Deferred actions in Forecast


#1

Hello,

I just bought OF3 Pro and I am trying to adapt the way I used to work in OF2 to the new implementation of the Forecast perspective.

My intention is to use Forecast as the perspective that will show me all I have to do during the current day: items with my “Today” tag, deferred actions, due dates and the events in my calendars.

I defer a lot of actions to their starting dates. I rarely use due dates, I only use them for real deadlines. Well, I was very happy with my setup, I could see actions deferred to a day appearing on that date, but then I realised that deferred actions from previous days that were not completed, checked off, disappear from the Forecast. So they are out of sight, out of mind…

Is there a solution for this?

What is the point of showing deferred actions in the Forecast to disappear them silently if you didn’t complete them or catch them?

I am considering returning to OF2 and keep using the Flagged Perspective with deferred actions… Probably easier and cheaper than creating a new perspective in OF3 Pro.

Thanks for any help,

Qul


#2

Do they disappear if they have the today tag? I thought the today tag was supposed to force it to stay in the forecast.

What is the point of showing deferred actions in the Forecast to disappear them silently if you didn’t complete them or catch them?

I’ve wondered about that. My guess is to reduce clutter. If it wasn’t important enough for a due date, a flag, or giving your “today” tag, you can catch it on your next review cycle. Forecast is meant literally – to look ahead at what’s coming up.


#3

No, they don’t disappear if they have the today tag. That means that if you need your deferred actions to stay in the forecast (in case you didn’t see them or completed them on the day they appeared), you have to tag them always with the today tag. If you do not do that always you cannot trust the Forecast, rendering it useless. To make things even uglier, that means that on the defer dates you get to see your actions twice, once as deferred actions and once as actions with the today tag. The solution is to turn off the “show deffered items” option. Which makes you wonder why does that option even exist in the first place?

I thought that the new forecast allowed you to see all the things you had to do on a day, hence that we often give the “today” name to its tag…

Sometimes important things need a start time (defer date) and a deadline (due date)… Not everything can be done two days before the due time.

It is funny to see that once again one has to start thinking how to “hack” the Forecast perspective. I think one of the selling points of version 3 is that one no longer needs to use fake due times to force actions into the Forecast.


#4

I think the confusion here is thinking of defer date as start date. It actually indicates an action is not available to do until.


#5

I have read many times that “defer actions” are equivalent to GTD’s “start dates”, are they not? If so, how do you call “start dates” in OF?

In any case, in the current implementation of the Forecast, following your definition, defer actions seem to indicate that an action is not available to do until a date AND only on that date.


#6

It is strange with the deferred tasks’ behaviour in the Forecast view. You may miss them if you are away, sick, busy or off for the weekend. I gave that up, and accepted to have them in another perspective – and actually found that I preferred to have it that way, separating them from tasks that need to be done during the day. The Omni Group has a feature request for keeping the deferred tasks shown after the defer date, though, so you might like to add your vote to that request.

My suggestion is that you keep Omnifocus 3 anyway. It’s a great application with other advantages compared to Omnifocus 2.


#7

Thank you very much for your reply, Jan_H!

It is nice to feel that I am not alone in finding this behaviour strange.

I will add my vote to that feature request.


#8

Where could I find this feature request?

Cheers!


#9

Ah, you can’t, as it’s internally in The Omni Group’s database. But you could send an e-mail to Omnifocus Support asking for the feature.


#10

OmniFocus used to call them start dates but changed to the defer date nomenclature. It’s a subtle difference in perspective but explains why it works this way – you’re setting when a task becomes available rather than setting a goal for yourself.

That does make me wonder how to answer your question though. I also don’t like to use too many due dates. I’ve been trying a flag and defer method where I flagged a bunch of tasks, but as they have defer dates, they don’t show up in my perspectives until it’s time to work on them. But the flag keeps them in the list of things to do. I won’t flag low priority items and will just wait for them to appear in my planning perspective, and manually flag them if I can get to them that day.

So far, the Forecast view is just too limited to be a jack of all trades. Maybe they will expand what it can do. I’d also like an option for flagged items to appear in Forecast.


#11

This is, more or less, how I have been working in OF2. In OF3, I wanted to use the Forecast perspective instead: the Forecast tag instead of flags.

Thanks for your answer.


#12

I would like past deferred tasks to show up in the Forecast “Past” section as well (I emailed omni support to cast my vote)

Anyway, I have a perspective that shows me available tasks, grouped by project. This will collect anything that has a past defer date. Then I just go down that list and assign things defer dates – at the project level if it makes sense to (I want to work on outcome X tomorrow), or at the item level if necessary.

I have the Forecast view set to show deferred items, and I don’t use a “Today” tag in forecast view anymore.

The end result is that Forecast view shows me a day-by-day agenda, ordered by defer time. I just work my way down the list. If for some reason I’m not going to do something right now, I just defer it until later.

This lets me respond to things as they come up throughout the day. For example, my brother just called to ask me to help him with something. It doesn’t have a deadline per se, but it is urgent. So I added a project and next action, and set the project defer date as “now”. Now it shows up in Forecast, after the items I’d deferred to earlier in the day, and before the items deferred later. Since I’m deciding to do that task right now, I look at the earlier items and defer them a bit later.

It’s a form of soft scheduling that lets me prioritize according to multiple criteria. I’ve got two tasks in mind right now – call a friend, and a high-priority personal task. While the personal task is higher priority for me, it will take a good bit of time and energy. So, I defer the personal task until after I get off work, and call my friend during my lunch break.

I periodically check the available perspective to clear it out – I’m either going to work on something right now, in which case I just do it, or I’m going to do it later, in which case I defer it. This way I’m not spending time looking at a list wondering “what should I do now?” I defer things and refer to my agenda in Forecast view. If something comes available on the agenda and it doesn’t feel right to do right now, I push it out.

And every once in a while, I manage to finish a task that I put on tomorrow’s agenda…