This post inspired by a conversation at the Omni Group Discourse site.
Checklists can be very helpful. These are lists that tend to repeat themselves. You may have a checklist for preparing for a trip, setting up a performance, shutting down the workday, and more.
Here are two examples of how I might manage them in OmniFocus:
Example One: Weekly Review
The first is a weekly review. I:
- Create a weekly task to trigger review project:
The task has a defer and due date of this Friday.1
The task repeats by defer another at a frequency of weekly. It has a tag of “Current” which causes it to appear in my Current perspective.
The resulting task rests in my Current list:
Instead of linking to a dedicated perspective as you see in mine, you could simplify matters by linking to a project directly using the Copy as Link function. To do so:
- Secondary click the project.
- Select Copy as Link:
Here, the project is also repeating weekly and is set to auto-complete when its last task is done:
However, I have no due date assigned to it. This keeps all of its tasks from cluttering a perspective such as the Forecast perspective. The only thing that would appear in the Forecast’s due areas is that single task. The idea that there is one thing due is much more representative of how I want things presented, rather than 20 or 30 in a checklist. The only thing that has the due date assigned is the triggering task described early that appears in the Current view.
Example Two: Morning Checklist
As another example, I will use a repeating task to trigger a daily office checklist. I could use the same method as above, but I prefer to have all of its tasks outside of OmniFocus. This can further minimize any cluttering within OmniFocus, though at the cost of syncing the list to other devices. I’m certain there must be ways to do so, but I have not explored them.
This method uses a program external to OmniFocus, namely OmniOutliner.
To set it up:
- Create an OmniOutliner list of all of the tasks for the morning .
- Save it as a template. (In Omni Outliner, select Menu > File > Save as Template).
- Create a task set to repeat daily such as “Go through morning routine”
- Open its note field (Command-‘)
If you want to have OmniFocus directly connect an alias to the file:
- While holding Control, drag the OmniOutliner template file into the note field.
Alternatively, you can use a program such as Hook to link to the file. I prefer using Hook as the links tend to be more reliable for me.
This second example does, more or less, tie the work to my laptop where the template resides, but that is fine as the laptop is the only place I do the office checklist.
- In practice, I do not have a due date for this trigger task. Instead, I rest on the habit of doing reviews, preferably by Friday, end of the day. ↩
Thanks for following up on my post over at OmniGroup’s forums. One question: With Example One, why do you configure the checklist as a project that will repeat when the last item is marked done? My idea was to have each item repeat individually, What benefits do you see with your solution, and what would be the downside with mine?
Sure thing. Actually, having a series of individual tasks works just as well. In fact, it can even be better in that you don’t have to complete everything for something to appear again the next day. I prefer Example One for the specific example of the Weekly Review more because it is a set of tasks set to be in sequential. (Sequential tasks cannot be individually set to repeat as they’ll block the future tasks from appearing.)
Yes, when starting to implement this, I realized that there are checklists where it’s better to repeat the items: For my morning routine I’ve some tasks that are daily, some to be done during the weeks and others that are for the weekend.
To be honest, I personally think that OmniFocus could use some serious work on checklists. I’m a system administrator, so I have quite a few repeating checklists of daily, weekly, bi-weekly, …. nature. Some days I dread looking at the deferred perspective. Things 3 (and quite a few other project/task managers) solve this WAY more elegantly than OF can/will.
To avoid the problem of checklists filling up a perspective, I utilize the Flag and/or ensure it’s a sequential list so only the top-most item is available. I then make the top item of the checklist “Begin [Primary Action]”. I can then hop over to the project from that item itself, or as I check off the item, only the next available appears. These checklists are almost always a task with subtasks, where upon completion it repeats, or a project that repeats.