You know what feature I would die for? (motivation and rewards in OmniFocus)

A feature that allows you separate completed tasks by how long ago you completed them.


There was an infamous Psychology experiment that gave people a Rewards Card at a carwash. Once you got 8 punches, you got a free car wash. There were two groups, one that Got a card with 8 slots, and no holes punched, and one that got a card with 10 slots, but with free punches. In other words, 2 were already punched. Both groups had to get the same amount of washes for a free one. The now infamous study found that people with the 2 holes punched got significantly more car washes.

I personally leave my “Completed” Tasks in my task list so that when I look at it I get a sense of accomplishment and I don’t see a bunch of “undone” tasks. I can see that "I’m actually making progress. It would just be nice if there was a way to remove those from my list after they’ve been completed for 2 days or so.

In the now somewhat infamous carwash study, Nunes & Dreze tested the effect of “loyalty cards” by handing out sets of cards (with stamps) that allowed users to get a free car wash after eight or 10 previous washes.

The thing was, they handed out two different types of cards to participants (those sneaky psychologists):

One card required the minimal eight stamps to get the free car wash, but had no stamps “pre-checked” (all of the stamps were blank)
The second card required 10 minimal purchases, but two of the stamps were already checked off (therefore, in reality, eight washes were still needed to get the free wash)
This seemingly similar stamp system created some surprising results.

The researchers found that only 19% of those with the first card came back enough times to get their free car wash, whereas 34% of those with the second card made it to the free wash (labeled the “head start” group).

That means that by giving folks a ‘boost’ in their loyalty program (even though comparatively, both cards were the same), researchers were able to nearly double the loyalty of the customers using card two.

The results seem clear: People are more likely to remain with (and complete) loyalty programs if you initially offer them some evidence that they’ve already made progress towards completing their next goal (throw in a few “bonus points” and the inner-gamer in us all will want to acquire more).

Lesson learned: Loyalty programs are more effective when people can see “instant” progress. This progress makes them more likely to stick with it until completion.


Now the next piece of Psychology is, we all know how Casinos use Bright colors and loud sounds when someone wins. Research has found that “rewards” like this release dopamine in the brain and make people want to do the things that got them that reward over and over. I think it would be effective if Omnifocus gave you a tiny reward like that when you completed tasks. Nothing cheesy. but something like a big green checkmark and a pleasurable sound. That way when you check off tasks it would reward you in the same way Casinos keep customers coming back.

Anyway, just thought those things would make people get more stuff done, and make Omni and even more indispensable tool.

I, for one, do not want my OmniFocus to chirp, beep, ring happily and offer dancing bologna to “reward” me finishing a task.

If you really need this, buy Keyboard Maestro and make a macro that will play sounds and a video after marking a task complete.


I’ve never used it but I thought there was some kind of Habit RPG app on iOS that did this kind of thing.

Why not make a perspective that shows only completed items grouped and sorted by completed date?

This is also a great way of reflecting on accomplishments for review with your boss :)



I’ve had the app on my iPhone for a while. I used it for a few months to get my @$$ motivated. When I no longer needed the motivation, I stopped using it.

Use this as a motivational tool for as long as you need it. Then put it away until the next time you need a swift kick in the butt.

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I see that the HabitRPG has been rewritten from the ground up and released as Habitica.

It essentially acts as one of those Dungeons & Dragons RPGs (role playing games). Complete a task and gain experience points (XP). Get enough XP to gain a new level to make your adventurer stronger. Let a task linger and take damage by losing hit points (HP).

Not exactly my cup o’ tea. But as I said earlier, I would probably use it for the short term and then discontinue use when I don’t need it anymore.

These habit apps are usually used to promote forming habits. For one-off tasks and big projects (anything that requires more than one next action) will probably have to stay in OmniFocus.

Repetitive tasks that need to become habits are better served with these habit apps.

Are you looking for motivation for repetitive tasks (going to the gym, cleaning the house) or are you looking for motivation to complete big projects.

I can imagine that the novelty of the game card with hole punches will wear off over time and will no longer become an effective tool.

@chrisvacc maybe this post* will give you some ideas to gamify your OmniFocus ;-)

* special attention to the “Make it a Game” section

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Thanks for the replies guys, I’ve been really busy today (checking off Omni tasks, of course) so I’ll respond to this tomorrow. I will say to @anamorph that the last thing I would want would be my Omni to ‘chirp’ either. Part of the appeal to me is the clean, businesslike interface and functionality, and cheesy noises would detract from that. I was simply stating that based on my knowledge of psychology, adding some Operant Conditioning concepts would make people slightly more productive.

And I’m gonna check out a couple of those habit apps too @wilsonng. Thanks! And I’ll check it out @ediventurin. -Added to a task-

I’ll be back.

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Eh since I have a few minutes I’l reply.

Okay I love 'em but The Omni Group drives me a little crazy in some regards. I’m a graphic Designer and on the one hand OF has some of the most beautiful graphic designs I’ve ever ever seen. These designs are stunning. But they use some of them in the wrong ways. And I don’t say it to be critical, I say it to give suggestions to an already amazing product.

For example, the most beautiful part of the App? Boom. Hidden away in the Help screen. I would have never even seen that screen if it weren’t by accident.

That beautiful royal purple layout should be used in a more visible part of the app. Maybe even the Setup so it’s the first thing users see.

Users are mentally rewarded when they see beautiful things. It triggers a small dopamine spurt that crates neural pathways that makes people want to repeat an action.

Now also in that image, I want you to look at the completed vs non completed tasks. On the one hand Omni was great at making use of rd orange and yellow to light a fire up under your butt. That’s more operant conditioning. You have to do something in order to get rid of the danger signals, which are the colors red and orange. That’s also Operant Conditioning. Just like who the seatbelt in your car beeps.

It may sound minor but I’m a graphic designer/psychology major, and it does make a difference.

And truthfully, something like that I don’t even care about. I just notice that in OF when you check off a task it kinda makes it look subtlety uglier than it did before. It was simply a suggestion. I know it sounds like nitpicking, but it does have an effect on the human psyche. Compare the visual look of the “Completed” list vs items that are uncompleted. It looks slightly less organized and uses an unpleasant grey. You want checking off tasks to be visually rewarding rather than having the checked off tasks make things look slightly less organized. If you pushed a button and it did nothing, you wouldn’t push it again. If you pressed a button and got a tiny zap, you certainly wouldn’t push that button anymore. If you got some type of pleasurable stimuli you’d want to push it over and over. Chirping is a bad example because that would actually be an unpleasant stimuli and would act as a zap.

Anyway, it’s not a big deal, I was just noting that for their benefit.

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See, like this makes me feel accomplished:

I don’t look backwards at “last actions”. I’m looking at NEXT actions. Accomplishments are completed projects, and I don’t need a tick mark to recall that the five-year project I just completed (or the clear the garage task for a weekend) got done. No use for this at all, and I wouldn’t want completions clogging my view, as I have enough uncompleted items to parse.


Okay so then you wouldn’t have to turn the feature on. There are probably 100 preferences on Omnifocus that you personally don’t use. From a psychological and scientific those things make people more productive.

Many people use software in many different ways, which is why certain things are preferences.

Let’s rephrase that. “I personally have no use for this specific feature, but I certainly can understand how the hundreds of thousands of other users may find something like this useful.”

Let’s leave my understanding to me, shall we? Feel free to rephrase your own ideas and postings. That’s quite offensive, what you’ve presumed to do.


So you get exactly what I’m saying. It’s equally offensive to specify which features would be useful to all users.

It would be like going to Home Depot and seeing a Torque Wrench. There’s a huge difference between “oh well, I have no use for that,” and saying “That’s not useful for anyone under and circumstances.” I’m merely correcting the accuracy of the statement.

I don’t use Linux. I certainly wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s not a useful tool.

It’s clear from the context of my posting that I’m speaking of my use, and that I’m not presuming to speak for all users, or indeed any other users. Unlike you who presume to correct others opinions. Feel free to troll someone else, I’m done.

For me, the greyed out completed tasks indicates that this action is no longer screaming at me. It fades away so that I can focus on the more important things: the red circled over due tasks, the yellow circled yellow due soon tasks, and the orange circled flagged tasks.

I don’t really get a reward for checking off a task. I’m already focused and motivated to get to the next task.

For motivation and rewards, I look outside of OmniFocus.

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I certainly agree with that, completing the task in and of itself is rewarding, but what I’m talking about actually does affect human motivation. Psychology has known that for a while. It’s a subtle effect but it is there. Also, anything that would cause OF to look a little nicer wouldn’t be a bad thing either way.

But anyway, that wasn’t my main point. That was more of a post script. To me the first suggestion would be the most useful and effective.

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