Review vs Flagged

I have been using “review” only during my weekly review. I have projects set to show up on Saturdays to keep them on my radar. Most are set to weekly. Some I set to every 4, 8 or 12 weeks. FYI, in my weekly review this week, I have 230 projects in the “review” perspective. It feels like I’m merely skimming the surface of these projects during the review, but at least they are on the radar.

I’m using flags with defer dates to see what I need to work on each day. I’m using a few different perspectives for this. One sorted by priority (tag 1-5), and one based on the deferred date, This system seems to be working pretty well.
In my active flagged perspective, I have 52 actions and 27 projects.
Deferred flagged view has 160 actions and 59 projects
I’ve been hesitant NOT to flag any item I really need to do (not a maybe) as I’m concerned I might never get to it in the “review”…

I use due dates very sparingly. Only for an item with an actual due date.

David Sparks said recently he used to do something like this, but shifted to using review more instead of flags with defer dates.

I could set some projects to review daily, instead of flagging them…however, they would no longer show in my Forecast perspective.

Has anyone tried this transition? In either direction?

Thanks, TJ
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I prefer to defer tasks based on external limits rather than on my sense of when I can or will or might do them. By example, I flag a task to put away the trash container but I defer that task until Monday at 6pm because the garbage pickup is not happening before that time.

I prefer to set flags on tasks when they are or should be active for the given day. I do not flag tasks that are due by a specific time. By example from above, I want to put away the trash container as soon as possible because it looks bad sitting on the curb. But, I do not flag the DUE task to put out the trash by 4pm on Monday because this is a redundant double-marking.

I have not yet resolved entirely how to define the review setting on projects. One additional part of my approach is that I use a different tool (Curio with Kanban boards) to manage my project-level views. I am less in need of extensive reviews inside OmniFocus itself. I am therefore leaning toward setting reviews on almost all of my projects to a default of a few months so that I am just not bothered any more in OmniFocus by the review process. The exceptions would be single-action list Administration projects (e.g. Weekly Home Chores) where I should add/remove tasks on a routine basis.


JJW

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Similarly I set either a flag or a due date, but not both.

I love being able to defer items that are flagged to keep a clean view of what I need to do today.

In my weekly review, I scan my projects set for review to see if there are any that have become more important and now need to be addressed soon. So I’ll flag those. I currently have most of my projects set to review weekly…some I have set for next review months in the future if I know for sure it’s something I won’t need to address for a long time.

Then I look at my flagged perspective. OF on half the screen, and Fantastical on the other half, in 14 day view…adding things to my calendar…

I guess it’s working this way…but I’m using flags much more than review…

Perhaps I should have more projects set at a less frequent interval…eg every 4 weeks…and pay more attention to the ones that are presented before me for that week…Feels like I’m just quickly glancing at all 200+…

I use due dates primarily for externally imposed constraints, except for recurring tasks that need to be done on a regular basis. For example, I have a task to renew my library books every month, which is set to be deferred for three weeks from completion and then due a week after that. It’s not a hard due date, but I’ve learned by experience that if I don’t set a due date, I’ll forget. (Of course, these days I don’t have any books checked out, but hopefully that will soon change.)

I use flags for tasks that are important to focus on now, but that are not necessarily urgent—the top half of the Eisenhower matrix. That usually means things I want to do or make progress on in the next month or so, though in some cases the time frame is a bit broader.

I have a “soon” tag for things that don’t have a hard deadline, but that do need attention in the next 5 days or so. My Forecast perspective is set up to show items tagged soon.

I use defer dates for two reasons: (1) I can’t work on the project or task until a given date, or (2) I want to be reminded about it on a given date. My Forecast perspective shows deferred tasks, so setting a defer date serves as a tickler.

Finally, my review habits are in a bit of a shambles now, but ideally, I choose review dates and frequencies according to the nature of the project. Typically I review weekly, but some projects require more attention, and a few require less. I also set the next review date in conjunction with the defer date, so if I defer a project to June 1, I’ll set the next review date to June 8, or June 15, or July 1, depending on the project, with rare exceptions if I think I’ll want to be reminded before I can actually do anything about it.

That combination seems to be working for me. At least I haven’t dropped any balls that can’t bounce back.

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I have the use of due dates and flag aspects down to a good habit that mirrors your practices. Setting review schedules still throws me. Do I want 1 day or 1 week or perhaps 3 months or perhaps 3 weeks or perhaps … ???

I am close to kicking all my projects to a nearly infinite review period EXCEPT administrative ones. Again though, I am tracking projects in a big-picture using a different app and approach. So, reviewing in OmniFocus is nearly redundant effort except those “projects” that hold “one-off” types of tasks. As a counter, the one-off tasks do not appear in my big-picture review. So the mirror would eventually be complete in where/how I handle reviews for each case (one-off tasks strictly and routinely in OF, projects strictly scheduled outside of OF).


JJW

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Review and flags/defer dates work separately to each other and have different purposes.

I don’t see how you can be working on 230 different projects, are some of these something to be done in the future? If so, put longer term review dates on them.

I wanted to throw something else into your mix here. You can set projects on pause and this is also indicated when you look at the project. Maybe this will let you more easily see what needs your attention, they can also be filtered out of perspectives.

Correct, I am not working actively on 230 projects. The flagged ones are the ones that I’m actively working on, or at least I’m supposed to be. The role of the review is to see if there are any projects that I am not working on that I am supposed to be. Also if there are projects I have flagged that do not need to be worked on in the near future or no longer need to be done I can exit them from the loop.

If you’re not working on them currently, I might suggest creating a Someday/Maybe project and nesting them under that? You can collapse the sub-projects (your ~200 inactive projects) so that it’s easier to view and then scan those on whatever frequency you think the Someday/Maybe project should be reviewed. If it’s something you think you’re ready to pick up, you can drag it out of the Someday/Maybe project and have it as a standalone project (or in folders if you delineate Personal vs. Work, etc.)

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Superb point.

Prior to OF, I used Evernote (EN) for projects. Within this framework, I tagged the heck out of everything. Among many types of tags (which I still use in EN for reference), I included a tag for each project of timing: now/ASAP/soon/someday/maybe/waiting for…

In moving my projects to OF, I have not been tagging projects nearly as much as in the EN days.

Currently primarily tagging fo:
-priority (1-5) for all items
-context sometimes used:
–whom (@spouse, @child, @coworker)
–how (@phone, @text, @email)

Guess I can start tagging more based on “when” as in the olden days…now/ASAP/soon/someday/maybe/waiting for…perhaps ditch the “now”…use a flag instead…

I had been enjoying taking less time on tags…but looks like I’m paying a bit of a price for that :)

I have only 4 main projects
-personal
-work
-mom
-temp(orary)

I would rather have fewer places to look for things…if I create a separate folder for someday/maybe, I won’t recall in which folder a project resides…

The way I have OF set up is in four folders: Personal, Work, Home, and Miscellaneous. For the Miscellaneous, there are several different someday/maybe projects, like Movies to Watch, General Reminders, Software to Explore, and a general Someday/Maybe container project. It’s also where I keep a number of single action lists and templates.

It’s not uncommon that I have a personal project that life gets in the way of, especially since last year when the pandemic started, and I end up deciding I can’t do it at this point in my life. I just drag it over to the Someday/Maybe project and glance through those every month during my end-of-month review.

I used to tag stuff religiously in EN but found that its search capabilities are sufficient I don’t need to get that complex. I’ve also grown more frustrated with it over the past few months as they removed (and in some cases, are slowly restoring) functionality to the application, especially with the Mac application. I’m a certified Evernote consultant, and admittedly, I’d leave the platform if I could find a suitable replacement and time to do it.

I have fairly typical GTD contexts (office, home, errands, phone) but under Waiting and Agenda, I have a few sub-contexts for specific people, like my wife, or people with whom I collaborate regularly at work or often wait on (like IT). This allows me to look at an Waiting or Agenda perspective each morning and know quickly who I need to follow up with or what I need to talk about with people I know I’ll meet with throughout my day.

I guess where I’m going with all this is that if your system is up to date, these contexts could/should let you manage your tasks throughout the week with some efficiency. As things that I’ve deferred come available and if they are flagged, I look through those each morning and add two or three to my daily tasks to knock out. If you’re reviewing 230 projects at a time, you’re probably (a) not really reviewing these projects at a granular level to look for things like tasks that are being ignored when they could be completed, and (b) you have too much to potentially focus on when narrowing that funnel could let you accomplish more, do some of it fairly quickly, and get that list of projects whittled down to something more manageable.

My guess is that you have a lot of someday/maybe stuff mixed up in that and it’s just not realistic you can do that stuff in the near term.

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Thank you all for your help. I have shifted my process.

I am using the review process more and flagging many fewer items. This feels more balanced. I have changed many of my projects from review every 1 week to every 2,4,8 or 12 weeks. Also a few to every day, rather than flag. So I am now looking at my review perspective daily.

Currently I am flagging primarily items I really plan to work on today and only the most critical items for the future with deferred dates used there.

If something has an actual due date, I use that instead of the flag but I have very few things that have actual due dates.

For my next actions for the day I’m using GoodNotes. Everything is on one page in handwritten text. I have different contexts saved on different locations on that page. For example @personal/@work. Also @person (eg spouse/child/coworker). It’s easy to slide writing to a different place on the page. Also easy to erase or copy. These functionalities make this easier than handwriting on paper IMO. I use a check box next to each next action. At the end of the day, I copy and paste the entire file and reuse for the next day. Erasing things that I have already done. I use this on an iPad. If I won’t be near the iPad, I print it out for use and reference.

Other simple next actions that do not need to end up in OmniFocus for a project end up making it into this file from sources such as paper, text, email, phone, reminders app, web sites, podcasts, or whatever.

I wish I could use an Apple Pencil on an iPhone. It works very effectively on the iPad.

Sorry to get off topic here. My intention was to express my gratitude for your help. Perhaps the above additional description will help someone.

Thank you again!
TJ

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Sounds like your process is evolving in a way that makes it more effective for you. Glad to hear it! I reflect on my process once a year or so (usually when defining goals for the next year and updating my plan/horizons). It’s a good practice to conduct regularly – once or twice a year is probably sufficient. Glad the discussion was helpful!