Project planning in OmniFocus


Once in a while I have a couple of OmniFocus-Projects that need some sort of project-planing, like:

  1. project B can only begin after project A have been finished
  2. project a, b and c can run in parallel and when the last of them is ready, then project d can begin
  3. etc.

Do you have something similar?

Until now I’ve tried to keep this on paper - also as a reminder for myself about which project in which order etc.
Recently I’ve put some of them in mind-maps - but I don’t know if there are any better than paper.

Now I think about putting some “meta-projects” in OmniFocus in order to handle only this, something like

  1. First meta-project (sequentiell) - for the first case above:
    • Task 1: Project A
    • Task 2: Project B


  1. Second meta-project (sequentiell) - for the second case above
    • Group 1 (parallel)
      • Task 1: Project a
      • Task 2: Project b
      • Task 3: Project c
    • Task 4: Project d


How do you solve such problems?

Do you stay in OmniFocus or use something else?



Yes, this works well for me in OF as long as I can give a name to a group of parallel projects that block a next step. Usually if I can’t it’s because I haven’t thought it through yet.


  • Create website (sequential)
  • Design website (parallel)
    • header
    • body
    • footer
  • Develop website (sequential)
    • Develop content (parallel)
      • html/css
      • import copy
    • Javascript

Or if I choose to work differently:

  • Design website (parallel)
    • Header (sequential)
      • Design header
      • Develop header (parallel)
        • HTML/CSS
        • copy
        • Javascript
    • Footer (sequential)
      • etc.

Either way I am able to plan the work including the blockers and then be presented only with available next actions.

Hi, michael2!

Thanks for your reply!

The most indented items (like header, body, footer etc.) are projects (=more than 2 tasks), right?


Yes, they could be! OF handles them the same either way.

I should have stressed more: I was asking only about organizing projects, not tasks.

I’m searching for a way to visualize / organize a couple of OmniFocus-projects in a sort of workflow / Gantt-diagramm. This is probably the realm of OmniPlan, but - as far as I know - there’s no integration between OmniPlan and OmniFocus (and I don’t own OmniPlan yet).

I’m looking for this sort of overview / birds-eye-view / meta-project / project of projects because once in a while I want to review the big picture.

Nevertheless: Thanks again! :-)

I don’t like sub projects. I prefer a larger list of small discrete projects compared to a big overall project so that affects how I structure those types of things.

For your first case, Project B can only finish after project A is done I make the last action in Project A be “Go make active Project B” In the mean time Project B is on-hold. Sure, I will be reviewing it weekly, but then again in my system that will only happen if Project A and B can both be competed in this season.

If Project A needs to be finished, and can only be done in the spring but Project B can only be started in the fall. Then The last action in Project A might be "Go check Orchard Management S/M List and see if I can start Project B located in folder X in DT S/M Lists (Or wherever my project planning materials are for project B) In that example it’s in DEVONThink. But I might refer to a paper folder in my filing system with details or an electronic folder in my electronic filing cabinet. Say I get to the end of project A this spring. I see its last action. I review Project B and decide that yes, this fall I will be able to work on it. I typically then will bring Project B into my OF system. Mark it with a defer date until The month that is the earliest I could start it and set the first review to be the week before then. So it will show up when it’s appropriate but I won’t have to review it until just before I can actually work on it. At that review I’ll go over the prior planning and see if it all still makes sense.

I don’l do sub projects either - that’s why I asked about organizing full fledged OmniFocus-projects.

Placing the date for the first review in the fall (= very far future) is a very good idea!

If I understand you correctly, my TaskPaper-list with the stalled projects is your DEVONThink, right?
How do you do this exactly?
I still don’t have / use / tried DT and I’m searching for a reason… ;-)

Returning to the OT;-) (because I’ve mixed the threads ;-): Do you use something to get an overview of the general progress of (Project A + Project B + etc.)?

A little more concrete example: I’m learning guitar and have a lot of smaller projects, like:

  1. learn a little theory
  2. do a beginner course
  3. learn another piece of theory
  4. learn to play and sing
  5. do an intermediate course

They are all projects with a lot of tasks, and the list above is sequential (it doesn’t make sense to do the intermediate course now etc.)

I don’t want to be really pedantic and put everything in a Gantt-diagramm (it will depress me! ;-) but I can imagine something like paper or perhaps a sequential (meta)project in OmniFocus with this tasks:

  1. do project “1. learn a little theory”
  2. do project “2. do a beginner course”

only for the big picture.

So please ignore the repeated question about DEVONThink - I’m reading right now the response you gave me in November last year to an almost identical question! :-/

FWIW, I use mind maps and Kansan boards to handle the layout of my big picture as well as the status of projects. I do this within Curio. I find it well suited to brainstorming, collecting ideas and resources, and reviewing at a higher level than what can be afforded in OF.

Search these forums with the word Curio. The forums at may also provide you some ideas.

As to DEVONThink, I use it as a resource manager, not a project planner.


I have various tactics - I do use omni plan for the planning of a project sequentially. An then I use Omni focus to manage all the sub actions that relate to the higher level actions in omni plan.

With regard to Omni focus I have played around with various tactics. The current one is to use hash tags in the notes. This way I can sort and isolate actions in a list of hundreds.

So for example in notes i may have #project 1 #sub project 2 #level 3 #[action number '00]

I use text expander for the hash tags so it is really quick to add the tags on to the notes and I use actions in 100 increments so if i find a sequential action i need to move in the list i can change the number easily. I t depends on what my priority is for the project, whether tracking projects, peoples responsibilities or order. If the sequence of actions in important I will just number the actions in the main action field so "100- Go get a new printer: for example this way I can sort alphabetically.

Hope this helps

Question to OmniPlan: Do you use it to plan more than one OmniFocus project?

I use Omniplan for all my large projects. If the project has different stakeholders, I will create one file per project. If it is all part of the same client with multiple sub projects, I will use Omniplan in one file for all of them. The benefit of Omniplan is that if one action with many dependencies changes, I only need to change that one action and it moves the whole plan out by that amount, so I can see the effect across the whole timeframe of the plan.

I then go and visit the actions in omnifocus and and delay the actions it affects by the amount of time lost.

I don’t know whether this is the best way but it works for me, and the projects I am running are very very large.