Omnifocus Fantastical Integration (Rescheduling)

Hello all,

I recently purchased both Omnifocus and Fantastical. I have been using both on and off for a while (2 years) to test which program combo I liked best. I pulled the trigger but still have many questions. I like Omnifocus for everything. I dump every idea I have here throughout the day and sort when I get a chance (enjoying a beer after the wife and kids are in bed). I am in the Army and am a servant leader to many Soldiers. I always put the needs/wants of those I am in “charge of” over my own. This requires me to reschedule constantly. Is there a way to autoupdate one program when changes are made to the other? I change times in Omnifocus, but those changes are not reflected in Fantastical; vice versa. Is it best to not enter dates/times in Omnifocus and only use Fantastical for this purpose?

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I use this combo and just keep my calendar in Fantastical synced to iCloud, and use the Forecast view in OF, which shows calendar events.

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Hi @newbelgium4,

You may need to consider the distinction between tasks and appointments. Fantastical and OmniFocus are different tools used for different purposes.

Your calendar should be used for date/time-based appointments that are part of your “hard landscape”, i.e. items that will occur and have been intentionally scheduled to happen on a specific date and time. For example a meeting with your boss or co-workers and personal things such as your next dentist appointment.

OmniFocus should be used for tasks and projects that you have to get done but which may not have a specific day/time deadline and will likely take some time to complete. Some of these tasks of course will have a deadline but many will not and will be longer term work that needs to get done.

Most OmniFocus users would also use a calendar and as @dfay mentions above, OmniFocus has a forecast view that allows you to see your calendar within the app.

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As @PeterW states, there is a distinction between tasks and appointments.

It’s a very fine line. I consider OmniFocus my bucket list of things that i want to do but do not need to be done at a fixed time. A calendar appointment is a different entity that requires to be done at a particular date/time.

For example, I can have a task called “Call Veronica re: quarterly sales report”. I can put this in OmniFocus as a task. Whenever I check my list of available tasks in OmniFocus, I can elect to complete this task at any time.

But if I can only contact her on Wednesdays at 3 pm - 4 pm, I would rather put this task into my calendar as an appointment. This is becomes an appointment/task that I must perform during that time.

Instead of having at task such as “Work out at gym” into OmniFocus, you would probably create an appointment for “work out at gym” in the calendar at 6 pm - 6:45 pm.

Some good “Get Things Done ©” points here.

But for the past few months I have been moving away from the task manager, relying on the calendar to get things done (and not to “GTD”). If I need to do something, I find a suitable free block of time on my calendar (Fantastical) and schedule it. It keeps me focused, it keeps me connected with the urgency of life in general, and if things need to change (as they often do), I just drag the time block to another day/time.

At the end of the day, I move all completed appointment or scheduled tasks to a “Done” calendar, to which I have assigned a discreet grey color so that it does not interfere with my other, active calendars (“work”, “personal”, etc.). This way I know that any event outside that “Done” calendar is still pending.

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Is this a manual operation? Drag and Drop?

Unfortunately it is manual. On the iOS a bit annoying but on the Mac just a matter of multiple selection of the events, a right-click for the contextual menu, and a left-click for the actual move to the “Done” calendar. It would be great to have a script or macro, of course. But it works as it is. It helps me space things out in time, which I find crucial and impossible with the todo list alone.

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I really like the idea of recording progress. So I can see what i’ve actually done. I have a tendency to work out of my head and not refer to OmniFocus during the heat of battle.

Are you using a service?

@macula, I’m going to try this

Thanks for that link, @steve. It’s interesting but I don’t find much use for it because it adds tasks to Fantastical after they’re completed, whereas I am the kind of person who likes to schedule tasks (completely against GTD guidelines) on his calendar before doing them.

I declare a scheduled task complete by moving it to a grey-colored “Done” calendar in Fantastical:

Hope this makes sense.


Macula, thanks so much for your suggestions here. I’ve been trying out your method of using a grey “Done” calendar in fantastical for a while now and am finding it to be brilliant–so simple and yet so effective. I wish the flexibits people would incorporate it into fantastical’s basic design. Moving the finished events and tasks to the Done calendar not only keeps the current calendar uncluttered, but I find that moving them there (manually as you say) is surprisingly satisfying…it gives the sense that those things are well and truly finished. And flipping between the “all”, “current”, and “done” calendars is as easy as hitting control 1, 2, or 3 (to toggle between fantastical’s “calendar sets”).

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Glad you found the trick helpful, @fcaluser. I did share it with Flexibits via twitter but they were unconvinced.

How do you deal with incomplete event-tasks (i.e. events not moved to the “done” folder) which are still pending after a large number of days? Since fantastical lacks a “raw” list view, such entities can slip through the cracks easily, with catastrophic consequences. This is one problem with this workflow, and I haven’t solved it satisfactorily.

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I had another question for flexibits support around being able to toggle the sidebar on and off and keyboarding between all calendars (rather than just calendar sets), and I sent them a description and link about your system as well. Of course, it will likely be a long time before they come out with FCal 3.

Good question about what to do with those long pending items! Wouldn’t it be great if you could have some kind of ‘geriatric’ alert if they lay pending for too long? Going back to your ‘done’ folder, I’d like to see a feature in fcal where finished items gradually fade away, disappearing into the done folder. Conversely, perhaps items that just keep lingering could become bolder. I know there are programs that simply annoy you if you don’t complete, but who needs more annoyances these days?

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Firstly, I was responding 5 months ago to someone else’s question, not to you. It’s rude to jump in on a thread and post a passive-aggressive comment because you don’t agree with what I wrote.

Secondly, I was going to respond to the points you made but I though I should first check your profile to see if you were new here on the forums. What I found was that you’ve been an OF user for some time and that you post regular complaints about calendar functionality, like this one:

You have made a number of posts just like this one about what OmniFocus “should” do, obviously to suit you. I can only assume that you don’t understand how OmniFocus was designed to work. OmniFocus clearly has been very carefully designed to work a certain way. It’s not a “reminder list”.

If you don’t like how OmniFocus works, can I politely suggest you go find this “flexible app that can adapt to various ways of using a calendar and/or reminder list”? Why continue to complain that the application doesn’t do what you want it to?

Was surprised by your ad hominem response, the research into my past comments, and the weird “LOL.” Sorry if I hurt your feelings! I just disagreed. I’ll try to remove my comments from this thread and I’ll leave you be!

Has anyone came up with a better solution here?

I am struggling with the same problem right now.

The suggestions made by @macula are interesting; and show how OF is short of insights by subscribing to the GDT dogma (and, attacking the user when they question the dogma; this is weird).

If you are into the online tools, I find and do a nice job. the problem with these services, however, is that you need to be online to get their function.