A reader asked how I use OmniFocus to help with studying for certification exams. Here’s how I’m using OmniFocus to help with CCDE study. This may not be the ‘best’ way, but it’s what I use.
Figure out your tasks
Create a new Project in OmniFocus. Go through your usual sources of information for certification study (Cisco blueprints, blogs, etc). Figure out everything that might be a “Task” for studying. The list will vary based upon the exam, but these are the sorts of things it might contain:
- Books to read
- Cisco Live presentations to view
- Websites to look at
- Practice tests
- Lab exercises
Create a task for each of these items, e.g. go through the suggested reading lists, and create a task for each book. Don’t worry too much about the exact ordering at this point, just get the tasks into OmniFocus.
Group as required
I like to pull related tasks into a sub-project below the main CCDE project. So here I’ve got a sub-project called “Cisco Live Presentations” and I’ve added the presentations I want to review:
I sometimes also convert a Task to a Project, and add sub-tasks – e.g. I converted “Optimal Routing Design” to a project, and added tasks for the sections I wanted to read. This works well when you only need to read part of a book. Or if it’s a hard slog reading a book you might like to add a task per chapter, just to feel like you’re ‘ticking things off your list.’
Most items are “one-off”, but I look at my flashcards every day. So I set up a daily recurring task for that:
Note how I set a Due date/time, and then set it to repeat every 1 day. This then pops up in my “Forecast” view each day. I have my flashcards set for “Long term learning” so I just open Mental Case, and study whichever cards are due that day.
Now the hard part – the study
Now OmniFocus looks something like this:
Organising your tasks might feel like work, but it’s not really. This is just getting better organised to do work. Now you you need to go and do the study! I frequently review the list of tasks, and flag those that I want to work on. They then appear in the “Flagged” view, and I know what I need to do. I work through my list, ticking them off as I go. Now I can see what’s on my list. If I come across new documents to read, or resources to use, I can just add them to the project.
If you’ve got any other suggestions on using OmniFocus to help with study, please share them in the comments.