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-   -   How can I sync Start/Due dates to iCal? [A: use "export calendar" instead.] (

whpalmer4 2011-12-03 05:31 PM

If I understand the original post with the Start/Due dates in iCal, I believe the intent is to have my iCal show a task as an event within iCal. If that is true sign me up. If not, read on!
There are two routes which OmniFocus uses to publish information to iCal. The original one is the Sync with iCal button that is available for installing in your toolbar (or use File->Synchronize with iCal). This takes actions from your contexts and make iCal to do entries in the corresponding calendars that you've mapped via the preferences in OmniFocus. It does [b]not[/b] make calendar entries. The goal was to populate task information from OmniFocus onto iPhones before there was OmniFocus for iPhone and onto any other devices which could be synced with iCal. Apple has largely pulled the rug out from under this, and Omni does not appear to want to build a replacement (I decision with which I agree).

The second route is another trick done by Omni to make up for deficiencies in the Apple API support for notifications an iOS release or two ago. Because there was no provision for an application to send a notification to the user without assuming that there was ubiquitous internet connectivity, someone at Omni had the clever idea of populating a calendar on the device whenever a sync is done with appointments of 0 minutes duration and letting the calendar app (which could do those notifications) handle the dirty work of notifying the user that something was about to be due. This tactic uses actual calendar events, not to dos, and so some people have used this as a way to see their upcoming due items on a calendar. However, the notification is the same amount of lead time for every action (one size fits all!) and nothing whatsoever is done with start dates. It also is no longer needed for devices running recent iOS releases. Finally, it is only populated for 10 days or 2 weeks into the future, so even if you are okay with the other constraints, it may not show as much of a view as you want.
I have tasks as taking only 5 minutes in my forecast and/or within iCal. However, some tasks are not realistic to complete in 5 minutes or less. Take wrapping gifts for charity task(sticking with Christmas theme), I would like to estimate the effort to take 4-6 hours. My hope is for OF to forecast that out enough based on a start or due timestamp. My preference is that I know when it needs done, so back the estimate from there and show/force my hand to complete the task.

Hope that made sense and didn't complicate matters.[/QUOTE]
There's a frequent misconception that a start date is a scheduling of when you will start working a task, and a due date is when you will finish working a task. That's not really what was intended. Start date is the earliest date at which you wish to have an action shown to you as available, and due date is the latest date at which you can complete it without it being overdue. Due date-start date is not generally the amount of time required to complete the task. There's nothing preventing you from using it that way, but the designers are taking the more general view. OmniFocus (and GTD) isn't intended as a scheduler of your work, but rather a tool that allows you to keep track of your work, including when it must be completed, and helps you make good choices about what you work on in the time you are not working on things that must be done at that specific time. If you have a meeting with the boss on Tuesday from 2-4pm, that's what you do Tuesday from 2-4pm. If you have to prepare a document for the meeting, and you think it will take 3 hours, that's something that has a due date of Tuesday 2pm, and a duration of 3 hours, but it isn't necessarily the case that it must be done between 11am and 2pm on Tuesday. You can tell OmniFocus that you want it done by 2pm on Tuesday, and you can also specify that you can't work on it before Monday at 3pm, or that you can't work on it until Joe gives you some document, but OmniFocus will not tell you that you have 14 hours of work to do in a 6 hour period, nor will it choose what you should do next of all of your choices.

The GTD (and OmniFocus) workflow boils down to this:

1) Look at calendar. If there is something to do right now, do it. Go to 1.
2) Pick something to do off your lists. Do it. Go to 1.

I remember someone posting a reference to a web app somewhere that created a schedule for you based on all of the things you need to get done. We discussed it a little bit on the forum here, but I don't remember enough keywords to find it.

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