Best way to prioritize Projects and Actions in OmniFocus in 2020?


#1

“You can do anything, but not everything.”

Since OmniFocus has not yet added a feature to allow us to tag Projects or to Prioritize Actions or Projects, I’m curious how others handle prioritization, i.e. what to Focus on, in OmniFocus?

The use of the Flag is great for what to DO Today. I’m not referring to the selection of daily tasks but more “Hey, out of 299 projects, what am I focusing on?”

Having a solid folder structure for Work and Personal, along with 1 or 2 levels of sub-folders is a great way to stay organized, but it also encourages the spraying of too many projects and “weekly review creep”, where it takes longer and longer to complete.

How do others address this?

TIA,
Adam


#2

I get rid of repetitive (esp. daily) tasks, or drop them into a tasklist and make the tasklist a single action item. For instance, I’m not a particularly well-organized person when it comes to house cleaning. I created a task list for cleaning a bathroom. I copied that for each bathroom, and named each bathroom. I made that 1 tasklist with multiple tasks. I reduced (guesstimate) 30 tasks to 1 task.

My task list stays between 70 and 110 items. I can keep on top of 70 to 110 items – and add more and drop some – with my morning planning, my evening planning for the day ahead, my weekly review, and my episodic (every once in a while) deep reflection.

BTW, I don’t use flags at all. I just use due dates.


#3

How many of those projects have a next action? Do you use contexts? I think it could be manageable if you work on one context at a time so you can efficiently advance several projects at once.

If not and you work by looking at the project list and choosing something to advance, that sounds like too many to actually be active; I would probably run through the list once, move the ones I’m serious about to another folder and rename the current folder to something Someday/Maybe-ish.


#4

You suggest that OF does not allow tagging of Projects, but it does on IOS (Not sure about macOS). And priorities can be set for Projects and Tasks with the use of Tags and can all be viewed in Perspectives.

You can also set one tag to show up in your Forecast view, so you could have a tag which you apply to your Drop Dead Projects which will make them show up in Forecast alongside your Flagged Tasks.


#5

I think it does on both iOS and macOS.

I use defer dates to get tasks I can do into a “now” perspective, and tags to have them show up in other perspectives. The “Now” perspective also shows the tags and for priority I use a 3 * tagging system (*, **, ***)

great information on the “now” perspective:


#6

You can tag projects in the Mac version of Omnifocus, but you have to do it from the inspector. I tried that for a perspective with prioritized projects, but to me it wasn’t an ideal solution, as only new tasks in the project got tagged automatically, and the existing tasks weren’t shown in the perspective. After experimenting a bit I found that I could change the filter rule. Instead of choosing ”Tagged with any of”, I chose ”Matches search terms” and set that rule to search for the tag name. Then the project was shown with all its tasks, even the untagged. That works well for me.

I also have a perspective for prioritized tasks, with tags such as Today, Daily, This week and This month. The presentation settings in my perspective are: Group and sort: Individual actions; Group actions by: Tag; Sort actions by: Tags order. That way I can have the tasks grouped by my priorities the way I want, and free to reorder by dragging within the groups. This is just what I want but couldn’t do before version 3 of OF.


#7

@adamboettiger Like you I have a deep, well-structured hierarchy of projects, with each goal or well-defined outcome represented by a project. I’ll put many of them on hold.

To avoid constant scanning of all the projects, I carefully consider what is the right review interval to set in the properties of each project; many of mine are set to monthly or quarterly, which makes using the Review perspective every week much less of a slog. As part of weekly review, I’ll just look through the entire folder/project hierarchy instead to jog my memory.

In addition, I maintain a shortlist of important projects which I want to make progress on. I do this using the simple technique of including a special marker in the project title. We discussed this approach in detail in this thread:


#8

It DOES allow for the tagging of Projects, but all subsequent Actions of the tagged project inherit the project tag, which is unfortunate, because it is the Actions that warrant Context and often different contexts.


#9

Ah, my suggestion about a perspective for prioritized projects just got better, thanks to @MultiDim! Adding a star to the project name is an excellent idea – I hadn’t thought of that being searchable! That way we get rid of tags for all subsequent actions, which for me as for @adamboettiger are not desired.

First I thought that the existing actions would not be shown in the new perspective, but I found that I for some reason had to restart Omnifocus to make them visible – and that the same thing was required for my earlier perspective.


#10

One thing I have noticed using my ‘Top of Mind’ perspective (shortlisted projects) is that newly starred projects or action groups sometimes take a short while (in the order of minutes) to appear in the perspective. Similarly for projects to disappear when I remove the star marker. This is the case even when I switch away from and back to the perspective. The content refresh for the text search rule isn’t immediate like I see for other rules.

Maybe this is what you were experiencing, or that reopening OF triggered the full refresh of the perspective.

In any case, my perspective always gets reliably updated, even if it is not always immediate.


#11

I like the idea of using a “*” in a search term but didn’t want to change the project names as it would break a bunch of automation I have.

An alternative is to use the project note, add something like “#current” to it and make that your search term.


#12

But you can add additional tags if you wish to the Actions.


#14

I revamped my tags to help me prioritize at the New Year with the Eisenhower Matrix. So far it seems to be working well for me (~13 days into the year as I write this).

There’s a screenshot attached of what my Perspectives and Tags look like. In practice, I apply two tags to everything: Priority, and one of the others. The perspectives are filtered accordingly. For example, Today shows me everything I’ve chosen to do today in order of priority tag. Next shows me everything available if I’ve cleared out my Today and am looking for something else I could work on. Stalled filters on anything that doesn’t have a priority assigned and therefore I’m probably not looking at it.

The Priorities correspond to the Eisenhower matrix with short names to help me think in terms of Importance+Urgency in the matrix. I’m finding this to work pretty well and when I first tagged everything it was quite the eye opener how many 3/4 quadrant tasks I actually had in OmniFocus. Now, those are shown below 1/2 quadrant actions/projects so I work on the Important things first.