Scheduling time to work on things

In OF tasks/projects we have Estimated Duration, Defer Until, and Due. These fields don’t address the crucial part of allocating and scheduling time to make the things happen.

I’m sitting here with OF open, and my planner, and am somewhat lost. I feel like I don’t have a good overall view of what is needed so I can juggle them around. If I write them in the planner as I review them, I anticipate that will turn into a mess, as I’ll want to group like tasks, context sensitive tasks, etc. At that point, the days will be full, and I won’t be able to insert things between and move them around.

How do you (personally) schedule time to make things happen?
Paper calendar? macOS Calendar? Aeon Timeline? Tinderbox?

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Fantastical is better than Apple Calendar at respecting the OmniFocus estimated duration.

You can put OmniFocus on one side of your screen and Fantastical window on the other side. Go to the week or day view where you can see the hours of the day(s).

Then drag a task from OmniFocus into an empty time slot into the Fantastical window.

I set a default alarm (usually 5-10 minutes before) and a default duration of 15 minutes.

If a task doesn’t have a duration, it will default to the Fantastical preferences. Otherwise, it will import the OmniFocus estimated duration.

I would warn against over scheduling. I personally can only see one day ahead. I might have a clear schedule tomorrow but sometimes my plans will get thrown off track when my wife introduces a new Honey Do list or the kids forgot to tell me that I “need” to take them to their after school classes.

I usually have chosen 3 tasks. In my work, I can do one task in the morning and one in the afternoon. These are rather long tasks. I try to schedule my daily work life around those time blocks.

I also schedule one time block to work on just one project or one context (computer work, paper work, etc.). It helps to be able to burn through a batch of related tasks instead of just listing all the tasks in the calendar.


I too struggle with the doing bit of GTD.

For me it is priorities. There is always more stuff I should be doing than there is time to do it. So, something has to drop - the trick is picking the stuff that can be kicked into the long grass (if it is important enough someone will chase)

My work is in ‘buckets’ depending on which business I am either physically or mentally present in. I try to carve up a day into AM and PM sessions. While there is
some urgent and important stuff, mostly my tasks are not time critical and, while there are consequences, they are my consequences not other people’s.

I will look at the appropriate OmniFocus perspective (bucket) and pick the ‘candidates for action’ for the day or session. I write these in my day book. Mostly they are ‘Musts’ and ‘Shoulds’. I have discovered that using a (short) written daily to do list helps me with actually getting things finished.

I start with a ‘must do’ item. When done I cross it off the list in my day book and pick the next item. Sometimes I will choose something ‘fun’ rather than the next ‘must’ item.

Email is (generally) treated like letters. Checked twice a day with draft responses done in the next session and, so far as possible, sent the session after that (never send an email without reading it ‘cold’ - email doesn’t get nuances). I use flags for email needing action and only transfer to OmniFocus if there are going to be multiple stages/actions. Once the email is dealt with the flag comes off.

Actions or ideas for me arising from phone calls/meetings during the day are captured In the day book (a circle with an A inside it for my stuff). Actions for others have their initials in a circle against them.

Towards the end of the day I return to OmniFocus! complete the things I have done; add waiting fors on the actions of others and add my actions. As actions are transferred into OmniFocus I put a line through the (A) in my day book. Fairly often I decide not to pursue the action/idea and just leave it in the day book.

I don’t use estimated durations much in OmniFocus. With OmniFocus 3 tags I do have a 15min tag - particularly for small diy jobs at home and, when I am in the mood, I will clear as many of the 15 minute tasks as possible in a couple of hours.

While I try to stay out of OmniFocus during the day, I do use it when I am processing a bunch of similar actions e.g. online purchases. These are done and completed as they happen.

My day book (a Leuchturm 1917 A5 hardback) is critical for my workflow. It accompanies me to every meeting and is the only place I record meetings and phone calls (if there is only one place to scribble stuff down, there is only one place to look :-)


I appreciate your replies!
I think I’ve worked out the beginnings of a system. Rather than retyping, or copy/paste, a link follows.
Thanks again!


I’m not sure if this helps, but I find that it’s better to use contexts-- oops, I mean tags when actually completing things. So I might look at my calendar and say “I’m going to do emails for 30 minutes”. Then I go through my OmniFocus tags for “email” and work through whatever tasks fall under that context, regardless of what project they belong to. Or I might be running errands in a certain area, and I use OmniFocus “errands:downtown” tag and take care of things there, again without worrying about them belonging to different projects.

So what I do often is put a broader context into my calendar like “office” or “phone” and go to OmniFocus to work on individual actions within those categories. Or even subdivide it into a “writing” context where I know I’m going to shut off my phone and set aside uninterrupted time for creative stuff. Within that I may have a few individual things I’m working through, which are in OmniFocus.

So, in other words, the calendar lists broad blocks of general categories and I don’t try to get too granular with scheduling each and every little task.

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This is exactly the way I do it. My calendar shows me a roadmap of my day - where I need to be and the type of work I can do when I’m there. I have perspectives in OF for Office - Client work, Office - Admin, Office - Big Rocks , Errands etc and I drag the perspective over to the calendar to block out chunks of time to work on those areas. The link back to OF brings me to the nitty gritty of each perspective.

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