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Questions - I want to switch from Things Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I have been using Things on the Mac and iPhone and I want to switch to Omni Focus for a number of reasons, one being MobileMe syncing. I have downloaded the OmniFocus demo for Mac and there are two things that I'm not sure the right way to do with Omni Focus that are critical to the way I work.

1) At the beginning of the day I like to clear out my Today list and the put in the things that I want to accomplish today and manually sort them in the order I want to do them. Things has Today as a feature. In OmniFocus do I just create a project called Today and do the same thing?

2) If I have a task and I did my part and someone else has to do something by a certain date and in Things I would put it in Someday with a date when I want it to appear back in Today. I see Waiting in Omni Focus but I don't see if it can be moved at a due date back to a list like Today.

OK, more playing with OF and reading these forums.

1) I think I see how to do this. Just create a Single Actions project and I can move stuff in and out every day.

2) I can sort of see how to do this, but I'm still a little confused. I'll keep reading and experimenting. I'm a little confused over the View Bar and think I would have preferred something like Smart Folders.
OF doesn't work like Things, as you're finding out. Best way to create a 'Today' style list is to flag things you want to do Today, and create a perspective for flagged items. This way the items will not lose their meaning so much by being dragged somewhere else.

If you're thinking like what you said in 2) above then you sound like you haven't played around with perspectives, which are in effect like Smart Folders but much more powerful. Basically, a perspective is a snapshot of anything / everything you want, saved for later convenience.

Having a 'Today' list which you keep pushing forward is 'not very GTD' (I'll say that before anyone else does :P) and Omnifocus doesn't have a today system built in for that reason. I use flags to mark a bunch of stuff I want to do as a motivation tool sometimes on days where things are a bit all over the place, but most days I don't bother and just plod through my tasks and projects in the order intended.

Moving stuff in and out of a Single Actions project seems a bit cumbersome. You need to forget about the Things way of doing stuff for a bit. And go and read up on GTD again. There is no Today, only Next :)

(Sorry for being so boring, I'm only saying what most other people will say about Omnifocus and GTD)
Regular review is critical so perhaps the first task of the day (or the last the night before) should be to review your Available and Inbox tasks, flag some, unflag others, then switch to a flagged perspective as mentioned above, and get to work. Use the Next Action filter as you work so you're not bothered by all the available flagged items and you'll be less likely to spend time making "today" or "now" rankings in your head instead of checking off tasks.
Originally Posted by Onazuka View Post
...2) If I have a task and I did my part and someone else has to do something by a certain date and in Things I would put it in Someday with a date when I want it to appear back in Today. I see Waiting in Omni Focus but I don't see if it can be moved at a due date back to a list like Today...
OF doesn't move tasks but can make them appear (become Available) at a future Start date. Keep an Context Folder with people Contexts. In your Sequential Project organization put a task with a future start date in the Context of the person who needs to get back to you. "I receive application from Mark @ Waiting For:Mark start=9/25/09 due=10/1/09". On 9/25 the task will apear in your Available list (maybe Next for that project) and when you check it off then the next task in the project "Review Marc's application @Office start="null" due=10/15/09" becomes Available. If Marc does not get the application to you by the due date then you can handle that during your periodic Review.
Originally Posted by BevvyB View Post
(Sorry for being so boring, I'm only saying what most other people will say about Omnifocus and GTD)
Well said, BevvyB. :-)

I'll add that the Omni Group is supposedly planning to add smart folders in a future version (possibly 2.0). It's not clear if these will be in addition to perspectives or replace them entirely. It seems like each has its advantages and disadvantages, so we'll see what develops.

For my system, I pretty much do the same thing as BevvyB: flagging items as "important" but still working from my main outline most of the time depending on what context I'm in. Using the view bar filters for "available" and "next" actions are the key to narrowing down the huge list of projects and actions to a more manageable level. To use OmniFocus to its fullest potential, you really need to master perspectives and the view bar.

My flagged "important" items aren't really a "today" list though, since I won't necessarily get to all of them today. It's more of a "hey, take care of these actions in the next few days or so if you can" kind of list. When I'm doing my daily review (OF's review date field prevents you from having to review your entire database everyday -- instead, just review the items that come up for review that day), I flag or unflag items as my interest, priority, time, energy, etc. change.

One thing you may find missing in OmniFocus when coming from Things is the ability to manually sort your list of flagged items in context view. You have some control over this by the order of items in planning mode and the order of contexts appearing in your sidebar in context mode, but for the most part, sorting of flagged items in context mode is controlled by the view bar filters. This may be confusing at first but really provides some powerful options once you get comfortable with it.

Having said that, however, it still might be nice if the view bar allowed one more sorting options: a user-defined manual sort order. That would likely satisfy people coming from Things. I believe there was some discussion of this on the forum in the past. I don't recall the outcome, but you could always send in a feature request directly to the Omni Group (Help -> Send Feedback from within OmniFocus).

Do you guys have some nice ideas why I should switch to OF from Things? Are people happy with this app and why?
Why do you think I should invest in OF?

I am reading GTD for the moment and I want to really have a GTD-tool that I can "grow" in.

Would be grateful for some thoughts on this from someone who is more experienced in the GTD system and maybe had tried some other GTD applications.

Best regards.

I used Things heavily for over a year before recently switching to OmniFocus a few weeks ago. The first few days took a little rethinking but having read the GTD book I was actually somewhat looking forward to it. Like you, one of the first things I looked for was some way to create a "Today" view equivalent. Turns out it's actually fairly easy to create a perspective to do this. The main difference is that Things relies on the "today" flag to mark your active tasks, and setting a date on a task simply tells Things to automatically set the "today" flag on that date. OmniFocus is much more flexible in this regard, supporting both a flag option and a due date; and these two are very easy to combine into a unified view that I've come to prefer over Things' implementation.

As to why I switched, it really came down to the number of projects I have. Things just can't organize lots of projects effectively. On the CC forums there are plenty of people offering suggestions on how to do it, but the result is always a cluttered mess. Since switching to OmniFocus, I find I'm much more comfortable with where I am in all my projects and that nothing's being missed (and isn't that the point anyways).
BevvyB, thanks for clarifying things greatly ... seems to be two groups throughout many OF posts: those knowledgeable on GTD and those who are not but are looking for a "professional grade task manager". The latter group doesn't have the time and or maybe the interest in reading GTD and a new philosophy, they just see the power of OF over Things and definitely over Apple's iCal.

So if you someone doesn't mind helping us out, how in the heck does a GTD purist prioritize and sort the items to get done today? Just to clarify, I'm aware that we can set a start date and then use perspectives to sort by start date to see today. But say now one has ~ 10 tasks set to start today, the tasks have been looked over and confirmed to start today, and now it is time to set a semblance of order to work through them. Manually adjusting start times (8:00 AM, 11:30 AM) will work but is time consuming!
Personally, I don't try to order items in the "Start Today" bucket - I just try to get them all done before tomorrow.

I suppose if I had a whole lot of items in that bucket, I might, but for a list of 10 or so items, it's pretty easy to scan the list, pick something to do, and do it.

For me, at least, a lot of fine-grained sorting eats up more time than it saves me. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

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