GTD = DDDD and OmniFocus = DD_D = Not Adequate

GTD = DDDD and OmniFocus = DD_D = Not Adequate

I have requested/inquired about the ability to delegate for years now. The mechanism to dispatch time-delimited “delegations” via a common DAV server should be very simple. Why not create a second OF file that all delegates have access to perhaps a “team” file with and additional date field to trigger a progress review/follow up from delegate to assignor.

The absence of the mechanism is a critical weakness in OF for strict GTD followers. I used OF as a strict GTD type and was quite successful until the work load grew to require delegation and when OF could not support this, it made my life much more difficult.

Fellow forum members who agree that this is a significant short coming need to speak up or we will not get anywhere with this. The ability to send tasks A,B, and C to John Smith with the understanding that the system will provide for follow-up notification is central to GTD and grossly lacking in OF for more years than should be the case given the zillion forms of messaging available today.

Jerry Pape

I’ve seen what you’re asking for in other systems, e.g. Basecamp. These are usually web-based and built specifically for group collaboration on a project but not designed for GTD, e.g. they are generally date-driven systems and lack features such as contexts, recurring due dates, etc.

There is a fair bit of complexity in these systems and for good reason as they’re often used for complex projects. I’d venture to say that it’s probably not what Omnigroup has in mind for OmniFocus, especially given OF is OS X and iOS-based software rather than web-based (platform independent).


I have a simple solution for delegation in OF. I have a context folder “Waiting” that contains contexts for the people I delegate tasks to. All of these contexts have the “On Hold” status. That way they don’t clutter everyday views. I look at all of the on hold tasks in my weekly review so nothing gets lost. You could try using start and dues dates with tasks in one of these “waiting” contexts but I’m not sure whether they would show up in any views that you would expect to see that or not.

If you detailed requirements for delegation, this simple approach might not work for you. I don’t have detailed requirements and this approach does work for me. For my purposes, OF does provide me with what I need for delegation so it does provide me with a complete GTD solution.

If you’re looking for a groupware solution like people in some of the other threads, I don’t think you’re ever going to get that from Omnifocus. That’s not what it was built for. It was intended for a single person. Omniplan is the Omni product for group-sized projects, but I don’t know if that provides what you’re looking for.

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I usually delegate using a ‘Waiting For’ context, and just prefix the task name with the person, and suffix the date I delegated it eg:

John B: waiting for reports - 15/06/2015

the latter is just a keyboard shortcut to Edit > Insert Timestamp > Short Date, so it’s easy to type.

Then when I scan my ‘Waiting For’ context once per day as part of my daily routine I can just check this list to see how old things are etc. This isn’t as rich as an integrated solution would be, but the main advantage is that it works within my current system and doesn’t require anyone else to integrate with me.


Just what I need another apologist…

The ability to exchange task items between OF users on any one of the Layer 3 technologies is not hard. Using the same “new item” code to create an entry that matches the sender’s can be automated. The followup status within the recipient is already there. So the new code would involve an encrypted sending/receipt mechanism and a notification mechanism to provide disposition status back to the task originator. All of this could be done as email attachments so long as OG supported both Apple Mail and Thunderbird.

The difficult part about using OmniFocus as a team-wide solution is that everyone has to buy into OmniFocus.

Before OmniFocus can become groupware, it’s gonna need a couple more things:

  1. It needs a web interface
  2. It needs a Windows app (and possibly an Android app)

OmniFocus will not be a successful product in the groupware niche unless it is available on the other platforms. I’ll rank the web interface first because it can be available to both Windows and Android users who have consistent internet access. A Windows and/or Android app would probably be best for mobile users who may not have a consistent web connection.

OmniFocus groupware might work in a Mac only environment but its success and profit sustainability will be limited. Groupware will not be available unless the web app/Windows app is created first.

In the meantime, the office where I work part-time uses Asana. It’s simple enough. It uses more of a checklist style interface. It doesn’t need GTD contexts, review perspective, and other GTD-oriented workflows.

Uses check in to see their daily tasks, complete them, and send inter-office messages. None of this is GTD-oriented. I have to work with people who don’t subscribe to GTD. They have their own way of doing things. As long as they get the job done, I never really care if they are GTD users.

On a personal level, I don’t really worry about having two different systems. I isolate my personal stuff into OmniFocus. It never has a chance to cross-pollinate into Asana.

Asana has its own compartment and is used for all my collaborative work at the office. It’s the perfect tool.

It’s not a heavy burden to have two systems to maintain. I prefer to keep my personal stuff compartmentalized from my work stuff. Nobody at work needs to see my personal shopping list.

I have the same problem with another co-worker. She is trying to get everybody to buy into

Yes, OmniFocus is not adequate for groupware. As mentioned above, Omniplan and other
apps such as Todoist and Asana are better suited for groupware situations. It would probably be better to ask for a cross platform version of OmniFocus first before asking for groupware features.

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Cloudware is especially tricky. Look at Apple. It took Apple multiple tries to get iCloud up and running. It was really bad at first but it has gotten better. Apple still has a long way to go to compete with Google Drive and Dropbox. Apple Maps was a disaster upon launch. It has taken time for Apple Maps to become even halfway competent to reach Google Maps level.

If this common DAV server mechanism were simple, it probably would’ve been done already.

No, not another apologist response. It’s just an observation that OF wasn’t built to do what you want it to do, and other products out there are. If you want to request a feature, send Omni an email. They don’t collect feature requests on the forums.


I’m not familiar with OmniPlan Pro but the documentation does show a publish and subscribe feature for multi-user collaborative work. Perhaps this is what is being sought.

As stated, OmniFocus is not geared towards multi-user. OmniPlan Pro looks like what Omnigroup is offering.

Mate, it’s not “apologism” to present a different view. You need to learn that not all things are made for you. OF has always been a single-user oriented product - why not use Wunderlist or Basecamp or any other app with team features?? Why would you mope about it for “years” if it isn’t what you want? Omni owe you nothing.

Also, as you know, GTD is designed to be used on paper. The assertion that GTD “requires” delegation notifications or even a computer would make David Allen’s blood boil!

And stop with all the “It’s not hard to do this” stuff. This type of web service integrated into a desktop (and potentially offline) app is certainly not a trivial issue by any means. I’m sure Omni have good thoughts about this.

+1 for no team features please, Omni :)


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  1. I maintain that most of the replies I have received are from “apologists” in the most traditional theological sense. I am utterly uninterested in your Omni is “right” view.

What should make us interested in your view then Mate?

And honestly, if you are not interested in this, I think a discussion forum is not the tool for you.

  1. Since Delegation is the primary force multiplier in GTD don’t you think it would be a logical progression in software?

I half-agree with you here, but honestly, I don’t think this has priority (but then again, you don’t care about our view, so I am not even sure why I am bothering to write this). I want OF to work well for myself, I don’t honestly care about delegation features, and apparently several other people seem to agree.

Would it be cool if it could delegate stuff? Sure! I could even see myself using this every now and then. But, despite your amazing work experience and professional skills, you seem to miss that implementing delegation is just a piece of the puzzle. How do you deal with multi-platform environments? Will that require the purchase of an OF license? Do you simply share via email or do you do this through an OF account? What if that person self-hosts their data? What happens if the recipient does not use OF? What happens if you delegate and the recipient is offline or out of sync? etc. etc.

Product Manager/Developer of 30+ commercial products for Apple, Mac, Windows & Mobile

I recommend making it 31+ and building your own solution then, since everything is so easy

(when your creds trump mine, we can talk about what is hard and what isn’t)

Oh come on, ending a message like this? Really?


I’m not sure how we missed it, but this thread has been off the rails for some time. How to handle delegation while using OmniFocus is a great discussion topic, but we’re quite far away from that now…