What is the point of "due soon"?

Some tasks fall due on a particular day and cannot be done in advance, Other tasks may be part of a project which is too large to complete in one day and may have a lead time of days or weeks.

When I look at the feature iin OmniFocus called “Due soon”, I see that it is a global setting, I have tried hard to find a use for this, but since lead times vary for different projects and actions, it seems useless.

Am I missing the point?

I use due dates as real hard deadlines.
An action with a due date really has to be done before the duedate. If it isn’t done, and Omnifocus colors it red, I’m in big trouble.
Due soon acts as a global reminder for those tasks I forgot during my daily/weekly reviews to schedule in so they are done in time.

The other half of your question (tasks that cannot be done in advance) are not tackled by duedates, but by defer-dates.
If I have a task that has to be done by next friday, but work can’t start until wednesday, I give it a duedate of friday, and set the deferdate to wednesday.
Now the task is out of sight, out of mind until wednesday. I might even give it a flag also, so it automatically appears in my flagged perspective on wednesday.

Isn’t that what the forecast perspective is for?

Don’t due soon allow you set some sort of focus as to what your personal timescales are?

For me it’s within a few days, small companies may think in weeks, larger corporations plan in years. I see it as a way to get a heads up in a time frame that works for you.

Either I’m over-thinking, or I’m too thick to use it. I hope it’s the former but fear it’s the latter.

I like to set my due soon to 1 week. I like to get ahead of my due items. If I see a task with a red status circle, I am overdue and have to work on these tasks first over anything else.

If I see a yellow status circle, I know I should be working on these items because it is due within 1 week. I like to get ahead of myself and finish as many due soon tasks as soon as possible. Otherwise when the due date is today, I might be in knee deep doo-doo because something always pops up at the last minute to derail me and I have to push things off to handle some workplace fire that occurred on my watch.

You can set due soon to 3 days so that you can see anything that be due in 3 days. You’ll see all the due soon tasks with a yellow status circle.

Paying attention to the color of the status circle is helpful when trying to manage due dates.

If my wedding anniversary is due in 3 days, I can see the tasks for planning anniversary dinner will show up in yellow and I should be very concerned about completing everything before the due date.

Thanks for the comments. I think I am beginning to see how to use the “due soon” setting.

I will need to re-think my Waiting perspective though. At the moment I have it showing available waiting items with due dates to trigger a follow-up on the due date, not before. If I set “due soon” to anything other than “Today”, then those waiting items will turn yellow too early and also show yellow in the Forecast. I could set a defer date on a waiting item the same as the due date, but then it would disappear from the Waiting perspective until the defer date. I like to see available waiting items all the time, because someone might return a call before the deadline.

I have a communications perspective which has the contexts @phone @email @sms and a @awaitingresponse. I then have a repeating task to check that perspective twice a day. Anything in communications does not show up in the daily dashboard so not to overstuff the list. I then check the communication perspective when OF tells me to at 10am and 4pm daily

The @awaitingresponse items are all prefixed with a date 2016-08-15 (using a keyboard shortcut snippet) for example so I know when I need to do something, drop, follow up etc. it also works well for checking if a client has paid you when they said they were going to :)

I like to use Due Soon to make sure that I see upcoming tasks that are due - I’m ruthless about due dates and don’t set them unless I absolutely have a deadline. These tasks show up in my Today perspective three days before they’re due (that’s how I have Due Soon set to be defined), then I either do or defer, but I’m alerted :) (I’m also ruthless with defer dates and defer everything I can’t or won’t do).



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I set Due Soon for Today. Understand others setting to longer periods, but to me it makes sense to only have badges for actually Due things. I’m (trying to be more and more) ruthless about due dates, and as part of my weekly review I’m draconian about due dates, reviewing my Forecast perspective for the week ahead, eliminating Due dates if there’s no absolute deadline. This way, every day, I also work on what’s Due. In fact, whenever I’m out and about, I’m aware of what’s due as I hate badges on my iPhone homescreen, and a badge on OmniFocus will be a perfectly reminder I have to get rid of that abnormality (badge) ;-)

@ediventurin: I’m curious. wouldn’t you like to get ahead and start completing some items that are due soon so that you don’t have to worry about last minute emergencies? In my life, I’m always worried about something that is due by 5 pm today and something shows up to knock my plans off. There are things that I can’t control such as:

Wife’s car breaks down at the downtown mall. I have to rearrange everything so I can go to the mall and figure out what happened.

A client comes in with a disaster story that I have to overcome.

The boss drops a file folder with a big contract and orders me to drop everything and focus on this project.

Kid at school breaks a leg or suffers a concussion. I have to cancel current task list to pick up the kid,

Yes, the above has happened,

These tend to be the unavoidable last minute fire drill that overrides my omnifocus list. When I finish my due today stuff and I’m in the zone, I try to get ahead and start working on the next sue task so that I don’t have to worry. Do you say no to nearly everything or do you just stay on the clock until it is done? I think I might be envious of your life if you can just get the due tasks done as it comes down the line.

That’s why I try to look ahead 3-7 days and try to stay ahead of the game.

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Just to clarify my original post, it’s not questioning the merits of tackling tasks before time runs out, but rather asking how a smart user employs the “due soon” setting in OmniFocus. People often talk about wanting to “see” tasks that are due soon, but don’t mention where they want to see them. I can always see tasks that are due soon in the forecast perspective, regardless of the “due soon” setting.

The main issue for me is that the “due soon” setting causes all items to turn yellow when they are due soon, including those that should not be highlighted before their due time. (For example, a reminder to chase up a response, but not before Friday at 10am. And no this is not about defer dates either - I want to see the item before 3pm on Friday, but I don’t want it to turn yellow). This is what I meant by the “due soon” setting being global.

I think the answer is a matter of skilful use of OmniFocus, but I’m not quite there yet.

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@OmniChris Totally get you, and I struggled with this, too. If it’s at all valuable, my workflow is:

  • I work from my “Today” perspective, which shows me all due+flagged tasks that are available
  • I commit to emptying that perspective by the end of every day by either doing, unflagging, or deferring tasks
  • I set tasks to show up there for processing by either flagging from my “Next Action” perspective (which shows me all available tasks I could do), flagging and deferring them (so that they appear in my Today perspective at a prescribed time) or by setting a due date (and they will appear at the time of Due Soon unless they are deferred to a time later than due date minus three days and earlier than due)
  • Using due soon (without defer) alerts me, through my Today perspective, of the due task, implying a “meta-action” of deciding to either do this thing before it’s due, capture other related or pre-requisite tasks I might not yet have in my system, or defer this to when I will actually start work or need to be re-alerted to this

YMMV, but as an example workflow, I thought I would share mine. Note that I rarely work from Forecast - I glance at it maybe weekly to look ahead.



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Thanks. I’m going to give this some thought but just wanted to acknowledge it now in case I forget to report back!

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I do, @wilsonng. I just don’t want a badge.
I try to look at the Forecast perspective every morning when I start the day, and also of I have any free time and remember about it. Otherwise, no badge for me, please ;-)

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That, @wilsonng ;-)

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Ah… Got it. Thx. I just turn off badges altogether.

Me too, for most apps. For OF, the way I use, they are actually helpful (to me) ;-)

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