Fellow students, how do you organize your workload with Omnifocus?

College student, here. More specifically, Chemistry and Physics double major who is heavily involved in campus clubs, research, and also has a small online business. Pretty busy. Lots of tasks each week.

My current setup in Omnifocus involves a custom “Homework” perspective that is primarily organized by due date, but also by class. Other tasks I tend to add in via Forecast. Though I also have a custom perspective for quick 5-minute tasks. And now that I typed that out, I’m realizing just how NOT robust my system is. Especially because I only just learned about defer dates a couple days ago (and haven’t been able to implement them, for now).

Lately I’ve been using Google Calendar as a primary means of organizing my workload. Mostly because I have so much due these last couple weeks of classes that I want to make sure I actually make time for everything to fit in.

This semester I had a lot of tasks due the same day each week, which made scheduling a but less hectic. Not sure what next semester will bring. But I’ll likely have a somewhat similar situation. With other homework popping up here and there.

I haven’t been using Omnifocus for that long. Just a few months. So I’m still playing around with it to figure out what will work for me. I don’t like that I seem to be jumping from system to system whenever the time “feels right”. I’d rather have something more fool-proof and robust to rely on. Which I know from seeing the setups of others that Omnifocus has the power to do just that.

I’d really like to hear about the setup other students use!

I’m an English PhD student and rely on Omnifocus pretty heavily to stay organized. I never got into contexts in the way that some (most?) people use them. Instead, I use a simpler system that lets me quickly scan for different tasks:

Using this, I can file my most important tasks as ‘Urgent’ – signing my contract for my teaching assistantship, for example – and label my ‘Writing’ and ‘Reading’ tasks accordingly. With these labels, I know I can sit down and quickly find the next assignment I need to be writing, if I’m in the right mindset, or just see what’s next to read if that’s all I’m able to do. ‘Important’ tasks are tasks which are not urgent but are important to me personally, and ‘Do’ covers the rest. This is a system that’s loosely based on what Ben Brooks wrote about here.

I keep a project for each class I’m taking (done with coursework after this semester!) and for the class I’m teaching:

Beyond that, I use a custom ‘Today’ perspective similar to what many others use that shows items due and flagged items. I’m sure I’m not the most demanding user of OmniFocus, but the ability to defer tasks so that they don’t show up is invaluable to me, and I’ve really come to rely on it to keep me sane.


I’m a professor, but I think a lot of the basic structures will be the same. I have one project per course, with a repeating task to prep class for every class, deferred to start one or two days before (or as long as a full week for the case of a reading-intensive graduate seminar) and due morning of. For ordinary days (i.e. reading and lecture and/or discussion days), that’s all that goes in initially. Once the defer date is triggered, I’ll either just do the reading and prep, or copy over each item in the syllabus for the upcoming class as a separate task - this depends on volume for that day, competing tasks, how thoroughly I need to read the material, etc.

For days when assignments are due, I’ll add a task due two or three weeks prior to write the assignment prompt, as well as a task on the assignment due date scheduled immediately after class to record the submissions. Grading operates similarly - I set a target due date to return assignments (which often gets deferred…) and have a deferred start date the day the students submit. If I’m teaching a large class I may break this up into multiple tasks to avoid having a massive pile of grading at the end.

I’m at a research university where teaching is only one part of our evaluation, so this all goes into a project folder called teaching, among with others called service and research (itself broken down by project, but also into writing, data gathering and analysis, & reading). One great benefit of this is that it makes me attentive to whether my time is really spent on the areas that are important for advancement (i.e. publishing and grant writing) vs. the often more urgent but less rewarded tasks of teaching and service. Since conference deadlines are typically at way in advance, I get them into OF as early as possible so I can plan my courses so I’m teaching familiar low prep material in the weeks when I am trying to finish conference papers.

I also have another project category called infrastructure which is mostly computer stuff to keep the other real work tasks going smoothly (regular backups, that kind of thing).

Anything really urgent gets flagged. I also have some place and state of mind based contexts, and a “waiting on others” context that I review regularly but about 70% of my tasks have no context.


I am studying for a Master of Accounting degree (nearly finished) and have been using OF for about two years.

My setup is simple - I create a sequential project for each subject in the course, and then create tasks for each week. These tasks align with the weekly schedule provided by the lecturer and contain brief details of readings required and I assign a due date at the end of each week (Sunday night).

I also create tasks for the assignments that are due (2 or 3 for each subject) and these are flagged so that they stand out onscreen. And I create a task for the final exam, flagged also and the due date is assigned as soon it’s known.

It’s basic, but it works because it’s a linear process. I enjoy checking off each week. Although I hate it when I am behind schedule!

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