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How do I enter in recurring events into OmniFocus that don't have a calendar date associated with them? For example, let's say I want to stretch, meditate, or practice my guitar as much as possible. Are those really actionable projects? Do they belong on iCal instead-- but that means I have to schedule it. I'm open to suggestions. Thanks!
You don't need to set a date at all. Just create the action, select it and open the inspector (CMD-Shift-I). Now you can set the repeat interval you wish and say 'by Completion Date'.

This should do the trick.
AND; don't use due dates for this. Due dates should be reserved for "hard dates". A hard date is when something needs to be done before that date or something nasty will happen (send in taxes, pay phone bill, give report to Boss before he goes on vacation etc.).

As an option to repeating task for "practice my guitar" you could simply set a start date for the next time you think you will be able to / want to practice. When that day comes the task will reappear (filter set to available) and you can then choose whether you want to do it or not.

Remember that tasks that don't have due dates should be optional as much as possible. You can do them or you can safely choose to not do them. Don't look at your task list as something that you "have to do" but something that "you could do if you feel like it". This should reduce some stress for you...
Originally Posted by colicoid View Post
AND; don't use due dates for this. Due dates should be reserved for "hard dates". A hard date is when something needs to be done before that date or something nasty will happen (send in taxes, pay phone bill, give report to Boss before he goes on vacation etc.).
The thing I'm struggling with is: how do you define what "nasty" is? I mean, how serious does a consequence need to be before the action warrants a due date?

I've been using OmniFocus for about a year, setting due dates for only the very most important items. However, recently I've started to wonder if maybe I should put them to greater use.

For example, I have an old motorcycle in the garage. I rarely ride it these days, but I still need to run the engine on occasion to keep the carburetors from getting gummed up. I have a recurring OmniFocus action to "Run motorcycle", set to repeat on completion.

If I let that bike sit for months, the world's not going to end. But if it sits for more than 6 weeks, chances are the carbs will start to deteriorate and I'll have to go through the trouble of disassembling and cleaning them (not fun).

So I'm thinking of setting a 6 week due date on the action, even though it's not really part of my hard landscape. I could run the bike later, but the longer I wait, the greater the risk.

I have other similar actions, like changing the furnace filter. It's no big deal if I'm a bit late in changing it, but at some point the consequences get worse and worse. Should it have a due date?


I don't think the consequences have to be bad, there just have to BE consequences, even if only a feeling of guilt or of time marching on.

So I use due dates wherever intuitively I think "must get that done by....." or "must get that done within......".

It can even be that an action doesn't start with a due date, but you add one later when you start to feel it's been hanging around too long, to give yourself a deadline. Due dates don't have to come from outside.

My 2p

Last edited by MacBerry; 2008-08-22 at 11:40 AM..
I have kind of a "soft due date" approach that I use a lot.
The formula is:

daily review + flag + (start date/review date = same date)

When the start date comes the action will reenter the system and pop up in the daily review with a flag on it. If I override and decide that the motorcycle will have to wait another week I just postpone those dates.

I tend to not use guilt as a factor for due dates. I think I use external factors. (Other people depend on me / fines etc...)
Thanks for the quick response, everyone! Very helpful advice.
I also try to minimize my use of due dates, but occasionally use them for more than just "hard landscape" things like appointments and deadlines. For example, my Clean Gutters task has a due date. That's not because anything in particular changes on that due date, but because the task is not one I enjoy doing yet it must be done. I'm less stressed if I keep these "soft" due dates to a bare minimum.

One thing I've noticed about myself and these soft due dates: If I find myself deferring a soft due date frequently, that's a strong sign that I'm not fully committed to the project. In that case, I need to do one of several things:
  • Do more project planning—Why am I doing this? What does success look like?
  • Come up with a better (more specific, smaller, more active) next action
  • Defer the project until I can commit to it by giving it a future start date
  • Put the project on-hold
  • Drop the project
The last three might require renegotiating the project with myself or others.

Thanks for the feedback, everyone. It's reassuring to hear I'm not the only one with these sort of soft due dates. So far it's been going pretty well, as long as I don't get too many (that's a slippery slope).

I like the idea of using flags and start dates, but I'm currently trying to use flags for things I'm planning to do today. Not sure if I'll stick with that approach though.


Last edited by Toadling; 2008-08-24 at 08:23 PM..

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