In an ideal world, we sort out our OmniFocus inboxes regularly. But, in the real world, this doesn’t always happen and actions and ideas can accumulate there.
From time to time, something comes up that needs to be done urgently and it is important that it not get lost in the inbox (or even in the sea of other tasks that have been sorted into Projects).
To make sure I don’t miss anything important I use OmniFocus perspectives; my current approach mainly involves working from two:
MITs shows the day’s most important tasks, usually from 3-4 projects (though sometimes several individual tasks from these, depending on how large they are)
Current could loosely be described as “everything else that I hope to get to but won’t matter too much if I don’t”. It automatically pulls in:
- Routine tasks that I more or less want to do straight away when they become available (e.g. back up my computer)
- Tasks for daily habits (e.g. go through my Spanish flashcards in Anki)
- Anything due in the next week, as long as I haven’t explicitly hidden it until it becomes available (e.g. a bill payment that’s due soon)
- Anything that I’ve tagged as ‘SWA’ for ‘Show When Available’ (e.g. if I know I’m getting a tax refund and I want to start that preparing my taxes straight away after the end of the year, even though they won’t be due until later!)
- Anything that’s tagged with ‘Do’ (even if it is still in the Inbox).
Based on the above set-up, the best way for me to make sure I don’t lose an important task in the inbox is to tag it with ‘Do’ as soon as I add it, to make sure it shows up in my ‘Current’ perspective (even if it is still in the inbox).
One way of doing this is to manually add the ‘Do’ tag when adding the task. This is the first tag in my list so this is quite easy. (Of course, if something is very important I can also add the ‘🎯 MIT’ tag.)
I also have an iOS Shortcut set up to add a task to OmniFocus which automatically applies the ‘Do’ tag. This can be run directly (for example by adding it to the home screen or the Shortcuts widget) or run from the share sheet.
When run from the share sheet it takes the input and either adds it as an attachment or a note (whichever is appropriate) to a blank OmniFocus task, and opens it in OmniFocus for me to add further details as required.
I can then process my inbox maybe once a day (or even less), knowing that there’s nothing super urgent in there. Often, much of the inbox is random ideas that have occurred to me, because lots of the important stuff (bills I need to pay, or jobs I need to do for work) is input in other ways—through Hazel rules or templates (via Drafts/Shortcuts) for example—and so bypasses the inbox.
I should add in the interest of full disclosure that with the share sheet changes in iOS 13 I am considering removing the tag from this shortcut and simply adding it manually when needed, but nevertheless it may serve as a useful template for some use cases—and as I have specifically been asked to share it, I am doing so.
The shortcut looks like this:
Instructions for Use
You can save this Shortcut to your own device by clicking here.
I am currently running the iOS 13 beta so this may or may not work on iOS 12. That said, it should be relatively easy to recreate based on the above screenshot, and it doesn’t use any actions that are specific to iOS 13.
This is configured for file types that I tend to use, so if you regularly use some other kind of input that you want as an attachment you may need to edit the list.
Additionally, if you want to apply a different tag you will simply need to update the ‘Context’ field in the two ‘Add to OmniFocus’ actions.