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I'm having trouble using OmniFocus, can you help? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I'm coming from Outlook tasks to OmniFocus. The power of OmniFocus to manage projects is much better than what I was using, but I was previously able to sort my tasks by due date so I knew what I should be working on next. However, I can't seem to sort things in OmniFocus by due date. When I do sort them, they are in reverse order with the farthest due dates listed at the top. The project categories also mess things up and break up the list of tasks.

Am I doing something wrong? Is there a good tutorial on how someone sets up their life on OmniFocus and how they know what to work on next?
Welcome to the forums, Alligator! We'll be happy to help. (In case it helps, you can also get help by emailing us or calling 800.315.6664 between 10am and 5pm Pacific time.)

Based on your description, it sounds like you're looking at your actions in Project view. Are you on the Mac? If so, I'd suggest opening the "Perspectives" menu, then selecting the "Due" perspective.

That's based on Context view, which will sort your actions (regardless of which project they come from) in the manner you seem to be looking for. Does that view do what you need?
The key thing for me to understand the power of OmniFocus was the simple phrase:
Plan in Projects, Work in Contexts

That means that when you are setting up new actions and projects, planning tasks, etc, you should be in the "Project" view. Then, when you are actually doing work (or deciding what to do next), you should be in the "Context" view. The Context view will show you all of the tasks assigned to that context--across all your projects--and can be sorted and displayed however you want. Sorting by due date makes a lot of sense, and it is how I usually work.

The implications of that are that when you add new tasks, you'll have to assign them to both a Project and a Context, and you'll have to give some thought to not only how you organize your Projects, but also how you organize and build your Contexts. There is a ton of information available in the forums on how people set up their Contexts if you need some help on that.
The problem I have is that I am not experienced with organizing my tasks by context.

For example, I'm sitting at my desk in my office, so I can't simply list "office" or everything would be in that context. I'm not using this for personal tasks, just for work tasks. I see examples of people using "phone" as a context, but I just don't have that many calls to make in a day to justify this. Instead, I usually have 5 projects or so, each with active tasks that I need to work on as I have free time.

What do you think I should do?
You might want to rethink contexts if 90% of them are "Office". Contexts can be anything you want, and there are many different views on this. Contexts can be places, tools, time, level of difficulty, frame of mind, etc. Do a quick google search for "GTD Contexts" and you will find a lot of examples.


Full Focus
Brain Dead
Over an Hour
Etc, etc
One habit I've found useful when deciding how/when to split up gargantuan contexts is to make some notes whenever I scan down a long list of tasks in a context about why it is that I'm not doing various tasks, even though I'm seemingly in the right context. This will often suggest some new subcategories or even top-level contexts. The vast majority of your tasks may have to be done at the office, but you'll probably find that there are some natural groupings beneath that. Perhaps there's a collection of tasks which require the use of a certain piece of equipment. Other tasks might require going to a different area of the building, or talking with a specific colleague. You'll probably be more efficient if you can do multiple similar tasks when you set up the large document scanner, walk over to marketing, or catch the remote employee who only comes in 2 days each week.

As atreinke suggests, contexts don't have to be physical locations; they are orthogonal to projects, and offer you the ability to slice and dice your task lists into smaller chunks. Doing so makes it easier to select a task and get back to work rather than staring numbly at an impossibly large list.
We had a blog post a while ago about this that might help:

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