How to separate work and personal

Long time Evernote (EN) user. Brand new to OF. Using only OF3 on iPad and iPhone. Planning to keep EN for storage, and use OF for GTD eg next action and project management. I do not have a Mac…windows pc’s.

In EN I have used tags extensively to categorize items. Have kept folders to a minimum: inbox, personal, work, parents (I take care of elderly mother), temporary. Have kept our kids stuff in personal.

In OF I am planning to use tags extensively as in EN. But would still like to keep work , personal and potentially parent items separate. Is there a way to do this with folders as in Evernote, or is this best done with creating different perspectives?

Thanks. Looking forward to OF. Had been waiting for OF 3 for a while.

I have four folders. Work, Personal, Templates & Outbox (which is where I dump stuff that I put in OF but which doesn’t really belong there, for eventual triage). So yeah, just create a Work & Personal folder and add projects to each. It’s easy enough to create a perspective that focuses on one or the other.


How do you create a folder?

Projects > click the folder icon

Thanks. I was looking in the inbox view.

I have five top-level folders:

  • Personal — Projects/actions in personal areas of life
  • Business — Projects/actions related to my business
  • Maintenance — Project/actions for keeping my system up-to-date (e.g. “Perform Morning Review” project) that aren’t specific to Personal or Business.
  • Checklists — Checklists that I run through regularly (e.g. “✔︎ Prep | Teach Yoga Class”). I got the idea from @joebuhlig.
  • Templates — Project Templates that make use of the Populate Template Placeholders script written by @curt.

Folders within these top-level folders get more granular. For example, within Personal I have a folder called “Friends and Family” that contains a single action list called “[Friends and Family]” (I’ve adopted a convention of including square brackets in the name of single action lists) and projects (e.g. “Plan Birthday Party for Kieran”).

I use tags to draw items from across the system based on what context they represent (e.g. Home or Shallow) and other attributes (e.g. Vacation for everything I want to get done before I go on vacation).

In a nutshell, folders allow me to focus in on specific areas of life and tags allow me to view related projects/actions across all areas of life.

I posted a free OmniFocus Workflows with Tim Stringer video that goes into my setup and workflows in detail. I plan to publish an updated version of this video once OmniFocus 3 is available on both Mac and iOS.

I hope this helps!

p.s. I’m also a big fan of Evernote (and an Evernote Certified Consultant) and make extensive use of tags, essentially as “metadata” that is helpful when finding information.

OmniFocus Folders - Tim Stringer


Similarly, I have some folders:

  • Routines
  • Nine-to-Five - for my professional life
  • Dusk-to-Dawn - for the rest of my life
  • Meta - for (meta-)tasks, related to maintaining my system
  • Ideas Park - for templates, checklists, and some ideas (mostly on-hold)
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I like your folder names, makes sense. Does Dusk to Dawn incorporate personal and family things? Are there subfolders within some of these top level folders?

Yes, Dusk-to-Dawn is for all non-professional areas of my life.

As for sub-folders, some have a little number of folders, some have more. Currently, it looks like this:

  • Routinesno sub-folders; contains several SALs (eg. Monthly Bills, Personal Routine, Home Routine, Work Routine, …
  • Nine-to-Five
    • Sales Outcomescontains projects
    • Other Outcomescontains projects
    • Domainscontains several SALs, for different areas of my professional life
    • Weather permittingcontains future (on-hold) projects
  • Dusk-to-Dawn
    • Outcomes
    • Domains
    • Weather permitting
  • Meta
    • Reviews & Ritualsseveral SALs, including one for my GTD weekly review
    • Checklistsfor non-actionable lists (eg. packing list)
    • Guidelines
    • Templates
    • Horizons
  • Ideascontains several SALs for ideas (eg. Food & Drinks to Try, Gift Ideas, etc)

I try to have the same structure in both OF and EN. Works for me!

How did you get the nice colored icons next to the folder names? I have not been able to figure that out.

You need to bring up the set of emojis supported on macOS and in the name of the folder drag an emoji into it (while you’re editing the name). Here’s one guide I found: .


I agree with what everyone else said: folders and projects. I just want to add two things.

Use tags. In even the best organization scheme, there will be times you need to cut across silos. For example, let’s say you’re heading to the office store and you want a list of all tasks that involve buying something from there—regardless of the folder or project. A tag will gather those tasks (in GTD, the context).

The other suggestion is to not abandon Evernote. You can get a link to an individual note in Evernote and paste it into an OmniFocus task or project. The same works in reverse, too. This allows you to have cross-references to larger and more complex project descriptions (and descriptions that don’t disappear when the project is closed!).

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