Workflow advice – how do you select which items you do “Today”?

I mainly work from 2 custom perspectives: “Planning” and “Today”

  • Planning: shows all available actions from selected projects. I come here and flag the task I want to do Today.
  • Today: shows flagged actions (that I flagged from Planning)

So I’m interested. How do you handle and select the actions that you want to do Today from your basket of available actions?


Your setup is great and simple. Wish I was that good! In my case I use flags to mark ‘important’ items, so for ‘today’ i have to use a ‘today’ text in the note section of an action and have a perspective to filter them for me

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I flag items I want to do today and then I flag too many and only do a fraction of them.

That is my system. It is not a good system.


as long as you’re making a little progress… We sometimes overestimate ourselves and try to tackle on too many. If I can get at least 3 things done today, I think I’m good.

I do something similar your Planning perspective. I look at it and then I write down

  1. The One thing I absolutely want to accomplish today.
  2. Two other tasks that will sweeten the day. I can say I have achieved complete victory if I can get these three things done.
  3. Two more tasks that are optional. If I can get rid of the first three, I’ll start working on something that is due in the near future (within the next 7 days). This allows me to get ahead of myself so I don’t have to worry about something later.

I put these tasks down on an index card and hide OmniFocus (command-H). It’s too tempting to look at OmniFocus and get distracted by looking at other projects and tasks I might want to do. My complete focus is just on my index card.

The first things I typically choose are overdue/due today/due soon tasks. Then I’ll work my way down to tasks that I am interested in working on in the next few days but have no due date.

The less time I spend in OmniFocus, the more focus I have working on the actual tasks. OmniFocus becomes distracting if the OmniFocus window is visible on my Mac. I don’t quit OmniFocus but I do hide it. I need it in the background if I ever want to invoke the hotkey for the quick entry screen to capture new stuff.

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Don’ t we all… Problem is not the system, but our planning ‘hat’ vs our execution ‘hat’.

When I plan is like I think the world is perfect and I am a hard, fast and focused person, so I should be able to do this and that.

Then, my execution self doesn’t always agree what my planning self dictates, for a number of reasons… let alone external requests you can not plan ahead.

There is a permanent tension among both selves, which as you practice and review past performance tends to narrow down.

Don’t be too hard on your execution self or you will end up ditching the whole thing. (or at least I would).


I am iOS only until OF3 for Mac happens, so I use the Forecast Tag feature to identify things I want to do “today”.

Initially, the tag was called !, but that insinuated a level of importance (which is what I used flags for), so I renamed it to Today. This led to a different psychological problem, though, in that if I didn’t accomplish something tagged as Today, I felt bad. But I shouldn’t feel bad, because it wasn’t due. So I renamed my tag to Next, since what it really means to me is that this is a thing I want to have my attention on next (before other things).

Hope this is useful in some way!



I don’t use custom perspectives for this, I feel that OF already has some built-in tools to handle this. Specifically:

  • I use the Review feature to see all my items
  • I use the Available status to see anything I can currently act on
  • Finally, I use due dates and flagged items to choose which items to do first

So basically, I use the same approach that you use, just with built-in OF tools.


This is excellent. I think it’s easy to make the assumption that “I’ll bring things forward as important” to raise attention to particular actions, but I prefer “I’ll push these things out (defer) as things to not focus on now”, which leaves the important/now stuff behind.


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I am still relying on the David Spark’s flag and defer method to manage what to do “Today.” Each morning, I review my flagged available tasks in my Dashboard, select those I plan to accomplished today, and defer the rest to some future time (usually, at various defer dates). OF3 has not yet given me incentive to adopt the Forecast view, except to review those items that are actually “due” today, as they will get the highest priority. I still work off of my Dashboard. I’m pretty Mac-centric, so this may change AFTER OF3 for Mac is released. I’m also not using much multi-tag configurations until OF3 for Mac is released - “contexts” still work fine.

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Yep, that’s a great way to put it! Flagged items are very useful for me to bring items forward, but I find the feature useful only if all of my other items have been filtered somehow already. This is why everything is deferred/on hold and only actionable items are in my Available view.

Flagging items coming from an already filtered list is 1) much easier and quicker, because you are not choosing from every item in your database and 2) makes me feel less overwhelmed by everything that I have to do.


I actually have a listing of all items I have in perspectives for items tagged @home, @work and @tech.
That’s where I have all items that are currently available. (So not deferred out)

Every morning I check those and flag any that I absolutely need or want to do today. Any leftovers from the previous day I triage to see whether it still needs to be done, and delete or un-flag those that don’t.

This keeps my forecast for the “If I don’t do these I die”, the flagge items for the things I want to do, and the 3 perspectives mentioned for all the tasks leftover that I might want to do if I have time left over.