Feature request: Today list

I came here to ask the question “How do you people create a ‘today’ and/or ‘this week’ list with stuff that I would like to do without using due dates” … it’s so nice with an answer before I had even started to write the question.

The multiple tag/context feature seem to solve my problem … I’m now going to sit here waiting for this feature :D

Ken, sounds like an ideal solution that will have benefits beyond a Today view. Thanks to all at Omni for continued work on OF2!


The critical issue is the onus of having to build a today list. You might as well just use pencil and paper. The beauty of Omnifocus is that your today list emerges naturally.

In my Today perspective, I filter by Due or Flagged. Secondary filters sort on contexts, availability: Remaining. See the screenshot

This is the definition of a Today list. Perhaps its useful to differentiate todo list apps, and contextual project management apps like Omnifocus. Things is a todo list app. OF organizes your life so that nothing gets forgotten.

Tasks that need to get done Today (i.e., they are due today), show up.

Not everyone uses the flag to set something to “I’d like to do this today” so you end up with a Today perspective that doesn’t show you the actual items that are on your list for today. Having multiple tags does not change any of that since the issue is with the “filter by status” list. That list does not have the single option of “due”; it always combines “due” with something else.

I’d like to have just a single “due” option in the “filter by status” list so I can create a perspective that automatically shows anything that is due and expand it with anything that has a certain tag. That way I don’t have to go and tag everything, only the things that I want to do today. The flag option I can use for prioritising the items that are really important and/or need attention. I just find the current sorting/filtering options to be very limiting in what you can do*. But then again, I’m used to using things like grep, awk and SQL for filtering the data set.

*another example: deferred items since OF will only look at the date, not the time. That means that items with due and deferred set to the same date will always show up in your list no matter the time, so something that you deferred until 18.00 will be there at 08.00, 11.00, etc. as well.

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Got to disagree. The definition of a Today list is the list of items you intend to complete Today. This includes items not Due today (both because many action items have no formal Due Date, and because waiting until an item is Due is a recipe for failure to deliver.

It’s great that you are happy with what you are calling a Today list, but the issue being raised in this thread is that a Today list does not “emerge naturally” from the current incarnation of OmniFocus (though it could, with the addition of one data element).

The weekly and daily review processes are excellent opportunities to plan when work will be done (not just next steps and contexts, etc.). Those reviews should result in a plan for efficient work schedule (what to work on during which day(s) and when it is advantageous to be in particular Contexts (especially those Contexts that are more specific than “Phone”, eg., “Boston” or “Chicago”).

Due Dates do not help, unless you put ‘fake’ due dates in OmniFocus (and have a system for noting actual date promised).


Yup, it’s how you define a Today list. In my workflow, there is no point in having things without a due date on the Today list. And you can disagree as much as you want, but It definitely is possible for the list to emerge naturally.

Items without a due date go on a Todo List. That is, they don’t have to be done today, but if you have time to knock off a general ToDo item, great.

I’m glad Omni is careful about features it adds. Additional data elements can lead to confusion if not implemented carefully. For example, at first I thought tags (think Things) were great, but they have too much flexibility, and resulted in a chaotic system.


Correction: it is how YOU define a Today list.

Lots of work needs to get done before it is due. If you choose not to plan your work but simply do what is due today in the Context you find yourself, then I wish you well. Others are more proactive.

An example where Do Date is helpful: Think of recurring tasks. Something due on the 15th of every month may be most efficiently accomplished, this month, at an earlier date (particularly if you have many items Due on the 15th). If you move its Due date to the 10th in order that it will appear on your Today list for the 10th, it will surface next month on the 10th rather than its real Due date of the 15th.

The objective is for OmniFocus to capture required actions and information about when and where they can be done and must be completed (two different attributes), and surface those action items at appropriate times and places.

Taking care in adding features is a virtue. That doesn’t mean there are no possible enhancements.

I still don’t see the need for a “Do Date”. Extend the concept, and where does it end? You potentially wind up having a “Pre Do Date”, and then a “Pre Pre Do Date”, etc.

However, I did play around in Perspectives a bit, and found that you can filter by “Due Soon”.
Perhaps that can help in your quest to be “proactive”?

[quote=“vs_anderson, post:48, topic:33386, full:true”]
. . . . Extend the concept, and where does it end? You potentially wind up having a “Pre Do Date”, and then a “Pre Pre Do Date”, etc.[/quote]

No need for “Pre Do Date” etc extension of concept.

The concept begins and ends with the notion that “Do” and “Due” have different meanings.

It isn’t about getting advance warning of a Due item per se, it is about capturing (and at appropriate later date being reminded) of what work was planned for a given day.

What WOULD be useful is an option for Forecast view to show Action Items on their “Do Date” (with, or without “Due, Due Soon, Past Due”, at user’s preference).

Due Soon doesn’t help, for a couple reasons. First, it relies on “Due Date” which can be unrelated to when the work to complete an item must be performed (either because the item has no formal Due Date, or appropriate Context will be available only on some earlier date).

Secondly, Due Soon is a short horizon (couple days) before a Due Date. Something Due at the end of the month that requires Doing this week (because appropriate Context is avail then, but not later) would not appear on Due Soon list until too late.

Reviewing a “Due Soon” list of a longer (say, 30 day) horizon would allow you to surface items sooner, but the list would be too long, and more to the point it is pushing a review process into every daily review that might already have been considered in an earlier daily or weekly review (but not captured by OmniFocus).

One benefit of introducing a “Do Date” is that it removes the incentive to “lie” about Due Dates (ie., entering a Due Date on an item that really doesn’t have one, or putting an earlier Due Date on an item to force it to appear on Due Soon). Keeping the terminology “pure” helps Mind-Like-Water focus (because you can avoid the concern of “is this a ‘real’ Due Date or one i set to prompt me” and you don’t need to think about “correcting” the Due Date of a recurring item that you set earlier this time but want to be at normal date next month).

The notion is to capture information when it occurs to the user (in this case, during periodic review), and surface it again when appropriate (the day has arrived). Currently OmniFocus has no ability to capture this info.

Another benefit would be the ability for OmniFocus to show you when you are over-extended. If the user (consistently) enters Duration data, the (previously mentioned enhanced) Forecast view could indicate total time committed on each day.

(I’m not sure if Duration is a data element in OmniFocus. just looked for it and see “Estimated Time”, which I guess is what I was thinking about.).

I find this really compelling. I have been thinking that one way around it (and a method often discussed in productivity circles) is to break projects down into smaller and smaller components. So, you could create a hierarchy, so that the “Due” date is applied to the parent task, and the children tasks can be very small in size and their “due” dates would in fact represent the “do” dates you discuss. So, if “turn in report” is “due” on Jan 1st, we could make child tasks that are “due” much earlier to represent when we intend to “do” any particular aspect of producing the report.

However, as much as that process is compelling to me, I find myself encountering significant resistance to working that way. It seems like too much busy work to break down projects to such a small degree and when I have tried I find I’m spending too much time in OmniFocus.

By adding a “do” date, I think the software would allow for users to keep track of projects without needing to break them down so much. Sometimes for difficult projects those breakdowns are useful, but for routine work or other projects that are familiar, it seems unnecessary to be forced to track them at such a granular level just to stay on track with time management.

However, I am hoping that the introduction of tags will help and perhaps even obviate the necessity for such a “do” tag (which I am frankly pessimistic about whether Omni would ever implement–it seems pretty hard for lots of folks to understand, especially given that the majority of apps don’t even add start/defer dates). I’ve been interested in using dates or such for tags, such as “today” “this week” “this month” etc. I still use contexts, so I haven’t been able to repurpose my contexts as others have suggested (e.g., here)

I agree with your comments about granularity, etc.

The “tags” or Context solution (tagging or putting items in “Today”, “Next Week”, etc. Context) will provide some ability to create a “Today” list. What I don’t like about it is that it is using a TEXT data field to store DATE information.

If I know that I want to perform a particular action next Thursday, I would want to mark it “Do September 14”. I don’t want it marked “Today” until then.

If I mark it “Next Week”, it only becomes a “Today” item by my finding it and changing its tag. That means my daily review must include a search thru all items for candidates to move to “Today”. The user must sift thru old items that were marked “Next Week” last week, as well as newer items marked NW this week.

It misses the mark because it doesn’t actually capture the date info that I have to give it when doing a Project by Project review. Not every Project needs to be reviewed every day. Neither should I have to peruse every Action to surface those that I intend to accomplish today.

That very same issue applies to due dates and those are even more dangerous when you are dealing with (non-personal) projects. You need to differentiate that we have personal projects which we control fully and other projects that we cannot like those were more people than you alone are working on.

Whenever you start a project you break it down into smaller parts, assign it to someone and also add things like a start and due date to it (some items can only start at a certain time due to various reasons). These dates only apply to the project in its entirety. If you change it, you are messing up the planning of the entire project. Due dates set on this level cannot be changed and doing so is extremely dangerous (especially when the contract mentions fines for being late). The project planner is responsible for the planning and any change will need to go through them. Simply changing the due date is not possible.

OmniFocus only knows 1 due date and thus you cannot use due dates. You are tied to the due date set by the project planner. However you can still do the task before the due date just by planning it at a certain day/time so the task can be finished before or when it’s due. The problem in this is that OmniFocus does not give you any means of doing that easily. There is no overview and because of that you run the risk of missing these items (and thus due date since you are only warned once when it is due) or overloading your workload. Both are dangerous and unwanted.

In other words, OmniFocus is a personal task manager which has to work with a project planning that is fixed. Right now that is very difficult to do; pen and paper is much easier and clearer.

Btw, for those looking at 2Do: the “schedule” option in 2Do is the same as “start date” which is also quite nasty since “start date” really means “the time and date when you started doing this task”. Not very helpful because it will show up as “still working on” when it is past the start date and you haven’t finished it yet. That is similar to what OmniFocus does (but they call it “defer” now). Tags aren’t a good solution here either due to the search being a bit limited with OR (you can’t search for “tags or type”: it’s “tags and type”); 2Do’s recommendation is to use 2 separate smartlists (which degrades the overview a bit). I’m hoping this will not be the case when OmniFocus introduces multi-tags later this year.