How would you mimic Things' checklist functionality?


#1

In my current OmniFocus setup, I’ve got a lot of repeating tasks with daily, weekly or monthly due dates. This is task that are more of reminders (like “Take vitamins” with a due every morning at 8am) than actual to-dos for work or private life.

Having them as repeating task with due dates mean that I don’t forget them. The problem is that this makes my Forecast view and a lot of other perspectives really “crowded” and hard to see my actual to-dos.

Today I remembered that I’ve read about how Things have a checklist functionality, where the main task is what gets a due date, shows in the different views etc, while the items on the checklist is just there when you want to have a look at it.

With a feature like that it is possible to have one repeating task for Morning routine and one for Evening routine and then keep the actual routines out of sight in a checklist.

I’m now considering how one could mimic this in OF. The best solution I can think of is to create a repeating task for Morning routine and one for Evening routine and a separate project for each. In these projects I will add all reminders for morning and evening, without due dates but repeating with defer dates (1d for daily stuff, 7d for weekly etc) and also create a perspective for each set of routines, a Morning routine perspective and one Evening routine. With a setup like this, I would get daily reminders, with notifications thanks to the due date, to do my routine stuff – and can have a look in the perspectives to make sure I don’t forget anything.

I think that this would work. But before I try to build this setup, I wonder if anyone else has other suggestions for how to do this? (My initial thought, before remembering Thing’s checklists, was to move all my reminder-kind-of-items to Apple’s Reminders. But I would prefer to have everything inside OF.)

Best regards,
Anders


#2

I tried a Morning project with three daily repeating parallel tasks. It still shows as three items on my forecast. Maybe with the Pro version, you could create a custom Perspective based on tags or something similar?

New to all this and only have Standard version


#3

I’ve only found two ways for this. BTW, this is one of my biggest gripes with OF.

  1. Use the notes field to track a list of these items
  2. Use an external app (Apple Notes, Drafts, Bear, etc…) then link it to the task via the notes field.

There are downsides to both. But they both “work”.


#4

This, from @Kourosh might provide some ideas. He’s thinking in terms of different timescales, but …

https://www.usingomnifocus.com/2019/08/how-to-set-up-a-double-cycle/


#5

This works for tasks that are single things that you want to make little bits of progress on each day or week. The problem I always run into is what if you have tasks that only take you 5 minutes but have 10 steps that you need to remember and check off as you go?

I still don’t have a great solution in OF for that.

If they’re repeating items then it works well enough to have a repeating project, or action group, with a “Focus” item that gets the due/defer date set. Then the parent has the repeating settings. However since it’s creating a new instance each time you can’t have it set the URL for that project in the Notes field and it becomes cumbersome to navigate to within my list of tasks. Also you have to remove the dates on the parent each time you complete the set of tasks so that the meta “Focus” task is the only once showing up in your lists.

I just wish OF supported task hierarchy throughout its views. It would clean up so much throughout the app. Been asking for it for ages. 😕


#6

Another thought I had was to create automation for these type of things but again this is only good for regularly repeating tasks. It adds a lot of overhead to one off tasks that you just need to do the one time.

Since it might be helpful here’s the thought though:

  1. Create a “template” in Drafts.
  2. Copy the content of the Draft.
  3. Create an x-callback-url to Drafts that appends that copied content into a new Draft.
  4. Paste that URL into the notes field of the task.

Then when it’s time to work on the task, you could tap the URL and get taken into Drafts to mark the items off there and then mark off the meta task in OF later.

You could do something similar in Shortcuts too I’d imagine. Maybe even automate this a bit more for one-time use. 🤷🏻‍♂️


#7

There are a few ways to set up a checklist functionality. I’ll give two examples.

Example One: Weekly Review

The first is how you might conduct a weekly review. You can have a weekly task, with a defer and due date, to trigger review project such as this:

Weekly%20Review%20Trigger%20task

The task repeats every week by assigned date. It has a tag of “Current” which causes it to appear in my Current perspective:

The resulting task rests in my Current list:

Instead of linking to a dedicated perspective as you see in mine, you could link to a Weekly Review project using the Copy as Link function. To do so:

  • Secondary click the project.
  • Select Copy as Link:

  • Paste the link into the note field of the triggering task.

The project, itself, also repeats weekly and is set to auto-complete when its last task is done:

However, I have no due date assigned to it. The only thing that has the due date assigned is the triggering task described early that appears in the Today view. This way, the only thing that would appear in the Forecast’s due areas is that single task.

Example Two: Morning Checklist

As another example, I will use a repeating task to trigger a daily office checklist.

This method uses a program external to OmniFocus, OmniOutliner. You can use other checklist type programs, but OmniOutliner has suited me just fine.

To set it up:

  • Create an OmniOutliner list of all of the tasks for the morning .
  • Save it as a template. (Menu > File > Save as Template).
  • Create a task set to repeat daily such as “Go through morning routine”
  • Open its note field (Command-‘)

If you want to have OmniFocus directly connect an alias to the file:

  • While holding Control, drag the OmniOutliner template file into the note field.

Alternatively, you can use a program such as Hook to link to the file. I prefer using Hook as the links tend to be more reliable for me.

This second example does, more or less, tie the work to my laptop where the template resides, but that is fine as the laptop is the only place I do the office checklist. For this case, I prefer to have all of the tasks outside of OmniFocus.


#8

I have this problem as well. I have a number of important medications to remember. ‘Take Morning Medications’ and ‘Take evening Medications’ are my somewhat obvious group headings and within each group I have my daily pill routines which are several in number in each group.
This results in a ‘crowded’ Forecast view as mentioned by yourself, but I’ve long come to get used to this in OF as a consequence of true GTD.

I toyed with T3 for a while. I quite like this checklist-in-notes feature they have. It’s a very nice and useful feature. However, I couldn’t use T3 permanently because of all the missing useful features OF has.

But there is a really important point to be made here. Is T3 better in this one respect because it can hide task actions in notes, or is OF better because it ‘crowds’ the forecast view with these?
For me, I prefer all my meds being in the forecast view because they are important, in fact critical tasks for me to remember. I often wondered if Omnigroup created this feature in OF would I even use it? Probably not. GTD is all about critical and important tasks being clearly available for the user. If you create important tasks in checklist notes and they disappear from view, then it’s possible one could overlook them.

I prefer to work out of specialised ‘perspectives’ that OF allows you to make. This means I can see exactly the correct amount of task information in a very focused view. my ‘Hotlist’ Perspective only allows what is available to be done in the remaining hours of the day, so that I have a very short list of tasks that can be accomplished realistically, including vital things like my meds.

I still use Forecast for planning though. I like my calendars being ‘interleaved’ with my tasks in that view. It really helps to see how one’s day is going to work, what’s possible, what’s not. T3 separates calendar items to the top of the screen, which I find totally useless.

As I said, I’ve long become accustomed to the ‘crowded’ nature of tasks in OF Forecast, but because I can trust the system to deliver it doesn’t bother me. I’d rather have my important tasks-like meds- ‘in my face’ continuously so that, God forbid, I don’t miss any one of them!

I’m not against using Templates or ‘scripts’. I use an editorial script to trigger a particular action once a week. However, I keep this to an absolute minimum because these things need to be remembered or else one forgets! For my meds, however, I couldn’t work that way so I keep my meds actions in OF where they are safe & sound!


#9

For me I think T3 is “better” because it shows proper hierarchy of these tasks. There is no context for action groups in OF within Perspectives. For this reason I often have to write tasks like: Take Prednisone medication instead of a Prednisone task nested in a Take Medications grouping.

With T3 I can look over my tasks for the day and see Take Medications and dive into that easily rather than have 5 tasks taking up space that really are just a subset of a single task. 🤷🏻‍♂️ It’s somewhat just philosophy, but it becomes harder for me to manage these little things within OF.

Apparently this is pretty low priority for Omni as I’ve mentioned this multiple times over the years, but it’s something I really feel like should be supported. I got excited with OF3 for iOS when the collapsing triangles showed up, but they haven’t really brought those into all the views like I had hoped.

How amazing would it be if you had tasks nested into an Action Group, and when a sub task was scheduled for today, you saw the main Action Group with a collapsible triangle and the sub task inside of it? Oh man, that would be SO nice. 😃


#10

You do get this kind of behaviour in OF3 custom perspectives that are set up with ‘Group and sort: Entire Projects’. In this case all the parent action groups and the parent project of every action which matches the perspective filter rules are displayed in hierarchy form, and you can expand/collapse levels just like in the built-in Projects perspective.

Using this type, you could create a ‘Forecast with hierarchy’ perspective which filters on ‘Due Soon’ actions and actions which have the forecast tag.

Perspectives that return ‘Individual Actions’ — and Forecast is one of these — surface only a set of relevant actions wherever they are in the hierarchy of actions and sort them.

I agree that when this set of actions contains a child and its parent action(s), and the chosen sort order allows it (ie. sort by: Projects Order), the application could be smart about showing them indented and collapsible (ie. the partial hierarchy). I often run into this situation myself. However I don’t think any parent action groups which don’t meet the filtering criteria should be displayed in these types of perspective.


#11

@MultiDim, I’m having trouble following your suggestion here. Could you post some screenshots detailing the process?


#12

That’s what I do.


#13

This is what I had in mind. You will see upcoming actions in the timeframe of your ‘due soon’ setting and actions which have your forecast tag (here: ‘Today’), in project hierarchy form.



#15

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