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Blog reaction to OmniFocus and repeating projects Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
O'Reilly Blog Reaction to OmniFocus

Jochen Wolters presents a project in which the goal is to back up a hard drive monthly.

He writes:
"As soon as you decide to repeat a project's actions with different time intervals, however, OmniFocus fails rather miserably at deciding what the Next Action should be"
When he sets up the project, everything seems to be working fine until he adds the task of cloning the hard drive weekly.

I haven't written a response to the review because I haven't played with the best way to set up this project.

One approach would be to create two projects:

1) Create weekly Hard Drive Clone
- repeating task set for weekly from completion date

(instead of creating a project for this you could also create a single-action list containing other maintenance things such as clean computer desktop, empty junk mail folder, etc.)

2) Back up Data offsite
- sequential tasks 1. check latest back-up 2. take back up to offsite location 3. bring hard drive home (project set to repeat monthly)

It would be interesting to see responses here or on the O'Reilly Blog Reaction to OmniFocus
This is a fundamental flaw in how OF handles repeating actions in sequential groups or projects. I posted about it last October and also sent some official feedback, IIRC. I hope they fix this because it's a real pain.
Originally Posted by Chris View Post
This is a fundamental flaw...
I don't know. It looks like someone offered a good solution. Is there really a problem here? It'll be interesting to see Jochen Wolters' follow-up blog post.


Last edited by Toadling; 2008-06-14 at 12:21 PM.. Reason: Changed link to point to blog post comments
I have several projects that repeat like the example. I have set the repeat at the project level. However, when all the actions in the project are complete, the project does not set itself to a completed status, and hence does not repeat.

What I have done as a workaround is to add a final action to the project which instructs me to mark the project as complete. It's a bit of a kludge, but I don't know of any other way to get this to work.

What would be good is to have the ability to set the project to mark itself complete when all the subtasks are complete, or alternately, set an action to be the final project-completing action of the project, then, when that is done, the parent group/project is automatically set to be complete and hence any sibling actions within the group/project to be complete too.
I just downloaded and started using OF for the first time today, and I am trying to create a daily checklist for work.


In any project, a task is required to be completed before you can move on to the next task, but if you have that task repeated, then you have an infinite loop. The project can never be completed. As far as I can see, you should never assign tasks as repeating events. Is there some way to make them useful that I can't see? (This is all in a sequential project. I haven't tried a parallel one yet.)

(Also, when you complete a repeating task without a due date, one is assigned to it after it is completed the first time. That didn't work for me as a work-around.)

To make daily, weekly, monthly checklists, etc. ... I pretty much had to group things together and only tell the group to repeat. For example, I put all daily tasks in a group called 'Daily' and all weekly tasks in a group called 'Weekly', then only assigned the due date and repeat to the group and not the individual tasks. Also, I cannot check off the group until all the tasks are checked off. (In fact, that's what I named my group: "Daily Checklist - DO NOT CHECK ME!) :-)

This is the only way I can find to make daily, weekly, monthly checklists in OF. Maybe it would be nice if they made two categories, 'Projects' and 'Repeating Checklists' because projects don't really seemed to be intended for infinitely repeating daily lists. The intention of having a project is to finish it.

The general assumptions I made as I began to make the checklist were to set everything as repeating daily. I had to stop and really think through the process of how OF thinks and what its intentions are before I could start to get something that would work as a daily checklist.

Anyways... those are my thoughts and first impressions. Please let me know if there is something I have overlooked that would help me use OF for a daily checklist.

Nevermind, that didn't really work either. Here's what works for me:
(I made this list a project in OF!)

How to Make a Repeating Checklist
Create and name a new project
DO NOT set a start, due, or repeat on the project
Set the project up as paralell (not sequential)
Create the entire checklist with groups and actions
DO NOT add any start, due, or repeats until you are done with the list
Set ALL groups to parallel
Set ALL actions ONLY (not groups) start time to 12:01 AM
Set ALL actions ONLY (not groups) due time to 11:59 PM
Set ALL actions ONLY (not groups) repeats to 'Assigned Date'
Set the focus to the new project/checklist (with all groups expanded)
Set View Bar to: Ungrouped, Unsorted, Available, Any Duration, Any Flag State
In 'Perspectives' menu select 'Save Window as New Perspective'
Note: ONLY check off actions. DO NOT check off groups!
Note: Press apple-K as you complete items to see them disappear!

(If you check off the groups AFTER you check off the actions, it will check off the REPEATED versions of the tasks you just completed for the day even though you can't see them! That seems sorta silly, IMHO.) :)
Originally Posted by Toadling View Post
I don't know. It looks like someone offered a good solution. Is there really a problem here? It'll be interesting to see Jochen Wolters' follow-up blog post.

??? The post you link to contains the heading "Fundamental flaws need a fundamental fix". I don't see a workaround for my problem (OF's treatment of repeating actions in sequential projects) given OF's current behavior. It's certainly a problem for me, and I don't know of a workaround right now. I suggested a change in behavior in the thread I linked to.

Note for example, that mattbethe's solution specifically relies on parallel projects and groups, not sequential projects and groups.
Originally Posted by Chris View Post
The post you link to contains the heading "Fundamental flaws need a fundamental fix". I don't see a workaround for my problem (OF's treatment of repeating actions in sequential projects) given OF's current behavior.
My link points to the comments section of the original blog post, where someone named "lucas" offered some suggestions. Since then, there have been additional comments claiming the issue still exists.

One interesting idea from the article author, Jochen Wolters, is for action groups to not even have a checkbox, so a repeating group doesn't get stuck waiting to be checked off.

I don't have a solution for any of this the issue hasn't really affected me. I'm just watching with interest from the sidelines.

I just replied formally to this, however, in case you guys were wondering..

This particular example looks like the entire project should be repeating - not the action itself. If that weren't the case however, action groups would most likely be in order. In any event, it wasn't apparent to everyone (particularly to those who don't personally stress the importance of action order within a project as is stressed by the methodology on which OmniFocus is based) and we're working on some UI to make this a bit easier. ;-)

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