How to show daily priorities vs chosen daily tasks

I’m looking for a way to easily select the priorities for the day. Currently, I maintain a separate “This Week” perspective for things I’d like to do this week that I update every weekly review. Then each night, I flag what I want to do the next day, and they show up in my Today perspective (a mix of due dates and that day’s want to do’s).

That’s been working well for me, but now I’d like to also prioritize my Today list, at least separate out what’s high/urgent. I wish there were a secondary flag option so I could easily select/single out. The thought of having to add and then erase (for repeating tasks with no date) an #urgent tag feels like resistance in my overall workflow. So I know it won’t last.

Any thoughts? I’m still using v3.

I have exactly this problem, and haven’t found a solution. I’ve even resorted to moving my next-day priority tasks to another app. Which is my way of admitting defeat. :\

1 Like

@ernaatkins If you’re interested in giving v4 a try, you might find being able to manually re-order your “Today” list helpful! I personally work from a similar list, and at the start of each day re-order it to reflect today’s priorities/the order I should actually tackle things in.

OmniFocus 4 includes a two-week trial, and is fully sync compatible with v3, so if you’d like to give this workflow a try you can do so without impacting your current set up. (Note, if you manually reorganize a perspective list in v4, v3 will continue to display the sorted list order.)

2 Likes

Hi all, I am using two perspectives for planning my day and execute on that plan:

  1. Today next actions, showing all available next actions

  2. Do, actions that I have scheduled to do (using an Omni Automation script called Schedule from Kaitlin Salzke)

In the morning I do a Reveille review: I check the Today next actions list and (re)schedule tasks, meaning they are becoming visible on the Do list. During the day I use the Do list to execute.

The setup of the Perspectives are described here

The Omni Automation Script can be downloaded here

The Do perspective needs OmniFocus 4.2.

I work for more than a decade with OmniFocus. It has great functionality but also a steep learning curve but worthwhile the investment in time.

2 Likes

Ooof ok, thanks. There is an odd comfort in knowing other people have tried everything and have come to the same conclusion.

1 Like

That sounds like a great option. My plan is to wait until I upgrade my MBA as it can’t run Ventura. But knowing v4 can fully sync with v3 might change that. Thank you!

1 Like

I have stopped flagging what I want to do, especially not a day in advance or even on the given day. Instead, I flag what I am willing and able to do within a foreseeable upcoming period of time. Alternatively said for your case, rather than flagging tasks the night before in a “wishful thinking” sort of way, you might defer to visit your “This Week” perspective only at the moments near or after you have no more due date or flagged tasks. At that point, select (flag) what you are willing and able to do next.

You may also want to help in prioritizing what you flag next by using tags that pertain to such invariant characteristics as focus required (high, medium, low) or time required (e.g. using the duration option). I have one set of tags based on a problem solving method to complete a project: define (the problem), gather (information), propose (an approach), evaluate (the approach), and report (the results). I also have a set based on tools: iPhone, iPad, email, computer, and on-line. Sometimes these, individually or combined, help me make at that moment decisions on what to flag as a “do this next” action.

Finally, applying the specific priority matrix settings (urgent, important) to tasks can lead to the flip-flopping that you note. One note of caution that can help avoid toggling is that priority settings are best defined by external conditions rather than by our desire to set a task at a higher or lower priority at any given moment.

Hope this gives some insights.


JJW

1 Like

One of my personal favorite methods is to tag any task with the forecast tag (command-control-L). The forecast perspective will show any tasks with the forecast tag. Then I move it up and down between appointment blocks to generally indicate when I want to do it

For example, after my staff meeting, I will drag a task to move a “write meeting minutes summary” after the meeting.

————

Another method is to open OmniFocus one the left side of my monitor and open fantastical on the right side of my monitor. I switch to the day view or week view in fantastical. I have a keyboard maestro macro that does this automatically.

Then I drag and drop a task from OmniFocus to a time slot in fantastical.

If I schedule a task, I declare that I am not available to anyone else. I dedicate this 30-60 minute time slot to working on this task. If I don’t schedule it, I’m not truly prioritizing it.

The newly created time block in the calendar will have a clickable link in the notes section that will take me back to that task in OmniFocus.

With this method, I am using OmniFocus as a restaurant menu. I pick and choose the food dishes I want and place it on my place. I will eat what’s on my plate and not look at the menu.

OmniFocus stores my projects and tasks. I work from my calendar. I focus on the tasks scheduled for today. If I finish my scheduled tasks, I can return to OmniFocus to choose 1-2 tasks.

I only schedule 1-3 tasks to work on. If I schedule too many tasks into the calendar, it becomes a headache to move time blocks around. Life will get in the way interrupt my carefully laid plans.

5 Likes

I hear you. Flagging from my Thjs Week perspective actually isn’t wishful thinking for me. I accomplish at least 70% of them on any given day. They are tasks that I definitely want to accomplish this week but don’t need a hard date. I try to only create due dates for things that are actually due.

Yeah, I tried a tagging system once and it puts such a strain on my workflow that I didn’t continue. That’s what I meant by those last two lines about resistance making it impossible to keep up the habit.

And I’m pretty clear on what the priorities are from day to day. Even if they fluctuate based on the resources an available that day, that works for me. I’d just love to be able to view them easily in my Today list or some other perspective.

1 Like

Yes, time blocking is a super helpful way to help with prioritization. That’s how I’ve handled it previously, with the blocks matching up with my “subject” tags. The only thing is if I drop the system for even a week, it feels like lifting a hundred pounds to get the full system up and running again. That could be user error lol

I feel like a total OF solution gives me the freedom to set a timer at any time and focus on the priorities. I have a lot of control of my schedule, so I’m hoping to leave room in my workflow for flexibility. But until I figure that out, I’m going to tweak my time blocking system. Thanks!

1 Like

In re-reading your starting point, I think the confusion for me is that you want to make one instance of a repeating task have an urgent priority and not propagate that urgency to any other repeating task. It is like deciding that a daily, well-known in advance task “wash the dishes before bed” is, on a certain day, to have the same priority as a non-repeating, non-planned task “leave the house due to a firestorm”. And even somewhat more so that you plan this all out for an entire week.

In the meantime, I think the approach suggested by @wilsonng for time blocking would handle your conflict. I am using a comparable approach in my planning via a Numbers spreadsheet, and it works rather nicely.


JJW

1 Like

Very cool. Yes, I use Google Calendar and it definitely does help with prioritizing.

And yes, I have a few repeating tasks that occur on different days every week that switch in priority on any given day. It seems like a lot of fluctuation, but it works seamlessly for me and that’s what I’m looking for. Just something seamless. Someone mentioned that v4 has the ability to re-order tasks in a perspective, so that also gives me hope. Thanks!

1 Like

I’ve been using OmniFocus on macOS (well, Mac OS X, as it was then) since version 1.7 or 1.8, I think, and the fact that version 4 allows you to reorder lists is news to me (and I was on the beta for a year!). Thanks for pointing this out, @ernaatkins! Sounds like a game changer. :)

1 Like

Oh wow! You were there at the beginning. I found OF v2 when the shift to tags in v3 was a big deal haha Amazing how they just keep improving it!

1 Like

yeah, the shift from Contexts to Tags was a really good change. 😎👍

2 Likes

I remember online chat about gluing AppleScript-based scaffolding to OmniOutliner — Ethan Schoonover’s “KinklessGTD” system, which evolved into OmniFocus — but I wasn’t onboard quite that early. ;)

1 Like

I second this. The Forecast tag (which for me I title, “✪ Focus”), is invaluable. In my mind, if the day ended and you’ve only done what was Due, and what were the 3 items on my ✪ Focus tag, I’ve won the day.

2 Likes

I have three levels of prioritization I use. The first is the due date. I only use this for when there actually is a date it needs to be done by. The next is the flag feature. These are for things which don’t have a due date, but are higher priority than generic tasks. They show in the Today perspective I have which shows ordered by due date and finally flagged with no due date. The third is adding a Today tag for items I want to complete today. In the forecast view, I have it configured to show items due today OR with the Today tag.

Many of the items with a Today tag are repeating items. I’m able to clear them by having the repeat push the defer date back rather than a due date. They won’t show in my forecast again until the defer date.

So my typical way of working thru items is go to the forecast view and clear everything in there. It is items due today or tagged with the today tag. If an item with the today tag can be put off a bit more, I just defer it a day or so. I then switch to the Today perspective which shows items due soon OR flagged and pick the items I have energy to complete. I have a few other perspectives around estimated time or tag groups depending on the context I’m working in.

3 Likes

This sounds really appealing, so maybe you can help me with a pinch point. When I drag actions into Fantastical, I have to do them one at a time, and they always snap to start times in the usual :00 :15 :30 :45 increments.

Does yours do something similar, or have you found a workaround?

I’m ok with the 15 minute increments personally. If you click on a time block, hold down on the mouse button and hold the shift key to drag the time block in finer time increments.

Is this what you were feeling friction with?

I understand that I need buffers between timeblocks to transition from one time block to the next.

I also put just 1-3 tasks from OmniFocus to fantastical. It’s easier to drag around 1-3 tasks instead of 4+ tasks.