New User - Help with creating custom perspectives

I am new new to Omnifocus and to GTD. I’ve been using Omnifocus for iOS (I don’t have Mac) for a couple of weeks and have found I need more customised perspectives. So I bought the the pro upgrade. I added my actions and assigned the to the appropriate projects and contexts. The majority of the projects are “Parallel” but a significant number of the actions I cannot yet set due or start (defer) dates for. How do I create a perspective to display ONLY the actions that have been assigned either a due date or a start date?


I don’t believe there’s a way to exclude items that don’t have due/defer dates. However, there may be a way to get what you want here.

By putting actions into a parallel project, all of those actions are considered available now, which is to say that they are actionable/doable now. Though it seems, from here, that this is not your intention. Rather, you want your deferred and due dated actions to be available, whilst the others are waiting on ice for when they’re doable.

One way you could get these unactionable items away from you is to give them an arbitrary defer date, perhaps a week later, then when they pop up in the system again as available, you can defer them again if now is not their time.

Another option would be to create a context, set its status to ‘On Hold’, and assign those unactionable items to that context for the time being. You may want to create a tickler/reminder action to remind you to check those things sat on hold to make sure they don’t slip away from you.

Yet another option could be to set the main project to be sequential. Then put all the actionable items into a subproject, set to be parallel. That way all those are available now, then when you finish the tasks in that subproject, the others become available.

How you handle it really depends on how you work and how those actions work with each other.

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[quote=“nostodnayr, post:2, topic:21336, full:true”]
I don’t believe there’s a way to exclude items that don’t have due/defer dates. However, there may be a way to get what you want here.[/quote]
Oh bother!

Thanks for the suggestions, it’s give me somethings to investigate. It’s disappointing that you can’t filter out items without due dates and/or without deffer dates. I might email Omni and suggest that feature for the future - it can’t be too tricky to implement.

For the benefit of anyone else reading this thread. Another solution I’m experimenting with is to make my custom perspectives so they only show ‘next available action’ for each project, but sorted by due date (one perspective) and by deffer date (different perspective), it’s not quite what I was looking for but it keeps me focused on a small subset of things I can do now. Nostodnayr’s ideas have now given me more ideas to try.

Hm, I think that you might have fallen into the trap of using due dates for too much - though that might be necessary for your environment.

While everyones workflows are unique to them, recommended practice (discussed frequently in the forums) is to NEVER use due dates unless it is a life or death deadline (in which case I always put the true deadline in the title and set the due date a few days early - a drop dead deadline is not one I want to miss)

In cutting down from ‘too many possible choices’ to ‘this is my ‘working on’ list’ there are two options. Both need a quick daily review. The options are exclude stuff and select stuff…

Setting a defer (start) date is the way to hide stuff that you aren’t going to do today (excluding stuff from your ‘could do today list’

Flagging is a way of explicitly choosing the things that you want to do today - this is reflected in some of the ‘Agile’ workflows

In the preferences you can set the ‘due soon’ time to 5 days or a week.

A perspective with ‘flagged or due soon’ will show stuff with ‘true’ deadlines and the things that you have ‘chosen’ to focus on. This is the approach that I use for ‘admin’ days when I am not in client specific perspectives.

Some people have used the estimated duration field to set priorities for lists 1 = do now, 2 = soon, 3 = whenever etc. The perspective can then filter the priority.

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Thank you, PhilRob, that’s really helpful. I was actually trying to reduce the use of due dates - I am trying to think of it as a due date is a date by which, if I don’t do it by then, then there is no point in doing it afterwards. Eg packing for a trip.

What I was trying to get away from the constant daily defer, defer, defer practice, by not using defer dates, however I’m rapidly coming to the conclusion that that is not possible… and perhaps not even desirable.

I’ve created a “Could Do Today” perspective which is based on “due or flagged” - As you suggested I can then use flagging to promote items to that list and deferred dates to remove them. I run with that for a few days and see how it works.


My suggestion is that you use due only for tasks that has to be completed before a certain date, and defer only for tasks that can’t be started before a certain date. Then set Project Type type to Parallel for projects where the actions don’t have to be completed in a certain order. Create a perspective where you set Project Hierarchy to ”Use project hierarchy” and Filter by availability to ”First Available” and add the projects you would like to work on to Sidebar Selection. Now you have a perspective that will only show one task in each project - not overwhelming! Use the Review feature to regularly check that the tasks in your projects are sorted in a proper order. If you put the deferred tasks at the top of your task list they will be shown in the perspective when they are available (hidden until then).