Best practice; Saving actions that are hard to categorize?

I’m that type of guy that writes all my ideas down (according to GTD practice), but when it comes to review my Inbox I sometimes have problems putting actions in the correct tags and projects.

I’d like to hear how you guys do?

For example: I want to clean the leather interior in my car. I put this in my “Car” project, but I have problems assigning a tag to it. I mean, I could place it in the “To do” tag with 1000 other actions, but that doesn’t feel right.

When I’m writing this I realise I probably should create a project instead. But something in my brain thinks that unnecessary… 😝 When adding an action in OF i usually don’t have the time to create an entire project.

I have used OF since v1 and have seen one billion inspirational movies about it, but I’m still struggling with these small things. 😑

Please advise!

OmniFocus is hugely flexible, and different systems work well for different kinds of people. What works for me is using projects and folders for planning, and tags when doing the actual work. Along with perspectives, tags let me set pre-defined filtering criteria to show me the specific to-do list I want to work from in different circumstances. Personally I wouldn’t want a Car project unless I were restoring an antique or something — for my daily transportation, I would hope that the related tasks would be too few and far between be worth tracking as a separate category. If I wanted to have a “Clean car interior” task on my list, I’d probably put it in a single-item list called Maintenance and give it an @Weekend tag. Then on Saturday or Sunday I’d look at that tag in my Tags perspective to see only the list of tasks I had decided should be done on the weekend.


I’ve struggled with the same thing since v1. There’s always at least one task in my inbox that doesn’t fit neatly into my structure.

What I do now is chuck it into a Single Action List. In your example, I’d put it in my “Miscellaneous Personal” SAL.

The tagging/context is harder. Since OF3, I’ve created a more complex tagging structure that’s working great so far (I thought it might be overkill, but it’s been pretty good). In your example, I would tag it with “home” since I would probably only do that while at home. And if I did regular work on the car, I’d also have a “car” tag, if not, I wouldn’t bother. The “weekend” tag is a good idea.

With that, the task will never show up on any of my perspectives when I’m doing work. But it will show up on my At Home perspective, which shows me tasks tagged with “home” plus tasks tagged with my wife or kids.


I’m with @ditw on this one. I have a Single Action List (SAL) for tasks that don’t fit anywhere else. I do have SALs for each folder (Area of Responsibility).

I’d have a House SAL, Work SAL, Family SAL, etc. Then I just lump those single one-off tasks into the appropriate SAL. I try to limit my tags to as small as possible. At most, I’ll try to put 2 tags. Since I vacuum and wash my car at home, I just put it in my House SAL with a House tag. You might put a Car Wash tag on it if you take your car to your nearest Car Wash instead of doing it at home.

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To follow on the SAL idea, I have a SAL Project in each folder in my root level (my Areas of Responsibility). I call them by example @Admin: Well-Being, @Admin: Mentor, … and so on. I have a Perspective (called Admin) that filters only these projects for viewing.

For your specific case, I would have this …

@Admin: Well-Being

  • clean leather interior of car (tags: do, home; due/defer: every month)


There’s some good advice already. I use a couple of single action lists for this, but the key one for me is my “Someday-maybe” list. If a task is something I would like to do in an ideal world, but that doesn’t need to be done any time soon, I put it there. On my monthly review, I review the list and if there’s anything to which I need or want to commit, I move it into another list. For cleaning the car interior, I’d probably put it on the miscellaneous household tasks list.

Cleaning the car - I’d need a Someday-Maybe-But-Probably-Not-Gonna-Happen-Anytime-Soon list for that 😏

Or a ”just-fuckin-fix-it-you-lousy-son-of-a-bitch”-list! 😜


👆This list is safely in my wife’s iPhone and easily accessible with a Siri shortcut…


Like others here, I also maintain a catch-all “Miscellaneous” single action list for tasks that I struggle to categorize. It works well for clearing actions out of my inbox quickly, but I find that if I don’t get around to them in a timely fashion my “Miscellaneous” list grows a bit unwieldy—especially when it comes time to review the list.

I’d love to hear people’s thoughts about how long they allow these kinds of single action lists to grow before they decide it’s time to prune them.

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This. Exactly.

Maybe the correct solution would be “If you can’t put it in an obvious existing Project, then create a new project (instead of an action)”? 🤔

I work around this by using Forecast Tag and defer dates a lot, which is how I bring things to my attention.

In this example, yeah tags in general won’t mean much for “wash the car”, because I’m probably going to do that in a couple of pre-prescribed obvious places. The bigger key for a job like that, for me, would be the when. Not like a fake due date, but when do I want to think about this.

I might say “this is kind of a weekend job, because it takes time, but this weekend is busy, so I’ll Forecast Tag it and defer to next Friday for my attention.

And maybe the next action isn’t wash the car, maybe it’s plan when to wash the car (and then calendar it). Or maybe the friction is in the fact that I don’t have the supplies I need, so I need actions to guy buy. Or maybe I don’t know if I have the supplies I need, so I need an action to go check.

Using dimensions of time instead of tags/context can be really helpful, and picking apart any discrete actions can help determine if maybe I need a project about something or if it really is one miscellaneous action.

Just some thoughts!



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