OF3 makes me question my use of Flagged


#21

That’s a great point!

Springboarding off of @goldsbrough’s idea here, I have changed my Today Tag to Next. Nothing that was tagged Today was “must do”, or it’d be due, so the name was a little wrong. Now it’s Next, with the option to defer, and Flagged can still be reserved for an indication of importance as opposed to temporality.

Thanks for the tip, @goldsbrough!

ScottyJ


#22

Hi goldsbrough,

My use of flags is exactly like yours and I´ve found myself wondering about the use of a Today tag in the Forecast perspective. In my workflow it is a quite redundant function since all the tasks that I want to complete today or want to be remember in the future are flagged.
I think that this function would appeal to the users that are coming from Things and 2Do, apps that are much more inclined than Omnifocus to something like a ´today´ perspective where we put a start or due date to a task and then It will be available in its time in that perspective.

In Omnifocus, however, we have a small difference: it is not ´start date´ but ´defer date´. It works almost the same but there is a small “philosophical” distinction here: when you put a ´defer date´ in a task, this means the we can´t do it until its date. Of course, we can defer and flag, and the task will be seen when we hit the date. It is this use of flags + defer date that you will find in apps like Things and 2Do with their respective schedule options. However, there is another way of using defer dates that it is not available in those apps: we can use defer date without flagging the task to unclutter a project. In 2Do, for example, we must put a start – or due date – in order to schedule a task and then we can choose to hide scheduled tasks. That is fine. However, that task will still be seen in ´Today´ perspective when we arrive at its start date. In Omnifocus we can defer a task and let them be unflagged: the advantage is that I can hide the tasks from my current view (Available task) and not be reminder when its defer date come. But why I wouldn´t want to be reminded? Well, the task could be something without a definite date which I can handle in its due time.

I think that this forecast tag is something that was implemented to make Omnifocus more appealing to people who are used to other task managers. At least for my current workflow, this function is kind useless and I ignore it: I use flag + defer date instead. Forecast in Omnifocus was always a weak point: the calendar is too limited (only 4, 5 days) and even in Mac version we cannot see after 31 days or something like that. Regarding this specific feature – Forecasting – I think that 2Do fares better, but I don´t think that the overall idea of Omnifocus is inclined to forecasting, but to focus only in what we can do now and how to better organize it.


#23

Well, it was more ‘thinking out loud’ than a tip!

You’ve made me think I should experiment with a tag called ‘Flagged’. :)


#24

I think that’s beyond the current vision for Omnifocus’ purpose, but I too would like that.


#25

thank you for the explanation. I too, use the defer+flag for a long time. But it still feels like a workaround.
Like trying to make wrong+wrong=right.

The thinking is: “I will probably do this next Tuesday, I might do it before then, when I get the chance, that would be good. I can even do it later, there’s no strict due date.”
But now, OF seems to force me to misuse a combination of “highest priority”+“cannot do it before next tuesday”. Which are both wrong.

I learned from GTD to not misuse a due date, when it’s not strictly due.
Now, If I am forced to manually set/remove a flag (or a tag, I don’t see the big difference) or a defer date(+1 day) every morning, than that’s no better than to postpone a (not-really-)due-date + 1day every morning. Is it?

With big projects, when I know I cannot work on them today/this week, I feel comfortable to defer or put-on-hold them. But there are many small single action items that cost me more than 2 Minutes; maybe 30…60 I want them to be available but not yet flagged. Some of them should rise in priority next week, when still not done.

@nggalai: your example of regularily looking through ‘flagged but unavaible’ is a good example against too much usagage of the defer+flag combination, I think.
Because that way, I do have a lot of reminders in flagged+deferred, that I really don’t need to go through every day. e.g. a reminder to think about canceling a contract before it extends another 12 months – deferred for 9 months from now, but flagged so that it get’s attention when time comes.


#26

@chnx, in your example, “cancelling contract” wouldn’t be flagged (ideally) as it will show up in Forecast on time anyway (if you have “show deferred” turned on). If you wanted to make sure it stays in the Forecast view after the defer date passes, you’d add the @today tag to it rather than a flag.

… or whatever one wants to call this tag. @heyscottyj suggested @next instead. Others use @do-soon, or @NOW, or @dontforget, etc…

I think it boils down to whether you want to work out of the Forecast view or not. I am not yet certain whether I want to, either – defer+flag is sort-of ingrained after so many years the past week has been quite the unlearning/relearning experience for me. I’ll give it a shot another 2-3 weeks before deciding whether I’ll mostly work out of the Forecast view in the future, or whether I go back to my old “Work on…” perspective and use Forecast for its, well, forecast functionality only.

Also to consider – Forecast seems to favour the heavy use of Due dates rather than Defer. Drag-and-Dropping of actions results in them always receiving the appropriate Due date. That’s the second reason I am giving myself these 2-3 weeks of experimentation. It might be I’m trying to use the Forecast view and the @today tag counter to the intended “ideal” usage scenario which seems to suggest far more Due dates than I’m used to. Up to OFv2, only hard landscape items have received a Due date in my system, they weren’t used for planning inside OmniFocus. I wonder whether I will need to change this approach to make working out of the Forecast view feasible in the long run.

Best from Switzerland,
-Sascha


#27

Another option still is a custom perspective that combines all of these:

(I call mine Widget, because I made this perspective to display things in my Watch/iPhone/iPad Today widget).

ScottyJ


#28

Yes, I agree. I have been trying in vain to find a perspective that will just show me the deferred items that will become un-deferred in the next two weeks. Without all items that may have had a defer date sometime before the present. It would be trivial to write a query in sql or filemaker or nearly any other database, but as far as I can tell OmniFocus can’t do it.


#29

@dfay Couldn’t you make a perspective for items that have a defer date but are not available? That would exclude anything with a defer date in the past (because they’d be available).

Grouping by defer date then starts with later today, tomorrow, within a week, later this month, etc.

ScottyJ


#30

@chnx I fully agree.


#31

Thanks @heyscottyj that actually did the trick with a bit of tweaking. Here’s what I ended up with:


#32

@dfay Ah yes, adding an is Remaining or is not Completed would be a good add. Here’s the version I use (also includes actions blocked by sequential projects, because it doesn’t mandate a defer date):

ScottyJ


#33

Man! Super late response to this, but your use of emojis as visual markers here is genius. I’m doing this asap. Thank you for the inspiration there


#34

No problem - I stole the idea from someone else!


#36

After some time of experiments, I came up with a solution which fits my needs quite well. Hope to be helpful for whoever finds confusing between Flagged and Forecast tag.

Here is my solution and I’ll explain why and how in details after.

  • I use Forecast tag for actions that I want them to stay on top of the Forecast perspective. These actions mainly belong to two categories:

    1. Important Actions that I plan to do next (not necessarily today). They are most likely tasks without deadline or deadline not in the near future, but stay in high priority and would be beneficial to the project/career in the long-term.
    2. Repeating Actions that don’t have deadline but I want Forecast perspective to remind me.
  • I use Flagged for actions that I want to do for today. They could be important actions picked up from Forecast tag. They could also be any action that I want to do today proactively.

With these setups, my two most important perspectives function as follows:
Forecast Perspective

  • I use this perspective in planning phase.
  • It includes calendar, deferred actions, due actions, and my handpick forecast tagged actions.
    • For non-repeating future deferred actions to see if they need to be promoted with the Forecast tag so that when the deferred date pasts, the actions stay on the top.
    • For repeating deferred actions, there are three scenarios. If they have due dates, you won’t miss them in Forecast perspective anyway. If the don’t have due date but with Forecast tag, they would show on top once they become available. If they don’t have due date nor Forecast tag, they would disappear from the perspective once the deferred date passes. Therefore, Forecast tag controls the appearance of past deferred actions.
    • For future due actions, if I want to start to work on them in advanced, I’ll add a Forecast tag to remind me.
    • For other Forecast tagged actions, they are most likely important actions without date attributes, as explained above.
  • Every time I review the Forecast perspective, I scan through the list to make sure the Forecast tagged actions are properly selected.

Today Perspective

  • This is the perspective I use most. It lists all actions I plan to do today.
  • It includes Flagged actions, due actions, repeating actions with Forecast tag.
    • Flagged actions, most likely, are important tasks that I want to get it done proactively. It could also be ad-hoc actions coming in the middle of day but I want to add it to my Today list.
    • For non-repeating due actions in projects, I’ll do my best to fulfill before due dates. For big projects, I prefer to use Forecast and Flagged to finish them before it gets due. For repeating actions with due dates, I’ll let them pop-up when they are due soon.
    • For repeating actions that need more attentions so that I can see them in Today view (either before due soon, or no due date), I’ll add Forecast tag and they will appear in Today as soon as they become available.
  • Every day, I have to finish due soon actions, I’ll do my best to finish Flagged actions, and I’ll try to finish the rest with Forecast tag. Being said that, I prefer to leave my productive hours on Flagged actions.

The combination of these two perspectives creates a seamless workflow to me.

  1. Forecast tag behaves like a reminder showing actions that I want to pay attentions with at high priority. They could be key tasks from big projects, they could be actions that I want to proceed proactively. The list with Forecast tag stays on the top all the time until it’s done or the tag is removed because of priority change. I review this list regularly and keep it less than ten actions.
  2. After evaluating the time consumptions of due soon actions and Forecast tagged actions from Forecast perspective, I would Flag a few Forecast tagged actions into Today perspective. Till now, my Today list is like a tasty meal, with due soon actions as appetizers, Flagged actions as main course, and Forecast tagged deferred actions as desserts.

Finally, I’ll explain a bit how I find this solution better to fit my needs compared to other methods I tried.

  • Why not use Forecast perspective as Today list? Forecast perspective is a good place for planning, but it’s a bit overwhelming for Today list as it mixes deferred and actions could be duplicated. Moreover, my Today perspective could include past deferred actions.
  • Picking up actions for Forecast tag is process of thinking to filter what’s truly important for me. I might have a long list of what’s available to do (known as Next actions), and adding/adjusting Forecast tag would force me to think what’s next actions that I really care. And surprisingly those are mostly without imminent deadlines. Most importantly, this list won’t be forgotten, because it always stay on the top of Forecast perspective.
  • Flagging a few Forecast tagged actions every day is a process of fulfillment since I work on something that I think important. Mixing with due soon and other actions, I can keep my actions balanced between different productivity levels.