Dependent Tasks 2

How can I make task due/defer dates dependent on another tasks’s completion date? Sequential tasks aren’t always enough.

There’s a nice discussion on this topic (‘Dependent Tasks’) on the old OmniGroup forum—from over five years ago. I’m wondering (i) if this is now possible and (ii) if that post is even active—if not, I’d like to resuscitate its discussion.

It would also be nice if this sequence could be repeated by a specified interval. For example, continuing the library book scenario from Post 6 in ‘Dependent Tasks’, when I complete the task “Return library book,” I’d like to reset this sequence of tasks (i.e., project) by a predefined amount of time to remind myself to, say, request a hold on another book. Then rinse and repeat within the project tasks and the project as a whole (dependent on completing the project’s final task).

Have you investigated the repeat settings on Projects. Suppose you have …

My Library Reading Project (sequential or parallel)

  • request a new book
  • return the borrowed book

You can set the repeat interval on the Project to have it due or defer for a specific per of time. When the entire Project is completed, a new occurrence of it will appear with a due or defer date that is automatically advanced by the interval that you specify.


Thank you for that suggestion, @DrJJWMac! This should resolve the second part of my issue. It does look like I’ll need to play around with the defer, due, and repeat values for both the tasks and project to get the desired result—so far my testing gives me unexpected time shifts in the next occurrences. I’ll play around a little more with this.

Now I just need some task dependency functionality so I can automate the inter-task defer/due relationships within a repeated project. I guess I’ll need to submit a proper feature request for this lacking functionality …

The ability to make one task dependent on a task in a different project is absolutely critical IMHO.

Take the instance where you’re waiting for a resource (funding, new employee, new tool, etc.) that will allow a bunch of projects to start. I am currently adding a defer-another blocking task at the start of each of these dependent projects. Then each week I check if the resource is still unavailable (the defer-another then gives me a new blocking task), and delete when it finally arrives (then the first project task becomes available). This is massively inefficient, as I can then spend months or years, checking off blocking tasks for many projects each week until the resource becomes available.

Does anyone have a better workaround? Will dependencies ever come to OmniFocus?

I really think this is the province of a full blown project management system. When it comes down to it OF is really a very sophisticated to do list. Surely not really designed to handle resource management.

I’m not talking about resource management. What I want is a to do list that recognises that one thing may be required before a number of things can start.

Its all about focus. You shouldn’t need to go through a list of things postponing multiple items for the same reason.

I’ve heard the argument before that OmniPlanner is the tool required for such work & allowing inter-project dependencies would cannibalise OP. But I have used OmniPlanner, MS Project, etc. and that’s completely not what I’m talking about. All I want is a to do list that with minimum effort only shows you the things that you should be doing next.

I gave the example of resources, but just from a ‘do I have it or not?’ perspective. I can’t start completely unrelated tasks X, Y, or Z until I have been paid by client. Unrelated projects X, Y & Z are worthwhile, but we can’t start them until the new employee arrives. I can’t build X at home and Y at work, or help with Z’s toothache until I’ve bought a drill.

There are numerous other non-resource examples in which a bunch of projects or tasks can be started only when one other project or task is completed:

Leave approved

  • set up event with friends
  • tidy house
  • start DIY project
  • rent starwars series

Big main focus project completed

  • start little non-urgent projects
  • review life goals
  • start marketing drive

Overseas colleague arrived

  • do that touristy thing I’ve never had the excuse to do
  • start collaborative project
  • ask for crochet lesson
  • make proposal

Sorry but I disagree, not one of the examples that things are dependent on are “tasks” as such, more events.

A weekly review coupled with projects on hold and or in someday/maybe should really deal with most points from what I can see. Any task manager can only tell you what you can do, the trick is knowing what you should do, and I doubt if any of us have that one nailed 100%.

Why bother with software at all? What you are suggesting is pretty much GTD 1.0.

Trawling through lists of things that can’t be done is exactly the sort of repetitive task that I’d like to leave to the software, so I can focus on what should be done.

Change your defer-another blocking task statement. Compare these two task statements.

[do] check whether resource has arrived
[waiting on] get resource

The former bugs you forever in your active list. The latter sits passively in your Waiting On context. Once the resource arrives, you click and move forward.

At least, this is a few less steps of clicking and deleting.

Otherwise, I agree, inter-dependent task links would be a benefit.


Thank you JJW, I’m glad its not just me.

If I was more disciplined at checking through my waiting on list, I’d definitely go with your suggestion. I guess I could just set a defer-another to check through that list. It’s still a manual check, but reduces the risk of RSI…

Well hush my mouth… Just giving my perspective which differs from yours. Sorry to have raised my head.

No offence intended @TheOldDesigner & I’m happy for you that OF2 is meeting your needs - just surprised to hear users arguing against a feature request… I don’t think the addition of prescient dependancies would harm OF3 for you.

No problem, I just think that OF already is feature rich in its category, some feature requests (dependent takes, group access ) would push it into the realms of project management where it becomes less attractive to many.

Yes @TheOldDesigner, OF is - as far as I can tell - the most feature rich product in its category. This is a double edged sword. If there was another personal task management tool that allowed precondition dependancies then those who needed them could be pointed in its direction. I can’t find any such tool. OF seems to be the closest, hence its the one I use & the one that I hope will continue to improve.

Old thread, but I completely agree with @andeye. The problem with lack of precondition dependencies is twofold.

First, every time you review your tasks, you have to recreate the sequence of tasks you came up with so that each task is in context. So first Task A, then Task B, then Task C, then Task D. Thinking through what tasks need to get done in what order sometimes requires hard, careful thinking, and it’s not easy to recreate that thought process every time you come back to the Project.

Also, if you forget, it can you can screw up. I recently did just that – I had a task to call my old boss so I called my old boss, forgetting that I had first wanted to speak with my old colleague to get caught up on the status of an important project at my old company. I forgot about this until halfway through the call with my former boss. I blundered through, but if the call to my former boss could have been dependent on first speaking with my former colleague, problem solved.

I am just evaluating OmniFocus. It seems really good, but I am surprised not to find this feature here. Apparently there are “Sequential Projects”, but this either / or does not really cut it for me.

I wonder if the developers do not implement this rather obvious feature because it is part of their OmniPlanner app…