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How to review reports (and other recurring tasks) with OmniFocus

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Lately we’ve been getting a lot of OmniFocus users emailing us about how they can use the program to review reports. If you’re in a position where you need to regularly stay on top of incoming data and reports – OmniFocus can help you with that.

The key is that you use repeating tasks to remind yourself. After trying out many different task managers and to do list apps, I’ve realized that many of them don’t allow you to repeat a task when it’s completed.

For a beginner that might not seem like a big deal, but it is. Once you get to a more intermediate and advanced level, you’ll start to be aware of all the tasks in your life that keep repeating. That’s when you have the opportunity to systemitize and make things as routine as possible. You’ll end up spending less time recreating tasks, managing your task list and fiddling – and more time doing stuff.

Instead of recreating “Review TPS report” every Friday morning, OmniFocus will remind you that you need to do this. You don’t have to worry anymore about when you need to clear your desk – OmniFocus will remind you.

As you systemitize your life this way, things become easier. Plus you’ll have a trusted system that will remind you when you need to do something. One thing we’ve noticed is that as you get busier and things start to pile up, it’s really convenient to have OmniFocus pop up and say “Hey you need to do this – it’s important!”. That way things don’t slip through the cracks and you’re always on top of things.

As an example, recently one of our OmniFocus Premium Posts customers asked us about about how he should manage reports that he needs to review on a regular basis.

I have been reading your OmniFocus Premium Posts and I am enjoying it very much.

I have OmniFocus on my MacBook Pro retina, iMac at work, iPad Air and iPhone 5 – so far I am enjoying the program and your posts are helping quite a bit.

I was wondering if there was a way you would recommend I set up OmniFocus so when I get to work I have tasks to read all the reports I need to go over on a daily basis.

The reason I ask is that I get reports from various departments and sometimes a department head will forget to get me a report or the office manager will forget to give me one of the many reports I want to go over on a daily basis.

I would like to have the tasks for these reports that I have to check off on Monday thru Friday so I don’t miss any. All help is greatly appreciated…


John E, USA.

My response

Hi John,

Definitely. When you go through OmniFocus Premium Posts, there is a post on repeating tasks. Make sure you read that because it will help you set it up.

Assuming you’ve read it, what I would do is:

  1. Create a new single actions list, e.g. “Review Reports”.
  2. Create tasks in there for reports to review, e.g. “Review report of IT department”.
  3. For each task, open the inspector and then set it to repeat every business day.
  4. Make sure each task has a start AND due date, e.g. start at 8am, due at 3pm.

If you want to get fancy, create a perspective for this list and stick it up on your toolbar. Then every morning, you just click on that perspective and OmniFocus will show you which reports you need to review. From there just start checking things off and voila!


More things to consider

In the example we dealt with reports, but you can apply this to anything. Here’s the thing I want you to know:

When you start systemizing OmniFocus, it becomes one big repository of checklists.

Just think about that for a moment.

There are tons of things you do on a daily/weekly/monthly basis that repeat themselves. Let’s take an example of my own life:

  • every morning I go through my morning routine
  • every Sunday I do my weekly review
  • every first day of the month I review all the KPIs and metrics of Asian Efficiency
  • every day I look at my goals
  • every Friday I clear my desk and clean my hardware

And the list goes on. Start thinking about all the things you’re doing that keep repeating themselves and then think about how OmniFocus can support you. Don’t try to rely on your memory to do things. Have OmniFocus, your trusted system, remind you.

Once you have identified the different areas of your life and tasks that repeat a lot, start putting those in OmniFocus.

The simplest way is to just start a single actions list called “Routines” and put everything in there that is repeating. Whether it’s daily, monthly, every 2 weeks…whatever. Just put it in there and start setting up your systems.

Once you’re comfortable using it, then you want to get fancy with perspectives, dedicated lists and such.

And of course we show you how to do all that in OmniFocus Premium Posts.

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1 Comment

Posted by Susanne Demaree  | October 28, 2014 at 11:21AM | Reply

Thank you! Is there a setting to eliminate the crossed out tasks? The checkmark is enough for me, I don’t want a strikethrough.

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