Do I need another Task Manager?

I have been playing with Things 3 and am sorely tempted to use it alongside Omnifocus. Ideally I would use only one task manager and Omnifocus is just what I need in most instances.
The one infuriating part of OF for me is that there is so much friction involved in entering and accessing tasks. If I want a list of tasks to do on the weekend at home it takes multiple taps to enter and assign a task to the right context and project.
Things is so lightening fast to just enter in a task and assign it today. No project needed, no context needed, no flag required.
Using OF for quick and fast tasks is frankly exhausting!
So do I really need two apps?

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I can’t remember where I found it but I remembered that one Twitter user used Things for personal stuff and OmniFocus for work projects. I think he was a military veteran that became a coach or consultant. Argh… I’m trying to find it. I want to say @eddiecoyote but I can’t be sure…

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I just use TaskPaper or Apple Notes checklists for quick stuff.

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I feel your pain-an issue that has plagued me for years. I love OF2 there is nothing like it but there is an issue with user friendliness. T3 is super quick, simple and easy but therein lies it’s both it’s strength & weakness. T3 has great speed and flexibility but it’s weaknesses (I could type a long list) outweigh it’s usefulness (which is a great pity). I am using the beta for non essential items to see if I can manage with it but it is useless for complex projects.

Whereas OF2 is a little more involved & complex. Therein lies both it’s strength and weakness. I get round quick entry with Siri adding tasks for me. On the iPhone this is super quick but less so on the Apple Watch. OF2 iPhone app is nowhere near as good as the Mac app. At least T3 is probably on a par with all iterations of it’s software.

I have always used a secondary app for quick tasks with nagging reminders, and the app that has never let me down is Due. I messed around with Sorted but ultimately returned to Due, because it’s stable and rock solid. It is showing it’s age nowadays with a promised overhaul long overdue but in the pipeline.

I long for OF3 to answer all my difficulties and fix all my gripes! There does seem to be some great improvements in the pipeline (batch editing-nagging reminders-new context/tags ability-more flexible repeat options-improved GUI) among others. A better aesthetic wouldn’t go wrong either.

Perhaps 2018 will be the year Omnigroup bats a home run with OF3 and becomes the productivity app that encompasses most, if not all user satisfaction with a seamless one app for everything ability. Could they pull it off? I think they can!

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If it’s a quick, provisional list you could just work out of the inbox. Adding another Cadillac system seems counter-productive for reducing friction.

Of course, paper also works great for this.

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What part was difficult about entering tasks? There is a hot key shortcut for invoking the quick entry screen to enter tasks quickly. If I switch to the Projects perspective, I can enter tasks quickly in an outline view to group and re-arrange tasks easily.

The iPad and iPhone version is still a little rough when entering tasks quickly. I think Omnigroup did mention that they are working on the ability to batch select and edit tasks on the iPhone and iPad. So that’s still coming up.

Accessing tasks can become easier if you have the pro purchase. I finally figured out a series of custom perspectives that I can access from the Home Screen on my iOS devices or on my Mac. This was what I used to customize my Mac and iOS devices.

Was there anything in particular that makes OmniFocus more difficult to access or enter tasks?

I used both for all projects. It got kinda crazy because I’d get stuff done in one app, and later that day I’d go into the other app and see things that I had done. It messed with my mind.

I had gone back to OF because the focus and serial tasks really helped my brain. Seriously. Just emails alone, in OF I showed 3 to write, but in Things with the Email tag I had over 50 to write. Even hiding the deferred dates, I had a couple dozen because Things showed emails that were next actions after another condition other than a date was met (receive contract from entity, email contract to accounting, for example).

It was a drill weekend when I, being a Platoon Sergeant, and in charge of 43 troops, with 4 squad leaders coming to me for guidance, and I’m reporting to 2 people above me, with everyone operating at breakneck speed with the loudest and most urgent task of the minute (whatever your boss’ boss wants that moment), and I got back into Things because of its flexibility in simply adding a task with a checklist, tags, and changing dates.

But a month later, having gone crazy with two different task managers for everything (not split in work/home life), I opted to go back into OF and figure out how to use it in the chaotic environment of the military. I came up with something that worked for me and I’m fine tuning it.

So I’m back to solely using OF. I was with a Captain and we were discussing mentoring soldiers and taking care of their problems, and I brought up my folder for soldier issues, each project a soldier’s problem I was working on, and showed the status. With the perspective of Waiting For focused on Army, I was quickly able to see what I was waiting for. This is really handy when I’m standing in front of a formation, the Commander is a minute late, and I’ve got a brief window to check on why I’ve not gotten XYZ.

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Quick entry of multiple tasks for due-date ‚today‘: go to ‚forecast perspective‘, tap ‚today‘ and ‚+‘ and enter the task description; hit ‚back‘, ‚+‘ and enter the next description etc.
Also works for ‚tomorrow‘ etc.

I second that! I currently am using Things 3 because of this frustration. However I pop in here from time to time to check on developments as I’m an OF user at heart.

Omnigroup need to step it up as Things 3 is so smooth to use!

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I have had to resort to using Numbers in addition to OF2. It is not a good solution and wastes 15 - 20 minutes daily. But until OF includes a way to prioritize tasks and to account for how much time it takes to complete all the tasks on my list I’m stuck with a 2 app work around. I seriously considered just dumping everything from OF2 to Numbers and forget about OF2. The only thing stopping me from doing that is that method really only works on a Mac. The only reason I stick with OF2 is bc I can use it on my iPhone & iPad.

It’s incredible tricky to work with 2 systems simultaneously. That’s why GTD and other approaches often advocate the use of a single trusted system. You need to be able to trust your setup and know that when you enter something, it will appear whenever and wherever it needs to appear.

That’s something of a pitfall for first-time OF users, by the way, if you don’t set up your system properly, tasks will get lost in OF. Due to filters, perspectives, defer dates, etc. a task you think you entered may not be showing up at all. I know I experienced this in the very early days of OF.

But back to the systems approach. I really believe you need to contain all tasks in a single application.

However, while a task manager or a project manager is really good at, well, tasks, I don’t think it’s great at longer-term planning. To be honest, it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately and I’m experimenting a lot. I even ran an OF test with Yearly/Quarterly/Weekly contexts but it doesn’t work too well, for now.

For me, one of the crucial things is figuring out how to arrange the big picture and then have that trickle down into concrete tasks. If you have that system down, you can focus more on priorities and less on a long list of tasks.

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What’s so hard about adding tasks?

“Siri, open OmniFocus.”

Tap on the inbox icon in the lower right corner.

Tap on the microphone button on the next screen. Dictate the task. Done.

The task is in the OF Inbox and can be edited, assigned to a project or completed later.

There is a short video about using Siri and OmniFocus in iOS 11.

https://learnomnifocus.com/tutorials/using-siri-with-omnifocus-on-ios-11/

There are a variety of functions that can be done with Siri including assigning a project to a task.

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Whenever I’ve really divided things into two system it’s usually gone very wrong - I did manage a good 6 months using Todoist at work and OF at home, but I wasn’t happy with it (and kept losing things in Todoist).

I do keep some checklists and reminder like items elsewhere - e.g. I have a task in OmniFocus called “Pack for Chicago” - but the actual packing list is somewhere else (I use an app that generates a packing list which meets my specifications for me), and things like “take glasses with me today” land in Due as I just want to be reminded about that before I leave home.

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@rosemaryjayne, what packing app do you use?

Sometimes it is unavoidable. But maybe it’s about clearly defining what goes where. I did some freelance work and had to use Asana to collaborate with my coworkers for a project. The rest of my stuff goes into OmniFocus. I’m not sure I want my coworkers to see that my wife asked me to get eggs and milk in the Asana project. Be specific in putting work tasks in one system and personal tasks in another.

Mixing 2 systems that mingles personal and work items will cause a lot of confusion. Did I put my errands list in Asana or did I put it in OmniFocus?

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I use TripList as it integrates with TripIt which I use for planning travel. I did get the in app purchases as it has made life much easier for me.

I use Google Inbox for personal email. Inbox tasks have been perfect for little things, especially since I can enter them while processing my inbox. The snooze isn’t as nagging as Due but it returns tasks to my attention at the right time with less setup work. Because it only supports ad hoc single tasks, I haven’t gotten confused about what goes in OF yet. I do enter tasks twice sometimes, but that happens with any capturing system and it sorts itself out over time.

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I transitioned to using Apple Reminders for the errand type lists, especially since I could share things like the groceries, shopping, and home project lists with my spouse.

For OF, I have invested heavily in using Perspectives to be able to see critical tasks in a timely manner. David Sparks’ OF FIeld Guide (https://www.macsparky.com/omnifocus/) and Kouresh Dini’s books (eg, http://www.usingomnifocus.com/) have been instrumental in building a system that works. That is really helpful, for example, for scanning recurring monthly, quarterly, and yearly bills. And since I have taken over my mother’s finances as well, I have perspectives for her bills and tasks vs. mine.

As to checklists, I used to keep them all in OF, but it was distracting me. So I moved them off to some other place (Apple Notes, NVAlt text files) and just have a single OF item to look at the checklist.

Repeating projects, like all the things associated with a trip, I created a completely fleshed out OF Project with folder and subfolders, then copied them out as a TaskPaper project. When a new project comes up, I paste it into OF on Mac and customize for the particular trip or project. If you want to get really fidly, there are Automator workflows to allow you to add specific dates to the project, but that’s another level of complexity.

I think in canonical GTD, you don’t use something like OF for true project planning. I think there are two approaches.

  1. for smaller projects, you can do a brain dump, process, and sequence the essential tasks to launch the project.
  2. for bigger projects, you can do the full “Natural Planning Model” process (eg, https://facilethings.com/blog/en/basics-natural-planning), enumerate all the tasks, their dependencies, but you will only put a subset of current tasks in something like OF. You would include the review of the project plan in your weekly review to see if you need to move more things into OF.

Cheers, David

I’ve been in the same boat myself. I don’t use OF on the Mac or iPad, but I’m a heavy iPhone OF user. Things looks VERY tempting. And I REALLY wish I could access my OF data on the Web.

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