Advice for my Obsolete Organization Method

I’d like to ask y’all how you organize and how and/or why you do so that way. I can’t find a system that works for me now, and it’s frustrating. I’d appreciate advice!

I’m asking why you organize the way you do because, for instance, I’ve always liked organizing by priority and I think organizing by category is used commonly, but I don’t understand how one keeps important tasks visible too. Without mixing it with semi-important tasks or losing it in the not very important tasks.

For my background, years ago I just used a few simple lists labeled by priority (To-Do, Soon, Eventually) and maybe a category like School. I relatively recently read David Allen’s book and started using contexts because I had used up time checking my tasks and deciding which I could do, then which to do. So I had folders labeled after priorities and within each contexts like Anywhere, Computer, Home, etc… And some other lists like ASAP, People, etc… I used Apple’s Reminders and Errands before. Now I’m using Wunderlist. I considered OmniFocus but I like simplicity. However, I do not know whether I just can’t find a simple way to organize or whether it’s just not possible and with the number and variety of tasks I now have (as a college student as opposed to a child), my organization system will require more complexity. I’d rather not have to buy apps, but I’d pay for OmniFocus if I expected my organization to be as trustworthy and nice as it used to be.

If you buy the pro version of Omnifocus and are willing to spend some time on experimenting and setting up perspectives that suit your needs, I would say that there is always a way to find an organization model that is trustworthy, nice and able to handle large amounts of tasks.

In my case, I have found it much easier to prioritize tasks within a certain category. By using the review feature set for appropriate periods for my categories, I can feel assured that no task is forgotten or badly prioritized. Then I have a perspective that only shows the first available task in each category. When the tasks are filtered down this way, I find it much easier to choose which tasks that are most important to work with. I have discussed more about my perspectives here:

My perspectives Priorities and First available


Thank you! If I could ask something else…

I’m still getting used to the OF lingo, so I’m trying to understand your organization method. You say you start off in the forecast view–does that view perhaps have tasks due today? And if nothing is there, you switch to perspectives. Is a perspective like another way to sort the same tasks? So one way to sort is by “time priority” (Today, Daily, Deferred, This week, This month, Stages. ) and another way to sort is by category (with one first available task in each). And if these are sorting the same tasks differently, then might it be the case that a task in “This Week” is also one of the first available tasks in a category?

Yes, that is correct. All tasks are located in projects, and in my usage of Omnifocus, a project is often a category of tasks. All projects can be viewed in the Projects list, but they (or their tasks) could also be viewed in different perspectives. Forecast is a built-in perspective that shows tasks (from all projects) that are or will be due. The pro version of Omnifocus lets you create your own perspectives, so that you can filter and/or sort tasks just the way you want. When you have decided on what presentations of your tasks would be most meaningful and useful to you, there is usually a way to achieve those using custom perspectives.

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You can probably search the forums for “Today” perspectives for prioritization.

Another recent thread is here:

For my own prioritization, I put due dates only on tasks that must be due before a certain date and dire consequences/penalties will occur if a task or project is not completed by the due date.

Then for all other tasks, I’ll put a flag on a small handful of tasks to indicate something that has no due date but I want to work on it either today or in the next few days.

Then create a “Today” perspective that shows all due soon or flagged.

Tasks with due date: High priority. A must do. I can claim victory if I can get these done today.
Tasks that are flagged: Medium priority. Today has a cherry on top if I can get these tasks done.
Tasks that not are not flagged and have no due date: Low priority. I don’t work on any of these. I will look at these tasks and flag a handful to escalate them to Medium priority.


I’ve seen the five priority labels that Todoist ships with. Why not have 10 priority labels at that point? The reason is because no amount of exclamation points in your UI can make you do something. It’s up to you. My opinion is that what we all really need is a system of empowering ourselves with perfect knowledge about what we need to do, or as close to it as possible. And, in my opinion, you’re more likely to achieve that with OmniFocus than with any other todo app.

Here’s a sample of my approach:

  1. Start my day by looking at my Work, School, and Life perspectives. These are simple views of all the projects within those three folders of any tasks that are available to work on. I flag the items that I want to give my attention to. Whether I do or not depends on shifting priorities throughout the day and my own ability to work efficiently. My calendar tells me where I need to be and when. It helps me block out my time to prioritize what’s important to me.

  2. I check my forecast one week out for due dates and plan accordingly. If something is due it will not become overdue, otherwise there will be consequences. It means my grades will suffer, it means I didn’t process payroll for a client, it means I’m going to owe a fine. The due date is not when I will sit down to begin it, it’s when I’ll have it done by.

  3. I check my Waiting perspective and if appropriate I’ll follow up with the appropriate person.

  4. I go into my Next perspective and work through this list for the rest of the day. This has all my available, flagged, and due soon items grouped into contexts based on my time & energy.

This is honestly a pretty minimalistic approach compared to what some people do. My daily review takes just a few minutes and in a very embarrassing way, it’s pretty therapeutic. The Review perspective alone, which is built into the app, is constantly saving me from forgetting things and reminding me to adjust my priorities. But for some people this is not a valuable use of energy, especially if it’s not a way of thinking that comes naturally. OmniFocus isn’t complex or difficult to use by any means, but it’s also far from simple. You definitely have to make a decision to set it up in a way that works for you otherwise you’re wasting your money. Hope this helped.


Thank you for sharing! That is helpful, and I have a few other questions if you don’t mind.

I like how you say “empower ourselves with perfect knowledge.” I like that/agree. But, I’m curious, why do you think OF is likely better than any other to-do app? I want to buy OF, but I keep thinking that anything I’d like to do I can improvise into Wunderlist. For instance, priority, time, and energy can be given hashtags, and then I can sort them alphabetically, by hashtag, etc… But maybe OF makes that sorting significantly easier, and I don’t know what I’m missing. To sort by energy, etc., do you perhaps add custom tags or are there fields already in place with OF?

Also, I don’t understand why a separate Waiting perspective is helpful. And maybe if I understand why you use that, I could be just a little more efficient. When I read about that in the GTD book, I was thinking that if I was waiting on someone, I wouldn’t want to have to think about the task so a “Waiting” list could be distracting. And if I wanted to follow up with the person at some time in the future, then I could make that a task/add a due date for when to start thinking about it again and follow up (sort of my way to review regularly). So I just have a Deferred list where all tasks have due dates and I don’t look at them until they show up in my Today smart list.

I wouldn’t worry too much about obsolete organization methods. Your task management structure will change over time. Omnifocus is flexible enough to bend with you. What worked for you two weeks ago might not work today.

I’ve changed, added, and deleted folders, contexts, and projects quite often depending on my needs.

Try to keep it as simple as possible if you can. If you can do it on pen and paper then it should be able to translate into omnifocus. If you overthink it, then it becomes one huge Gordian knot that needs to get untangled and worked on again.

It’s not just folder/project/comt set organization. It is also about workflow. I sat down a few summers ago and decided to document my workflow. Then took a look to see what didn’t feel right. Sometimes it wasn’t obvious but I worked it out eventually.

I took this idea from American football quarterbacks. They would go into the film room and study their practice tapes with the quarterback coach. With the coach’s help, they tweaked and refined methods, ways of looking at things, and techniques to fit that particular quarterback. Every quarterback has their own strengths and weaknesses. Trying to work around a quarterback’s physical skill set and devise a game plan to fit them. Every game, there would be a new team to face with a new challenge. The quarterback adapts his game to face the new challenges.

That’s what I hope omnifocus does. When something new pops into my life, I adapt. I’ve changed workflows numerous times. What I documented last year will definitely be different this year.

Yeah, it sounds crazy but I spend as little time as possible in omnifocus. I’m just trying to get stuff done. I just keep omnifocus to help me remember things I’m supposed to do.

Writing out your own workflow will help tremendously. This will advise you about how you want your structure to look like.


LOL - Attempting to untie my 502 action 23 context Gordian knot today!!

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Antigone…have you read David Allen’s GTD and Making It All Work?.

Yes, I have read the first. I haven’t read Making It All Work though. (I’ve just put it on hold; maybe I shall soon.)