New OmniFocus Book: Build Your OmniFocus Workflow

Rosemary Orchard (@rosemaryjayne) and I (Ryan Dotson) have written a book about OmniFocus. It’s called Build Your OmniFocus Workflow.

We wrote it to be a kind of ‘missing manual’ for OmniFocus, so we wanted it to be really informative and to the point. More than that, though, we wanted it to help the reader in building or improving their workflow by understanding the features and concepts in OmniFocus. We take you through the basic concepts and perspectives of OmniFocus before taking on the complex world of custom perspectives and automation.

Frequently throughout the book Rose and I drop in with our personal interpretations of features, showing you how we use them and how we handle different situations. At the end of the book we give you a more detailed look into our workflows, too. The book is also scattered with lots of tips and hints on how to use OmniFocus, the app, more effectively.

We’ve got a sample of the first chapter available from our web site. The book is currently on sale for US$25, but will go up to $30 in the new year.

Thank you to everyone here on the forums as you’ve no doubt helped shape what went into the book. I, for one, know that I wrote parts of this book as an ultimate guide for some of the commonly asked questions here. I also know that the systems and workflows people have shared here helped shape my system as it is today.


Just some feedback … honestly, the book sounds interesting and while I would like to learn more, $30 is way too steep. We are buying books for $6-10 that offer very similar things. Sure maybe not for Omnifocus but the same topic. I’d encourage you to look at the increase of volume you might see if you considered what I think is a more reasonable price point. I could be wrong, but I think pricing it at 1/3 the price may bump your sales by about 5x. Far more than you would get today at this price.

Good luck! And great idea.


Let the market decide. If I got an ROI of $30.00+ out of this book then I’d consider it a good investment. Having read the book, I have to say it is as described - The Missing Manual for OmniFocus.

The authors did say they will be updating their book to cover new topics such as OmniJS Automation, OmniFocus for Web, collaboration, and future topics. I consider the book like a personal sit-down coaching session with Rose and Ryan. I’d gladly pay to hang out with them at a coffee shop and cover the pastries and drinks bill for US$30.00. I also get a book to take home with all the topic covered. Otherwise I might scribble away at a notebook and forgot some key details and would have to ask them again.

A typical workshop in my local area is about $25 to $60 for the workshop. It covers materials, rental of the conference room, and a few other things that I might be able to take home.

Think of any book as a coaching session with a textbook that you can take home or download.

YMMV but there is great value in this book. It saves me time from Googling and experimenting. Then I can concentrate on my actual tasks.


I’d have to agree about the pricing. At $10, I would buy it today. At $25/$30 I’ll pass.

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Can’t agree with that. Reading a book about the piano is hardly the same as hiring a tutor to give you lessons. Actual coaching would cost hundreds. Personal trainers, tutors, workshops etc. exist because they are a different thing than reading a text. Learning styles are different. That said, this book may well be worth the money, but it’s too steep for me.

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But I can agree with the idea that if I wanted to save myself countless hours searching the forums and asking questions, I would’ve brought back my time and just get one handy reference. Whether it’s the OF Video Field Guide, Creating Flow with OmniFocus, or the Learn OmniFocus course, I’ll shortcut myself way into OmniFocus. I needed all the help I could get and it took me years to finally get comfortable with OF.

Was my time worth the $25/$30? Oh h3ll yeah it is. There are still a lot of OF3 features that I haven’t even touched. The authors have been frequently interacting within the forums and have been very familiar with OF2 and OF3. They graciously gave their advice on the forums for free. To distill everything into one volume has been helpful.

The official OmniFocus support manual is a great source of material but is very dry and sticks with explaining the features. The 3rd party guides such as Build Your OmniFocus Workflow has a casual tone and gently guides us through each feature and gives us hints about how to use it. Heck, I didn’t even really use the Forecast Tag myself but learned a lot about it in the book.

I would’ve gladly given the money if I could myself a lot of time Googling away just to have everything in one place.

I would consider buying this at $30, but the sample chapter doesn’t really give me an indication of whether the book will help me. It’s too basic. I would only buy this after reading a chapter that explained more complex material. I find OF a little overwhelming, so reading something that shows how the book can tackle the more complicated aspects of OF would be more valuable to me.


Funnily, I think I will end up buying this because I enjoyed reading the OF manual so much. :) It’s a little overpriced for a romance novel, but that’s okay.

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I’ve found that reading the manual was a good start. But the casual conversational style in this Workflow book approaches it differently. It breaks down each OF3 feature down and explains some of the mindset that went into this feature. When you understand how a tool works in a real life situation, you’ll get a better sense of what features you can use for your own workflow.

The title says it all. Build your OmniFocus Workflow. When you understand the individual features, you’ll be able to build your own workflow. As you advance forward in the book, you’ll add a building block which will lead to the next feature.

Learn about folders. Next, figure out projects. Then explore tags. Afterwards, you’ll get to the custom perspectives which utilizes folders, projects, and tags.

There are some OF3 nuances that might not be obvious in the original OF3 manual but is further explored in the workflow book. Action groups, multiple tags, parallel vs sequential vs Single Action Lists are some advanced concepts that might not make sense in the beginning.

I’ve had several light bulb moments when reading the Dini books, this Workflow book, and the Spark Video Field Guide. It was worth it just to save myself the time to do a lot of Google Fu.

Kudos to Rose and Ryan for creating and publishing this Workflow book! Admittedly, I have debated whether to purchase yet another OF book. After all, I am still working through Dini’s new OF3 book (after reading all of this previous productivity works), and I have watched and/or read every OF-related video field guide, post, tutorial, podcast, screencast, etc. I could get my hands on. I’ve been wondering “What new thing could I possibly learn from this new book?!” But, in the end, I agree with you: from each work, I almost always come away with a new perspective to improve my productivity - some new tip, automation, habit, or reinforcement that I had not yet incorporated into my workflow. And that is worth $25 to me! And, now that I think of it, I KNOW that I could use custom perspectives better, so I hope to find some excellent guidance on that topic from this book. (Now, excuse me while I go buy the book. Hopefully, I can report back with some very positive impressions!)


Got excited about this book after going through MacSparky’s Omnifocus Field Guide, but after downloading the first chapter and checking the table of contents got a bit disappointed, I was expecting better for that price tag. I wouldn’t mind paying for it if it’s worth it, seems like the same ideas rehashed. Would revisit after updates.

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In my opinion a very good book for beginners and OF users wanting to use OF better and more effective.
For specialists it might have no deeper news.
The price is to high but I do not regret to have bought the book.

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As OmniFocus 3 grows, there will be more content. This is just version 1.0.2 (I think). OmniJS and collaboration will be high on my list of things to get a new introduction.

I will gladly pay $30 for a anything that would take my OmniFocus usage to the next level. I have a friend who wants to make the jump to the OmniFocus app, but is put off by the price. The app itself and any educational materials represent an infinitesimal fraction of his monthly salary.

I doubt this book is going to teach me very much, but I’m going to buy it. A marginal gain for an app that I use every day is worth it. I consider myself an expert in pages 1-76. I hope to get value out of pages 82-124.

Update: I bought the book and I didn’t learn anything or get any new insights on how I would use OmniFocus. I’m a poweruser who has used OF since KGTD. This seems like a very good book for a beginner.


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