Automators 5: Project Templates

Episode 5 of automators is all about project templates, and how they can help you to be more productive. David and I are both OmniFocus users, but project templates can be used with almost every task management system out there – even Reminders!

The simplest type of project template is a project you can copy – this is easily done in both OmniFocus and Things, the advantage is it’s easy to set up, but it’s also static – what you have is what you get.

You can also store project templates somewhere else, the places I have used are:

  • Editorial
  • iCloud Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Drafts
  • Workflow/Shortcuts

One thing I have done is to import all of the templates I’d previously saved into Dropbox and iCloud Drive into Drafts – this was easily done by pressing and holding the + icon which then lets you import a file.

Something I use a lot when making templates for OmniFocus is TaskPaper – and I even made a Drafts Action Group to help me do so easily. What you can do with OmniFocus and TaskPaper is create a template in OmniFocus, copy it and then paste it into a text editor (like Drafts) to edit it – this allows you to put “fuzzy dates” in, such as “Thursday” or “Monday -2d”, the latter evaluating to two days before Monday. You can also include «variables» which the TaskPaper to OF action will then help you replace.

I demonstrated how to use this action group in a screencast for you:

And there’s also a blog post all about it: Using Drafts 5 Taskpaper with OmniFocus

As I mentioned in the podcast, Todoist supports importing a CSV file – and if your task manager does too then you can use Numbers or Excel and date math to make relative dates.

So, what kind of project templates might you create?

  • Packing Lists
  • Publishing a podcast episode
  • Writing and submitting an essay/report
  • And much more!

While David and I are both primarily OmniFocus users, there are also lots of great resources for Things users:

And the Todoist blog also has a post called A whole new way to create and share Todoist Templates – Todoist Blog.

One of the workflows/Shortcuts I mentioned on the podcast was one to create an essay project, the options here are somewhat simplified, but demonstrate quite nicely how this works:

  • Essay to OmniFocus
  • Essay to OmniFocus
    As the URL Scheme in Things doesn’t support adding headings I formatted the project in Things somewhat differently – however you can import a JSON which does support headings format so if you’re willing to get stuck in I’m sure you can figure it out!

Another Workflow/Shortcut I mentioned is the iOS implementation of these scripts:

David also did a great screencast about how he uses Shortcuts to make project templates:

Make sure to check out the show notes for all of the links, and I look forward to discussing this episode and all of your examples for project templates in the forums!