Do Due Defer - I really want a Action Date ie a Do Date

One feature I really miss from my previous task management system is the ability to define a date and time that I’m going to actually work on the project.

On Sunday I would drag and drop the tasks onto a calendar and set the time that I was going to work on the task for some of the important task.

That way I knew that my work was scheduled and that I had allocated a specific block of time to work on that task. Sometimes I would use time blocking and assign three tasks with the same time of eight to noon for example. But important point was that I didn’t have to maintain it in my mind and knew that it would come up when I plan to take action on it.

I find that Scheduling Tasks really makes you think realistically about what you’re going to be able to get done.

Having a “Do or Action” date also allows you to assign it to multiple days when the project will not be able to be completed in one sitting

I have bought the software, bought the Macsparky course, signed up for a year of learning OmniFocus and watched the YouTube videos but I am still only getting minimal value out of OmniFocus.

I am committed to giving OmniFocus my best effort and try and get it to work for me. The one thing I would really like to figure out how to create a prioritize daily to do list. Too often when I sit down at OmniFocus what to do next is not readily available.

Right now I have what David Allen would describe as a mountain of undoability

Almost all experts recommend against using the due date as the date that you will work on it and while some recommend scheduling your tasks with defer dates, unfortunately if you don’t stay on top of deferred tasks you can have them fall off the grid, as there’s no perspective to see overdue defer dates, as there is for overdue due days

I have thought of creating a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday… Tags to be used to spread my work out over the week and I’m currently in the process of testing that.

The other thought I had was creating Monday, Tuesday… Projects and then copying the link to those tasks into that day I want to work on them, so that the actual task stays in the folder and project where it belongs. I worry that it might be cumbersome to first have to create the url links.

The advantage to having them as projects as I can manually sort the tasks into the order in which I would like to perform them and then just move down the list.

The other workaround is to assign a priority tag and use that as a poor man’s solution to creating a prioritized daily to do list

Can anyone suggest a workaround to the lack of a Do/Action date.

I use a mix of defer dates / flags and manage them during a daily review at the start of the day. I adapted the workflow from this idea Justin dRose explained in this Learn Omnifocus interview:

I set defer dates on tasks and flag the most important tasks for the day, each day at my daily review / work day startup routine.
If a task that was deferred to this day is either not ready, or I don’t think I can / need to do it, then I either remove the date, or defer it out further into the future.

I have a NOW! perspective that shows me only the tasks with a defer date of Today, and I use that perspective as my daily task list.
That works for me :slight_smile:

I do something similar:

  • Defer date: CANNOT start before that date
  • Due date: MUST be finished by that date:
  • @Today tag: do today
  • Flagged: do next
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I do the same as @psidnell. ‘Today’ tag is the highest priority of all and I rely on the Forecast perspective for today’s minimal set of tasks.

Why is this the case? Within the Today/Forecast tag you can reorder items to see them listed in your preferred order.

I schedule blocks of time in a “soft” calendar for working on projects that I otherwise tend to neglect, or that are becoming urgent. My “hard” calendar contains appointments and events that are essential (e.g., the classes I am teaching or my weekly meetings with my dean); my “firm” calendar contains events with a set time and date that I would like to attend if possible (e.g., a webinar on distance learning). The soft calendar is scheduled around those.

I don’t see a need to have the soft calendar in OmniFocus. Instead, I use defer dates to indicate that I can’t or shouldn’t start working on this task/project earlier than the defer date. I use due dates in two ways: (1) For one-time items, it is the real due date, i.e. there will be negative consequences if it’s not done by then. (2) For recurring tasks, such as paying bills, it’s my best estimate of how long I can neglect the task before there are negative consequences. I flag things I want to work on in the next month, and I have a “Soon” tag that shows in the Forecast perspective.

During my weekly review, I can glance at the Forecast and my calendar for the next week, block out time in my soft calendar for things that are due soon, then review my flagged projects/tasks and block out more time for them. For my workflow, there’s no reason to have those soft time blocks in OmniFocus itself; my calendar is what reminds me that I want to be working on a given project at a given time, and if something else comes up, it’s easy to drag that block to another time or day.

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I am afraid I agree with you on this. OF does not have this function. But neither has GTD. In GTD, a task is either due, in which case you put it in your calendar/agenda, or it is either available (next action) or unavailable (deferred). If I must work an hour during 4 days to achieve a due date for the task, I put each day in my agenda a slot to do so.

As a workaround to see the ‘overdue defer dates’ maybe you could use a Tag to identify if the task has been initiated or not. I mean, maybe you could defer a task and at the same time assigned them a ‘not initiated’ Tag, and then change it to ‘initiated’ or just delete the ‘not initiated’ task when you start working on it.

This way you could set up a perspective with ‘available but not initiated tasks which have a due date’ to see overdue defer dates list you are looking for.

Not very elegant, I admit.

As for having OF tell me what to do next, I don’t think this is a fair goal for a task manager. Rather, OF can show me a list of things I can do at a particular time and place and I decide which one to pick. I don’t believe in fixed priorities which can be sorted in al algorithm to guide my next actions. There are always compromises to decide and they are dynamic.


Do date and time periods are commitments and as such don’t belong in OmniFocus but rather blocked out on the calendar.

I too tried Monday, Tuesday etc tags.

They only work if you consistently remember to check them daily.

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“On Sunday I would drag and drop the tasks onto a calendar and set the time that I was going to work on the task for some of the important task.”

Not sure which calendar app you’re (I’m using Apple) using but I was able to drag a task from OF and drop it into my calendar. It didn’t create an alert but it did create an event.

I also use priority tags (P1, P2, P3) for when things get crazy and I’m just trying to keep up.

Hope this helps

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