Managing GTD "Energy" in OF?


Depends on what you mean by “telling you what to do.” Mine tells me what I can do, but doesn’t dictate the exact task. I let my intuition pick the exact task. I want to be able to ebb and flow with my energy levels and the important/urgent sense that comes with each task.

I think this captures the issue with the energy metadata pretty well. There are too many variables at play that affect it and make it difficult to know what the value should be in the first place. I think you ultimately need to figure out how much of your day you want to dictate ahead of time and how many decisions you want to leave for the moment itself. For me, I need OmniFocus to help me see what I can work on, but let me sense how I’m feeling and weigh the external factors of the day to decide which of my options I want or need to engage.


Interesting discussion.

My approach is to consider that energy is not an additional filter to apply in parallel with context and priority. It is rather something that gets applied after priority is handled. It is a filter on actions that have no obligation to them and no importance to them.

A case in point … When a tornado would be on its way here, my response is not to look at my action list to see if I have any lower energy tasks to handle before I run out to the storm shelter. Or how about … “Oh look, I can take my vitamins before I call an ambulance at 911 to report about my chest pains”.

Since energy level needed certainly should not be applied to priority level 1 actions (Urgent + Important … or in my case Obligated + Important), then I don’t care to apply it to any task until that task is NOT.Obligated AND NOT.Important. By that time, I am in free-flow doing mode. I can choose whatever based on energy level, context, or time.

Loading energy level up front to an action would waste my time. It would cause me more distraction than it is worth. Allowing energy level and time needed to remain as unspecified parameters on all tasks allows me to focus on the DUE and 1-3 priority tasks first. Then, I can give myself some much needed self-confidence and a breather to choose the 4 and lower priorities at my own leisure.



Just re-read all of the sections of the 2015 edition regarding context. They’re about what is needed at hand and where it needs to occur (e.g., purchase the right size batteries at the store, not the kitchen junk drawer). OF does this well. I look at context THEN energy: doesn’t matter if I feel like the Energizer bunny if I’m not in the right context. I determine energy in the moment and pick next actions from the correct context that match my energy level AND the time at hand (I don’t use the time field on tasks very often).


Just use custom perspective, tag every task in notes like #high, #low and use the search bar.

The perspective will Show up all e.g high energy tasks in order to your perspective-set up


Exactly lol. Energy is not connect - but is a key element of GTD which, 8+ years later, is still not addressed in OF, requiring those of us who wish to utilize it to shoe horn it in through contexts, tagging etc. I don’t understand how so many die hard GTD practitioners are willing to gloss this over lol. To me, (a veteran creative) true black belt harmony is only possible when all the essential elements of GTD work together perfectly - including “energy” which dramatically affects different kinds of work and productivity.


Great idea Flob…may well do this thank you.


Good feedback for sure thank you. That said, I don’t believe the tornado example is particularly helpful as that’s clearly an emergency on the runway level…far beyond what I would even describe as Urgent and Important.

I feel like energy would be best addressed as an additional item like Context, or Est Time to Complete. Simply put, I have wildly varying kinds of work to accomplish - some of which is particularly draining mentally, emotionally or physically - and another category for energy would simply give me (all of us) another way to filter / view tasks and facilitate more efficiency.
E.g. I have many tasks due in a week but am energetically drained from working all day and want to know which of those remaining tasks don’t require maximum focus / energy and so are most suitable for completion.

Full disclosure - I’m a busy film director / entrepreneur with rather severe ADHD…so energy and focus are particularly important resources for me to manage. Again, I’m just unclear why such an integral part of Dave’s system is unaddressed in OF at all after so many years - and further perplexed why so few seem to care that it is so?

Thanks again…


I would say, it is actually immediately in the U + I framework, whether it is on the runway or in the air. ⛈

So, what contexts do you currently use? Can they be modified?

I go back to your original post …

I could propose that you recast your existing contexts to include an energy group …

Location (can ONLY be done at these locations)

  • @home
  • @office

  • Energy (can be done ANYWHERE)
  • focus
  • high intensity
  • relaxed
  • fun stuff

Finally, with regard to this …

It seems that others find energy or focus as less of a necessity in their GTD workflow. It seems that energy or focus is a spur of the moment decision factor rather than a pre-defined control variable. By example for me, once the important and obligated tasks are done, I’m in harmony mode and make free-flow decisions accordingly.

So, for you, where energy and focus level is indeed so important, maybe you really do need to have it as context settings.



Sorry for the late response and thanks for yours DrJJWMac. I just finished rereading David Allen’s Making It All Work and was struck again and how essential HE feels the energy option is in managing tasks (he cites several examples including a an associate who has his “brain dead” energy category. That said, I do not wish to use my one and only CONTEXT for this purpose. I still find it very hard to believe that OmniFocus - an app allegedly 100% GTD compliant STILL ignores this basic tenant of David’s teachings and blame this (and other things of course) for why I haven’t more successfully implemented this system using this software! :/


Hi. I,m not an exèrt by any means, buI I believe In September it is announced OF2 will support multiple contexts for a task. That might allow for ‘energy’ contexts in addition to the location and tool ones. Would that help this thread?


Yep…wating like everyone else for this…thanks!


wating like everyone else for this


Hasn’t OF been around for over A DECADE NOW? Omni - it’s time to step up your game on this app. Tags / Multiple Contexts to address your sorely missing “energy” implementation of Mr. Alans’ system is LONG overdue - as are more creative / inventive ways of helping users implement a system that works for them. Again, it’s been A DECADE now…consider how much Photoshop and many other essential apps evolved in the same time frame…

Thanks…still waiting…


Suggested reading:

Or, more specifically, this part:

Or, here at the forum:


Thanks Ediventurin…I’m aware it’s on the roadmap but was disappointed it didn’t happen in 2017. My concern is that this one thing will be the extent of any major new functionality for an app that begs for ongoing innovation and forward thinking development!


Disagree. OmniFocus is the best task management system for my needs and the upcoming changes are going to make it even better. Really looking forward to OF3.


I don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t voice their disappointment with Omni on these forums, but this thread isn’t really about managing “energy” anymore. I won’t close it, but I’ll ask that folks keep the topic in mind when thinking about replying.


Thanks Dave. I’m a big enough fan of the app that I have owned pro and all 3 platforms for as long as you’ve shipped them. That said, I’ve really not used the app for over a year because of limitations I find impossible to get past - including the missing “energy” tag. Not trying to be a PITA but would really like to move out of limbo back into an app that addresses my needs fully and pre the GTD “scripture” lol. Thanks again and best of luck with the new roll out as well, bringing some really forward thinking development to the app to help those struggling with implementing their system.


Here is a tweet from @eddiecoyote that reminded me of the context quandary. Maybe instead of using energy, we should re-orient ourselves around the idea of using creativity and attention as contexts.

It’ll take a while to wrap your head around this one…


100% agree creativity and and attention (possibly focus) may well make a great replacement for “energy”. Regardless, OF3 can_not_come_soon_enough. My whole life feels on hold and in limbo until it does…