"Nexts and Dues" advice please

Hi all,
Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere, in which case please feel free to suggest some better seach terms than I’ve managed to use so far.

My model is that I have a bunch of projects, carefully set up with their actions sorted so that “Nexts” shows, in general, all the stuff I want to be working on. Great so far. Then I have some recurring tasks that have due dates (and they’re hard due dates so they do need them - e.g. Pay X).

So far (in several years of using OmniFocus) I’ve not found a satisfactory solution for this and it’s finally hit critical annoyance for me to ask for help - I have to switch views around to see all of my next tasks, when what I really want is to have a ‘Nexts’ view based on project ordering but that also includes any due tasks that are going yellow or red, such that I’m able to have a single view that shows me enough information to be able to choose what I need to do next.

Does anyone have any suggestions how I can achieve this, or something tolerably similar to it, please?

I feel your pain. Conceptually the “next” (or “First Available” as it’s now called) filter seems like a great way to reduce the overwhelming flood of stuff. It may be useful as part of a review to see what’s blocking your projects from advancing, but I’ve always struggled to find a way to usefully incorporate it into my workflow for reasons like the one you state.

If you view your single “next” tasks for a bunch of projects there’s lot’s of potentially important things you’re not seeing:

  • A trivial non-urgent next task might be hiding an important one with a due date
  • An easy to complete next task might be blocking a chain of other easy to complete tasks that could be done in a single session at little extra cost.
  • etc. etc.

There are workarounds for these issues but I try to avoid spending too much time messing around with deeply nested parallel/sequential structures to “optimally model” things to make First Available useful project by project.

I’ve finally settled on a system where every morning I look at some planning perspectives to decide what I can reasonably do today - and flag only those:

  1. Flagged and Available: I must have flagged something in the past to appear today because I need to start it soon.
  2. Due Soon or Forecast: What’s on the horizon that I need to deal with or start today?
  3. Available and Not Flagged: What’s languishing that maybe I’ve got time to tackle today?
  4. Waiting: Is there anything I need to chase?

I should end up with my flagged view showing me a sensible list of things I can accomplish today. If it’s too much then I unflag some stuff and if I don’t finish it, it rolls to tomorrow when I’ll re-plan.

I could see how you might use “First Available” as part 3 (above) of your daily review if the number of available tasks is huge…

Well that was a longer reply than I intended :-)


Thanks. I was wondering if I’d get more responses before replying, but doesn’t look like it :)

Oh, I use it extensively. I’d just much rather I could roll my date-based stuff (primarily reminders) into it as well. For me it’s not than ‘nexts’ isn’t useful, but rather that I want to not have to switch away from it for ‘forecast’ stuff every morning. Another dead simple fix would be if I could have all my recurring tasks as my ‘nexts’, and I’d have them at the top of every project - but sadly if the first item in a project is deferred it’ll show up in ‘nexts’ despite there being non-deferred stuff below it, so that doesn’t work.

I think you’re right, and careful use of flags might be a workaround that gets me somewhere near where I want to be - at the unfortunate cost of unnecessary (and largely futile, just because of the way the work day works out for me) paperwork at the start of the day.

I’m grateful for the reply, I’ll give this a try and see how I get on. Maybe OF3 will finally let me have the combined view I so want!

Well, thanks very much for the suggestion, but it turns out it doesn’t work for me, sadly. I’ve been using it this morning and I can either filter the Flagged view so it shows too much (because it shows repeating tasks that are still deferred), or not enough (because it hides repeating tasks that aren’t next in their project).

Back to the “flip between two views” thing, and very much hoping that OF3 let’s me create the view I want, although if anyone has any more suggestions they’ll be gratefully received.

Yes, there should be more flexibility in the perspectives. One should be able to select any combination of task attributes to create a perspective - that’s the whole point of custom perspectives.

I think the app is designed primarily for GTD contexts based determination of what to do next or deciding every day what to do today.

It lacks a bit in “placing” tasks in advance on particular days in future. For example, you want next available and due shown together in your today or custom perspective - both “next” and “due” are in nature of advance placement of tasks. But you can’t. Similarly, I want due tasks and tasks (without hard due dates) that I place on a particular day in future to show on that day. But I properly can’t.