Still can't get my head around the Deferred Date Workflow

Hello. I’m reassessing this old question as I see OF2 has some new features including showing deferred items in the forecast. Everything I’ve read suggests only using hard dates when you have an appt. etc. and the rest deferred dates. So I keep getting stuck because I really like the forecast view, but I only see deferred dates on the exact day it’s deferred to. I made a view for deferred dates that are past due, but it’s a very confusing view, esp. because there are many items that have no defer dates and seemingly no structure I can understand. Also future deferred dates I don’t know how to see what’s coming up. W/ hard dates, i can see everything future and those things that fall into the past which I find helpful. Some say then to use a review daily, but not sure how this workflow works. I have different scenarios, but esp. as an example. I meet some friends on the street and we say we want to get coffee some time. I want to write it down, but I don’t know if it’ll be in a day or a week or two. I never know how to handle that. Or I have many tasks such as find fuse for radio, but it’s not urgent. If I don’t put a date (deferred or hard), I’ll forget, but if I put a date, then I start to contend w/ a lot of clutter. There are many more scenarios I think I’m just not handling well because at the end of the day I feel overwhelmed and not simplified. I’m happy to read an article or book (that I haven’t read) or to hear of your workflows. I really want to understand and use the process correctly! Thanks in advance!!

You have asked so many questions in your post, it’s not really clear how to answer you.

I’d start by reading the manual cover to cover. Then, after that, watch the workflow videos on the Omnigroup web site, and finally I’d recommend reading:

I know exactly what you’re feeling; I went through the same phase when I started using OmniFocus, too.

What I do now is set defer dates on pretty much everything. Consider when it’s even possible that you might get to it, then set a rough defer date for then (maybe just ‘2w’ to get it out of the way for a couple weeks).

Then my Forecast view is essentially my daily review view to see what I’m going to accomplish today. Maybe something I blindly deferred is there and perhaps now I’m more prepared to set a true date to do it (maybe today!). I flag anything I will do, unflag or defer anything I know I won’t do. (Flags are my preferred way of indicating do this today)

For thing that can really be done anytime, I leave them un-deferred. I don’t have so many things in my database, so I don’t bother marking them in any other way, but you could easily put things like ‘find fuse for radio’ in a someday/maybe context. Then in your custom perspectives, don’t include that context.

My workflow is apparently not of note. Though I’ve said it numerous times, Kourosh Dini’s Creating Flow with OmniFocus was very helpful to me and I recommend it highly.

I find it incredibly helpful to look regularly at all my available tasks - something being available, of course, being partly controlled by defer dates - and thinking very carefully about:

  • What can I not start yet? Defer it.
  • What do I choose to not start yet/have in front of me? Defer it.
  • What am I actually not going to do? Delete it.
  • What am I not prepared to commit to starting but don’t want to lose? Move it to a Someday/Maybe context.

Personally, I love Forecast for due dated things, but it doesn’t make sense to me as a tool for deciding what to start next. Just because something becomes available doesn’t mean I need to move on it/be alerted to it. I find my Next Actions (available, grouped by context, and excluding my Waiting and location-specific contexts) list, well-managed, to be a better tool for that (and try to keep it to under 20 things for ease of selection what to focus on by flagging).

In those cases where I do want to be alerted when something becomes available, I flag and defer it. In that way, it presents itself in my Today (available flagged or due) perspective.

Just sharing my workflow, YMMV and do what makes sense for you,