Deferring the first task of a repeating sequential list – it throws everything off

I have an item that repeats the defer date 1 day after completion. It has a few child items. If I defer that first child item and mark the list complete, the newly created list has its first item with a defer date in the future.

More concretely…

- parent (sequential, defer to 12/6)
-- child 1 (defer to 12/7)
-- child 2

Now when I mark “parent” as complete, it repeats to produce

- parent (defer to 12/7)
-- child 1 (defer to 12/8)
-- child 2

Which is not quite what I want. I don’t want that child to be deferred to 12/8, it should inherit the 12/7 defer date from its parent.

So I’m not able to reliably defer a sequence of actions simply by deferring the first action. I know that I can navigate to the parent action and defer it there, but that requires me to recognize that there’s a parent-child relationship in the first place, and to never make a mistake.

I would like to be able to defer a repeating sequence of actions by deferring the first one, and have the group repeat without also setting a defer date for the first action. Can I do that?

Why is the child deferred compared later compared to the parent in this SEQUENTIAL list. That makes not sense to me. You can start the entire project today, but you cannot even start the first task in it until tomorrow? Huh?

What do you really need to do by hacking around with this choice of what I would call inverted defer dates?


No you can’t.

I suppose you just have to defer the parent project, not the child item. In the inspector, if you see ‘Defered with container’, it is an indication to go to the parent to defer.


  • drop the child action one after the other until the project is completed, assuming your project is set as ‘Complete with last action’. Since your project repeat daily, it will reappear the next day in your available action list
  • Remove your sequential action list from your daily project and place it in a ‘checklist project’ instead, which will repeat 1 minute after completion. Add a single action to your daily project with a link in the note field to open the checklist project. That way the defer date can be set at the action level rather than project. See below my Daily Routine project includes a reminder for the action with a link to open my Morning/Evening Routine checklists. These checklist are stored in a checklist folder.

I defer tasks until the day I want to work on them. So, I have a sequence of three tasks that I need to repeat when I’m done with it. I finish it one day, so OF automatically sets its defer date. I decide I don’t want to work on it until a day or two later, so I defer the first task (which is what shows up in my “available” context) until a different day. Now the next time I complete the sequence and it repeats, the first task is pushed out farther than the parent task.

That’s a good point, and maybe I just need to spend more time in the inspector when deferring. Usually I use the “defer to tomorrow” on iOS, or on Mac, I drag and drop using the command key in Forecast view.

I’ll give that a shot…

The answer is simple. OmniFocus applies defer strictly to mean that the project or task cannot be done UNTIL that day. In this case, it has no clue what you want, only what you input that you cannot do.

So, what you want to achieve is not possible to accomplish using defer dates in OF.


And yet, we are able to check off tasks that are deferred to a future time!

So you may interpret deferred tasks as something that “cannot be done UNTIL that day,” but that’s your usage, not mine.


Well, not really. It is the issue that OF treats deferred as not possible to do until that time but still allows you to see the project or task to change its status. Otherwise, not only could you not do what you want to do (which you cannot in the way the OF treats deferred) but also you would have an irreversible state change once you defer (you would never see anything at all about the task until that defer date).

In any case, the greater issue is the philosophy of your work flow. When you do not want to start the first step of a project until a certain date, then you do not want to start the project until that same date. What you are doing is pretending that you can mix and match … Let me pretend that I want to start this project today but really not want to start it until tomorrow. This is your bigger problem to tackle IMHO.


Just don’t defer it, leave it lying around but visible, if you know its part of a dated sequence like this your are better leaving it alone and just doing it the next day rather than deferring it that way everything stays in line…

Not everything needs to be completed on a set day or deferred, it can just sit there until done, particularly if it’s just one day. If I fail to get everything ticked off I rarely defer it, I just leave it there nagging at me.


Any suggestions on what to do?

I used deferred times to outline my work for the day. I find I’m a lot more effective that way.

I would not defer the first action in the sequential list at all. Defer only the top level of the list.

Perhaps alternatively and/or in addition, create a single action list that runs in parallel with your project list.

Repeating Action List Project

  • Repeater (defer until tomorrow + 1)
    – start …
    – …
    – end …

Single Action List

  • HEADS UP! get prepared for the repeater project (defer until tomorrow)

When you check off the HEADS UP!, it repeats on its schedule.
When you check off the Repeater, it repeats on its own schedule.


I would put a reminder in each of the child tasks that I should only “defer the parent”.

This could be in the actions’ note or a symbol in the title. This reminder is for when one of the sequential child tasks appears in isolation in a perspective, whereas in the Projects view or ‘Entire Projects’ perspectives it’s obvious because you’ll see the group.

This way you will always be able to defer the group with confidence without having to mess with unwanted dates on the child tasks.

I like this. Just putting the step number in the title e.g. (1/3) that way I know it’s part of a repeating sequence.

Thanks! So simple.

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Ah, your idea of the step number is even better!

If you have a regularly repeating sequence, it makes sense to number it. Especially when you are looking at ‘individual actions’ perspectives showing available items, you will know that a next item in the sequence is likely to pop up next. I think I’m going to adopt this.

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This has frustrated me for years.

My workaround is to use template projects rather than repeating ones.

If I create a new project by copying a template I can do what ever I like with defer dates of the child tasks without worrying about disrupting some fancy sequence that I’d forgotten about.

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