Why I Use OmniFocus

Jul 31, 2015
Joe Buhlig
~3 mins

Task managers. There are so many options available and it’s painful making a decision, especially when it takes real dollars to get into them.

There’s a lot of hype around to-do list apps, but I’m not known for jumping into an app just because people are excited about it. And with task managers, I knew I was picky. I did the normal thing and ran Google searches to find out what the broader internet prefers. It was a mixed bag and that was three years ago. It’s worse now.

Not knowing whose opinion to trust, I pulled together my list of needs in a task manager. I compared that to the list of task managers I could find and quickly concluded that OmniFocus was my only real option.

I recently tried this again to see if there were new options that met my criteria, but I came up short. It seems the OmniGroup is the only team thinking detailed enough to fit my needs.

Design

I’ve done enough UI/UX design and development to realize that the OmniFocus interface is pretty sophisticated. You can tell that every line and every pixel is in place for a reason. They’ve thought it through enough to get the interface out of the way and let you work. That’s tough to pull off.

If the design (what it looks like and how you use it) of an application isn’t simple, appealing, and highly functioning, I delete it. I know that there are enough options out there that I’ll find what I’m looking for or I’ll build it myself.

Trust

I have to know that my data is safe. If I’m developing a web application, the action steps to complete it cannot disappear. And they cannot duplicate. I can’t worry about my task lists and the task itself.

I’ve never had problems with one of OmniGroup’s products and I don’t hear of many (if any) data issues that aren’t user-induced. If they introduce a product or feature, it just works.

Defer dates

This is a big sticking point that no other app handles correctly and a lot of OmniFocus users mention as a selling point. It’s like a snooze button for tasks. I need to be able to put tasks off until later. Let me give you a date and time of when I want to see that task again.

This is not a due date. Using arbitrary due dates will get you in trouble every time.

Right now I’m recovering from surgery and have a 10 lb lifting restriction. That means I can’t work on most of my DIY projects. So I defer them to keep my lists from being cluttered.

OmniFocus is the only application I’ve found that handles this. And it does it beautifully.

Project planning

The ability to edit tasks by project and also by context seems simple. But I was amazed by the number of GTD-centric apps that don’t have this. It’s one of the foundations of the framework. I need a list of projects with the next action for each, and every action must have a context. Conclusion: I need to see tasks by project and by context.

AppleScript

I do a lot of customization and automation. And my task manager is not exempt. I need it to integrate with everything I do on my Mac. From automatically parsing tasks to adding tasks, it needs to fit in.

At the end of the day, I only have one choice. And it’s one that I’ve grown to really enjoy. OmniFocus is a killer task manager that looks nice and gets out of the way when I need to work.

P.S. You can find a lot more detail about OmniFocus in my book. But I’d like to finish writing it first.