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OmniFocus - Too Complex

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  • OmniFocus - Too Complex

    I tried the trial version of OmniFocus, for the second time, and found it far too complex for what I want. Although I was looking for a better way to see stuff by contexts, I have in the end found THINGS to be easier to work with. THINGS has it certain limitations but is far more easy to navigate-- at least for me.

    Dave Littlehales
    La Mirada, California

  • #2
    Omnifocus needs taming

    I bought Omnifocus, it confused me, so I bought and used Things. Then I revisited Omnifocus, read the setup guide by DavidCo, and with the proper options, it's not too complicated. I could not manage my workflow with Things anymore: I need the functionality of Omnifocus.


    • #3
      I've been evaluating both for a few weeks now, and am currently siding with Things as well (it just has a nicer User Experience to it, even with some of it's limitations).

      The big thing OmniFocus has going for it honestly is the Bonjour, MobileMe, WebDAV sharing aspect to it.

      A few things I really like about OmniFocus are the following:

      . The ability to attach files and inline graphics in my notes.
      . Copy and paste clippings from OmniOutliner to OF as individual tasks (I open OPML mindmaps in OO to generate Tasks for posting in OF)
      . Task Export Features
      . Nested folders is a nice feature, but in the end I think i tuned Things to get what I wanted

      I've been bugging the CC guys for Collaboration and Sharing features for a couple weeks now, and have posted some initial concepts on their forum (i've offered the same feedback to omnigroup so let's hope someone comes to market with richer features).

      Have a look and let me know what you think.,39659



      • #4
        I think OmniFocus is daunting because it offers you so many features for implementing GTD that it can be really overwhelming. I felt the same exact way and went straight back to my Moleskine planner for awhile!

        What helped me was reading the great forums at the Omni group and slowly implementing each aspect of my GTD workflow into OmniFocus. Now I rely on OmniFocus at home, at work and on my iPhone. I'm working on convincing my boss that I would be even MORE organized if my company would shell out for an iPad with OmniFocus... no such luck!


        • #5
          Originally posted by BRSaxon View Post
          I think OmniFocus is daunting because it offers you so many features for implementing GTD that it can be really overwhelming.
          I would agree with that. Initially I looked at LifeBalance & Omnifocus. OF seemed just too much so I implemented in LB first. That didn't hold up as my own GTD practice got better and I eventually had to redo the entire system in OF. I would have been months ahead to just get the set-up stuff on OF initially and implement it first.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Oogiem View Post
            I would have been months ahead to just get the set-up stuff on OF initially and implement it first.
            Perhaps. Maybe it was just part of the gtd learning process? I learned a lot about how gtd worked for me by trying out systems that didnt work out. i just see it as part of the path you have to take to understand something.


            • #7
              Perhaps your view of Omnifocus is tinted by how complex your life is. For me, the flexibility and power of Omnifocus is just right, as I am facing considerable complexity.

              Some folks are not as analytical (which is neither bad nor good, just different).

              The "In Basket" function is a terrific feature. The whole process is consistent with the Work Flow Diagram.

              Organizing Projects in folders (by general categories of Projects) is very helpful, and it reduces the visual shock of seeing how many projects I have.

              As I use it over time, it seems like second nature, and I can't imagine going back to something like Outlook (which we have at work running on Citrix) for GTD funtions.

              Last edited by rdgeorge; 06-11-2010, 08:36 AM.


              • #8
                I have been a dedicated OF user for about 8 months now. I have an iPhone and a Blackberry (I use to use Next Action on this for a while). I have to admit, I had heard of THINGS, but OF works out perfectly for me right now. The bigger things I notice is the seamless way I can incorporate it into my life - carrying the iPhone and having everything synced up in one location.

                Again like I said, I have not used THINGS yet, I would be curious to see how they compare in my GTD system.

                For people who have used OF and THINGS, what is the main feature you like of one over the other?


                • #9
                  Omnifocus ++
                  . Nested folders
                  . Subtasks
                  . MobileMe
                  . Bonjour
                  . WebDAV
                  . robust notes
                  . Import omnioutliner clippings
                  . Perspectives
                  . View multiple tasks w/notes @ once

                  Things ++

                  . TAG system
                  . Teammate assignment
                  . iPad support
                  . Flatter organization
                  . Nice iCal integration
                  . Nicer UI and user experience

                  both apps are missing big points on the Delegation, Sharing and Notification side of things in my opinion, and we will probably see an update in this arena soon.


                  • #10
                    I think for a GTD experience that is straight-forward, Things is hard to beat

                    I personally couldn't handle Omnifocus. I prefer the way Things allows you to use tags for contexts or other criteria.

                    Also, I like the TODAY aspect of Things. You can quickly "flag" or "star" items in your NEXT (actions) list to do NOW (as in TODAY). This is not a GTD concept but rather a quick way to point out to yourself which Next actions you would prefer to occupy yourself on.

                    I like the way you can move items out of Someday/Maybe into Next and back while staying with the same tags and Areas of Responsibility.

                    I think that Things is a more approachable GTD program once you know what it is GTD is about.

                    Omnifocus adds to that by using things like geotagging (really?) This is on the iPhone app.

                    When I am at a grocery store, I trust myself more than my digital app to point out which items I can work on while at the store. Therefor I will look in my Shopping (area of responsibility) and see which items I have allowed myself to purchase (During Weekly Review I move priority 1 items from Someday into Next for that week).

                    Other examples abound. Just ask.

                    I am not big on subtasks and sub-projects as I think you can breakdown any sub-project into next actions tagged together.

                    Omnifocus doesn't offer much more usability that Things doesn't. Once cloud sync is here for Things, it will be hard to beat.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by alsa View Post
                      II personally couldn't handle Omnifocus. I prefer the way Things allows you to use tags for contexts or other criteria.
                      That may be the reason I love Omnifocus. I *hate* tagging and don't think that way. I think in folders and nested structures and tagging systems (Like Evernote) are really frustrating to me. I am using Evernote but trying to implement it in folders which is not it's strong point.

                      However, tagging or not I think OF is more robust with more options and I personally like choices in how I do my GTD lists and management.


                      • #12
                        The Psychology of OmniFocus

                        I have been using OmniFocus for quite a while and I really like the feature richness. I probably only use a small number of the features right now but it works very well for me (I especially like the AppleScript extensions that are available). I haven't used another system so I can't personally compare the different learning curves. I think this article ( describes very well some of the advantages of OmniFocus and there are a number of other good resources out there like this one ( which I found very helpful to get me started and master the complexity.
                        Last edited by hwend; 07-06-2010, 09:16 PM.


                        • #13
                          One problem I've found with most list managers that I've tried is that they try to do too much.

                          For example: they try to be both a list manager and a calendar, or a list manager and a communication tool. You need a calendar, you need lists, and you need to be able to manipulate and search both as fast as possible -- but they shouldn't be all jumbled together. Without separation between your calendar and your lists things get mix-y (i.e., things on your calendar get displayed in your next action lists because someone thought that would be a good 'feature' or whatever), and your lists lose their "hard edges" and their meaning.


                          • #14

                            I tried Omnifocus and Things, while they both have a lot of nice features, I was looking for something to help my focus and felt that too much clutter and information in the window was distracting. And as a geek I always want to fiddle with all the features and setups I needed something that had the simplicity and focus of my paper system, but with the flexibility of adding items while in mail, or on the web, as well as moving items around easily within the app (from action lists to someday/maybe and back, for example), and a way to see both single action items and action items from projects at the same time based on context.

                            When I tried TaskPaper I knew I had found the right app for me, and I recommend giving it a try. It was very easy to set up. It has a Project List to give you an overview. It has tagging for contexts, multiple views of your tasks, notes (can be linked to an action item), links to outside files and apps. It is as easy as using a text editor, yet diligently links your contexts, projects, and notes into a useful GTD system.

                            When I am working from my lists, I like to turn off the toolbar and project headings, and just have a list of what needs to be done at that time and context.

                            TaskPaper has really helped my focus, I think about the actions, and not the software.


                            • #15
                              I keep coming back to Toodledo...

                              I've tried to use OF many times, but it's just too inflexible. I have a lot of stuff going on, and it's not always clear what the boundaries of a project are. It's convenient to be able to stick action items into an area of focus, and then steer them into a project as needed. OF doesn't let you put action items at the same level. I also find choosing a project or context for an item to be no fun: I don't like OF's algorithm for suggesting projects and contexts (I don't like thinking about projects by initials, for example), and I don't like switching between a field to fill out and drag and drop, depending on whether I'm in the project mode or context mode.

                              Things is better in these areas, with a simple dialog box to move stuff around. However, the 3 versions of Things have somewhat different functionality, and the syncing is really unsatisfactory.

                              I use Taskpaper for project notes, but not for my next action list. If it had some date functionality built in, I would try to use it for next actions.

                              I keep coming back to Toodledo. It's not perfect: the web site is not as good as the iphone/ipad app, and subtasks are not really satisfactory. But it's more than good enough, and easier to maintain than OF or Things.