One of the three core pillars of organization is the ease of accessibility.1 Today, we’ll focus on how we can assign a tag to a task with ease.

OmniFocus already helps by giving us an autocomplete function. We just type a few letters and OmniFocus handily suggests what we are looking for. We can also assign the “Forecast” tag with a key command. And for those adventurous enough to start using scripts, we can assign key commands to any tag.

While the key commands can be helpful, we can certainly create more tags than possible key commands. So relying on just the autocomplete function is important in many cases.

An issue arises, when we have several tags that start with the same letters. While typing a few more letters to call a desired tag is often not a big deal, it can become a nuisance, particularly if it happens frequently.

Usefully, the ease with which we can call a tag is more than by its name. There are at least 3 factors considered when calling a tag using the autocomplete function:

  • Name
  • Order of listing
  • Level in tag hierarchy

To illustrate, let’s begin with my current set of tags:

Name & Order

Tags that are listed first will appear first when its letters are typed.

So, as I like to use the @Current tag quite often, I have it listed high up. That way all I need to do is type the letter “c” and it will appear:

In contrast, to tag something with @call, I type “cc”:

I actually use @Someday/Maybe with good regularity. I have simply too many tags that begin with “S” for it to compete in the midst of everything else. Listing it high means I only need to type “s”:

Tag Hierarchy

Consider also that the hierarchy of a tag will have an impact, too. For example, if I were to have a tag @Doug in the of top hierarchy of tags, then it would take precedence over @Tool : Desktop even though the latter is listed higher.:

@Desktop is easily a tag I’d use more regularly. In this case, I would move @Doug and file it under @Agendas : Friends. While that fits the general organization, it would also mean that typing “D” would call @Desktop first.


In this way, we can consider the titles, order, and hierarchy positions of our tags. It is useful to create them with an eye towards having them appear with as few letters as possible, preferably with one letter.

As a result, the following discussion is more about a process of organizing over time. I haven’t organized all my tags in this way in one fell swoop.

I don’t think this is the sort of thing one has to do in one fell swoop. Doing so, is more likely an exercise in procrastination. I made such changes over time only as needed, one tag at a time. I suppose that makes this is one of those more “natural formations” of organization.

But if you notice yourself typing the letter “C” and running into @Car or @Call again and again, then consider how you might arrange things. Since it’s a small change, maybe add the idea to the Inbox so that when you’re next processing it, you can do it as a quick 2-minute-or-less item. 2

  1. See Workflow Mastery for an in depth examination of organizing in digital, physical, or mental media.
  2. For an in-depth discussion of using the Inbox to avoid procrastination associated with organizing, consider Being Productive, modules 6, 7 and 12.