I stopped using Tags and Perspectives

I habe been using OF Pro for around 5 years now.

Today I finally decided to stop using Tags and Perspectives.
Why?

  • Too cluttered
  • too complicated
  • too much to organize
  • friction of organizing the app

I just found out I dont need those. If I should have a packing list etc. I will just have a Template project inside OF and I will just duplicate it and and add it to the dedicated journey project. Fine adjustments will be done there. If I feel like in the process of editing that there have to be changes being done in the template I will just switch to it via the tab navigation.

Im aksing myself why I didnt come up with this idea more early.

So now basically Omnfocus is kind of like an todolist-outliner for me. I like it. It is simple and fast. even if I come to the app after a long time, everything makes sense and is all clear.

What do you think about my new approach? I could never be friends with tags and perspectives – they are too complicated for me and never have been helpful to do my tasks.

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Quite the opposite here. After nine years with Omnifocus, I still keep getting more thankful for the custom perspectives. They are not complicating anything for me, instead they are making things more simple and let me finetune Omnifocus for my actual situation and personal needs. Tags for me is primarily a way to organize tasks in my custom perspectives and to make manual reordering of tasks possible there.

I like flagging new, urgent tasks as a quick way to keep them in sight, with the highlighted tab of the standard Flagged perspective indicating that there are tasks there not to be forgotten. But with too many unrelated tasks continuously appearing, the Flagged perspective tend to be overpopulated, resulting in too many tasks to handle without the possibility to manually reorder them and the highlighting always there, losing its meaning. A custom Flagged perspective recently solved the problem. The perspective shows flagged tasks and tasks with a tag ”Flagtag”. The tasks that are flagged are shown at the top, easy to take care of. If they are too many to handle immediately, I simply drag them downwards to the ”Flagtag” part and remove the flag. Voilà – the highlighting in the standard Flagged perspective disappears, and the tasks in my custom perspective are now possible to reorder manually by dragging.

I can’t imagine being without my custom perspectives, but if you can, you probably don’t need them, and Omnifocus will still be an excellent help for conveniently getting things done.

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This is a good tip and a nice feature of perspectives: when the grouping is done by Tag, you can drag a task to a group and its tag is automatically added, without removing any tags already applied.

We use the features of an app when we need it. OmniFocus is flexible enough to allow you to use it as you desire.

When life gets complicated and tags make sense then it’ll be there. When your demands are not as high, using tags and/or perspectives will accommodate.

I’d reckon this idea applies to any app. I probably use 3% of the features in Microsoft Word and Excel and maybe 1% of the total features in Photoshop. It’s nice to know it’s there but I won’t have to use them until I need them.

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It’s interesting, after years (literally) of me trying to convince my Wife to use OmniFocus I gave up and showed her Things. She loves it. I think the main reasons are it’s lack of flexibility and features. She didn’t have to think “how am I going use this” before using it. All the features I heavily rely on in OmniFocus (defer dates, tags, perspectives) are just encumbrances for her.

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It’s a flexible tool for different needs. In my case, not using tags would just mean me hunting though lots of lists trying to find things to do when tagging would save a lot of time.

I make use of the block scheduling method. I have the main tasks in my calendar which have a link to of OF-Project with lots of different tiny tasks. My Mainprojectkeeper (kind of) is my daily calendar with block-scheduling etc.

I thought about switching to things, but it doesn thave the “outliner” type of taks management like in OF. I cannot have sub-sub tasks. Nevertheless I hope that OF will get more features in the future. Like a command-delete option or a warning before deleting takss or projects. Ken wrote something regarding this recently.

While Things doesn’t have the full outliner capabilities of OmniFocus, it does have Projects/tasks/checklists if 3 levels of hierarchy is all you need and the ability to add named sections in projects which is nice - but it’s not for me…

I think as long as you don’t over complicate things it’s fine. Like with anything if you overuse something it does more harm than good. So I do use perspectives and tags when needed, specifically to batch tasks such as phone calls and quick tasks.

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I review my tags and perspectives on a quarterly basis. I create disposable tags and perspectives that I need for a particular season. When I’m done with them, I delete them.

I have tried some tags and perspectives that I’ve found on blogs for a spell. I’ll see if I still use it after 2-3 months. If I haven’t touched a perspective or tag after 2-3 months, I’ll delete it.

Tidying up the tags and perspectives is part of my OmniFocus hygiene program.

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That’s a bold move and I agree the simpler the better, if it meets your needs.

I interpret your position like you have defaulted to using only the built in tags and perspectives which come in the OF Box (i.e. context/Tag list, project list, forecast view)

I would agree that OF has so many features it is easy to get lost in the woods, or spend too much time searching for the ‘right’ tags and perspectives for my needs. It is a common criticism to OF that you need to devote way too much time to fiddling with all these perks instead of doing the real tasks. I guess that’s a balance act each of us have to do personally.

Let me see if it would work for me:

  • Checklists and templates are separate, self contained elements, and don’t need further metadata besides a clear title to find them.

  • Recurring, maintenance type actions (BAU, run your life), can probably be also organized and timed to pop up when due with no tags or perspectives appended. These are usually grouped within single action lists which is just a container for single tasks.

  • So we are left with Projects. I guess if I entered in OF only 2 or 3 active projects, I could manage working off the project or context lists without needing other tags/perspectives, if you can pick up what to do anytime without further considerations.

However, I guess if you have more than maybe 50 tasks and 10 projects active at anyone time (just a guess), you need tags and perspectives to survive.