Revamping My OmniFocus Structure


#32

Noticed yesterday that OmniFocus on the Apple Watch shows red if tasks are overdue and orange or yellow if they are due but not overdue. Cool detail I didn’t notice.


#33

Currently frustrated as my system is failing a bit. So the summary is that before I used Due Dates sparingly. That said I put all my tasks from my class I’m taking into Ominfocus. That’s fine. The problem lies in my strategy of tagging items I want to complete this week without Due Dates using the tag “This Week”. I found myself this weekend overwhelmed (honestly due to attending Halloween parties Friday and Saturday and being up too late each night). I was able to barely get done what I needed to by my deadline on Sunday night (last night). Then I was trying to make a perspective that encompassed both my tag of “This Week” with my items that had set Due Dates for this week as Due Soon. This failed and it’s frustrating. If anyone has any tips let me know. Maybe instead I’ll go back to using tags for stuff I want to complete this week along with my Due tasks. I feel like stuff I should be doing but don’t have a specific due date for are slipping through the cracks. I ended up putting all my “This Week” tagged items as due tasks to see them. Had to do a bunch of cleaning as well this weekend which didn’t allow me to work on my other stuff.


#34

Something like this?
38 PM


#35

That worked!!! Thanks so much!!!


#36

Glad to hear that!


#37

I’ve always thought of using OmniFocus as my bucket of tasks. Then I printed out a weekly calendar and just drew in when I was going to get certain tasks done. If I don’t reserve time and make an appointment for a task, it won’t get done. I also try to honor those commitments.

Sorry guys, I’d love to play for the Beer Pong World Championship Belt but I gotta study for the mid-terms. So not tonight, dudes! Laters.

I’ve been experimenting with doing an all digital setup with OmniFocus on one side of the screen and Apple Calendar or Fantastical (in day or week view) on the other side. Then I drag and drop tasks and block out times as commitments for me to work on.

Good luck to you for the semester!


#38

I’ve done this in the past and will do that as a trial this week. Useful too as I have a lot I need to/want to get done in the coming weeks.

Haha true. I’m out of college just taking a class to advance my degree. I suppose as such I’ll hold off for the most part going out on weeknights and only stay out late one night on the weekend.


#39

My advice would be to refrain from using tags to accomplish date & time based filtering/classification; you could do so but I would see that as trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Tags should be specific static metadata that could apply to items without being time sensitive otherwise you would have to constantly update and refresh all of your tasks, projects, and events each day/period as the time sensitivity changed. Clearly that would be immensely unsuccessful and inefficient to do.

I would say to keep things as simple as possible by using the Defer Date to plan things out (to the best of your ability) along the Forecast view to see how each day is going in terms of volume and effort involved from both Deferred tasks and Due tasks. For example, a day with 15 low level tasks (define that anyway you want) is about the same as a day with 8 medium level tasks as is a day with 3 ~ 4 high level tasks (again, interpret the levels any way you wish or that suits your world).

I would recommend to use the Due Date in the following types of ways (use the fewest you possibly can because mixing can be highly risky and would require further things to be utilized to “correct"):

  1. Due Date = Actual date & time the task, project, and/or event is actually due (e.g. Submit Chapter 4 Case Study Analysis and Report — Due: by Sunday (AA/BB/CCCC) at 11:59 PM). This the most obvious and the most effective but the hardest to actually follow in terms of habit and discipline as well as planning.
  2. Due Date = An internal date & time the task, project, and/or event is scheduled to be completed by (similar to what traditional project management considers the earliest a project could be complete before buffer time is utilized) and then set the real deadline either in the Note field or your calendar application of choice so that it is not forgotten/missed. This is often very helpful if you’re a proactive person or have the ability to be proactive in your projects but could easily go astray if not diligently managed and reviewed. (e.g. Complete Chapter 4 Case Study Analysis and Report — Due: by Friday (AA/BB/CCCC) at 11:59 PM — Put the real deadline in the Note field/Calendar app of choice).
  3. Due Date = An internal aggressive date & time the task, project, and/or event could be completed by but at least should be propagated up by the system when the date & time arrives with time enough to complete the said project by the actual deadline (similar to using the Due Date as a planning-like date). This solves the previous scenario’s problem of “forgetting about the project near the time it is actually due" but can seem to make everything due as soon as possible (which could be overwhelming) which may not be ideal. It also has the problem of requiring it to be diligently managed and reviewed fore the date & time it is actually due. (e.g. Start/Complete Chapter 4 Case Study Analysis and Report — Due: by Wednesday (AA/BB/CCCC) at 11:59 PM — Put the real deadline in the Note field/Calendar app of choice).

Essentially, use the various tools in OmniFocus where they fit appropriately into your world and don’t try to force something to work. Sometimes a hammer just cannot work where a saw is needed.

For some inspiration, here is the current version of my Next Actions perspective which shows me any and all of the following (if any occur):
- All “Due Soon” Items (Anything that OF determines as Due Soon - 1 Week)
- All “Flagged” Items (Anything that I want to appear on my radar regardless of all other factors (essentially, my master override switch) in OF)
- All “Available” Items (Available in the sense of anything that is/was scheduled on or before right now that is not on-hold)

P. S.

The “19 Selections” for “Contained within project or folder” are specific routines / projects that occur daily / weekly that I don’t want to show up here. This little footnote of an exclusion probably won’t apply for many others, but I just wanted to be clear.

Best of luck! :)


#40

This is an interesting thought. So it seems your getting at that I’m doing unnecessary work by tagging to signify due dates or in this case of stuff I want to complete this week without a due date. I suppose I could replace it with flags.

This explanation is fantastic and honestly should be required reading for people on these forums and other users of OmniFocus. Now relevant to my own needs, as much as I’d like to use #3 but it would stress me out. I’d imagine that number 2 would be the best for me. Seems similar to how @wilsonng utilizes his tasks.

In looking at your perspective, interesting that it’s grouped by project. I might consider that but will have to look at it. See if I can apply it to my situation or not.


#41

On a semi-related note, I have started writing out my todo list for the week in my notebook and checking items off. I find then I enjoy seeing the physical list getting checked off as my week goes along. Not sure how long it’ll last but it’s good.


#42

I am crazy-obsessive when it comes to reviewing. Projects that have a due date coming up gets a shorter review cycle (1-3 days). Projects that are on hold or far off into the future gets a long review (1 week to 4 weeks).

Checklists (Single Action Lists) and projects that have a lot of change will get the shorter review cycle (1-3 days). I have an SAL for Personal Actions and Office Actions. The tasks in these checklists changes daily. I add and delete a lot. Other checklists

I try to be on top of things. When I wake up in the morning, i use the review perspective as my tickler. I see projects that have a deadline or contains a lot changes more frequently than on hold projects or projects that have little change.

I don’t wait for the Weekly Review at the end of the week I’m always reviewing. Some days, I’ll only have two items to review (the aforementioned Personal Actions and Office Actions). Other days, I might have anywhere from three to ten projects. As long as I review in the morning, I’m on top of things.I’m not worried about anything slipping.

I include a lot buffer time so that I don’t get stressed out from last minute deadlines. I don’t think I have the heart or stomach to crash and burn anymore. The earlier I can get something done, the better I feel when Life happens…

Yes, I do #2 a lot. Put a due date of when I would like to be done and put the actual due date in the notes section. I’ve learned to discipline myself to finish by the earlier due date and not wait. It works about 90% of the time for me.


The struggle is real. We all go through. Even with well developed system, Life throughs us for a loop and we try to adjust as best we can. When Life returns back to normal, we can shed some of the workflows that were utilized for stressful periods.


#43

This is an interesting thought. So it seems your getting at that I’m doing unnecessary work by tagging to signify due dates or in this case of stuff I want to complete this week without a due date. I suppose I could replace it with flags.

You could do so, however, I am not recommending that. I think using flags is just one-step short of using a tag for the same purpose. Essentially, date-driven tasks should be using date-driven fields (Defer Date, Due Date, and Review On) rather than an arbitrary designator such as a flag or tag.

This explanation is fantastic and honestly should be required reading for people on these forums and other users of OmniFocus. Now relevant to my own needs, as much as I’d like to use #3 but it would stress me out. I’d imagine that number 2 would be the best for me. Seems similar to how wilsong utilizes his tasks.

In looking at your perspective, interesting that it’s grouped by project. I might consider that but will have to look at it. See if I can apply it to my situation or not.

Thank you. There is another option but it utilizes the defer date in combination with the Due Date and sometimes it confuses people (so I was hesitant to include it):

    1. Due Date = Actual date & time the task, project, and/or event is actually due.
    2. Defer Date = An internal (potentially, aggressive) date & time the task, project, and/or event could be completed by but at least should be propagated up by the system when the date & time arrives with time enough to complete the said project by the actual deadline (similar to using the Due Date as a planning-like date). (e.g. Submit Chapter 4 Case Study Analysis and Report — Due: by Sunday (AA/BB/CCCC) at 11:59 PM; Defer: Wednesday (AA/BB/CCCC) at 9:00 PM).

Essentially, it’s the combination of #1 and #2 / #3 to make the system more flexible, however, there is a trade-off. You may not be aware of a task until it was scheduled to be completed internally and now you would be "under the gun” to get it complete by the Due Date. This method would require either the Due Soon functionality to cast a wide net or to utilize some tag/flag tactic to ensure the task, project, or event is propagated up the system sooner rather than later. Contrastingly, it provides a clearer distinction between what would be considered an internal deadline versus the legitimate deadline without the need for through management and review.


#44

I have Due Soon set to one week to show up in my radar. I know that I’m worried about this task within the next 7 days. I should be starting on this as soon as I see yellow colored tasks. I’m in the danger zone if I see the task turn red.


#45

Long time no post. A lot has happened since that I’ll summarize.

A few days before my birthday (birthday is November 12th) I was fired from my job. Without giving too many details I screwed up though my employer also didn’t apply proper protocol.

As such it’s been a lot of waiting and time on my hands. Frustration with my parents and I as I live with them. A few new personal perspectives on things as well.

I’m back to using OmniFocus even though I love checking things off on paper. Problem was that I’d have a few tables I’d write to-do lists in.

A goal for the weekend is to process my OmniFocus inbox as it’s crowded.

Applying for jobs and responding back to emails, I have an interview or two this upcoming week.


#46

Hey all,

Quick updates:

  1. Got hired! Start Friday teaching autistic students at an independent therapeutic school, really excited but nervous.
  2. Joined an accountability group thing on discord that has helped shame me into getting my foods done.
  3. I’ve assigned less due dates and flagged items I’d like to get done by week end. Seems to be working.

#47

I have ya Sunday review and time to process my inboxes. Might change it to either Friday/Sat or have the inbox process twice a week and then as long as I get to it once a week I’ll be fine. Thoughts? I have kickball in the afternoons on Sunday is why I tend to not get to it.


#48

I prefer doing reviews on Friday afternoons. If it’s Friday night, I might want to slack off and push it to Sunday’s.

Friday afternoon is usually a wind down period after a long work week for me. Besides I don’t want the dark cloud of the weekly review waiting for me on Sunday. I get everything out of the way on Friday afternoon so that I can enjoy the weekend!

I prefer doing daily reviews to help me plan for tomorrow. The weekly review on Friday afternoon is time for me to figure out the main Big Rock projects to work on for next week.


#49

That’s a great idea. I’m going to incorporate the review and cleaning out inboxes on Saturday afternoon. Often on Fridays I’m very wiped from the work week to even think about tasks.


#50

For work since I have to use a laptop running Windows 10 during the workday I find myself using a hand written to-do list on a letter sized pad of paper. Starting to think about incorporating some digital to this as well though.


#51

My dad and I were talking about theming our days in what we work on after our jobs. So for example I could have most of my computer task stuff to work on Monday or Tuesday. I could do whatever paperwork I have for work or home on a Thursday for instance. My dad could deal with finances and tax stuff for the family or personally on Wednesday’s for example. Weekends for little projects around the house. A checklist of tasks for the day before bed such as loading and running the dishwasher. Thoughts?