've learned something from each of them. There's never been a guest on that I haven't taken something away. And it might've been something as simple as how I name my projects or a new tag to introduce or a new perspective or something like that. Or it might've been more profound where I'm rethinking how I'm structuring my system. So, I think there is so much to learn from other people. And I learn from people in the community.

Tim Stringer: We do these small group office hours a few times a month, where it's maximum 10 people and people join from all over the world. And I get to spend an hour with them and, not only provide instruction and advice, but also understand, what does your world look like and how have you dealt with these challenges that have come along and certainly taking some of that for my own system too and using it to further sort of strengthen it so, again, I can be in that more calm state.

Andrew J. Mason: How do you balance the time working in your system versus on it? There's always that desire about, what can I tweak to make this thing perfect? And I know it's an unattainable goal, but at the same time you want to strive for squeaking out any bit of improvement that you can in your system. How do you work with that?

Tim Stringer: Well, first of all, I'll preface this by saying I love kind of tinkering with systems. And that's something I get enjoyment from.

Tim Stringer: Sort of objective point of view, you could say, "Well, that's not the best use of your time. You're spending too much time on OmniFocus." I just made it really a big part of my job description so I can easily justify the time. This was one of the attractions to the path that I'm on.

Tim Stringer: But there's also an aspect of, what is kind of good enough? What's the minimum viable product? And what's maybe going to take it beyond that, without getting to a point where you're spending all of the time on the system?

Tim Stringer: And I was listening to Jason Snell. I think it was on one of the many podcasts he does anyway. And he was talking about the task manager and the productivity system in general as scaffolding. And that has really stuck with me. You could be painting a big house and just use a ladder and move the ladder every five minutes and take the paint up and down the ladder and maybe spill some of it along the way. Or you could take some time upfront and put a new, really nice scaffolding in place where you can maybe ultimately do it in a quarter of the time, even though the setup was much longer. But at the same time, you want, certainly, the scaffolding to be safe and secure. You don't want anything falling apart while you're up there, but at the same time you don't necessarily need to have the scaffolding perfectly painted and looking like a work of art because it's there to build the house or to paint the house. It's not the end.

Tim Stringer: So, I think it's looking at a productivity system as a tool, as a part of the mechanics, the vehicle, and making sure that it's up to the task and that you enjoy using it too. I think if it's attractive to use, it's going to get much more use. But at the same time look at, why does this system exist in the first place? And what is going to put it at a place where I can actually do meaningful work without being kind of obsessed with having the perfect system and perfect icons and things like that?

Tim Stringer: When I gave the talk in San Francisco, I said, "Avoid fiddling unless you play the violin." So, I've kind of adjusted that a little bit to say, "Keep fiddling away on your system if you enjoy that, but putting some bounds on it." Sometimes I'll even set a timer and I'm just going to say, "Maybe I'm going to spend the next 20 minutes fiddling." When I'm done with that, I'll have probably a better system, a more attractive system. And it's also time to start to do some of the work that's articulated within the system.

Andrew J. Mason: Tim, in one of our pre-conversations, you mentioned something about a special way of approaching projects. I think it's really inspirational. Do you mind sharing this method with folks?

Tim Stringer: Something I've been doing for a number of years now is to write a project name as a true-or-false statement. So, instead of saying, "Plan trip to San Francisco," I would say, "Ready for a trip to San Francisco." So, if I can honestly answer yes to that question, then that project is complete. So, it creates this clear differentiation between an action, which is going to be like "book Air Canada flight" or something like that and a statement. And ultimately, the goal of projects is for those statements to become true, that aren't currently true, just like it was when I was going through my cancer. I didn't have a clean bill of health. I wanted to say, "I've got a clean bill of health," and share that with everyone. So, that was ultimately the project was to have that statement become true.

Tim Stringer: And within that, sometimes that statement isn't enough. Sometimes it needs to be further clarified by having some sort of a checklist. So, to say, "In order for this statement to be called true, what are some conditions that need to be satisfied?" So, in order to say, "I'm ready for my trip to San Francisco," I might have a checklist that has its own more specific true-or-false statements. One might be "flight is booked. Hotel is booked. I've let these six friends know that I'm coming to town. Clear your schedule kind of thing." Yeah. And I'm really looking forward to going back down there. Definitely one of my favorite places to be. And just having these conditions where if all of those boxes are checked and I've included everything, then I can honestly, without any sort of concern, mark this project complete. So, that's been one of those sort of small, but big changes that I've made that's really delivered the goods in many ways.

Andrew J. Mason: And one other nugget that we kind of gleaned from your system is this idea of how you handle checklists. How do you approach the idea of checklists in OmniFocus?

Tim Stringer: I you use the checklist tag, which is on hold so it doesn't kind of interfere with my active here's-what-you-need-to-do list. But it could also exist in somewhere like Asana or OmniOutliner, depending on whether other people need to see the list. That's one of the key criteria to deciding where does it actually live.

Tim Stringer: I'll just mention one other one quickly too. And this is one when Lee Garrett was one of the guests. And he's a very talented productivity expert from England. And he came on and talked about the boss mode and the worker mode. And that really stuck with me. And this definitely applies to a personal productivity system.

Tim Stringer: So, when I'm going through, using the review feature in OmniFocus, which is one of my favorite feature there, in that boss mode, when I'm figuring out what I'm going to work on tomorrow, I'm in that boss mode. So, it's very much that planning mentality. And then when I'm actually doing the work, when I've got an hour before my next meeting and I'm looking at my Hot List perspective, that's when I'm in the worker mode.

Tim Stringer: And as long as there's a good balance between those two, if my boss mode self has been doing his job, then my worker mode self can feel confident that what they're doing is the best use of their time and energy. And I don't have to be kind of thinking about what else could I be doing in this moment, or is this the best use. So, I found it was very useful to separate those two and to create that distinction between, am I in this planning mode? Am I articulating work? Or am I actually doing the work? And at any point in the day, saying, "Am I in a boss mode or worker mode? And is this the mode to be in right now?" And not trying to combine the two. It's pretty hard to be a boss and worker at the same time. So, I found that sort of separation is really useful.

Andrew J. Mason: And just to clarify, when you say tags, are you creating a context in your system? Or how is this presented to the user?

Tim Stringer: It's more the perspective I have on the system. Am I looking at from a point of view of planning? Or am I looking at it from a point of view of doing?

Tim Stringer: So, when I'm in that planning mode, I naturally use different OmniFocused perspectives. I think I've got one to show me my active projects. I've got one to show me any projects that are stalled. So, it's a parallel or sequential project with no remaining next actions. I've got one to show things that are untagged. So, all of those things are what the boss mode would use because it's more interested in, is the worker mode set up to really have a system that's ready to go and it can just kind of hit the ground running?

Tim Stringer: Whereas when I'm in my worker mode self, I'd engage with it in a different way. I don't really care about remaining actions at that point. Unless they're available, I just want to see ones that are available. Maybe not even interested in what I've got on my plate at that moment because I just want to spend an hour in this area of my work. And so, I'm using Hot List and Today perspectives. Or I've got one specific to business, one specific to personal. So, I can just kind of go into that mode as that worker self and just go to town and not be kind of distracted by those thoughts of, what else should I be doing right now?

Andrew J. Mason: In preparation for this interview, I did listen to a pretty decent portion of your In Conversation with David Allen. And one of the things that struck me was how you made the cancer a project. And even though there wasn't necessarily a clear next action, it was like, "There's something in my life that I want to be true. I don't necessarily have a handle on exactly what the next action is." Do you mind me asking if there's other projects like that in your life now? Do you continue to do that, where you're like, "Here's a desired state, but how it happens is a mystery to me"?

Tim Stringer: Yeah. So, there's this notion of... this word "project" is I think a little nebulous. A project could to one person mean building a bird feeder, to someone else it might be building a 100-story building. So, first of all, I think it's useful to come up with at least a personal definition of what a project is.

Tim Stringer: And I kind of differentiate it where, since I'm used to working in OmniFocus at a project level, those tend to be very I think pretty much in line with GTD. Those tend to be very short-term or relatively short-term and tangible. I know exactly what I'm building.

Tim Stringer: But then I have this notion of a large project. So, even launching Learn OmniFocus was a large project. And getting a university degree and getting my black belt in karate, I'd consider a pretty large project. And so, these are things that I think need to be thought through. They need to be broken apart. They need to be played with before you can even get down to what I would consider to be a GTD project.

Tim Stringer: So, this is where I make extensive use of mind mapping. I'm a big fan of MindNode. And if I have a seed of an idea that I want to develop, then it almost always starts off as a mind map. And this is where I go into my creative play mode. I could put anything on there that I want, regardless of how ridiculous it is. I can list off the inspirations. I can list off, why am I to not do this? What are the concerns? What are the problems? What are the unanswered questions? And just get this really rich kind of tapestry of ideas organized in such a way that I can do something useful.

Tim Stringer: And once I have at least some sense of where I'm going, maybe it's still years off into the future, but if I have some sense of where it's going then I can take a piece of that and say, "Okay, I need to do some sort of feasibility study on this," or, "I need to hire someone or find a partner to work on it with," or those types of things. And then I can take that piece and bring it into OmniFocus. And then it becomes, I use the word operational at that point. It's stepped into a very tangible place where I'm moving towards something concrete. And maybe that project only takes me a week, even if the big one takes me five years.

Tim Stringer: But it's been very, very useful, I've found to create that distinction between something that's incubating, something that's an idea that I'm giving room to grow, and something that I'm committed to doing that has a very defined outcome. So, that's where I play with that. And even when I have wild ideas, it's kind of second nature to create a mind map now and just kind of get stuff out. And I might never do anything with it, but it might turn into the next big thing.

Andrew J. Mason: That's so cool. And I've heard of that, where it's like, "I don't know if I'm ever going to use any of this, but the fact that I might use a piece of it somewhere is going to be more than worth it when it does come time." It's like a seatbelt: you don't need it until you need it.

Andrew J. Mason: Share for a second with that beginner person out there, somebody that maybe doesn't necessarily have a task management system in place yet, but they have this desire to do something because my life's not working right now. What I've got is too many demands and not enough capacity. And I'm not sure exactly what to do next. What advice do you have as a next action for somebody who is just getting started?

Tim Stringer: The number one pitfall, first of all, that I've seen people fall into as they get into a task manager like OmniFocus is that they overload it with stuff because I think often their minds are so full of ideas and obligations and whatever it happens to be. It's this kind of whole sort of potpourri of different things swimming around in there. And maybe they just dump that all into the OmniFocus inbox. And they feel great. But then a week later they've got 100 more things. And all of a sudden they've got a system that hasn't necessarily been structured to contain that information. And then already, they're feeling stressed because they've got so many things to go through in the inbox.

Tim Stringer: So, first thing I would do is, even necessarily before getting into task management, make sure you have a place to park notes and ideas and things like that. Even if it's pen and paper or you're putting it into the Notes app or any tool like that. You're using mind maps maybe or a combination of those, so that you can get your thinking clearer to the point where you can actually figure out, what are the tasks? What are the projects? What are the next actions? Because, in practice, it's quite challenging I think to use a task manager if you don't know what the tasks are, is one way of looking at it.

Tim Stringer: Often the tendency is to kind of mix up that sort of planning, ideation and the actual articulating of the tasks. And I find that's just too much to do certainly in one sitting because one is more of a creative side, just like what we were talking about, getting the mind map out and letting the ideas fly. And once it gets into a task manager, then it's I think by definition getting into a more refined, actionable state. So, that's when kind of the GTD practice of, what are your actions and your context and things is really kicking in and really showing its value.

Tim Stringer: And it could be an iterative process. You don't have to have everything figured out before using a task manager, but I'd say starting using it, only put the things in there that are well-defined tasks, well-defined projects. Even if you're just using it in one area of your life, maybe you're just using it for personal purposes, to start with getting used to using it, start to look at what the structure might be like, and then gradually expand its usage.

Tim Stringer: And even after you've been using it for months and years, get really clear on what belongs in OmniFocus and what is best kept elsewhere. Some people do keep things like someday/maybe lists and ideas and things in OmniFocus, which I think can work well, but it can also kind of create some confusion between what is actually actionable, what am I committed to doing, and what is kind of a pie-in-the-sky idea.

Tim Stringer: So, I personally keep all of that stuff out of OmniFocus, where OmniFocus in a way has kind of become a personal ticketing system, where anytime I create a project or define an action I'm essentially creating a ticket for my future self to work on. And that could be something that I'm doing week after week. Every Friday, I need to transfer the money from PayPal or something. So, that could be the job ticket that shows up on my list. Or it might just mean something like, "Okay, on Tuesday I want to spend some time brainstorming about this new Learn OmniFocus course I'm thinking of developing." So, I might have an action that says "brainstorm on X." And then I go off into MindNode for half an hour and see what ideas start to flow. And maybe I do that every day for the next week or once a week or something like that.

Tim Stringer: So, at the end of the day, there's all these tools that are supporting OmniFocus and its use, and then all the project support and the notes and mind maps and resources that have been collected, collaborative tools and so forth. And OmniFocus is really just saying, "Okay, here's what to do next. Here's your next action."

Andrew J. Mason: A little bit of a sneak peek here, but I know you were one of the people that got access to one of the earlier builds of OmniFocus 4 on iOS. I'd love your first impressions. Anything that you think people might have gravitated towards as a new feature or something that you think, "Man, this is going to be significant for the new version. Folks should pay attention to that"?

Tim Stringer: Yeah, sure. I was lucky to be one of the very first people outside of Omni to use OmniFocus 4 on my iPhone and iPad. And I really like the direction that it's going. One thing that I'm finding is a trend across apps is to bring a desktop experience to the iPhone and iPad. And often, in the days that I used to travel, and I hope I'll be traveling again soon, I'd tend to bring my iPad with me and want to have that sort of desktop experience on the iPad. Still taking advantage of all the iPad features and UI and being able to scribble with my Apple Pencil and things like that. I've found the OmniFocus 4 has definitely taken a big leap forward in that direction where I'm using it on my iPad, doing things that simply weren't possible before.

Tim Stringer: The very first thing I did when I installed it on my IPad Pro was to press "Command-O" and see the quick open come up. And I was so happy to see that because I use that feature constantly on the Mac, and not having it on the iPhone and iPad definitely feels like something's missing. Focus is a feature I use a lot on the Mac too, and it's really great to have that on the iPads. Being able to use the disclosure triangles to collapse an action group. I use a lot of action groups as part of my workflows. And sometimes I don't want to see the details of that group. I just want to hide it away, and being able to do that.

Tim Stringer: And I think just overall the flexibility of the interface. And I know Omni's using SwiftUI to do this, so they're really getting modern technologies and able to build OmniFocus in a way where it does feel very similar across all the different platforms, whether you're running it on an Apple Watch or you're using it on an iPhone or something like that or a Mac. And so, it's a really, yeah, a really exciting future and, yeah, really happy to see things continue to evolve. And even in the last few weeks that I've been using it, it's really come a long ways. And so, really optimistic for the future.

Andrew J. Mason: I don't want to make the mistake of leaning too far into Learn OmniFocus for this conversation. I know you hold a lot of other areas of focus. Talk to us about what else you have going on in your life these days.

Tim Stringer: Yeah. Learn OmniFocus is definitely at the core of everything. The thing about Learn OmniFocus is it's not just about OmniFocus; it's about teaching productivity principles. I introduce a lot of other tools, like I've had DEVONthink and MindNode and Drafts and Kourosh was coming on. He talked about DEVONthink specifically. And I've got many more of those planned. So, it's very much about, what are the productivity principles? How can you get into the habit of using them in your life? And it just helps that everyone uses OmniFocus. So, that's maybe broader than it seems on the surface to start with.

Tim Stringer: On the work side of things, I also do consulting around Asana, on team collaboration. And I think there's a sort of perfect marriage that happens when someone's got strong personal productivity skills and there's a strong system and practices within a team. And once you have both of those elements, I think the sky's the limit at that point.

Tim Stringer: And then I've been using Zoom and video conferencing in general for many, many years. I did my first video call way back in 1997 when I was living in Dublin, Ireland. And we did a call between Dublin and our capital city, Ottawa. And I think it was about $35 a minute just for bandwidth charges in those days. And the experience was not that great, especially at that price, but it really kind of planted that seed of really bringing the world closer together, which is what tools like Zoom have made possible. So, especially in the past year or so, I've been working with many organizations as they made the transition to doing virtual events and virtual trainings. And that's just been an incredible journey. I've just met so many amazing people along the way. So, on the work side of things those are my main focuses.

Tim Stringer: More personal areas of life. I've been a yoga and meditation practitioner since 1995. And started teaching that in 1999. So, taught many thousands of students over the years. And I have certainly learned a lot as I teach. And I think in order to really understand something, I think teaching is probably one of the shortest routes to get there because as I continue to teach people in different areas of life and the technology and yoga and meditation, it really furthers my own learning.

Tim Stringer: Then I've been a martial artist for many years, practicing shotokan karate since my university days. I think it was around '87, '88 I got into that. And that's still going strong. So, I think that was one of the reasons I connected with GTD is hearing David Allen talk about his own experiences as a martial artist and getting the black belt in GTD and so forth.

Tim Stringer: And I actually see a lot of parallels between martial arts and productivity practice. It's definitely something where you're given some very specific structure to begin with and then you practice it over and over again until it becomes ingrained. And then once you have achieved a certain level of mastery, you can start to play with it. You can start to kind of come up with your own techniques, your own style. And then beyond that, there's always layers to improve. To master it, to mastery is really very much an ongoing thing.

Andrew J. Mason: Tim, this has been an honor to be able to be in conversation with you. How can folks get connected to you and the work that you're doing?

Tim Stringer: Yeah, sure. For things beyond the scope of Learn OmniFocus, technicallysimple.com is the place to go. That's the company I founded way back in 2003, essentially the parent company of Learn OmniFocus. And for the personal side of things, my yoga, meditation, teaching, timstringer.com is the place to go.

Andrew J. Mason: Tim, thank you so much for spending your time with us today. We're so honored.

Tim Stringer: Okay. My pleasure. And thanks again for the invite, Andrew.

Andrew J. Mason: Thank you, Tim. And thank all of you for listening as well. We're so grateful that you spent time listening to us today. If there's anything that we can do or any conversation that you'd like to have, you can reach out to us @theomnishow on Twitter. You can also find out everything that's happening with The Omni Group at omnigroup.com/blog.