Are you struggling with OmniFocus?


As much as I’ve tried VERY hard to use every iteration of OF since V1 (Pro and synced across all platforms) I’ve never really hit my stride with it and attribute that to several things. Principally the lack of “Energy” tagging Dave Alan speaks to in his book GTD, but also challenges setting up reoccurring tasks and a few other things I pray OF3 addresses. It’s no small disappointment to me that we’re now in Q2 2018 and the year is slipping past without any idea of release date…perhaps Things3 is something to consider sigh…


I think it would pay you to look at alternatives. Apart from the obvious thought that one or more might fit your personal style better, looking at how other developers attempt to address these issues might help you figure out workflows that work for you.

I’ve spent quite a lot of time with 2Do and a little time with Things 3. I don’t think I can switch to either (although 2Do has a lot to recommend it), but I’ve brought some of what I learned back to OF and it has helped.


I appreciate the advice and will indeed take a look at where other options stand currently. DrJJWMac - I see you liked Nicks comment…do you have any thoughts or insights to this subject? I guess I feel that after TEN YEARS - OF should frankly be more capable and perhaps inventive in helping users tame their lives. Having founded and product managed an (initially successful but ultimately failed) .com for over 10 years I know well how challenging coding and spec / feature creep can be, but this isn’t 3D or another grossly complex or processor intensive app - it’s managing databases of lists - something that is done in many ways, across the net and sometimes on a much grander scale every day. My point is not to belittle the app or company - Ive been a big fan of both - again for 10 years now. I’m just utterly disheartened to see yet another Omni app (Outliner I believe now) get yet another update while my business and personal success with my chosen platform continues to stagnate while the year runs out. I guess I feel that OG should take OF more seriously as “productivity” it’s a far more personal and I think essential app (as it manages everything in one’s life) than the other OG apps that seem to get much more attention. How is OF not yet offering collaborative or export options yet? How has energy gone unaddressed for 10 years while being an essential part of Dave Alan’s methodology? How don’t we have more machine intelligence and / or “wizards” / Quizzes and / or prebuilt contexts / systems to help users quick start or wrangle their way forward more easily / quickly? SIGH. Thanks for all constructive input / criticism. Not trying to hate on the nice OG folks, but of all the company’s I’ve relied on this much in my life (Apple, Avid and more - including very small company’s) I’ve not ever felt as ignored, lonely or isolated as I do with OG OF. I even tried to beg my way into a test flight (as I’m actually a rather experienced and skilled beta tester) which would honestly cost OG nothing - and was c***k blocked from even having my request email forwarded to Ken by OG COO. My god - even Steve Jobs (and currently Tim Cook) have folks check email for urgent / passionate issues / special cases and make exceptions in good faith in kindness and for good will. Not OG. Ive been told in not so many words to go f***k myself till OF3 is released or they finally get around to my admittedly late test-flight application (as I didn’t even know it existed until a month or two ago) and deem me worthy of testing for them. I hate being stuck. I hate feeling rudderless with an incredibly complex life needing as much organization and efficiency as possible. I hate being in the dark about when OF3 (beta or not) might be available to me. And I especially hate feeling like the company I’ve stuck by for 10 years doesn’t care that after many years of patience, some of its users are having a pretty bad time of it. Thanks for the rant. Hope no one’s offended. Blessings and best of luck to OG and all of us for a better more efficient tomorrow.


I liked it because, in any situation where something is not working, the first two steps are to define the problem and gather information. The statement that @Nick made is on target. So … decide what you really believe your problem is and research what options are available to solve it.

In regard to some issues you raised …

  • I use contexts that are aligned with problem solving. I read that others use contexts aligned with energy level. The comment that OF2 lacks energy “tagging” therefore puzzles me. In any case, I suspect that multiple tags in OF3 will resolve this issue directly.

  • I am never in need of complex recurring tasks. I hear that OF3 will provide more refined options here as well.

  • The difference between OF to Things and 2Do and … whatever else … you should likely try to discover through reading here as well as through a test run of the demos. Perhaps one or the other of those apps will suit your approach better. No harm, no foul.

  • I have my own serious rants about aspects of OF. I have expressed them on occasion in a rather passionate manner. I am inclined from your follow up post to suggest that your emotions are getting the better of you.



Thank you kindly - simply put - one context (without a separate energy / focus setting) is not enough for me and confirmed after 10 years of trying to shoehorn patchwork solutions.

Yes - my emotions are starting to get the better of me. I’m fully invested (monetarily and time) into a platform that simply doesn’t work for me while the carrot of OF3 and the vast majority of my issues being addressed dangles.

Thanks again mate…


UM So… Why not have a series of context that are similar but include energy?

Like for example

@computer-high energy
@computer-cranking widgets
@computer Internet elephants child (From the Just So Stories, my take on exploring just for the fun of learning)

What’s to keep you from having as many contexts as you need?

I’m often amazed at how few contexts people use especially when they then complain about long lists or lack of granularity.

So make some new ones that fit your situation, test them and if they don’t work change them.


That’ll work for some people as a workaround for the one-context restriction, but it won’t fit for many people.

I think that either you buy into the classical GTD single context view and think hard about what contexts you ned and how to apply them; or you don’t. If you don’t, I still think a better solution is the inclusion fo something like @energyhigh @weary and so on in the task name or notes. Just my .02 of whatever currency you favour.


Because I don’t want to quadruple (or more) my contexts as it will create immense friction / wasted time ongoing. Thank you for the input however :)


It all depends on how you think and work. I don’t mind lots of contexts but I also don’t mind seeing a mix of high and low energy things in one list. In fact I prefer it.

Even so I am using 38 contexts right now and am adding a few more as we move sheep out onto the pastures.


I will search your past posts but just tried Things 3.5 OSX and was pleasantly surprised. It looks minimal but very serviceable in many essential ways. Its obviously missing extras like geo fencing which I’d miss but I think I’m going to invest a half day into getting to know it better. I guess I’m finally at the point where the complexity / limitations of OF aren’t worth the sacrifice of basic / essential usability for me any more. Hopefully OF3 or my testflight invitation will ship while I’m looking at alternatives and save me the time and angst of researching other GTD productivity solutions. Can you share what your experience was with it that sent you back to OF? Thanks again…


My experience with Things:

Looks lovely, but tries too hard to look lovely
No Review
Can’t mark a task complete until it’s due
Too much info hidden - give me a screen with all I need on it - don’t hide settings in the interests of aesthetics

All very personal, of course


From many years (nearly a decade perhaps) ago with Things …

  • No review
  • No sequential flow of tasks (and no equivalent to action groups)



Thank you Nick…Can’t mark a task complete until due?! Oh dear so much for that option…


I’ve just had another look at Things 3 and I need to revise what I said - it’s repeating tasks that can’t be completed before they’re due. So if you pay that monthly bill early, you have to wait until its due date before checking it off. No disastrous but very irritating.

Also- no attachments in Things - not a major issue for me because I now use Devonthink to hold the attachments and Lin from OF


Thank you kindly for the clarification. My fear of course is that there’s really no viable substitute for OF3 but waiting for it will cost me another year of my life waiting for it. Perhaps the “productivity app space” is too small a market segment / monetary opportunity to warrant the kind of inventiveness and development dedication I’ve hoped for in the past and am starting to expect / demand 10 years later? I find the slowness of “energy” and other essential GTD features kind of criminal at this point and will point out that I am 100% self aware enough that I do suffer some particular challenges being a fast thinking high iq (not trying to be immodest just descriptive) highly creative - but also overwhelmed, OCD, AHDHD entrepreneur with only 3 employees and a very complex business to maintain to make my world work as envisioned.


I have a bunch of daily repeated tasks that I must perform (no automation) and a bunch of weekly repeated tasks and a few monthly and quarterly repeated tasks. Some weeks I front load my tasks and get them done early. With Things I just have to wait and check them off when the day arrives. I have contacted Cultured Code and they said that was the way it was. OF gives me flexibility to change my regular week that Things does not. I moved from OF to Things 3 when it came our and stayed with it for a year. It works good enough, but there is no flexibility at all, so I returned to OF and now I feel like I have complete control over my daily and weekly schedule. I don’t use GTD (having one thing to do next) much, except of specific projects that usually come annually. I like to have multiple windows and multiple tabs on my iMac showing windows into my day. I like to have a window for reading, which I do in my office and a window reminding me of the errands I need to get done. So I stick with OF for the flexibility. It is only complicated if you make it.


I also create dozens of perspectives. I see someone share a good idea and I make it. I don’t have to use it every day. I cycle through various perspectives, tweak them to make them more useable. Right now I use a Today perspective which is all the available, due soon items sorted by context and groups by flagged. I have started using flagged for “important” stuff I want to get done first. So those are on top and everything else is sorted by context. In Things, I am stuck with whatever they give me. In OF I can use this Today perspective as my daily driver for a couple weeks or months, then change. So that is why I like it. It could be much prettier, but my goal is to complete tasks, not gawk at the beauty of it.


Another player in the Task space is Pocket Informant. ( They are mostly a calendar company, but in their latest iteration, they have done great work in their task management. The bad part is that tasks are viewed as part of the calendar, which I hate. Their strength is in their perspectives. They use an iTunes type selection and can have multiple levels of any and all selected on any field on the database. I have never seen something so powerful.

They are also a subscription model, which is sad. So some people are trying to break into the task management arena


Yep that is annoying…very annoying. Found myself spending ages trying to reset the original task template…gave up!


I remember Pocket Informant from my Palm Pilot days - they’ve done well to keep adapting for so long.

But their subscription model sucks - it’s just way too expensive