Planning your day with OmniFocus 3 (my favorite new feature)

February 25, 2019

Have you ever been in Due Date Hell?

It looks like this:

The OmniFocus Forecast view, showing 129 items due soon.

You assign due dates to make sure you don't forget about important tasks and projects.

But if you're not careful, you might assign way too many due dates—and when you have 129 tasks that are due "soon", how on Earth will you know what to work on right now?

See, there's a difference between tasks you need to do today and tasks you intend to do today.

I always recommend that you use due dates sparingly, but use defer dates liberally. If you cannot work on a certain task until March 5, then defer it until March 5. Don't let a task distract you when you can't act on it.

This advice still goes for OmniFocus 3, but we can go further. To help us know what we need to do today as well as what we intend to do today, we'll use the new OmniFocus 3 feature, "Today shows items with this tag":

The OmniFocus settings pane, showing the Today shows items with this tag feature.

So here's how get out of Due Date Hell and plan your day in OmniFocus 3:

  1. Set up a tag called "next". 
  2. Edit the Forecast perspective to show items with your new "next" tag under Today. (As in the screenshot above.)
  3. For all tasks you intend to work on in the coming day or two, apply the "next" tag.
  4. For all tasks you intend to start on later, apply the "next" tag and defer the task until the moment you'd like to start on it.

Now, when you begin your work day and you look at the Forecast perspective, you'll see items that you really need to do today ("due" items) as well as items that you intend to get to today ("next" items). Make sure you do the tasks that are due, then do as many of the "next" tasks as you can. Rinse and repeat.

No more Due Date Hell, plus you know exactly what to do each day. 🙌🏻 May your days be extra productive!


— Peter

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