Trouble with Task Managers

I’ve been using Omnifocus for over 3 years now. It’s effectively become my second brain at this point. But lately, I’ve been running into a few hiccups.

Design

For anyone interested in GTD or task management, I doubt I need to mention how gorgeous Things 3 is. Looking at Omnifocus feels like I’m looking at a complicated spreadsheet now. I’d switch to Things in a heartbeat, but it’s lack of sequential tasks or perspectives are deal breakers. I also find that the sidebar gets quite overwhelming fairly quickly if you use a task manager to the extent that I do. If they’d add the ability to have headers in Areas, I’d be thrilled.

Sharing Lists

Now that I’m sharing tasks with another person, mainly my grocery list, I’ve had to look elsewhere and abandon my wonderfully organized list in Omnifocus. I’m back to using Reminders for now. For a brief time, I explored GoodTask and 2Do which both sync with Reminders, but found GoodTask lacking in features and 2Do just too complicated.

Tags

Testing out Things 3, GoodTask, and 2Do really opened my eyes to how valuable a tagging system could be. While not critical to my workflow, I do think there is value in being able to assign things like energy levels, priorities, or people to certain tasks in addition to just their context. Multiple tags is on the roadmap for Omnifocus 3, but it is yet another thing to be desired in my current set up.

For now, I’ve resigned myself to keep using Omnifocus. Tags are at least on the roadmap, and sharing of lists has at least been hinted at so it seems like my best bet is to keep waiting. Hopefully, the next version will feature a simplified design as well and the wait will be worthwhile. Until then, it seems like I’ll be dealing with a little more friction when it comes to my task management system then I’d like.

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4 thoughts on “Trouble with Task Managers

  1. muddyflanker says:

    Interesting. I tend to feel the same about Omni as you, while it’s generally good at its job it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing app that is a joy to use. Hopefully v3 may address some of these.

    Have you found a way to replicate the Things’ ‘Today’ view as I find that is one of the biggest gaps in Omni? I don’t want to put arbitrary start dates/deadlines on tasks to get them to hide/show in Forecast, and the Next Task perspective just gets very messy when you have many active projects, plus it can’t be manually re-ordered. I’d like, as part of my morning review, to be able to create a custom task list for the day, maybe from all the Next and deadlined tasks, which self-destructs at midnight. This way I’d only have to think about which project to do next once (and it’s be further encouragement to do daily reviews). Any thoughts?

    • Andrea says:

      I do have a Today perspective but I really only use it to plan out my day in the morning. Things’ Today view is project based (or in Omni lingo, “use project hierarchy”) but I prefer to have mine context-based (“don’t use project hierarchy”). After that, it’s grouped by context and filtered to show only the due or flagged available tasks.

      Each morning, I typically look Today to see what’s due (or what I didn’t finish from the day before) and then flag or unflag a few other available tasks to accomplish as well. Once I’ve done that, I switch back to my more drilled down @Home or @Work perspectives depending on where I’m working from.

  2. muddyflanker says:

    I suppose flagging tasks and basing a perspective on that might work for a Today view, and to filter m,y context views to just get today’s tasks might work, although it still apply a hierarchy sort to them rather than letting me manually order them. Will give it a go. Thanks for the thoughts.

    • Andrea says:

      It’s also worth noting, I try to organize my projects/folders with a priority in mind (work, grad school, personal, household) so that they at least sort in some sense of importance. It’s not perfect, and I do look forward to manual sorting, but in general, I get a list I can work from top to bottom mostly in order of importance without having to sort.

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