Using OmniFocus for GTD

Over the years, I’ve gone through many todo systems. From paper, to text files, to Evernote, to iOS Reminders (ugh), I’ve tried an array of solutions. Maybe you’re like me and are constantly looking for a better solution. For the last four months I’ve been using OmniFocus, and I think I’m in love.

Yep, it’s paid software. I feel like I put in my time with free tools on this one. Even though I usually try to stick to open source if possible, this is one purchase that’s worth every penny. Plus, you can likely expense it.

What is OmniFocus?

As part of my GTD workflow, I enter tasks to my todo list whenever I happen to think of them, often from my phone.

omnifocus add

Very often I will not categorize them in the moment. I’ll typically take a pass at my “Inbox” (the list of items not tied to a project) first thing in the morning at work. Most will be assigned to existing projects, but occasionally I will create a new project for a task.


Then, I can work through items during the day and start checking things off. I can easily focus on one project at a time and see just those items. Or I can favorite items and just look at those. There is even a context feature which allows you to see tasks that are related to where you are physically located or who you are talking to at the moment.

Task List Zero

I recently converted to Inbox Zero, where you archive or snooze items to get to a small set of emails that you need to take action on in the short term. So I starting thinking about whether I could apply this process to my todo list workflow, as well. It turns out that OmniFocus was was ahead of me.

Both tasks and entire projects can be deferred into the future. You can also set hard due dates.


I use this feature to ensure that I’m making steady progress on a host of projects. Maybe on Mondays I start working on project A. I make some progress, checking off one or more tasks, and then I may defer that entire project a few days or a week into the future. It will pop back up then as a reminder to continue making progress, or defer it again.

Repeating Tasks

Similarly, there are things I want to do every single business day. I have a “Daily” project for these items, with a project level setting to repeatedly defer them by one day every time I check off a task.


Other Stuff

OmniFocus has all kinds of other features, such as a weekly review mode, customizable views, notes (including links) on tasks and the ability to put projects on hold.

Check it out!