What the heck are Flags? What do you use them for?

I’ve been using OF for years and in that time I’ve never really figured out what the point of flags are. So, I’m earnestly asking my fellow seasoned OF users to weigh in on what you use the flag feature for. Do you use flags to mean multiple things? If you use flags, are you constantly clearing flags off items you had previously flagged that are now no longer flag worthy?

Thanks!

Most folks use them as a way to make important tasks visible without needing to set a Due Date on them. An example would be a task you have a strong desire to complete soon, but which there aren’t any particular negative consequences of not completing.

As a more specific example, there’s a movie coming out this weekend that I really want to see. For my workflow, buying tickets to see it is absolutely not important enough to warrant a due date. Flagging the task lets me reserve my Forecast view for the truly important stuff but leaves that action easily accessible when I have time to check in on the Flagged list.

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In a similar vein to @Brian , I’ll often use flags to indicate tasks that I want to do today. That way, a custom perspective set to show “flagged or due today” turns into “do today or due today,” which really keeps me focused on what I should get done by the end of the day.

That perspective becomes my “daily driver” – I’ll leave it open in OmniFocus almost all day, breaking away only to process other tasks (like clearing my Inbox or doing a weekly review). And during that processing, I can flag even more tasks, continuing the cycle!

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Don’t you find that you’re constantly also unflagging things in this usage? I mean, to me there’s a big difference between what’s urgent-but-not-due-on-a-specific-date on monday than on saturday.

It’s true that I sometimes unflag tasks, as other matters become more pressing or as I just decide that I’ll do something next week instead of today. This tends to happen less often than you might think, though; most of the time, if I don’t finish a flagged task today, I’ll glance at it near the end of the day and decide that I’ll take another swing at doing it tomorrow – and therefore it can just stay flagged.

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My use of flags fly in the face of GTD orthodoxy, but it works for me.

I flag items that I want to look at every day, and give due dates to those that require them. All else is unflagged. So that gives me three levels of importance:

TOP: Flagged with due dates - I’ll try to accomplish today everything that’s due today

MIDDLE: Flagged without due dates - I’ll review these daily and accomplish them when convenient

BOTTOM: All else - I look at the unflagged items every week, when I do my weekly review. At that time I’ll flag some items
that feel like they can and should be done this week.

So … each week I see everything in my weekly review. Each morning I look at all the flagged items to see if there’s anything I should change to Due Today. And the rest of the day I just look at Due Today.

YMMV.

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I have ~1000 tasks in OmniFocus, most of them in the “Online” or “Mac” contexts. There is no good perspective for me to find the “next best task”. Instead, during my Weekly Review, I flag all tasks that I’d love to finish during the upcoming week, and then look at the Flagged perspective when I am idle.

I used to work with arbitrary Due Dates a lot, but using flags feels a lot healthier. Nothing is deep red when I am sick or lazy for a day, and it feels gratifying to check off the last flagged task each week.

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