The Omni Group
These forums are now read-only. Please visit our new forums to participate in discussion. A new account will be required to post in the new forums. For more info on the switch, see this post. Thank you!

Go Back   The Omni Group Forums > OmniFocus > OmniFocus 1 for Mac
FAQ Members List Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read

 
How to prioritize today's tasks? Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
I switched to OmniFocus from Appigo Todo, which I'm afraid failed to meet my needs despite its very clear and intuitive interface. I'd like to do something very simple: Is there a way to view only today's tasks, and prioritize them, perhaps even filtering out low-priority tasks?

Many thanks in advance for any help.
 
Flag 'em and use the flagged view.
 
You can also put pretend tags in the note field like:

#1. #2. etc.

And then search for them. What makes it practical is that you can save a perspective that includes a search term*.

But flagging is easier...

[*you have to create the perspective without a search term, view the perspective, add the search term, then save over the perspective. I don't know why it won't just let you create the perspective with the search term in the first place.]
 
Yet another way to roll, assuming "today's tasks" share some common thread, like a due date of today or a start date of today:

Go to Context mode and adjust the view options to show you your tasks in remaining contexts grouped by due date, sorted by due date, availability filter set to remaining, status filter set to due soon, estimated time filter set to any duration. Now close all of the future groups, leaving open only the Today group, and optionally the past groups. Save as a perspective, making sure that the Restore: Expansion option is ticked. This will show you what is due today, what is overdue if you open the past groups, and a bit of what is due in the future if you open the future groups.

You can similarly build a perspective that groups by start date, sorts by due date showing remaining actions with past and future groups closed. This is a "tickler" perspective, like the GTD tickler file. If you use the urgent perspective from the previous paragraph to put out any fires (or keep them from starting), and this to play "whack-a-mole" on work as it first becomes available, you should be fairly productive.

If you want some finer gradations of priority, and don't intend to use the duration estimate field, you can repurpose it as a priority field. Change those perspectives to sort by duration and give the higher priority items a smaller number (duration sorts the shortest items to the top). You don't have to give everything a priority value; anything with a number will sort before everything without a number.
 
Thanks to everyone for their replies. What I'm looking for doesn't seem to be supported by OmniFocus at this time. I'm used to looking at today's tasks, then sorting them manually by priority (whatever happens to be most important to me that day). That way, the top of the list is always the highest-priority task and you can just complete tasks in order of priority, so you'll always be working on your highest-priority task.

Could this be incorporated into OmniFocus 2.0? It's a shame that it's not possible to drag to reorder tasks in the Due perspective.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by keynotes View Post
Thanks to everyone for their replies. What I'm looking for doesn't seem to be supported by OmniFocus at this time. I'm used to looking at today's tasks, then sorting them manually by priority (whatever happens to be most important to me that day). That way, the top of the list is always the highest-priority task and you can just complete tasks in order of priority, so you'll always be working on your highest-priority task.

Could this be incorporated into OmniFocus 2.0? It's a shame that it's not possible to drag to reorder tasks in the Due perspective.
I fear Things has sort of corrupted the "todo" list idea and everyone feels that the best way to accomplish things is via a "Today" view.

I get the reasoning, but that isn't always the best way to do it.

What I suggest doing is setting your "Start Date" and "End Date" on your tasks. This will put them into the "Due" view.

There is no way to sort the tasks by priority that I'm aware of.

I suggest ignoring this aspect of your workflow for the time being and give the application a shot outside of this (probably obvious) drawback.

I have tried Things, The Hit List, Todo, and a few others but I keep coming back to OmniFocus. It just handles things a lot better than other applications. It is missing some glaringly obvious things. But the rest of the application is so much better I just can't force myself to keep trying other apps any more.
 
UnLogikal, thanks for your reply. I'm starting to think the same thing as I learn the "by-the-book" GTD method and learn my way around OmniFocus. It does seem strange that the basic functionality of looking at today's tasks and prioritizing them is missing, but I do see the power of the software and expect to be more productive thanks to it. I also outgrew simpler task managers, even if they were more immediately intuitive.

I'm grateful for the tips in this thread. I'll customize the Due view to put flagged items at the top, and I'll flag the most important tasks of the day. I could always switch to the built-in Flagged view to see only the most important items.
 
I would agree that trying to select or prioritize for Today can be confusing. Instead, I use an Active, Due, and FolderX perspective as well as the Forecast view on my iPod. Active defines what I have in focus for the next few hours based on flagging actions from the other perspectives. Due is anything with a Due date (and unflagged). FolderX is a selected view in to a specific folder that defines my top area of responsibility to complete. In my daily startup, I look at Due, FolderX, and WaitingFor (a context) to decide what to flag, generally up to only a half dozen or so actions. I work on that Active list until complete, then repeat with another selection of active tasks.

Some guidelines that I found helpful ...

* Set Due and Start dates on a task only when they are defined external to the task. Setting Due and Start dates by when you "want" to do a task only makes them subject later to whims and fancies. Nothing important ever gets done that way.

* Use Contexts in a way that makes it sensible to set them on hold in order to filter out actions that are unreasonable to do because you are just not "there" in that context. If for example you always have a cell phone with you, then why have a cell phone context? However, you cannot always be at your home/apt/office, so they make reasonable contexts that can be "shut off".

* Make thoughtful use of parallel and sequential action groups to streamline the steps in a larger project. An Active view showing Next Steps can be far cleaner to attack that way.

HTH

--
JJW
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by keynotes View Post
What I'm looking for doesn't seem to be supported by OmniFocus at this time.
That's correct, you cannot directly drag and drop tasks into any desired priority order in context mode.

If there is a hierarchy of priority among your projects (all tasks in project A are more important than all tasks in project B), you can achieve your goal by putting project A above project B in the sidebar and sorting by project. Of course, this may create havoc with any attempt to maintain a neatly ordered project list, and with projects of any appreciable complexity where everything isn't due all at the same time, it is unlikely that the prioritization will be so straightforward.
Quote:
Could this be incorporated into OmniFocus 2.0? It's a shame that it's not possible to drag to reorder tasks in the Due perspective.
It's interesting to think about just what is involved in implementing such a request (more generally, the ability to have a manual sort order in context mode).

OmniFocus has a number of underlying concepts in play when constructing displays that are more or less apparent:
  • Ordering of actions in projects is significant
  • Ordering of projects and contexts is significant
  • Displays of the same data with the same view settings should be identical
That the ordering of actions in sequential projects (and action groups) is significant is obvious. Less obvious at first glance is that OmniFocus treats order as significant in parallel projects/action groups. This is done so that you can specify a preferred order of execution in a parallel project or group rather than having the order reflect internal implementation details of the software. This is most apparent to the user when using a Next Action view.

The significance of ordering projects and contexts comes up when looking at a view sorted or grouped by project or context. These views are presented in the same order as the projects or contexts appear in the sidebar. You aren't required to order your projects by order of importance, but OmniFocus assumes that you have, so that you have that option.

Consistency of display from device to device and session to session is clearly desirable, especially if any sort of manual sorting is supported. Display ordering is the sticking point, I think. OmniFocus clearly has the necessary code to support dragging rows into an arbitrary order, but that ordering has to be retained across launches of the program or even opening new windows in order to be of much use. If you spend time dragging your tasks into priority order, you don't want your work undone as soon as you switch to a different view, do you? That ordering also must be propagated by sync to any other OmniFocus clients. The only way that can happen is if your ordering choices are stored in the database. Also, do we restrict ourselves to only one manual ordering? Why shouldn't I be able to rearrange my list of Flagged tasks, or tasks starting today?

As a result, this isn't just a simple UI change; it probably needs a database format change with all of the extra compatibility code and testing that entails. That's the sort of thing you want to do as infrequently as possible, so my prediction is that if it happens, it happens in OF 2 sometime (one could make the format change before actually exposing a UI that used it).

Quote:
It does seem strange that the basic functionality of looking at today's tasks and prioritizing them is missing
I have a different viewpoint here. If you have a collection of tasks you are calling "today's tasks", those are tasks to be done today. Either you have enough time in the day to get them all done, or you don't. If you get them all done, the order probably isn't important (or is dictated to you by the time they are due and any sequencing constraints). If you don't have time to get them all done, you shouldn't be worrying about prioritizing them, you should be renegotiating your agreements about what you are going to do. Otherwise, you're just doing the "daily to-do list" exercise that David Allen shoots down on pp. 40-41 of Getting Things Done.
 
whpalmer4, thanks for this explanation. I've also thought of the implementation from a programming/database perspective and understand that it's anything but trivial. It does strike me as ironic that in the most powerful todo application it's not possible to just look at today's tasks and prioritize them, though I'm now starting to get my head around the GTD methodology which actually discourages this practice. I also wonder how I'd tackle today list prioritization from a programming standpoint, and everything I can come up with would disrupt the other views, defeating the purpose of the feature.

Thanks for the reminder about David Allen's view of task calendars. I reread that section and agreed with every one of his points... yet I'm still compelled to schedule and reschedule my tasks the old fashioned, frustrating way! It's time for me to learn and implement a proper GTD system rather than come to it and try to force it to do the very thing it's designed not to let me do. I'm starting to see the power of this software and method and trust that my time would be better spent learning and following it. There must be plenty of good reasons why OmniFocus has almost exclusively 5-star reviews despite being the biggest, most complex and expensive todo app for OS X.

I'm amazed at the responsive, friendly and helpful user community. Thanks to everyone for helping me through the beginner phase. I look forward to being able to help beginning OmniFocus users myself before too long.
 
 


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
How to prioritize tasks efficiently Zeos786 OmniFocus 1 for Mac 5 2013-02-26 07:28 PM
Filtering(?) for today's tasks omnibob OmniPlan General 0 2012-08-03 09:09 PM
Perspectives Question: Today's Perspective using only tasks w/ due dates boogerus Applying OmniFocus 1 2012-06-18 04:50 AM
Getting Today's Tasks on Notification Center? matt1 OmniFocus for iPhone 8 2011-10-26 08:09 PM
Today's tasks by Context then all the others AndySaff OmniFocus 1 for Mac 1 2007-10-21 02:02 PM


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 09:37 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.