How to Manage both Tasks AND Notes/Reference: Possible Within OF? Or at Least with an Omni Product? Or How?


Thanks Zzamboni and thanks Oogle!

One more update: I have been continuing to refine my Projects list today, adding On-Hold single action lists within each folder for notes and projects-in-waiting closely related to that folder. I am also using my new Reference context freely–thanks Stephen. The shorter Context list is great (I went from 20 to 9) and makes it easy to clean up my inbox. I also created a Context called “keep to see” which I use for things I want to see frequently, like inspirational quotes, that are not tasks per se.

It looks like this way of using OF is going to work well for me. My notes are the quick simple type that I like to email into OF, such as leads and links to follow up on. And I’ve realized that many of my notes become tasks and vica versa, so I like having them all in the same program. I’m glad there was a way to make it work.


Sorry for taking a while to respond.

I too keep On-Hold single action lists within each folder for the same reasons you wrote. My Reference List folder is for reference lists not related to a project.

My take on Contexts… For a week, write down when and why you decide to work on each task. I found that I was batching tasks: responding to all emails, all my research , coding, and brainstorming, researching answers to client questions. I have the luxury at my job that I can batch together my tasks since context switching is so expensive time and energy wise.


Thanks for the helpful take on Contexts! I am enjoying OF so much, and getting to know it better through using it for notes as well as tasks.


I have tried multiple apps for reference material over the years including using the notes in Omnifocus, taskpaper, other text based apps, The defunct Circus Ponies Notebook, its comepetitor Notetaker, Workflowy then Dynalist, Evernote, Curio, various outliners…

I eventually l settled for Microsoft OneNote. The app is available for both Mac and IOS and I find it to be very accessible. I like the ability to break down all of the reference material into tabs and pages; the ability to fold notes into headings within the reference material; the use of tags; the ability to drop in photos, docs, links; the ability to create bullet point and numbered lists; outlining within the notes; the ability to create tables; the ability to search across notebooks, and the ease of sharing notes as needed with others by exporting. You can also draw and highlight! Finally, call me old fashioned, but I like the somewhat skeuomorphic design of the app resembling the tabs of a paper notebook with optionally lined pages.

I have created two different notebooks, one for work and one for personal use. I have found the syncing to be reliable. I tried the app Outline which is a similar app to Onenote, but allows data to be kept local. I did not find it to be as reliable as Onenote, and it does not support the iphone.

The bottom line is that I settled on Omnifocus because of the way it allows me to structure my task data the way I like. I find that Onenote allows a similar structure that works best for my mind. It allows me to quickly jump to reference data as needed on my laptop, iphone, or ipad, and presents my data in a visually pleasing format.

I should also add that the app is getting somewhat regular updates.


You may have this sorters out by now?

I do not See anyone mention DEVONthink!? I’ve used Evernote for years but I cancelled because I do not like it anymore.
In DEVONthink your files, notes etc. are stored in databases locally on your computer and I find it very convenient to not need to manage the folder structure etc.

You may download a trail and see what you think.

I’m not affiliated with DEVONthink in any way. Just wanted to let you know. 🐸

Edit: did see now that you mentioned it. Sorry. It’s still a tips though.


Hi Annie -

I have the exact same question as you but two years later. Your posts were from December, 2016 - do you still use the same system for storing both tasks and reference items?



Hi Bruce,
Interesting timing. I am just now giving up on keeping both notes and tasks in OF. It worked for a while, but it didn’t hold up when life got chaotic. By the time I was ready to catch up, OF had done a redesign and the whole system looked different, withg tags instead of contexts. I didn’t have time to keep it all straight and it degenerated into a random hodgepodge of OF hell.

Looking back on it, here is my understanding of what happened: when I wanted to keep it all in one place, I was thinking logically— but keeping notes isn’t a logical process. I was asking my brain to look at the same interface in opposite ways —the Task way and the Notes way. .!t was too confusing to my right brain fo have the same terminology and visuals employed so differently.

Recently I was talking with a friend about Evernote, checked it out, and realized it has gotten a lot cleaner… I still don’t like the monthly charges, but apparently you can store the data on your devices now. And the capability for importing so many kinds of data, searching images for text, etc is very good for

So I am officially getting over my Evernote trauma and going to try to migrate my reference gradually over there. Any advice on all that process is very welcome (and if anyone needs to say “I told you so” first, that’s fine)…I look forward to finally using OF the way it was designed, after a decade of using and loving it :)


If you have pictures, pdfs, links etc in your reference items in OmniFocus you can go to them and right click and use the services menu/send to Evernote. It does not copy the Omnifocus Task Title but sends the other information in the notes section.


Once the information is in Evernote you can copy the Classic Note Link (this will make Evernote open native app not the web app) for the note and paste into OmniFocus to link a task to the reverence material in Evernote.


This is an excellent tip for using Evernote in combination with OF. These ‘classic’ or internal note links work on both Mac and iOS, always opening the linked note in the native app. When you create the ‘classic note link’, it will be displayed as the title of the linked note. To create one:

  • on Mac: right click on the note and press the Option key to reveal the ‘Copy Classic Note Link’ command
  • on iOS: Open the note, tap on the sharing icon, tap on ‘More sharing options’, tap ‘Copy internal link’.

If you have reference material to associate with an OF action, this is a much better solution than putting it all in the OF note field.


Thanks for this tip. I had not figured this one out.


Apple Notes is also due to get automation via shortcuts in the next release (currently in ios12 Beta) so it will have a url scheme and note links as well if you prefer a solution baked into the OS.


Hey Bruce et al, New update: I tried Evernote for a few weeks and still didn’t like it, just couldn’t get the hang of it. Then I tried Trello. Then I gave up. I missed Omnifocus. Have now gone back to OF for notes as well as tasks, getting used to the tags, using Perspectives more aggressively to keep the notes out of the way. I think it might work out.


It appears that you need to attach occasional ToDo actions to a plethora of notes more than you need to attach occasional notes to an organized set of tasks.

Is this a fairer perspective?

If so, perhaps you would do well to search for a note-taking application that allows ToDo marks on the notes. IOW, you might need to move out of OF entirely or substantially for the note+todo side of your needs.

Also, I get the greatest benefit with the lowest overhead in OF by making URL links in the note field of OF to content outside of OF. Here again, with this change, you could then explore apps that are truly designed for high-quality note-management and learn to “make the link”. Evernote and Devonthink are not the only kids on the block for note-management (and they are IMO not the best either, each for their own reasons).

The reason to persist and make the change is that at some point perhaps one of two things will happen with your current approach.

  • Your OF database will become so overloaded that it will be sluggish, especially when you are using the companion iOS app.
  • You will want to be more thorough in how you sort, organize, and manage just the notes but will be unable to do so in OF



@OogieM I’ve investigated DEVONThink in the past and I don’t get it. Can you tell me what DEVONThink does that a well-organized file system cannot accomplish?


faster to put things in and out, portable if you need it via iOS synced databases, allows both indexed files and internal to the DB files, vastly superior tools for correlating various bits and pieces, accepts web data more easily than saving to files is size agnostic on the data, I can create a quick note with a single sentence in it far faster than I can create even a TXT file and save it in a filing structure. Good OCR integration

I don’t even use as much of the see also and classify AI stuff as I could but those that do say it’s far better than the OS could ever hope to be.


Most useful six lines I’ve ever read about DEVONThink to date. That was tremendously helpful