The OmniFocus interface showcases your tasks in the large right main window and a sidebar of perspectives from which you can view your tasks. The real trick to using OmniFocus optimally is to craft your perspectives such that they show you what you need to see when & where you need to see it. To that end I’ve gathered here a bunch of OmniFocus perspective setups and try to see how useful they really are.
Quick Wins Perspective
Note the Sort Actions by: Duration: this perspective helps focus on tasks across all projects we can do quickly.
OmniFocus Today Perspective
I have designed several perspectives I rely upon to get through the day. For example, I have one called “Today” that just shows me the tasks I have available to me today organized by project. This is a great place to start in the morning as I decide what I can and cannot get done. I’ve got a related perspective called “Clear” that gives available tasks but not organized by project. It is just one big list. If, suddenly, I find myself dealing with something that blows up at work, I go to the Clear perspective and quickly select everything else and press the button to push it all off until tomorrow. Then I pull on my industrial strength, radioactive-proof waders and start dealing with the emergency.
For another example and more discussion on the “Today” OmniFocus perspective, see http://macapptitude.com/192/omnioutliner-forecast-todays-perspective/.
The following next few perspectives are from http://nerdgap.com/omnifocus-perspectives/.This custom Stalled perspective shows any project that’s active but without a defined next action.
Note the Sidebar Selection of “All Projects” in the lower part of the screenshot, which is possible because of an “All Projects” master folder that every project is enclosed within (you can cmd-click as many folders as you want for the sidebar selection).
Others may prefer an Applescript to achieve the same goal of gathering up projects without next actions: http://www.curtclifton.net/journal/2014/5/27/verify-that-next-actions-exist.html.
Candidates is a custom perspective I cooked up that shows me all of the next actions defined in a set of contexts I’ve decided represent my “work.” They’re ordered by flag status — any flagged item appears at the top, in other words. When I start my day, this is the menu from which I choose the day’s tasks. Everything I want to do that day gets a flag set, usually 3–5 tasks, maybe more depending on how quickly I’ll finish them
I also like how the author of that perspective uses it as a counterpoint to easier tasks which are next on his list after working in the Candidates perspective view. For example, after knocking out a few tasks in your Candidates view, you can venture into a perspective like the Quick Wins Perspective introduced above.
First Thing Perspective
I love perspectives that show you exactly what you need to work on for the day. This First Thing perspective only shows tasks due this morning & also available to do at home:
This perspective shows all tasks that are either due or flagged that are still incomplete.
OmniFocus may or may not be ideal for your productivity needs, but it’s a powerful app once you start latching onto a consistent method of using it.