Avoiding GTD Procrastination - best Tips or perspectives

Hi everyone,

I was using omnifocus for quite some time as I am a long time GTD’er and loved it for that solution. I felt Omnifocus worked great. However, after some time I started to notice some procrastination settle in. I was checking off easier tasks vs what really needed focus and on weekends when personal items need to get done I would just ignore a lot of them. I guess, for lack of better term, there is no “penalty” in omnifocus for leaving other than the feeling of not getting a lot accomplished.

Fast forward I moved over to Skedpal which I was able to create a pretty robust solution in following GTD principles. For those not familiar Skedpal brings next actions to the forefront based on the priorities you set and time allotted. It is a scheduling assistant. So, as I have it configured, it basically gives me GTD style next actions based on time and priority. however, it does not understand context. So I am struggling with that. It does not recognize home vs computer vs errands and at times (mostly on the personal side) I do not necessarily get presented what I can do at the right time, even though it matches my priority and time committments.

So I am debating on returning back to Omnifocus but trying to understand how most handle this. Any advice on the proper perspectives to balance time, priority, and context? For example…. On the business front I like to have Client matters as priority 1, business finance and HR/people related items #2, everything else #3, and low priority IT related items as #4. How would I organize such a goal in Omnifocus?

On the personal side very similar, family and friends #1, personal finance #2, home maintenance items #3, and everything else #4.

Contexts work with reason for me. Much of my business work is on the computer. I had gone back and forth with trying ot break out computer vs one generic tag for it. Mixed results both ways. A few tasks on calls, a few in the office only. On teh home front again a lot on the computer, quite a few at home, and a few with my wife.

Thanks in advance for the conversation and assistance!


I’m not sure a new perspective will be a solution, other than the ‘Focus’ function which is built for this.

I see two ways of going about your Today tasks

  1. You allow yourself to see many options of tasks to do and you pick them up in the moment

  2. You decide at the beginning of the day or at the end of the previous day what is exactly what you want to do and work off that list exclusively. It may help writing that list in paper and closing OF.

That’s all I can think of…

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I have a “Next” perspective, showing me all of the available tasks sorted by Tag.
Additionally, I have duplicated that perspective - with the addition of only showing me tasks that are “Due Soon” (I have set ‘Due Soon’ to mean ‘Today’). It at least chops down what I can bite off in 24 hours. I can then go back to my Next perspective.

Additionally, you might try sorting your lists by Areas using Perspectives. When you plan what you want to get working on today, you will probably be drawn to what has your attention, and at least this way you can sort by Area (only seeing available tasks). Just a thought.

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Thanks, that is helpful

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I’ve used OmniFocus as my second brain to store projects and its related tasks. I can flag some non-due tasks to make them appear in my OmniFocus Today perspective.

At the end of every day, I unflag tasks that I wished to have done today but didn’t get around to it. I also keep some tasks as flagged if I think I’ll do it tomorrow. I can go through other custom perspectives to see if there’s anything I want to flag or unflag as well.

My Today perspective shows all Due soon and flagged tasks. This becomes my menu of possible tasks to work on.

I have a Keyboard Maestro macro that opens the Today perspective and moves it to the left of my screen. The macro then opens Fantastical and positions the window to the right side. The macro switches to the Day view and jumps to tomorrow.

I look at my calendar schedule and see how busy the day could possibly be. If there are a lot of appointments, I probably would be able to do only 1 major task.

Fantastical is set to show my day schedule in 15 minute increments and set the default duration of new calendar events to 15 minutes.

I can choose to work on a batch of tasks or a project.

I can go to OmniFocus and drag a project from the main outline to the Fantastical Day View. I’ll adjust the appointment duration to fit into a time block. Typically, I’ll try to go 30-90 minutes. When I drag a project from OmniFocus to Fantastical, it creates an OmniFocus URL link in the notes section of the appointment.

I can also choose to go to the Tags perspective and drag a tag from OmniFocus to Fantastical. The tags are my contexts. My tags are GTD context such as:

  • @Mac
  • @Warhouse
  • @Office
  • @Errands
  • @House

If I intend to do house work, I’ll drag the @House tag to Fantastical and adjust the duration. I’m focused on house work here. I can click on the URL link that will bring me back to the @House tag view in OmniFocus. I can do the same for @Mac work when I need to stay on my Mac mini or do some work in the @Warehouse.

If needed, I can drag individual tasks into OmniFocus. Fantastical’s default duration is set to 15 minutes. I typically move due tasks that needs particular attention.

Fantastical has the ability to recognize the Estimated Duration in an OmniFocus task. The Apple Calendar app won’t recognize the Estimated Duration.

I try to make sure I don’t over schedule and be too ambitious. I schedule buffer time between major tasks. I’ll mix physical tasks and brain-focused tasks throughout the day.

The calendar is my biggest anti-procrastination tool. if I can schedule tasks into my limited time schedule, I’ll know what I want to do at different times of the day.

I can generally schedule 3 major tasks or projects in one day. I’ll work on overdue tasks (if any) first. Then I’ll work on due today tasks. Afterwords, I have the option to work on Due soon tasks or a flagged task.

If I finish my 3 assigned tasks in Fantastical, I’ll go back to OmniFocus and drag 1-3 more tasks to do.


Thanks, this seems like a nice mix of gtd and time blocking. For Fantastical does it support scheduling assistant? That is the one reason I use outlook (which I hate) but I need the scheduling assistant desperately as my entire office is office365.

You are basically doing gtd it looks like but day before time blocking next day and locking that in.

Yes it is time blocking…I don’t fill up every hour of the day. My work in a retail business is chaotic with customers coming in and out. I do try to squeeze in the 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks) into slow traffic times.

I don’t have Outlook but you can experiment to see if you can drag and drop OmniFocus projects/tasks into the Outlook day view.

OmniFocus is my restaurant menu. I get to choose 3 dishes for the day (breakfast, lunch, day). Then I try to schedule in those dishes into the day.

The calendar is the ultimate container. We can only do so much in the day. I may as well it count and choose the 3 MITs I want done. On the day before, I do my daily shutdown review. I check my inboxes, add tasks, flag my non-due tasks, and then check what’s due tomorrow.

In the Today perspective, any due and available tasks will automatically appear.So, I don’t worry about missing my due tasks.

I hide OmniFocus and just work from my calendar app (Outlook for you).

Using the scheduling assistant, I’d try to block out time that is not available for others to fill up. If I block off 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm to work on a Big Rock project, that will hopefully tell others that I’m busy and unavailable during that time. I’m busy with the Big Rock project. I’m sure the scheduling assistant can help you but sometimes I just gotta demand time for my own work. Otherwise, I’m doing every one else’s work and not even getting back to my own work.

The trick is to make the end-of-day review and the morning review a habit. I schedule my end-of-day review at 4:30 pm. I quickly review what I’ve done today, check off my OmniFocus tasks as complete and then plot my day for tomorrow. In the morning, I do a morning review where I check to see if any e-mails popped in overnight and adjust my schedule. Then I’ll review my calendar schedule and prepare all the items for the day. Then get to work!

If I can get all the planning done before the next day starts, I’ll feel better. A lot of my procrastination occurs when I go back to OmniFocus and will spend 5 minutes looking for something easy to do or find another squirrel to chase in my project lists. Eliminate as much of the executive thinking by planning. When the day starts, I’m already in worker mode and churning out widgets.


this system is elegant and brilliant. would you be able to share the Keyboard Maestro macro?

Sure. I’ll have to clean it up and then put comments into the macro. Then I’ll share it. It is thanksgiving weekend in America and we are preparing for thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays (setting up the Christmas tree!)

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy Hollidays!

Here’s a link to an iCloud folder container 2 Keyboard Maestro macros.

The first macro is called “OmniFocus this week”. It sets up my OmniFocus 4 window on the left and goes to my perspective showing all tasks that are due or flagged or tagged with the Forecast tag. Then it opens Fantastical to the Day view and goes to today’s date.

The second macro is called “Schedule my day”

When I execute the “Schedule my day” macro (usually by hot key or a Keyboard Maestro macro palette), it runs the “OmniFocus this week” macro to set up the windows and then advance Fantastical’s Day view by one day to tomorrow.

Then I can drag and drop tasks from OmniFocus to Fantastical.

I made this as part of my daily shutdown ritual. Plan tomorrow by picking 3 MITs into tomorrow’s schedule. Leave enough buffer between appointments and/or the next task. Be sure to leave some open time for interruptions because Life can find a way to mess with my carefully laid plans.


thanks @wilsonng the workflow you’re describing is elegant. I am replicating it manually right now and would love to give your macros a try! the iCloud share won’t allow me to authenticate without you taking action on an email prompt.

Oops. Lemme get that working

It looks like you’l have to log in to your iCloud account to get the above link.

As an alternative, I have enclosed a Dropbox link to a zip file. Unzip it after downloading.

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thanks that worked! easy to setup :)

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Your statement confirms what I have also discovered. My calendar is now my ultimate planning tool.
I’ve lugged hundreds of tasks through the years. My Omnifocus and the tasks it contains are wonderfully organized using tags, projects and lists. Sometimes I prioritized the tasks with the Eisenhower method, then with … and then with …, but I always only had lines of text in omnifocus. I tried daily plans with pen and printed daily schedules and I failed miserably as I have extremely lousy handwriting.
It wasn’t until I got involved with Cal Newport’s Deep Work that I had the idea of dragging the tasks to be implemented into iCal. I have 3 calendars in different colors for this: DEEP WORK, SHALLOW WORK and MEETING EVENTS.
In the evening, I pull the tasks to be done for the next day into iCal and assign them to the appropriate calendars. Tasks with fixed deadlines are also transferred in advance.
Ever since I’ve been using iCal for visualized planning, everything works fine. It has now become clear to me that the “picture” of the daily routine is well memorized and guides my actions. I realize that I have a graphical image of the current day on iCal in front of me in my mind.
Unfortunately, the drag and drop method only works properly with Mac OS. Unfortunately, with the split-screen method with the iPad, tags and other information are packed into the task text in iCal.
Everything works fine with Fantastical, but just because of drag and drop problems of tasks in iCal on IOS I don’t want to buy another subscription.

@wilsonng, @ek7832 @ivanjay205 @Monika

You may be interested in a plugin I have made that will send your tasks to Fantastical or BusyCal without the tedium of having to drag and drop each one manually across.

I recommend using it alongside MeetingBar for a really focused setup.


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