Visibility of repeating actions and projects

This is a quick tip I want to mention:

I add several characters to the titles of my repeating actions and projects so that I can visually distinguish repeating items from non-repeating items.

Last year I was complaining to my manager that I was responsible for too much work and could not adequately handle my responsibilities. At the time, I felt confident that I could simply show him the enormous list of projects and actions in my copy of OmniFocus to prove that I was overloaded. Unfortunately a tour of OmniFocus did not sway his opinion. Instead, he wanted to gain an understanding of how many of my responsibilities were recurring actions versus one-off actions.

At first I thought, well hey, OmniFocus has a “Repeat” feature. I betcha I could perform a simple search to view all of those repeating actions in one list. Sadly, that doesn’t turn out to be possible with the current OmniFocus. To be able to view repeating actions through a search in OmniFocus, I realized that I would need to give repeating actions a distinguishing quality that is searchable.

I decided that the cleanest and easiest way to implement a solution would be to prepend every repeating action title or project title with several characters: [R]. (The mark is essentially an R inside of a square. I suppose I could have used the Ⓡ mark instead, but it can be difficult to see in a small font.) This would not only visually distinguish these repeating actions and projects from non-repeating actions and projects, but it would also give me the ability to search for those prepended characters to view all repeating items.

Here is a look at how the two types of actions appear on a day in the Forecast perspective:

At a glance I can easily see that tomorrow I have a bunch of repeating chores that will become available along with a single one-off task that is due. I can then use this information to gauge the relative priority of each task.

In the future, I would love to see OmniFocus better implement the “repeat” feature so that it provides a searchable condition as well as a visual indicator to help distinguish repeating from non-repeating items. Until then, I think I’ll stick with my little trick. I hope this help you as well.

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I think this brings up a good point. This is a great work-around, and the icon would be the biggest thing for me. Make an extra column by the flag and note icons for repeat and then you can toggle it on/off or click it to see the assigned repeat to a task.

I honestly never thought of this, but now that you mention it, it’s such a simple feature that would really help distinguish tasks from each other.

I made a quick mock up of what your icon idea might look like:

Some thoughts jump into my mind, such as “What would happen when I click on the icon?” and “Would the icon differ when looking at repeating tasks with different lengths? (day, week, month, year)” Despite these questions, I like the idea of seeing a repeat icon next to repeating tasks.

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I really like this. Not only does for the reasons you mention, but in the weeks that I switched to Things 3, I fell in love with how EASY it is to modify defer dates, due dates, tags, etc… With just one hand while drinking my coffee. While using OF on macOS I routinely have to open the format menu so I can make changes I’m not able to do with the list view. What the above icons bring to my mind is that I could click on it, it’d open up a menu that allows me to turn on repeating functions and choose which one, and then out.

This is exactly the symbol I was thinking of using!

If I got to choose, I would have the icon have 2 toggle selections.

  • Position 0 would be the “off” position. It would be visible, but grayed out.
  • Position 1 would then be “on”. I think the green color is perfect to stand out from the overall purple theme and the orange flag icon.

I should add that clicking the icon when it’s on shouldn’t turn it off (you wouldn’t want to lose you repeat pattern). Rather once it is on, clicking it opens a little dialogue box that lets you see and/or edit the repeat. From there you should be able to turn it off. I say this because I can see myself accidentally clicking it and loosing a repeat pattern I don’t remember.

I think the icon could differ slightly, but I wouldn’t make it different on repeat length, rather repeat type. Since there are 3 repeat types (repeat every, defer another, and due again), I would make slight changes to signify which one is which.

  • For repeat every, I think the default infinite loop icon is perfect. It shoes that this task will reoccur regularly.
  • For defer another (deferring the task after it has been completed), maybe an arrow from a check mark (signifying the task being completed), to an open circle (signifying the task becoming available).
    *For due again (making the task due so many units after it has been completed), an arrow from a check mark to a check mark.

This is one of the beefs I have with OF. While the system is probably the most feature heavy of them all, it can be cumbersome because of it. That being said if I had to chose ease of use and features, it’s the latter 8 days a week.

I also agree, this is a really good idea that I didn’t realize I was missing until testing out Things 3.

I dug around in the symbols available in MacOS and added the ⟳ to the beginning of my repeating tasks. It’s not perfect, and I’d still prefer to have a separate field, but it works.

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Not a bad suggestion!

I’ve also seen people use the 🔁 or 🔄 symbols. Looks like ♻️, ♻︎, ♺, ♼, or ♽ might be fine candidates as well.

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