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Ordering Tasks the Way You Want Them in OmniFocus

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Ordering Tasks in OmniFocus

One of our OmniFocus Premium Posts customers recently wrote in:

Apart from using contexts, do you have any recommendations for ordering my tasks in the order I want to set to do them?

He went on to describe how his current solution was to copy his tasks for today into a list in Evernote, order them in Evernote and then mark them as complete in there, before checking them off in OmniFocus later on in the day. He felt that this was doubling up his work because of needing to copy-paste in and out of OmniFocus. He also didn’t want to use something like the ABC Method (which we discuss in OmniFocus Premium Posts) because its inflexibility.

Now personally, I don’t have a problem with pulling tasks out of OmniFocus and into Evernote – in fact, I do that every single day. I pull tasks from both OmniFocus and Asana (our project management system) into my own list in Evernote and order it the way I want to. But then again, I also happen to use a hybrid Agile Results system that allows for that flexibility and where the central focus of the system is in entries in Evernote, not in OmniFocus.

Thanh came up with a much cleaner solution, it’s one we discuss in great detail in OmniFocus Premium Posts: create a custom perspective defined by flags.

So what you do is first enable your View Bar by going to View > Show View Bar.

Show the View Bar

And then go through your setup, and flag anything that needs to be worked on today.

Then select your Library (or your Work/Personal folder) and click on Focus. You then want to set your Status Filter to Flagged.

Setting Flagged Status

Go to Perspectives > Save Window As > New Perspective.

And now within this perspective, you can use keyboard shortcuts or drag-and-drop to order your tasks in whatever order you like (within projects/contexts). Note that you can do this in either Project or Context view, depending on what you prefer.

Now if you need really granular ordering, outside of contexts and projects, you can just create a single-action list called “Today” and drag and drop your tasks for today in there, then order them to your heart’s desire.

Today Single Action List

And… that’s all there is to it.

If you want more solutions and simple ways to use OmniFocus like this, be sure to grab OmniFocus Premium Posts.

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9 Comments

Posted by Wynxz  | November 10, 2013 at 10:14AM | Reply

Another alternatives here: Omnifocus + Vitamin-R + Evernote:

Omnifocus
1. Set up a flagged perspective as told in this post.
2. Flag tasks you want to do today.
3. Copy all flagged tasks.

Vitamin-R
1. Use ‘Now Pad’ to plan your day. Paste tasks from OF in the pad. Plan as you wish.
Example:
1 MIT
3 Medium ones
5 Small stuff
2. Copy ‘Now Pad’ (for putting in Evernote for reference)
3. Use ‘Time Slice’ to finish off tasks one by one. ** This will automatically check tasks in Omnifocus when you finish the tasks in Vitamin-R.**

Evernote:
1. Paste from ‘Now Pad’.

Hope this helps.
Cheers

Posted by Wynxz  | November 10, 2013 at 10:18AM

Note that you have to enable the OF integration in Vitamin-R to let Vitamin-R check tasks in OF automatically.

Posted by Thanh Pham  | November 12, 2013 at 1:47PM

You’re a rockstar Wynxz. Thanks for sharing all this.

Posted by Wynxz  | November 15, 2013 at 9:30AM

Hey Thanh,

Pleasure. I am more thankful for you and Aaron creating this awesome blog. 8)

Cheers.

Posted by Craig Kennedy  | November 12, 2013 at 1:59PM | Reply

Downside of this is that it does not port across to IOS

Posted by mat  | November 15, 2013 at 3:37AM | Reply

Honestly, this is the weirdest, friction-prone workflow I’ve ever heard of… to copy tasks (and thereby double them) to Evernote just to make up for the limitation of OF not being able to reorder tasks in the custom perspective is completely beyond me. Having them in Evernote means You have to later retrieve them in OF and check them off as well? As an aside, even with the flagged perspective I was not able to move the tasks by shortcuts/drag-drop.
To remove tasks from their originating projects for the sake of reordering sounds equally non-sensical to me.

Sadly, after talking to Omni about this topic during the OF2 beta, there will not be a real solution for this issue anytime soon.

As much as I love Your stimulating posts, to me this approach of copying / moving is the opposite of “efficient” and rather confusing…

Posted by Wynxz  | November 15, 2013 at 5:45AM

@mat

The objective of re-ordering task is to set priorities and customized contexts . ‘Context’ function in OF might be helpful but sometimes you may want everything in your own order.
And if you are like me, having three different responsibilities in three different businesses plus a hectic personal life, it’s quite difficult to use only Context function in OF (tried a lot but not working). Thus organizing everything in my own style can improve my productivity (and efficiency). Just a few mins a day copying doesn’t kill a lot of time. And by doing, this it supports Agile Results (Daily Journal) too! That’s all my experience with it. Hope it does clarify why copying. :)

Posted by mat  | November 15, 2013 at 8:00AM

Hey Wynxz,

thanks for the clarification, my response was somewhat polemic due to the fact that I am aware that it is possible to handle this differently: Ever now and so often I am looking back at Things2, which is not only gorgeous but also nice due to that respective (and has a bunch of other drawbacks…): generally, You’re free to make Your own hierarchy in Your today list. No tricks involved, no other programs needed. The log feature documents the tasks just as well for Your agile approach…
Equally to You I am stuck with contexts and enjoy the tags there, partly compensating for the level of complexity OF is comforting us with.
What I am missing most in OF is oversight over the boatload of projects, individual ordering of tasks would greatly facilitate that for me- but I am not willing to use another program for it.
Thank You for the response and apologies if I might have sounded a bit on the edge… the article just triggered this old wound ;-)

Posted by Wynxz  | November 15, 2013 at 9:28AM

@mat

Yeah, totally understand that. People have different system and approach. For me, I find that planning from a plain note by pulling everything (calendar, to-dos, etc) is much more effective than seeing and checking from programs to programs. It might consume more time, well just a bit… let me say 15 mins max per day, but it does work for me (and I think for somebody else too). So what’s working for you, keep doing it. There is no right or wrong. Just what’s working and what’s not for different people.

Cheers.

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