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Categorizing tasks is very important to me. In Things, I've been using tags and areas to do that. What is the best method in OF? Although nested folders would do what I want, it seems like I'd have to dig down through the folder hierarchy to categorize each new action, and I can't find a quick way to do that.

I was also surprised to find that OF doesn't support repetitions such as "the second Tuesday of every month," though at least there is a workaround.

Welcome aboard!

Areas are easy: most folks use Folders to represent them in OmniFocus.

Tags: OmniFocus takes a different approach to categorizing your actions than Things does; both approaches have strengths and weaknesses. Tags let you be a little fuzzier in how you define your actions, but that means you have to think more about what you're looking at actually means.

There's some good info in a previous thread started by someone switching from Things to OmniFocus. There's some particularly good advice from our CEO on pages two and three.

(Posts #14 and #15, in particular, though there's some good stuff on page three, as well.)
Whoops, just saw that I missed repetitions! We've got a feature request open on those sorts of repeats. If you email the support ninjas, they can add a vote for that change on your behalf. Thanks!

I too, come from using Things. Before I knew OF, Things seemed like a good alternative and still is for some limited use. However, the main difference is not only the app itself but the company behind it. there is absolutely no comparison. Omni is outstanding. And remember, when you buy the product, you are buying the company behind it as well.

Another gauge of the app is its community. The forum here is an invaluable tool. You learn, you share.

Moving over to OF is a win-win situation for me. I am sure it can be for you as well.
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
Whoops, just saw that I missed repetitions! We've got a feature request open on those sorts of repeats. If you email the support ninjas, they can add a vote for that change on your behalf. Thanks!
Don't forget the last Tuesday in a month (which is not always the 4th Tuesday) and the 5th Tuesday. Both are oddball repeats I have needed before.

And most importantly, weekday repeats. First weekday of the month (or second weekday, etc.). And last weekday too.

If you want to go really crazy how about stuff like first weekday on/after the 5th? Or last weekday on or prior to the 10th? I need that one a lot too.

The most effective weekday repeat mode might be to have a checkbox that said "Weekdays only". Then I could make a repeat that said "Start on the 8th, Due on the 10th" and OmniFocus would figure out that if the 10th was Sunday to make the due date on Friday the 8th *AND* move the start date to the 6th (to give me 2 days warning).
Thanks to all who've replied so far. I read the thread that Brian pointed me to - a fascinating discussion, since it introduced me to the concept of people as contexts, which was new to me. I had been thinking of contexts as conditions (e.g., at home, at the shopping center, online). But it makes sense that a person can be a context in some situations.

It had already occurred to me to use folders and sub-folders to categorize my tasks. What I was looking for was a quicker way than drilling down through the hierarchy to find the proper spot for a new action or project. Tags would be an alternative method, but I understand that they're not in OF currently.

As I've thought about this, I've asked myself why I need all this fine-grained categorization in the first place. The reason is that I frequently need to see all the tasks that are associated with a particular facet of my life, such as an area of responsibility at work or an upcoming vacation.

I realize that this may fly in the face of GTD practice - it's my understanding that GTD has you do tasks based on context. That is, you do whatever actions are doable in the current situation, regardless of what area they fall into. However, even if I were to function that way, which I doubt I ever will, there would still be times when I would have to gather all the tasks related to a certain area for meetings.

I very much appreciate the willingness of people to help here. It's a refreshing change from the tone in Cultured Code's forums of late. (I think that I recognize a couple of people by the similarity of their handles.)

I think that I'm going to let this simmer in my head for a day or two before taking the plunge. In general, I find that taking more time planning at the front end pays off in the long run.
R48 - glad to help!

Being able to filter out/hide some of your stuff so it doesn't distract you from something that's more important is something a lot of folks handle by using Perspectives. A perspective is a set of saved window settings which you can get at from a menu in OmniFocus. Rather than making the same choices under the View menu over and over again, you set a Perspective up once, then summon it as needed.

A specific example: I have a work perspective that shows me only my office or work-related stuff. All the home and miscellaneous other projects are hidden; even when I'm looking at context mode, only the actions from my work-related projects are shown.

We've got a video that desrcibes the Perspectives feature here, if that helps.

You may also want to check out this thread for some info which may also help; that's how I set my Work perspective up to hide the non-work projects and actions.

Originally Posted by r48 View Post
I find that taking more time planning at the front end pays off in the long run.
This one speaks wisdom. :-)

Last edited by Brian; 2010-07-21 at 06:31 PM.. Reason: used a comma where I needed a semicolon
Originally Posted by r48 View Post
What I was looking for was a quicker way than drilling down through the hierarchy to find the proper spot for a new action or project.
For entering new actions, OmniFocus' project column supports "smart matching" (Is that what they call it? I dunno, something like that). So you start typing a few characters and a list of matches are dynamically displayed.

For example, to add an action to my Vehicles:2010 Honda:Change oil project, I could type some shorthand like "vehonoil" or "honoil" or maybe even "hoil" might work depending on what other projects and folders I have in my database.

So associating a new action with an existing project is a piece of cake, even if that project is deeply nested in a series of folders. Personally, I don't nest more than a couple of levels, but it's nice to know the system supports it if you want to go deeper.

Hope that helps.


Thanks for the tip. I did know about smart matching for projects, but I didn't think that projects were going to be the best way to categorize my tasks. I think of a project as a series of steps (either parallel or sequential) intended to reach a specific end point. What I was after were ways to organize my to-dos based on the area of responsibility under which they fall. For example, in one of my roles at work I might have oversight over a certain area in my department. In that role, I have multiple tasks that are only related in that they belong in this area. It seemed to me that folders would be the way to go. But, when I create a new action in the Inbox, I need a quick way to get it into the correct folder, which gets difficult if the hierarchy is complex.

Maybe I need to think of using projects in a different way: that is, create a non-sequential project for each area of responsibility and just throw tasks in there as they come up. The projects would have no real end point (until I retire, that is!), but they'd let me do the categorization much more quickly.

Does this make sense to those of you with much more experience using OF? (I apologize if I'm using the terminology incorrectly - I'm new to this stuff.)

That's a reasonable way to proceed. You might give some thought to whether you prefer a non-sequential project, or a single action list for this purpose. The difference is in the behavior in a Next Actions view. With a parallel project, while any non-blocked action is available, only the first one at the top of the list will be styled and shown as a Next Action. With a single action list, all available actions are shown as Next Actions. If you are using them as areas, you might want to see more than just the first one listed when doing a Next Action view, in which case the single action list would be the way to go. Play around with it and see what works best for you. You can change it back and forth in the inspector easily, so you don't have to make a life decision before starting!

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