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I've moved over to using OmniFocus fairly recently and, in general, it's been really successful and I'm very pleased with the suite of OF and sync applications.

My one remaining niggle (one I've posted about before) is how best to handle a mixture of tasks with short and long durations. Just to be clear here I'm talking about a single action that can't be broken down any further but can take place over a long period before the due date.

This is going to be a long post sorry...

Here's my issue as I see it:

At the moment it’s possible to enable two time-based notifications in Omnifocus.
  • Notifications when an item is overdue.
  • Notiifcations when an item is due ‘soon’. Soon in this case is a variable period but set globally.
What this means is that whatever combination is chosen is applied to all tasks. The diagram below shows this.

There’s no option to set a notification that runs between the start date and the due date.

The problem this gives me is that it ignores the fact that tasks will often need longer preparation time than other tasks — anything that involves booking travel or posting material abroad etc. I appreciate that this should be picked-up in regular reviews but I’m certainly not disciplined enough to guarantee this and would prefer to be reminded of start dates.

I could set a long ‘due soon’ period but then will start getting notifications in advance of start dates which isn’t ideal.

For the way I use OmniFocus (as I've said I'm new to it so could be making error here) an option to be notified when tasks are between start data and due date would be a very useful way round this. The mock-up below illustrates this.

My question is where I'm going wrong in this or whether there is any way round this with the existing OF suite?
We've got a feature request open in the developer database for something along these lines - I'll attach you to that request so the rest of the team knows it's something you'd like to see added. Thanks!

That said, the request in question doesn't have a huge number of people attached to it, so for the foreseeable future, I think (as you mentioned) reviews are the way to stay on top of tasks like this...
The way I deal with that problem is to flag it. Then it shows up on my "flagged" perspective on the day I'm supposed to/able to start it. But I agree that a separate notification option would be the best alternative.

Sometimes I use a repeating action if it's really just a single unbreakable action. I don't know if it applies to your situation but when I have such tasks, it is often because I know I need to "get to know" an idea (especially for relatively creative tasks) until I figure out how to do it, or because there is a large quantity of manual processing to do; it means I want to do some of it more or less regularly every day / week / 2 weeks / etc.

Let's say I want to prepare some slides for a presentation in a couple of months:
- I will create an action "Work on presentation for XYZ"
- possibly with the ultimate due date in the notes (but it would probably be in my calendar)
- due date on Friday
- repeat every Friday (or some other repeat pattern that makes sense)

If inspiration strikes early in the week I simply work a little bit, otherwise depending on your preferences as you get near to Friday it will be "due soon" and "overdue" if you wait long enough. Then when you have done your homework, you check the action and it will generate the next action which will be your next notification.


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