New to omnifocus and GTD

so im new and im reading the book and I wanted to get right into it.
I noticed there is no ‘Next Actions’ list in omniFocus. I guess im suppose to make a project called this?
Because im guessing this is where most of my stuff would go.

When I open the app I look automatically at my inbox number to see if there is anything. Sometimes I get it to 0 and for a moment think, “whew im done” then I rememeber I have to check projects where everything has been stored away…
But I dont check projects everyday… its more like a weekly thing.
So how do other people use it or am i suppose to go through all my projects everyday?
or just the “next actions” project I created?

Lastly what about daily activities like, ‘go workout at the gym’. I do this every other day. Im pretty good about it. However should I add it to omnifocus? what is its context and is it a project and does it repeat?

if I repeat something too often it gets annoying on my phone and i begin to ignore these daily reminders or daily alarms… those didnt work for me.
I tried that with “make lunch” which was too vague and popped up everyday and got annoying. Maybe I need to be less vague like “make meatballs for lunch” or more specific… then its unique each day

just trying to learn how to organize stuff…
I suck at time management.

Welcome to OmniFocus! It’s an amazing and powerful app! There is a learning curve based on your personal preference on how you want to use the tool. Be patient with it because your mind is different than many others, so you need to find a flow that works for you. By reading various tips from all over the place, you will be able to find what works best for you. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to this application. It’s extremely customizable. Start with something, makes notes on what works and doesn’t work, modify it, and evolve with it. As your life changes, your settings may change as well.

If you wanted Next Actions, you can make a Perspective with the Pro version that will place those actions in a customized view. The benefit of making a perspective for Next Actions versus a project is that it can show actions from various projects versus being forced to organize them all in one project.

Create a Perspective and practice with the settings. First Available is one of the settings you’re looking for. This means all actions underneath the current action will be hidden.


Before I answer the specifics, I hope to note some encouraging things in general. Don’t presume the book is gospel with the only way to resolve your problems. Don’t beat yourself up trying to fix the problem the wrong way.

Secondly, I offer a general motto to GTD. You should not be looking for ways to manage time. You should be looking for a way that is useful for you to manage the choices you have to make at any given time. The emphasis is made to tie to the previous paragraph. The path should be more about finding your comfort zone in the GTD “religion” than it should be about becoming a David Allen clone (although the former does not exclude the latter).

As noted by @Revearti, you create a Perspective, not a Project, to show Next Actions.

For most folks, the Inbox is a temporary repository or “mind dump”. The next step on these actions is to process them, not to do them.

The purpose of the Review in GTD and in OmniFocus is to handle exactly this question. I know that many folks here swear by a short daily + intensive weekly review schedule. I also know the root of many “time management” problems posted here end with a strong recommendation from others here for the poster to develop a rigorous, religious review schedule of one type or another.

That is entirely up to you. I read posts by folks that have to have weekly reminders to take out the trash or such. I myself have my own internal reminders for these things as a matter of habit. Whatever makes you happy for the time invested … do it.

Hmmm … It seems you may have your own answer right there.

The nice thing here is, many folks are ready to help. Read the forum as you read the book. All the theory from David Allen is nothing without the temper of the solid lessons from the practices of the masses.

Best of luck!



thanks for the reply.
I guess I will have to play with it till I figure it out.

I see i can also see all my projects by going to projects>view all actions
I can then set it to view the first of every project or whatever…

I have not bought the perspective upgrade yet… im first learning to use it.
I just hope i stick long enough with it that it becomes a habit.

My goal right now is to get used to putting everything into the inbox and then clarifying and processing all the stuff.

I remember getting into GTD at about the same time I got interested in OmniFocus. I fall off the GTD/OmniFocus bandwagon several times and gotten back up in the first couple of years.

I’d suggest trying out Zen-To-Done as a way to learn GTD.

There are 10 habits to acquire. You learn one habit until you’ve become proficient. Then you work on adopting the next habit. It takes time for anything to become a habit.

I would also check several blog sites to see how others have set up their workflow. Adapt bits and pieces that will fit you into your own workflow.

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Here was a nice little workflow I saw that might be helpful for you to get started in OmniFocus. It’s a 3 part post about how this one blogger used OmniFocus.

Then there’s the Omnigroup site:

thanks for the replies and links!
im almost done reading the GTD book. Wow I dont know how poeple lived without digital devices and followed this book.
The most confusing part was the chapter on organizing which was too big and involved walking around with a million project lists, a Project List with all your projects, action lists, reminders and checklists and oh my!

too much for me…
The biggest “take away” for me from this book was getting everything out of my head, and those items turned into physical actions.
To me that was the biggest point and highlight of the GTD system so far.
The organizing… im gonna have to figure out what works for me…


yeah… Remember the feeling of being overwhealmed quite vividly. Did you read the new version (march2015) or the old one? I suppose there are major differences when it comes to applying GTD. In David Allens own words: leaving away just the smallest part renders the system basically useless, on the other hand every little piece of applied GTD might improve your current situation.

Take a year of application and then read it again- you will be amazed of how many answers it has in store. Check out the Mac Power Users interviews with David- they are phenomenal helpers!

I remember the feeling of “oh my there are so many lists!” very well. Now though, after years of GTD practice, I appreciate how many lists I have, take comfort in the fact that I have them all, and recognize that very few of them regularly need review on a very regular basis (but all represent a place where new inputs can have a home).

Before I wholly adopted OF, I swore my my paper-based system. There’s something very real and intimate about writing stuff down (as opposed to typing it out) that really helped me really understand the processes. This isn’t as technology-bound as one might think, but I grant that copy/paste, sharing services, scripting, etc. are great time savers :)

I’ve just started the GTD revised edition book, and it doesn’t feel phenomenally different from the first (though it’s been a while), and most differences seem more like nuances than full on changes, but because I’ve been on the GTD train for a long time now, I might have a slanted perspective.

Good luck - it’s a really personal process, and it takes time, but the payoff can be pretty amazing.


I agree that sounds horrific in a physical setup, but using Perspectives you can make sure you’re only ever seeing things that you can work on right now, and everything else is hidden. I work this way, eg work from a Today perspective (Flagged or Due), and when that’s finished (as if) I work from the Next Actions list, picking an appropriate context.

I have over 200 projects and I generally only see 20 things maximum at a time, which makes moving forward much less scary.

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