Revising my Omnifocus structure - Advice Welcomed

Hi All,

I’m looking for some advice on revising my Omnifocus setup based on the advice given in this forum and from around the web.


I’m using Omnifocus for both personal and work projects or tasks. My personal structure will generally be minor, mostly filled with routine tasks and then an occasional project. My work structure will be more complex made up of a combination of routine tasks, single or parallel action projects, and will require the ability to capture possible future ideas.

I work in Construction in a divisional managerial position with input into various long term contracts so I’m also trying to accommodate projects/tasks which could apply to individual or multiple contracts, or projects/tasks at a divisional level which do not relate to a specific contract, and the management of a team. Furthermore with some tasks I will need to consider liaising with a colleague/s or waiting for input from them.

Current setup

As a quick overview I am mainly using nested folders sometimes 4-5 levels deep with little use of contexts. I’m finding various issues with this setup, but mainly trouble managing projects/tasks multiple levels deep and also accommodating when a project/task applies to multiple contracts.

Proposed setup

Folder/Project Structure

  • Home [Folder]

    • Routines [Single Action Project]
    • Holidays [Single Action Project]
    • Finances [Single Action Project]
    • Misc [Single Action Project]
  • Personal Development [Folder]

    • Misc [Single Action Project]
    • Example Project 1 [Single Action Project]
  • Work [Folder]

    • General [Single Action Project]
    • Management [Folder]
      • Budget Reviews [Single Action Project - Reoccurring Tasks]
      • Team [Single Action Project – Some Reoccurring Tasks]
      • General Strategy/Roadmap [Single Action Project] (mainly for "someday/maybe" context ideas which will be escalated into a Project later)
    • Deployment Projects [Folder]
      • Example Project 1 [Parallel Project]
      • Example Project 2 [Parallel Project]

Context Structure

  • Current (What I currently should be working on – feeds into Forecast view)

  • Not Watch (filter for Apple Watch perspective)

  • Someday/Maybe (Status tag ability to filter on)

  • People (Filter by people by status (to discuss with or waiting for))

    • Team
      • Name 1 (discuss with this person)
        • Waiting For: Name 1 (action by this person)
      • Name 2
        • WF: Name 2
      • Etc.
        • WF: Etc.
    • Other Colleagues
      • Name 1
        • WF: Name 1
      • Etc.
  • Contracts (Gives the ability to append projects/tasks to individual or multiple contracts. For ‘context’ there will little change to these, typically only be 1-2 additions/omissions over a year)

    • Contract Title 1
    • Contract Title 2
    • Etc.

Any thoughts or advice you have on the above would be appreciated.


Is there any reason for nesting your tags so deep?

Yes, too much hierarchy can be hard to manage. You have to decide if the hierarchy does more to complicate or simplify your data – which depends on how much data you have, and your personal preference. I rarely exceed two levels myself.

For me though it’s all about custom perspectives, less so the hierarchy. I try to minimize the time spent in the default projects and tags views. I do use tags in my perspectives, just rarely click into the tags view itself. The projects perspective is a time waster for me, as I keep clicking among the too-many unfinished projects. I’m more efficient if I limit that view to initial project setup, and use my planning and action perspectives for day-to-day activity.

With good use of defer dates, sequential projects where possible, and perspective design you can create more narrowly focused lists of things you can do today, and then focus on what you will do.


The idea was to group areas together so I can quickly & easily mark contexts against a group or select individual ones. I also thought it would be good to keep the overall context list shorter instead of keeping all as top level items; Saying that I probably could adjust to only have 2 levels instead of 3.

Also to note I would generally assign these using the search box instead of tapping through the levels.

Looking at your examples for contexts (? not sure if you mean tags or perspectives ?)
I can understand why you chose this setup.

I also use the search function to add tags to items and I have mine setup only 2 levels deep (maximum)

  • home
    • tag
    • tag
  • work
    • tag
    • tag
  • agenda
    • tag
    • tag
  • tools
    • tag
    • tag
  • waiting for…
  • someday/maybe
  • ideas

The tags themselves only serve as a way to get tasks and projects into my perspectives.
I can’t remember when I looked at the full list for the last time :-)

I have about 10 perspectives setup that I use on both the iOS devices and my macs.
They show:

  • Today: custom perspective showing flagged and due items for today, I flag items that I want to complete the next day at the end of the precious day.
  • email: emails I want to send, or people I want to reply to from a task in the database
  • 1d home: all available tasks I can do at home
  • 1d work: all available tasks I can do at work
  • 1d tech: all available tasks I can do when behind my mac or on my iOS devices
  • People: all available and deferred tasks related to people, just in case I meet them or I have a meeting
  • waiting for…: quite self explanatory
  • Call: All calls I need to make, this one is actually for when I’m commuting, I can then process these quickly
  • routine: all tasks I need/want to complete each day / week / month / quarter / year.
    f.e. I have a Friday review setup that repeats each Friday in this perspective.
  • shopping: all tasks related to something I need to buy (mostly geo-fenced)
  • Relax: all books/articles I’d like to read, movies I’d like to see and all music I want to add to my music library
  • available: this is my list for chosing the flagged items for the next day, it shows all available items from all projects (apart from watiting for, someday maybe, media/relax and ideas)
    -ideas: all kinds of ideas I have that get put into omnifocus for no particular reason

and of course the normal standard perspectives projects and tags + review.

I used to have a lot more, but decided to downsize at the beginning of this year.

As I usually add items through either Shortcuts or Keyboard Maestro I rarely have to use the OF interface for task entry, so this setup is the most simplified I can get by with and it gives me the best overview of all items that are on my to do lists.

1 Like

Thanks Matt78 & Janov, both great bits of advice.

I probably haven’t fully considered perspectives enough in my setup so going to look at that before I adjust anything.

Thanks again.

I fully agree with all reponses here so far.

Projects and contexts can be seen as two dimensions for a task. Tags in Omnifocus 3 allow you to add more dimensions. But in the GTD world, they have specific meaning and I guess Omnifocus has some of ot built in to be taken advantage from.

For instance, your ‘ current ‘ context can be sinstotuted by an ‘active’ status of a project or task, adding deferred and due dates

Someday/Maybe can be a SAL project you only look at when doind a review.

People is set up the way GTD says it should.

Contracts Is a tag ok. Transversal to contexts and projects.

To me, the main point is I need to plan in a project ( desired outcome) view, and I need to execute in a context (what can I do now) view. Perspectives help narrow the execution views so I don’t get overwhelmed.

Yet… I get overwhelmed so don’t take me too seriously ;)

This topic was automatically closed 30 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.