Defer Date - how to use?

I never used Start Dates in OF1 but I am interested in doing so in OF2 (via the Defer feature). A lot of tasks do not need a due date but I do want to be reminded about them at a future date - so deferring them seems a good answer (a bit like scheduling in Things).

However, when I put in a defer date what should happen when that date arrives? I would like it to appear somewhere and say hi think about me! Defer dates do not seem to be an option in Perspectives. There is an option in the forecast view but nowhere else that I can see.

Ideally I would like to create a Perspective of those tasks due, flagged or whose defer date has arrived - sorted by context.

Any thoughts very welcome


it hides them from the “available” tasks lists. If you cannot do something until next week you shouldn’t be staring at that task and thinking all the time if you can do it or not. Defer it until monday and will show up when you can do it. When you are “working” you should only see what you can do so defer is similar to putting a task on hold and being marked as active automatically for you when it’s time.

The forecast works great with defer dates, you can see what you can start doing each day.

If you want a notification you should use a due date.


Thank you very much for the helpful explanation. May I just summarise to check my understanding?

So once deferred, the ONLY place I will be reminded of the task (on or after its deferred to date of course) will be in the Forecast view?

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After the defer date it will show everywhere like a normal active task.

Sooner than the defer date, it will only show if you select Remaining  in the view options of the Projects or Contexts perspective .

It will be hidden if you select Available because it’s not available yet.


Thank you deadsunrise - you have been a great help in getting me back into the Omnifocus paradigm after some time away.


Just to add a little bit of info on start dates…

For me, I was used to always setting a due date or nothing at all in past applications. I stuck with this style in OF1 for some time until I watched one of the OmniFocus ninja videos (MacSparky, it’s in video 1, 2 or 3

I completely changed my mindset on using start dates. I also have two different perspectives in OF1 that might be similar to what you are looking for. I have a “Today” one that is everything overdue, due, or flagged. I have “Actionable” that also lists everything that has a start date of today (or prior). I work in “Today”, but I always check my “Actionable” list to see what I should be starting today. I also scan this list to look for MIT (most important tasks).

I need to recreate the actionable one in OF2, but I think @deadsunrise has already pointed you in the right direction.

Hope that helps! :)


Thank you for your thoughtful response - I don’t think I ever stopped to work out the true value of start dates in OF1 - like you I was giving a due date to everything to bring it into view at the right time - I used a Due or Flagged perspective to view these.

I was looking to do exactly what you have suggested - have an Actionable perspective by start date. The trouble is I cannot for the life of me see how to create one in OF2! I cannot find any way to select only start (defer) dates as a filter.

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I have a perspective in OF2:

  • Group By: Due (not necessary)
  • Sort By: Defer Date
  • Filter by status: Any status
  • Filter by availability: Available
  • Sidebar filtering: Remaining

Comments: This perspective can be huge (the list can go on and on). OmniFocus does NOT allow you to filer out items that have no defer date. To combat this, I sort by defer date so the items that have no defer date fall to the bottom of my list. Since this can push due items to the bottom, I group by due date, but it is honestly not necessary. I sometimes group by defer date so I can see what I planned/hoped to be working on during certain times.

Filtering by availability: available allows me to see anything with a defer date in the past or today. I do NOT see future items.

Sidebar filtering: remaining…this should allow me to see anything that has a start date of the past or today, but might be in a project or context that is on hold. So on the off chance that in my review I missed something that I wanted to start by a certain day, I can catch it. I haven’t tested that :)

Aside: I think there are a few different schools of thought on setting dates (start & due), but I often put a date on something I want to handle, but that is not due. My “things to do count” would be insane and I would resort to flagging things I actually needed to do. I thought I was doing myself a favor by putting due dates on everything, but I found that the extra detail was actually getting in the way for me getting work done. I had to process my inbox/projects/tasks too many times to figure out what to do.
I now use due dates when I need them, skip them if I don’t


I use a similar system and agree that start/defer dates are probably the most useful/powerful tool in OmniFocus. They have completely changed how I work.

I actually skip the “Today” perspective entirely and work directly out of a perspective called “Available,” which is very similar to @babblingdweeb’s “Actionable” perspective:

  • Group By: Flagged
  • Sort By: Project (Context would work just as well)
  • Filter by status: Any status
  • Filter by availability: Available
  • Sidebar filtering: Remaining

Although the list of available items can get long, the first thing I do in the morning is skim through the list and defer all the items that I know I won’t work on that day. If I know I won’t get to it for a while, I might defer it one week (“1w”). If I want to see it again tomorrow, I will just defer it one day (“1d”). If I think I might work on it today, but definitely won’t get to it until the afternoon, I will defer it just a few hours (say, “3h” for 3 hours or “1p” for 1:00pm). This quick daily review only takes about 5-10 minutes, and I very quickly get down to a manageable list of 5-15 tasks.

I really like having the perspective grouped by “Flagged,” because then I can flag the 1-3 items that I want to work on immediately, and hide the “Unflagged” group. Once I have finished all the available flagged tasks, I go back into the “Unflagged” group and flag some more.

With a system like this, I don’t need a notification for when every task hits its start/defer date (which would quickly become unmanageable). Instead, I know I will be reminded of it because I can control exactly when each task will show back up in my main “Available” perspective. And I know nothing will slip through the cracks, because I am reviewing every available task at least once a day.


Thank you! I think the light is beginning to dawn on what might be a workable system for me. I need to get rid of a lot of due dates for starters.

Do you still use due dates though for the standard repeating tasks such as:
Mow the Lawn
Put out the trash
Reconcile bank statements
Back up computer
And so on?

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There are many ways to do things. It depends on your review strategy and defer strategy how important due dates are. Normally you should only have due dates for things you have to do on or by a specific date or time.

For your “mow the lawn” kind of stuff you could do what I ended up doing. I got tired of constant “over due” notifications. My OF icon always showed 10+ overdue items. I learned to ignore it after a while and it defeats the purpose.

So what I did was make projects called “Thinks to do every week” and “things to do every month” and “things to do every year”. They repeat as a project every week/month/year. In each i have only ONE action which is set with a due date which is “Review Weekly Things to Do” or Monthly or Yearly.

That way I only get one notification as a reminder to go review the stuff i want to make sure i do every month, without getting a notification for each individual thing.

Hopefully that makes sense.


For something like “mow the lawn,” I would not use a due date. Instead, I would set it to repeat with a new start date x days after completion. So, if I want to mow the lawn every three weeks or so (I personally don’t have a lawn, so I have no idea if that is at all accurate), I would set it to repeat with a start date 3 weeks after completion. If I mow the lawn today and mark the task complete, it will add a new action with a start date 3 weeks from now, so that action won’t show up as “available” until the lawn is actually ready to mow again. I have lots of repeating tasks like this (e.g., “schedule haircut” with a start date 5 weeks after completion).

For something like “put out the trash,” that is a bit different, since there are actually consequences for missing a particular deadline. For that, I would probably set up a weekly repeating task with repeating start and due dates. So, say your trash gets picked up Wednesday morning, I would create a task that repeats weekly with a start date of, say, Monday morning and a due date of Tuesday at 10:00pm. That way it won’t show you the task until you are ready to do it (on Monday morning), but the task that gets created each week will always have the correct deadline (Tuesday evening), regardless of whether you complete it on the Monday or the Tuesday.


Ditto for “repeat with a start date X days/weeks/months after complete”.

As was mentioned, everyone has different ways of doing things, but one of the litmus tests I used: if I notice I am ignoring my badge because it has 10+ things overdue, I know I am not doing something correct (either I’m not working, or I’m over focused on dates). I don’t want a habit of ignoring alerts, I might miss something important. I have a tendency to get ambitious at times and set too many due dates for side projects I am working on.

Mow the lawn example (I don’t mow the lawn either, but I can give you an example of what I would do):

  • If I wanted to do it every 2 weeks, and I usually only have time on
    the weekend, I would set a repeat 2 weeks after marked complete. That way it would typically repeat on weekends based on when you complete it.
  • If I had company coming over and I wanted the lawn to look nice before they got there, I would set a due date on it for that one occurrence.

I do this for journaling, laundry, chores, errands, and some other personal things that I like to do every couple of days. It’s not mission critical, so I do not set due dates.

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My thanks to everyone for the thoughtful responses and for sharing your experiences. I am no longer a due date junkie and well on my way to setting up defer (start) dates, repeating where appropriate.

Just one thing in OF2 though I can see how to set a start date repeating every week (for example) but I cannot see an option to make it repeat every week after completion.. Has this option been left out of OF2?

The wording for repeats is a bit misleading and worried me to start with. If I set a repeat for say every week the dialogue then says:
Next Deferred 21 April 2014 and
Next due 21 April 2014 - Even though I have no due date only a defer date!

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Ah, good catch! I forgot to mention: this is the same task as it currently exists in my database, so the inspector window is copied from OF1 and OF2.

OF1 looks like this, see the words “After completion”? It’s not an option you check, it’s just informative text.

OF2: The words are not there, but this is the same set up. Defer another 3 days. So when I mark it complete, it shows up again with a defer date 3 days later.

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I’m a newcomer to OF, and I’ve found this thread very useful.

But I’m confused. I’m not finding that once the defer date is reached, my task will show everywhere like a normal active task. It shows up under the project, but definitely not under Forecast.

What am I doing wrong or what am I not understanding correctly?

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There is an option to show the actions with defer dates in the Forecast, but those will only show up on that day. It’s meant to signify the first day a task becomes available.

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Why does old deferred items disappear from the Forecast? Shouldn’t Forecast at least have the option on showing deferred items earlier than today as Past? It narrows how you can use the Forecast and defer dates together…


That has become a common question to ask as an OF user - I suggest You enjoy the coziness of our little community read all the discussion below for ideas of circumvention and send an email requesting Omni to do something about it- they will add it to the pile they’ve gathered already.

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I created an ‘escapees’ perspective:

  • Don’t use project hierarchy
  • Group By: Defer date
  • Sort By: Project
  • Layout custom columns: Project, context, Defer date, note & flag
  • Filter by status: Any status
  • Filter by availability: First Available
  • Filter by duration: Any duration
  • Filter by contexts: Remaining

This shows all the deferred items grouped by deferred date including past ones. Makes it quite easy to spot ‘escapees’