In the lead-up to my Learn OmniFocus workflow session, I wanted to share some of the nitty-gritty details of how I manage my tasks with OmniFocus. That session will focus on the magic of Omni Automation (✨!). So, over this week, I’m concentrating on the more foundational, structural side of things, like projects, tags, and perspectives.
Yesterday, I shared the details of the custom perspectives that make up my OmniFocus dashboard, and today I’d like to expand on that and take a look at the rest of my custom perspectives.
Some of these are focused around ‘doing’: they provide lists of tasks that I could act on now, that I might consider in certain contexts. Others are ‘planning’ perspectives that I typically only visit as part of a daily or weekly review.
Let’s get stuck right in!
The first two perspectives listed here I consider to ‘follow on’ from the dashboard. They exclude tasks that are included in preceding perspectives.
The idea of being your ‘future friend’ is an idea borrowed from Gemma Bray of The Organised Mom Method. This perspective shows tasks that are available to work on now, that either have a due date or are scheduled for the future with my ‘Scheduling’ Plug-In. They are an opportunity to get ahead!
This perspective is a final ‘catch-all’ that includes any available tasks that haven’t already been picked up in the dashboard or Future Friend perspectives.
A lesser-used perspective, this perspective shows me all of the tasks that are currently available (excluding Waiting tasks and also those that are tagged with ‘L3’ which are all cleaning tasks – I don’t typically want to see these).
Waiting / Agendas / People
These twin perspectives show me available tasks tagged with ‘Waiting’ and ‘Agenda’ respectively. These are typically are also tagged with a person, so grouping these by combined tag means that anything I am waiting on from a single person is shown together.
I also have several perspectives that focus on people I work with regularly. These typically look something like this example, for a fictitious person with the initials ABC, and pick up any tasks tagged with that person, and also any that match their initials in brackets (this is the formatting convention I use to denote a project that they are responsible for).
I also have several perspectives that simply show available tasks for a given tag. We’ll go into a little more detail with some of these tags later in the week, but for now, here is a quick list:
- Washing Machine (ungrouped)
- Lazing Around
Most of these are grouped by project and sorted by project order, except as noted above.
In addition to these, I also have a ‘Lazing Around (Phone)‘ perspective that excludes any tasks that require a computer; and an ‘Out Walking‘ perspective that includes nearby place tags (i.e. those that I could walk to).
Client Work / Non-Billable Work
Another simple pair of perspectives, these relate entirely to work. One includes available tasks from my ‘Client Work’ folder, grouped by combined tags. The other shows available non-client work.
This broadly replicates the built-in Projects perspective, but only includes tasks that are not habits or routine tasks. I typically use this for my weekly review.
The opposite of the perspective above, this perspective only includes habits and routine tasks.
This perspective shows all tasks with a due date, grouped and also sorted by that date. It’s useful to get a sense of any impending deadlines.
This perspective picks up any active projects with no remaining actions. This is useful as a quick check as part of my daily and weekly reviews to make sure there are no projects that don’t have a next action defined.
This is a convenience perspective that replicates the Tag view of the ‘Scheduled’ tag and its subtags, most of which are driven by my ‘Scheduling’ Plug-In. In the sidebar, this perspective is filtered by the same ‘Scheduled’ tag. This provides me with a ‘forecast’ of what I’ve planned to do in the upcoming days.
Needs Attention Level
I use this perspective as part of my daily and weekly reviews to quickly ensure that all remaining tasks (except Waiting/Agenda/Errands tasks) have an ‘attention level’ assigned. We’ll talk more about this in a future post!
This is another quick check to ensure that all remaining personal tasks are tagged appropriately.
We’ll delve into tags in more depth in a future task. For personal tasks, I make sure that tasks are tagged, as relevant, with:
- Location Constraints e.g. ‘🛒 Supermarket’, ‘🏠 Home’, or ‘🍳 Kitchen’
- Equipment Constraints e.g. ‘💻 Mac’
- Time Constraints e.g. ”
- ‘👣’ (Out Walking)
- ‘⚡’ (Quick)
- ‘🛍️’ (Online Shopping)
- ‘🛏️’ (Lazing Around)
- ‘📺’ (Watching TV)
Once I’m satisfied that all tags have been added I use a keyboard shortcut combined with a simple action to apply a blank tag (‘⠀’) to the tasks. This denotes to me that the tags are complete and removes the tasks from this perspective. Waiting and Agenda tags are also removed from this view, as they typically contain all of the necessary information when they are processed or added.
As you can see, I make extensive use of custom perspectives in OmniFocus, but many of these additional perspectives are quite simple to create, with only a few rules. Several of these have keyboard shortcuts assigned in the ‘Preferences’ pane, which is a trick I somehow missed until quite recently.
Of course, I am also not averse to creating perspectives on the fly if that seems like it would be helpful in the moment!
Next up in our whirlwind tour of my OmniFocus database: window management, automating the set-up of my dashboard with Keyboard Maestro and Alfred, and a few quick automation tricks to make navigating between all of these perspectives easier.