Deferred items and forecast


#1

I’m going to submit this as a feature as well, but I figure I’ll post it here to see whether it can get more traction. My issue is this:

If I have Deferred something to a start date in the future, odds are I probably think it’s pretty important that it starts on that day.

However, what happens if that day comes and goes and I didn’t start the item? In Forecast, the item disappears. That doesn’t make any sense to me. Forecast shouldn’t only be showing me the “past due” things I assigned dates to, but things I didn’t touch that I was supposed to.

I understand the tradeoff here: if Forecast shows me everything I put a start date (“defer” date) on, OF can’t tell whether I’ve acted on that item or not. So yes, I would have to actively remove the start date, act on the item, etc. to get it out of the “Past” in Forecast. There’s a tradeoff either way.

However, I think this should at least be an option for the user to choose. I, for one, would definitely use such a feature and wouldn’t mind one bit having to wipe a “defer” date to clean up Forecast. Users who don’t want that can just as easily turn off the option (or never turn it on, either way).

Please submit this request if you like it.


Show start and due times in Forecast view
Defer Date - how to use?
I've completely changed how I use OmniFocus
#2

That’s probably because OF considers deferred tasks to be tasks that cannot be done before a certain date (so it just puts them out of sight until they can be tackled), but do not necessarily have to be done on the day they become available. I switched from Things a long time ago, and still miss its scheduling feature.

My workaround is to set a deferred date and to flag the task. I also have a today perspective that shows all flagged and due tasks, so that any flagged task that becomes available automatically shows up there (for me, flagging a task means I want to do it today). If I only set a start date but do not flag it, it only becomes available and can be done one of the following days.

But I do agree that it would be nice to have some kind of native scheduling system.


#3

Hi there,

I’m a german user and my knowledge of your language is not so good. Please forgive me, if I’m wrong.
In the forecast-view I would like to see the items in the past I’ve forgotten to defer into the future. How is that possible?
Items with due-date are shown there.

Mercy, Joachim


#4

Completely agree. This is how I manage my tasks. I love the forecast view, but I have to bounce between a custom perspective (flagged and available tasks based on deferred date) and the forecast view to do my planning. I’d love to plan each day just around the forecast view, and that includes past deferred items. I often have tasks that I’m “generally” working on over a few days, and those get lost in the forecast view.

I also submitted a request to have past deferred items show in the forecast view. Though I wonder if the answer isn’t just to have flagged tasks show in the forecast view.


#5

I agree with this in general. I think it’s a great idea. However, I am not sure I’d like the option buried in preferences. Wouldn’t it be better / easier / more accessible if there was a checkbox (check circle? ;) ) which toggled an option to “show deferred”? I would much prefer an accessible switch which would allow me to enable / disable the deferred view as needed.


#6

I too agree, it would be great to show ‘past’ deferred items in the Forecast view as an option. I sent a request in by email as well.

It seems to me that there are a lot of ‘workarounds’ suggested for using Forecast for planning, such as using both deferred and flags so you don’t miss past deferred items. I would personally prefer to see this new Forecast feature further developed so workarounds wouldn’t be needed. It can be a very powerful tool with a few small tweaks.


#7

I completely agree, it is the one thing that I am really struggling with.

If I make an item with a defer of next week , and a due date of 2 weeks, and a repeat of every day, I expect the forecast to show me this item across those days. The idea is not to do it every day, but that it is available for me to work on during that time frame … As the window shrinks. It will “call” for more action … Now the defer time disappears. Which makes it very easy to miss.


#8

I prefer to use due dates sparingly and i’ve always found it wrong that OF forces me to use them just to have items show in the forecast. I prefer to use start dates for the simple reason a lot of my tasks are open-ended and can take weeks or months to complete. Omni, please respect defer dates in the calendar on OF2 and iOS!!


#9

I agree enough with this thread that I have emailed Omnigroup about it. One of my suggestions (and I understand the potential, implicit danger in this) is simply that undone items get moved forward automatically. In other words, if I defer an item to May 1st, and I do not get to it on May 1st, it could get automatically moved forward to May 2. This potential removes the UI issue with having past due and passed deferred items to differentiate between. I do understand that this kind of rollover can be dangerous, but I see no reason why it could not at least be a setting. Presumably, if all of a sudden you see 107 deferred items on your forecast view, that should prompt you to take some action.

Thoughts?


#10

I would like this as well.


#11

This technique should help here, as well!


#12

Pre-OF2, I used OF1 on my iPad and I loved the forecast feature. One of the issues I had is exactly the issue in this thread.

I like your suggestion, but I would like to tweak it a little.

In forecast view, there is already 50% of a “built-in” solution for this, the “Past” date box. If there was an option in the view settings for forecast to “show previous deferred items”, any non-completed item that had a start date prior to today, would show up in the Past box.

For me, this also helps maintain the idea of “what should you be working on right now?” because you have a separation between what you deferred to today, and what you should have already started.

I actually stopped using forecast view as my default on the iPad long ago in favor of a custom perspective that showed all actionable items. Forecast just became a calendar I glanced at to see what days were busy for due items.


#13

I also have the same issue. For now my solution is to create a perspective which shows all deferred items - that way I can easily see which ones are old and then move them to today or a future date. Not ideal, but I find it better than flagging things which I keep for really important focus items.

If anyone else wants to try that approach - these are my settings for that perspective:-


#14

Other approach could be the possibility to include the flagged itens in the forecast view, like the deferred task


#15

I will play devil’s advocate here.

As I understand and use defer dates, their primary purpose is to identify items that, for whatever reason, you cannot or will not start until a certain date. It might be that I simply cannot do the task until then (for example, I cannot perform my “pick up my dry cleaning” task until the day when my dry cleaning will actually be ready) or it might be that I have reviewed my available actions and simply decide that I don’t want to work on it until a specific future date or time (for example, I know I am not going to have time to “call mom” in the next few days, so I defer it two days). Either way, once a defer date in the future is set, OmniFocus knows to consider the task unavailable and to not show it among your “Available” actions. That lets you create perspectives based on your “available” actions to only show those tasks that you actually can and want to consider working on. Showing future defer dates in the Forecast makes sense since it will show you times that are not currently on your “available” list, but that will become available in the future.

Once you actually reach that defer date (i.e., start date), however, the task that was deferred becomes “available” and is not different from any other “available” task (i.e., from tasks that were never deferred). If I can do an action now, why do I care whether it was previously unavailable? Does that make it any more important than my other tasks that were available from the start?

It seems to me like what we might want is an option to show all available actions in the forecast. That way, the “Today” item in the Forecast would show all of the actions that you could perform today (including actions that were previously deferred). However, that is likely to be a very long, potentially unmanageable list. If you were going to filter that list down in some way, showing only “Flagged” actions seems like it would make much more sense than only showing previously deferred actions. After all, those are the items that you have explicitly told OmniFocus are particularly important.

On the whole, I think OmniFocus’s current behavior strikes the right balance. In my mind, the beauty of OmniFocus is that it supports and encourages setting up and using different views of your data. No single view is going to be perfect for everything. Forecast is a great way to quickly scan the coming weeks and see what is on your plate, but it doesn’t make sense as the primary view in which you do all of your work. For that, you will want an “Available” or “Today” perspective to show you what you can work on right now. Trying to show previously deferred items (basically, a random subset of your currently available actions) in the Forecast is trying to make Forecast into something very different than what it was intended, and I don’t really see the benefit.


#16

Thanks twangus, good points. With your point on why would you want to know in the Forecast view if a task has a previous deferred date, the one important instance when you would want to know this is if you are using the deferred dates to place tasks on the calendar to plan the days you will work on them. If you put a deferred date on a task to work on something Tuesday, but you didn’t finish that task that day, it would disappear from your calendar without a trace.

Some people may use due dates for planning their days, and others prefer to use deferred dates, saving the due dates for the truly ‘due’ items. Currently the Forecast view is good at horizon scanning - to see whats coming up - but its not great for day planning. It seems to me that a good number of folks would like to use OF2 in some planning capacity, and really there isn’t a great way to do this currently. It would be ideal, in my opinion, to enhance the functionality of Forecast to enable people to place tasks on days they would like to work on them - so you can get a sense of how full your days are, and also to work directly from the Forecast view. But since its not currently designed to do this, a work-around is to use deferred dates to get things on the calendar. Implementing something simple like showing past deferred dates (as is done with past due dates) would truly help those who want to use the Forecast view in more of a ‘planning’ capacity.


#17

Perfect point. There is already a “Past Due” in Forecast - it should not be to hard to add a “Past Deferred” I would be perfectly happy with this. Let’s hope Omni is listening . . . .


Deferred task with no due date
#18

I totally agree that OmniFocus could have better support for actually planning when to perform specific actions. But it seems like planning, by definition, only applies to the future… If you want to use defer dates for planning, isn’t seeing future defer dates in the Forecast enough? I still don’t see the benefit of showing tasks whose defer date has come and gone (unless you want to show all available tasks, in which case you have some of the problems I discussed above).

One related thing that might help folks using defer dates for planning work would be an option to set what happens when you drag a task in the Forecast to a current day. Currently, it sets the due date, but it might be nice to have the option to have that instead set the start/defer date. If you had that, along with an option to show all available tasks in the Forecast, it would provide a nice drag-and-drop interface to easily defer and schedule tasks in the future.


#19

@twangus, well put. My thoughts, exactly!


#20

I’m with twangus on this one. Actually, I just thought about this topic, as with all great thoughts, while in the bathroom.

The forecast is meant for things that are due primarily - it’s your “heads up, time to panic!” (and/or “Let’s plan ahead so you don’t need to!”

Let’s say I deferred “get married” til I was 18. That doesn’t mean that I need to get married on my 18th birthday, merely that I am now able to. Thus, it shouldn’t be on forecast.

If it is something that is important to get done on THAT specific day, then set a due date. That’s what due dates are for, are they not? If only one part needs to be done on that day, then it sounds like a project; treat it as such, and make the one action due and the others merely deferred.

I’m not quite sure yet how flags work with deferments (still a novice, one day in :P). But you might be able to flag it as you initially enter it so that it will show up more prominently in your available items after its defer date.

Bottom line: if it’s important to do that day, than make it due that day. If it’s not, then there’s no reason it needs special attention. Rather, you’ll want to first focus on things due that day (or the coming days) - i.e., the forecast view.

When those are done, then you can look at available actions that had no firm due date and choose from there. This now includes the item that was deferred, so it’s an option. If you won’t see it in the list, then perhaps you need to trim down how many free-floating actions you have (put some projects on hold, etc.)?

That being said, to each his own. I’m still figuring out my own little path as well, so take my two cents for whatever they can be helpful with :).