Checklists... OmniFocus or OmniOutliner?

Oh gosh, me again… sorry guys…

Listening to a podcast from GTD today and hearing about checklists. So things I need to do on certain days that aren’t projects (ie clean a particular room on a Sunday, change cat litter every other day, change kitchen towels on a Tuesday etc etc).

Or, a list of music I want, books I want.

I read a little about OmniOutliner, is that better for checklists? Because they aren’t projects, I’d be cluttering up OF with things that don’t need to be there?

I have a folder in OmniFocus called Checklists. Most are tagged Someday/Maybe (an on hold tag/context) to keep them out of sight, but I found that having these kinds of lists in OF to be useful, because they often lead to actions:

  • Music/Movies/Media
  • Books to Read
  • Wines to Try
  • Family Activity Ideas
  • Gift Ideas
  • Things I Want
  • etc.

As I said, these might often lead to actions (e.g. if I were planning a trip, something from activity ideas might move to that project, or if I’m planning Christmas, gift ideas might become actions to go buy or online order things), so having them in OF makes sense to me.

I do, though, make room for the difference between the (potentially) actionable and content about those actions. For example, I keep grocery lists in a separate app (I see my list as content about the action to go buy groceries), and I have a separate checklist of things to pack when I work travel (rather than imagining packing each item as its own action).

I think the important thing is to define rules that you are comfortable with, and then stick to them. The problem isn’t, I don’t think, putting stuff in the wrong app, the problem is being unclear about what goes where and why. As long as you know that, you’re clean. If you start mixing up where things might go, that’s when things could fall through the cracks and get lost.

Hope this helps!



I did want to keep things in OF, I’m just starting to use it and I’m in love already.

I agree about grocery list, I think I’ve found a good app for that (AnyList), I’m going to have a play with it and see what I can do, it looks good because it says I can rearrange the aisles to match the store I shop at which is super useful.

The grocery list doesn’t change too much weekly but I don’t think it’ll work in OF for me, whereas music I want, books to read, movies to watch, things I want etc will work better.

Which OF are you using? I just joined with 3 so where is the Folder you have called Checklists? How do I create that, where do I put it? I’m assuming a folder isn’t a project?

I’m using OF3 on my iPad and iPhone, and OF2 on my Mac, though not much.

Correct, folders are containers for projects, which can then be filtered on. In the Projects perspective, there is a button to add a folder in the lower left. Having different projects in different folders can help to organize views so that you’re looking at complementary projects and not irrelevant material in the moment.


I’ve used OmniFocus since it’s inception, but I subscribe to and use AnyList for groceries. AnyList is fantastic and the developers are very friendly.

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My rule of thumb is that anything that goes into OmniFocus should be actionable, and thus in theory it should be possible to work through everything in it and have an empty system (in practice that won’t happen because new stuff keeps coming in). Think processing, not storage. Permanent or semi-permanent lists of any kind, such as checklists, do not belong in OmniFocus (my opinion of course). It’s much better to create a repeating reminder in OF, and have the actual list or outline with the detailed contents elsewhere.


My checklists are all in Evernote.
My movies to see are all in a notebook in Evernote, as music or books (usually with the Amazon blurb)

If there is an action, i simply create it in Omnifocus and place the evernote link in the notes section of my action

I’m playing with an app called Workflywy for checklists. Permits tags, which I like.

So my re-usable “packing” checklist has tags for #suitcase #briefcase and #wear. My movies & TV checklist has tags for #network #netflix #amazon #hiatus and of course #movie and #TV.

Sorry I haven’t checked in lately… I’m giving a different app a try, Picniic… it lets me add tasks (as one-offs, not part of a project) and it seems to have good lists. They’re adding the feature soon to notify you if you’re near a store where you’ve set up a location against an item (ie milk at Walmart, or in my case, Tesco as I’m across the pond, lol).

I was struggling with OF and setting up Projects. In my current circumstances I don’t need Projects, I need Tasks.

I don’t make much use of Projects in OF either. 90% of what I need to do is in a single Project, called “Misc.”

You might like to try Dynalist (free version) as well; it’s similar to WorkFlowy but has a few more powerful options, which I find useful.

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DynaList is definitely something I want to check out. OTOH, one reason I like Workflowy is precisely BECAUSE it’s simple. It’s just for simple lists.

I checked out Dynalist. Loving it. Thanks.

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Interesting, I consider checklists to only be recurring sets of actions I can complete.

Lists of books to read, stuff to by, places to visit etc is not a checklist because I may never decide to read the book, get the item or go to that place. I consider all those sorts of lists part of my on-going someday/maybe set of potential stuff and I store them all in DEVONThink.

I do store a lot of checklists in Omnifocus, for projects that repeat on an irregular basis and have a well defined set of usually the same actions to complete the task. When I spawn a copy for working on I can fine tune the actions if they have changed since the last incarnation. If the change is likely to be permanent I also edit it in the master project.

You can always set up single action lists in Omnifocus for groups of related but separate tasks.

Checklists… OmniFocus or OmniOutliner?


(a bit quicker and lighter, and you can export or copyPaste ⇄ TaskPaper fromTo either of the other two)

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I don’t trust TaskPaper sync to iOS. I’ve been using DynaList recently; it’s great for lists.

TaskPaper doesn’t sync natively, it relies on whatever you have set up with the folder in which you save.

I use Dropbox with Hazel monitoring the folder and alerting me if there’s a file name containing “conflicted copy”. This happens maybe once or twice a year, and is easily cleaned up with FileMerge.

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Interesting. If I get frustrated with DynaList I’ll try your method. I used to get “Conflicted Copy” more frequently and I don’t even know what FileMerge is. (No need for you to explain - I can just go to Google.)

It’s a handy free tool that comes with Xcode, & lets you graphically compare & resolve differences between two versions of a text file line-by-line.

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