Hey OF users!
I was wondering how you are prioritizing tasks visually in OF. When I activate my perspective which constraints to things that I can actually do, I still end up with a list with usually ~20 tasks. I am grouping by project and ordering by due date, but a lot of tasks don’t have one.
I am usually prioritizing and re-arranging all my tasks once per week but having this in perspectives is quite difficult.
I saw some threads about a missing re-order feature, but how are you currently dealing with this?
I was thinking of abusing the “estimate” field for that but OF doesn’t allow me to sort by it.
every day in the morning i flag the tasks i want to accomplish for the day and stick to the flagged perspective with grouping by context. Prioritization i get, from the order of my contexts. e.g. context “first thing” tops context “thinking”. Over the day i only return to my flagged items. The most useful thing about this approach is, that you can trigger your intrinsic motivation by choosing, what you want to do for today. You will get to a rather active state, than a passive state, just doing what xour task manager sells you as your “stuff-to-do.”
hope this will help you
I am flagging my tasks as well but don’t like to not have control over the view.
Re-arranging contexts to be in the correct order would work I guess but sometimes it’s not that easy.
For example, I have a context “Computer” and a context “Office”. My work perspective then activates both contexts. Sometimes Task A from context Office is more important than Task B from Computer, sometimes the other way around.
Ideally I want a ungrouped list (since all tasks can apply in the current perspective) but sorted by priority.
For me, I reduce the need for sorting and grouping by being very blunt with myself about what I will do and setting limits.
I start with my “Today” perspective, which shows all my available flagged and due tasks - now I know what my top things are for the day (assuming I don’t defer or unflag them).
I then work from a “Next” perspective, which shows me all available tasks. Because I use defer dates on all things I won’t/can’t start yet, my database of ~300 actions is reduced to about 30-50 in this view. Like @Teiki, I flag the things I will do today, and also defer things that are showing available that I definitely won’t do today.
But here’s the thing: I don’t let my “Today” perspective contain more than 5-7 things at a time. Realistically, my getting more than 7 planned things done in a day is pretty unlikely, but it’s the ceiling I use. In this way, I group by context and sort by due, but really, a list of 7 things (hopefully fewer) is highly scannable, and so I don’t need to sweat how they are arranged particularly.
If I do empty my Today perspective, I first ensure the four horsemen of the apocalypse aren’t drawing nigh, but then go back to my Next perspective to draw more items out (by flagging them). This works well for me when I have a few very important things to focus on, say 3 things on my Today perspective, knowing that once they’re done, I can go back to the well.
Oh, one little cheat I sometimes use: I made a context called “!” that is top of my context list. This puts very specific items at the top of my Today perspective if I want to collapse the other groups and just really focus on 1-2 things. I only assign that context on the fly, though, never in advance.
Hope this helps!
The good old prioritization problem with omnifocus :-) i worked my way around this problem same way as @deturbulence with a context “First Thing”. I changed years ago to another approach on contexts derived from Sven Fechner. It’s much more energy and focus based than ressource based. So i got a FullFocus context, wich is always high priority, much time, much energy, better earlier than later…
I’m doing something similar where I pull tasks through flags out of my perspective and aggregate them in a “Today” view. I think what I wanted to say is that with a ton of projects that all activate in the same perspective, it is more difficult to have a structured order of what is important and what not. Obviously things with due dates will always be the top priority.
I am using due dates very actively to push things back that I can’t do currently or that have a time constraint when they activate so they are not even in my list.
I think I found a hacky solution that I’m going to try for a few days: I am giving each task a priority in the form of stars (*) or exclamation marks.
- 1 star is the highest priority and means the task has to get done asap,
- 2 stars is the ‘next state’. After 1 star things are gone, they gonna be next. Somewhat important and should get done ‘asap’ but not on fire.
Other tasks that don’t have stars are just normal tasks.
I then set up my perspective to sort by name. 1 star will always be at the top of the list, 2 stars next and so on. This way I get Omnifocus to push important things up and leave less important things more at the bottom.
The really annoying thing with this method is though that tasks without stars will always be alphabetically. So a task without a star with the first letter Z will probably always get ignored or “forgotten” just because it is at the end of the list.
/ EDIT: Oh I just noticed that you can indeed sort by estimate. I was just lookig for ‘estimation’ or ‘estimate’ in the sort field and not ‘duration’. So I guess you could indeed abuse that field to give each task a arbitary priority in form of a number.
if you don’t depend on real numbers in duration/estimate this sounds like a really good workaround!
If you find you have a lot of projects you’re looking at, one thing I picked up from the GTD Weekly Review Program was that sometimes it’s not about deciding whether or not you’ll do a project or action, but rather about whether or not you want that project or action as an option presented to you this week.
That concept changed a ton for me, and now I actively put projects on hold (or set as active) during my weekly review not because I’m not going to progress them, but because I don’t want them in my face as options when I go to look at OF to decide what I will use unscheduled time to work on.
YMMV, but I thought I’d share since you mentioned you’re seeing a long project list.
Also, I am not selling or promoting the GTD products, I’m not affiliated with Davidco, I’m just citing my reference.
I am currently playing with Keyboard maestro and scribbled together a little macro to add priority in form of exclamation marks with shortcuts.
(Sadly couldn’t figure out how to ‘increase/decrease priority’ relatively instead of setting to a fixed number. Inserting / removing amount of ! seemed fine but adding a space only when no exclamation mark is present seemed a bit difficult)
tldr: Organize projects by priority, group flagged view by context. It is a compromise. Life would be easier if OF let me reorder flagged actions like Things.
The lack of reordering Today actions annoys me to no end. It is one feature that feels so natural in Things. I always organize tasks in the relative order I’ll do them (eg. Get ready for work, research something on the commute, an errand at lunch, one or two tasks at home in the evening). The I go through the list in order. It kept me calm and settled.
I wish OF had reordering in the flagged perspective. Please email Omni and ask for this feature if you haven’t.
I work around this by organizing a certain way.
- I use projects and actions as a priority list. Most important at the top.
- I use a couple contexts: Home, Work, Errand, Wife, Fresh Mind.
- I use the flagged perspective grouped by context. The actions are sorted by project (priority)
- I only have a handful of projects/lists total: Must, Chores, Some extra “real” projects, Should, Could. Only big things get a project.
That gives enough structure to the flagged perspective to keep me sane. If one context grouping has a lot of tasks, I know the most important ones will be at the top because it takes the order of my projects.
When I played around with priority tags, estimates, and apple scripts I found it added an absurd amount of friction and I never kept it up more than a day. (I rarely use the desktop app)
This is all definitely a compromise, but OF works for me in enough other areas that I can usually tolerate it.
I am going to guess that custom perspectives will need to have another view setting for sorting.
Perhaps something like “manual”?
But sorting is implied when you group them. Then the sort is can also be implied by the order of the projects in the Projects perspective. For example, you might have the Project folders sorted like this:
Your work tasks will appear first. The Home tasks will be second. The Personal tasks will show up third. And so forth…
I think sorting isn’t really an issue if a Today perspective (or any other custom perspective) shows a very limited focus or view of tasks (perhaps only work tasks or community tasks).
I think we might be looking for manual sort for a custom perspective that shows a long scrolling list of tasks.
Previously, my “Today” perspective showed all tasks that are available and sorted by due or flagged. This list was very discouraging because I just had too many tasks to choose from. Nowadays, my Today perspective only shows due or flagged tasks and is sorted by due date. This created a much shorter list and provided me with more focus by limiting the choices to tasks that are due or flagged. The old setting became my planning perspective that showed all available tasks. Then I would just flag certain tasks or assign due dates (if needed).
if you rather want to take a very dogmatic view on this priority problem you might think, that your system is built the wrong way, because priority is never just for priority itself. priority is always priority because of… x. So if your system can’t represent this, rebuild your system.
But as is said, a rather dogmatic view ;-)