Using Defer dates + Flags instead of Due dates?

Have came across some mentionings of this, but I don’t understand how this is suppose to work? But I understand it will help to reduce the “Overdue pile” effectively. Being used to use Due dates fr OFv1.5, this is new to me.

Could anyone just give me a brief info on this or suggest some good url’s?

Thank’s :-)

I’m by no means an OF power user, but I like to use the defer + flag approach for things that are important but not time-sensitive. Then I create a perspective which is focused on just that project, and filtered for “Due Soon or Flagged”, that way I catch important tasks of either nature.

I would use due dates sparingly. Enter a due date only if it has a real deadline. Something like “pay the bill by the 15th” would be an example. If I don’t put my bill on or before the 15th, I can incur a late payment penalty.

Kyle hit it right on the head. I also use the defer + flagged method for a project that I want to focus on but it doesn’t have a real due date.

Stay away from putting fake due dates such as “New Year’s Resolution: I would like to get a six-pack of abs by June 1st.” There are no penalties that will happen if it doesn’t happen by the 20th (besides the flabby stomach).

So are your next actions really due?

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Thank’s both! I do understand the concept of why to do this, but not have you actually do it. I can set a defer date and a flag to a task etc, but how do you use it? Maybe you could provide an simple OF2 example pls?

You can start by visiting the Flagged perspective and unflag everything. You will start off brand new.

Use the Defer date to allow a project to become available on a certain date. For example, my daughter has a birthday on January 20. But I don’t want to think about it until January 15.

Create a new task called “Plan my daughter’s birthday party” and set the defer date to January 15. This action will not show up in any context perspective that shows available actions if today’s date is not January 15th or later.

Go to the flagged perspective and change the view settings to show available actions only. If you don’t want to modify your default flagged perspective, you can create a custom perspective that has the same settings as the flagged perspective and change it to show available actions only. I like to call this new custom perspective a name like High Priority. I flag certain tasks as high priority items.

If today is January 14th, the High Priority perspective will not show my action that was deferred until January 15th.

If today is January 15th, the High Priority perspective will show this action.

In my workflow, I like to work first on any items that are in the Due perspective. I try to finish as many of the due tasks as possible. These are items that have due dates assigned. I need to finish these tasks on or before the due date.

When I have small time slots available, I will work on the flagged perspective High Priority. These are the tasks I am interested in working on today or in the next few days but have no real due date.

When I wake up the next day, I will review my High Priority perspective and see if there are some tasks that I can unflag. These unflagged tasks are no longer as high priority and I can put it back into the pool of available tasks. I can visit the Contexts perspective and see if there are any other available actions that I can flag as “tasks that aren’t due but I would like to work on them in the next few days.” Refresh the High Priority perspective every morning to keep it fresh and up-to-date.

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Thank’s @wilsonng! That was an excellent description - now I get it. Think i will try to implement it this time around w OF2.

I’ve noticed in OF2 videos that many have a “Next” perspective also, I presume this is for catching all the first Tasks to be done in all sequential projects?

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Yes, it shows all available first tasks. Instead of visiting the contexts perspective, you can visit the next perspective to see a list of all available first actions. Flag a small handful of tasks. These flagged tasks will be the tasks you will focus on. Ignore the next perspective while you work on the flagged tasks. When you are getting low on the number of flagged tasks, you can go back to the next perspective to choose more tasks to flag.

This is about focusing on your flagged tasks.

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This might also help

Yes it’s great link & tips, already got it bookmarked after reading it.

Hello all!

Apologies for wading in here – but this is a silly question, not sure it deserves a thread of its own!

I’m also trying to use Due Dates sparingly, using the above approach atm.
But what I just want to be sure of –– where do you all “catch” your passed-defer dates?

By this I mean – assume I had an action set to this morning, as a deferred task. If I don’t get round to doing it, and accordingly – don’t bounce up its deferred time/date to later in the week, where would I be able to see all the past-deferred items that I mistakenly left behind?

Hope that makes sense? Hope someone can clarify how they approach it!

OmniFocus does not encourage use of defer dates a time to “start this task at”. Rather, OmniFocus treats this field as a time before which starting the task is impossible. Once the Defer Date has passed, there’s nothing special about it anymore.

I know of two common techniques for dealing with your “morning tasks” scenario:

  1. Assign a Due Date to the task, rather than (or in addition to) a Defer Date. Some people advise against this approach because your trusted system, rather than your planning abilities, should be offering you tasks based on your available Context(s) at the very moment you are looking for something to do.

  2. Assign the task to a “Morning Tasks” project, with a daily review sometime around noon. When you perform your daily review of this project, you can catch any tasks you failed to complete.

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As Kyle said, it is a common mistake to think of the defer date as the date to start something.

If you set a defer date, you make an action unavailable and it won’t be seen in a perspective that is set to show “available actions.”

Here is a method of how I use the defer date:

I create a perspective called “Bucket List”. It show all available actions (tasks that have no defer date or the defer date is today or earlier).

The Bucket List perspective is quite large because it contains a list of all actions that I can possibly do. It doesn’t mean I will “actually work on these tasks.” I can flag a handful of tasks and it will appear in my flagged perspective. These are tasks that don’t have a due date but it is important enough that I would like to work on them in the next 3-7 days.

I work on my due tasks first and then work on flagged tasks throughout the day in between the due tasks.

The flagged perspective will be smaller than my “Bucket List” perspective. If I have too many choices, I get frustrated because I see an overwhelming list of possible things to do. If I flag certain tasks, I know I am focusing on just those tasks and will work through them. At the end of the day, I will unflag tasks that are no longer as important. It goes back into the Bucket List. I then go back to the Bucket List perspective and flag a few more tasks for the next day or so.

One mistake is to keep deferring a task to an arbitrary future date. I’ve found that I can put tasks into a Someday/Maybe project that has its status set to “On Hold.” Tasks that are placed in here are not available because of the project’s On Hold status.

For example: I have a Home Someday/Maybe project that holds a bunch of tasks and ideas that I want to work on later. I assign the task’s project to “Home Someday/Maybe”. When I am ready to move out of Home Someday/Maybe, I assign the task’s project to “Home Actions”. The “Home Actions” project status is set to Active. All of my tasks in "Home Actions project will be shown in the Bucket List perspective if there is no defer date or if the defer date is today or earlier.

It is possible to do any tasks in the Home Someday/Maybe project. But it is possible to do tasks in the Home Actions project.

Once a week, review your projects to see if there are some tasks that can be placed into a Someday/Maybe project and which tasks can be taken out of Someday/Maybe and into active projects.