How are you organizing 1) Areas of Focus (tags vs folders) & 2) Someday/Maybe lists in OF3 (iOS)

Hi All!

I’m in the process of re-evaluating my workflows since tags entered the mix with OF3. (Some things I’m implementing have always been possible, but change inspires change.)

So, I’m looking for some discussion on best practices for organizing [Areas of Focus] and [Someday/Maybe]. Plus, how are you reviewing them? Perspectives?

Right now, I have

  • (SAL) Miscellaneous (work)
  • (SAL) Miscellaneous (non-work) *I tried having a SAL for each Area of Focus, but it got annoying
  • (SAL) Errands
  • "Work" folder
    + “Not Now” folder
  • "Personal" folder
  • "Volunteer Commitment" folder
  • "Someday/Maybe" folder
  • "Templates" folder

For tags, I’ve created Parent tag categories of:

  • Date tag (today, tomorrow, this week, this month, etc.) to use for planning independent of defer dates
  • Areas of Focus tags (parents with sub-tags for smaller areas of focus within those) SEE BELOW
  • Locations
  • Communications (calls, emails, people, groups, etc)
  • Tools (printer, MacBook, etc)
  • Types of work (word processing, brainstorming, editing, etc)

1) An issue I’m having is that Non-work Areas of Focus are quite numerous and with less tasks and projects per. (various boards, volunteer organizations, family, home, hobbies, etc etc etc). How have you organized these? Work vs Non-Work folder? Tags? I’m thinking about simplifying my folder structure a bit to more rely on tags I think.

2) For Someday/Maybe, I’ve been on the fence between a universal Someday/Maybe, and one broken into AoF categories.

My gut check is that there must be a great way to accomplish the complexity of numerous Areas of Focus using tags and custom perspectives, but I haven’t dialled it in quite yet.

Thanks for any insight and discussion you can contribute!


Following. Curious myself as I am evaluating my setup with OF3.

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Me too. @claybwagner are you by any chance an attorney?

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I’m curious to see what others have set up too.

I try to go one folder deep with projects inside. I’m not a fan of nesting folders inside the top level folder. The more shallow my structure, the easier it is to find and navigate projects. Although I can see how that might be a problem if you have clients.

📂 Clients: 📂 John Doe (1 folder deep)
📂 Clients: 📂 Jane Doe (1 folder deep)
📂 Clients: 📂Jane Doe: 📂 Marketing Projects (2 folders deep)
📂 Clients: 📂Jane Doe: 📂 Accounting Projects (2 folders deep)

I think I can make this concession… As long as it makes sense, I’m OK with going 2 folders deep. Pushing it to 3 folders will definitely be complicating my structure.

I had other ideas in another post:

No I’m in banking.

Close enough, right? :-)


I can certainly relate to 1). I have quite a bit of personal projects and other commitments that keep me busy. What worked for me was realizing that OF was only part of the solution and that I also needed a very clean and friendly calendar (Fantastical) and a bullet-proof reference system for Non-Actionble stuff (Devonthink in my case).

For OF I went with a minimum tag approach and only distinguish between things that I WILL do and things that I MIGHT do. Other different tags such as People, Errands, etc get their own specific one. I got inspiration from this post:

A 2 context approach to Omnifocus by Matt Henderson

I see the value of organizing tasks by tags (office, mac, phone, beach, etc) in order to batch process things, but from my experience VERY seldomly do I have the benefit of time to focus on a single tag/context like that. The only exception to that are emails/phone calls. Hence why Will/Might helped me clarify my system.

Since you are evaluating your whole system, I humbly suggest you evaluate how you approach AOF within the system. I tried going granular with each AOF as deep as “Travel”, “Family” or “SO”, but I found that it made the system cumbersome to maintain and projects would become stale. Now, I wildly simplified it and only keep “Active” and “On Hold” project folders for each big area of my life. Work, Personal and my Podcast. I have 2 perspectives “Active” and “On Hold” and I quickly move projects back and forth each weekly review depending on my bandwidth for the next sprint.

These are my current folders: (With what I have in each one):

Routines: Self explanatory. I have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and a “New Habits” SAL with reminders setup.

SAL Personal: All the single actions that I want to remember to get done

Work Projects: Active Projects @ Work. I work as a PMM, so I have it subdivided in Admin / Webinars / Campaigns / BIG Project 1 / BIG Project 2, etc. At work there is a lot of switch-tasking, so I usually have 10-15 active projects. I also have a SAL.

Active Projects: Personal Projects that I am working on over the next 2 weeks. I try to limit it to 5-7 projects. I’d rather have 5 active ones and get them done, than 20 active ones that are 40-60% done .

My Podcast: All the things related to publishing the next episode + marketing + scheduling guests.

On Hold Projects: Subdivided in - Work, - Personal, - Podcast. I review it weekly. On hold to me means that I will do it in the next 2 months . If the time frame is greater than that then I defer it and put a reminder on my calendar (i.e. Start planning the trip to X, start prepping paperwork for project Y) or move it to Someday/Maybe.

Reference Lists: Mostly On Hold SALs, ideas for things to do, Weekend Plans, Books to read, Movies to watch, Workshops to host, Blogs to write, Guests to Interview, Date ideas. It’s a place to quickly go and plan my weekend or next podcast episode. I have a specific perspective to view this (Focus on folder + show all on hold projects).

Someday/Maybe: Someday/Maybe to me means anywhere from “the next 2 months” to “when the time is right”. I do have it separated within each area of my life so I have lists like:

  • Trips/Vacations to take
  • Books to Buy

And also what I call the “seeds” for new projects. I review these once a month and use the “Review” feature of OF to keep me on track. I find that 2 months is the right time frame for me to let my subconscious decide if I still want to do something or not.

  • Someday - Wealth
  • Someday - Networking
  • Someday - Podcast
  • Someday - Work
  • Someday - Health

The quickest way IMHO to review these Someday/Maybe lists is setting dedicated time to review them. I do it Sundays @ 11am.

To REALLY leverage the structure above I use a very simple tag structure. Not by “energy” or “tools”, but wether I WILL do it or I MIGHT do it for any given project. I am online 95% of the time so making an offline list in the off-chance that Wi-Fi dies out is not worth it to me. The 5% when I don’t have access to the internet is while commuting/flying and in that time I am listening to podcasts or reading :)


-Meeting 1
-Meeting 2

Will Do

Might Do

-Getting to office

-Getting home

-Store 1
-Store 2

Waiting For



Wow! I’m extremely grateful for your thoughtful response.

I’m excited to tease out some of the many gems in there. I love the intentionality of your system. It seems well refined. Well done.

For your reference system, what brought you to DEVONthink? (Vs, say, Evernote). I’ve been passively considering the switch lately.


You are welcome!

Thank you! It’s a process. My 2 cents is to try a system and pick the pieces that work for you. I recommend committing to a structure for at least a month.

Devonthink has been AMAZING. I wish I had a better answer, but Devonthink is designed the way I think. You can create “groups” or folders for reference and make them as shallow or as nested as you need them to be. I keep there my reading lists, reference material, project support, PDFs and everything that is “not actionable”.

I like to use this analogy: Omnifocus is for the “verbs” of tasks. Devonthink is for the “nouns” of tasks. For example: I might capture “Draft proposal for project X”. The actual task would be in OF. However, The actual draft for project X plus all the pictures, audio, spreadsheets and stuff to get the draft done would be in a group within Devonthink. I can create links between files in DT and OF Tasks quite easily with shortcuts.

Also, DT has AMAZING OCR and Search functions. I am so used to it that I don’t know what I’d do without it :)

Again, I’ll reiterate my 2 cents. Try a system and pick the pieces that work for you. Good luck!


Which version of devonthink do you use? I consider this option for some time but i could not decide to transition

@AnOrangeCat DEVONthink PRO Office. It’s Spotlight on stereoids

Mainly because of the OCR and powerful search features. I can upload stuff to the DT database OR store it and index it in my system’s disk.

It’s $150 US, but you can test drive it for 150 hours

If you want to ramp up on it and make the most out of trial time: Here is a great screencast series (it’s like $6 a month and you can cancel anytime). He goes into great detail in how to use it.

I ended up ignoring all AOF systems for organizing. I used to do it and had a single level folder structure with each AOF listed and its projects under that but it became unwieldy. Especially when many projects cross AOFs.

So after some one on one coaching from David Allen Co. with someone who uses OF as well I ended up with a very flat single layer folder structure of

Active Projects - current active projects no matter where they go
Waiting For Projects - when for some unforseen reason the entire project is on hold for a while
Delegated Projects - when I’ve turned over the entire project to someone else , very rare to use this folder

Then a series of folders for what are effectively my checklists
Recurring projects Monthly (includes weekly projects as well)

Projects that happen once a year but can only be started in these months
Recurring Projects Jan-Mar
Recurring Projects Apr-Jun
Recurring Projects Jul-Sep
Recurring Projects Oct-Dec

Then a folder of “blank” checklists for recurring tasks I do on an irregular basis. When I create a project to complete an instance of this task I duplicate the checklist, change the title to be this instance and move it into the Active Projects folder.
Checklists - example: Update NSIP data into LambTracker from (insert date) run

All Someday/Maybe projects are in DEVONThink.
I also have notes in DT for all my AOF’s that include the statement of purpose for that AOF and other items related to it.

I use DEVONThink Pro Office. It’s also my tool for small size electronic support material. Larger documents are in a finder structure that mimics my Omnifocus filing system.


A great blog posting completed by @heyscottyj relevant to this thread.

He’s helped to solve a couple of my sticky issues in this post!

The concept of an outcomes folder and a Areas of Responsibility SAL folder was especially revolutionary to my workflow.

Thanks Scotty!


I’m glad you enjoyed it, @brandontoner - thanks for the kind words!


This post is getting me to think even more and more. Currently, my folders are as follows:


I honestly am not quite sure how I feel about this. For one, my research stuff is going to start going more into DevonThink Pro. I think I need to look into my “7) Reference to Put Somewhere” and evaluate what truly needs to go into Devonthink vs what should be recategorized. I used contexts a little but honestly haven’t benefited from it. Maybe tags will be more useful though I think I’ll keep them minimal and similar to how @Anikulapo is doing it.

This summer and in the coming weeks I hope to overhaul my system. Part of me is debating whether to start more from scratch in a sense by having main folders based on my job/role so those being Health, Teacher, etc. I think right now I have a catchall but it can be better. Sure planning is great but at the same point, my main goal is to get stuff done. Part of me has certain projects I want to work on and complete while other projects are meant as ongoing ones.

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I‘ described my GTD / OF universe here: