Correct way to handle Today tasks and Next Action list

Hi folks,

I am working with OmniFocus for a while, a changed many time my “Perspectives” preferences and the project style with the hope I will find my “productive state”. I still looking to find it. I need your help/opinion given the following.

I used to have “Due Dates” on each task and use the “Today” perspective to see tasks due to today. I also deferred any tasks that I couldn’t do until a specific date, and those with neither “Due” nor “Defer” date will appear in the “Next Actions” perspective.

I then hear an opinion that “Due Date” shouldn’t be used that often, and should only appear indeed if the task is due to a specific date. And the suggestion was to use defer date to defer what you want to do today or in future and then “Due Date” if a task is indeed due to that date. The explanation of this, is that you should not get used to the “Red Indicator” of overdue tasks by saying “Ah is just the task due to today, no worries, I will came back later” but instead you should say “Oh gosh, an item is overdue, I have to work on it immediately” (i.e Use the “Due Date” only when the task is time sensitive like a “Coursework Deadline” etc.

This sounds reasonable to me, and I tried to adopt this style but I have problems now configure the “Today” and “Next Action” perspectives.

If I defer all the items (and use due date occasionally) then “Today” Perspective will show only the tasks “defer or due to today” which is fine (given that ALL the tasks are deferred! If a task is not deferred then will appear in the “Today” perspective)

Now, there are no available tasks, and therefore the only way to utilise a “Next Actions” perspective is to have the filter to “Remaining” which now makes hard to distinguish the actual next actions with the actions that can’t be done yet and therefore shouldn’t appear in the “Next Actions”

All these sounds complicated isn’t it? I hope I delivered my problem to you.

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If you search within the forums for ‘Today perspective’, you will find a way variety of methods discussed.

I have found my digital task manager (OmniFocus or whatever app you are using) to be very distracting. If I open OmniFocus, I might start looking at too many tasks to work on and get distracted.

I use a small pack of index cards held together by a binder clip.On the internet, it is called the Hipster PDA.

I think of OmniFocus as a restaurant menu. I have a list of choices that I can pick from. The first perspective I pick from is the Due perspective. I look for any tasks that are overdue, due today, or due soon. I’ll choose 3-5 tasks from this list and write them on my index card. These are high priority tasks. I must complete these tasks before undesirable results will happen. Bills are a popular item here. If I don’t pay this bill before January 15th, I might incur a 10% late payment penalty.

Then I will visited the flagged perspective. Flagged tasks are items that have no real due date but are things I want to get done within the next 1-7 days. I will choose 3-5 items from this list. The are medium priority items.

Everything else is low priority and shouldn’t be looked at.

I will always work on the due items first. When I have finished with these items, I will go to the flagged items and work on those.

I have a different mindset when I am looking at my Today index card. I cannot look at any other tasks. I resist looking at OmniFocus. I see only the items I have chosen and will work on them today.

When I have OmniFocus open on my phone or Mac, I go into crazy mode. I might want to do another lower priority task. I can get sidetracked easily exploring all of my projects and contexts in OmniFocus. The only time I need to use OmniFocus is:

  1. Review my projects to keep everything in order. Revise tasks if needed.
  2. Look at the forecast to see how busy my day is.
  3. Decide what to do today. Look at my Due perspective and Flagged perspective. Write it down on my Today index card.
  4. Use the Quick Entry screen to capture new tasks.
  5. At the end of the day, clear out my inbox of new items.

These are the only reasons why I would be using OmniFocus. I don’t look at OmniFocus for most of the day.



I just use the flag to mean “today”.

I try to avoid having more than five tasks flagged on a given day. I make light use of due dates and only use them for actual deadlines to keep them meaningful.

I make heavy use of “on hold” projects and deferred tasks. At the beginning of each week I push forward or hold all but about 30 tasks to make a plan for the week.


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