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by ryan davis

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Repeating Tasks

Published 2012-05-14 @ 12:00

Tagged productivity, omnifocus

This is part of the Productivity Pr0n series.

What They Do

One of the gems I got from my meeting at omni was the sheer scope and power of repeating tasks. I didn’t use them at all before that and honestly didn’t understand what I’d use them for. Since then they’ve completely turned my workflow around.

Basically, any task can have a “repeat” and the repeat interval is very customizable, esp with the latest version of omnifocus. Repeating just means a new version of that task is created with a new start and/or due date.

You can have a task repeat every N days/weeks/months regardless of when it was completed, or have it repeat N days/weeks/months after you complete it. The difference is subtle but important. For example, If you need to write and send a weekly status report every friday then you’d use the former. But if you need to check your oil 3 months after you last checked it, you’d use the latter.


For me, initially at least, it was all about the daily task. I had a lot of backlog in my project planning, execution, and life in general. The daily task gave me bite sized chunks to work on so I had continual progress across everything. I didn’t have to get overwhelmed by the size of the overall task. Here’s my current daily tasks:


There were a lot more, but most of them got caught up and then eventually promoted to weekly repeating tasks.

The important part is that I didn’t say “Empty Inbox Mail”, instead I focused on “Process Inbox Mail”. The original comment was something like “Do 5-10 quickly”. The task is only estimated at 10 minutes and that’s all I wanted to do. Strategically, you’ll notice that I only have 6 10 minute tasks and many of them are often much faster than that.

Also important, notice that I have “Process OmniFocus Inbox” and “Triage Due Perspective”. Tasks about tasks. By creating and working on these you know that you don’t have to have all your tasks perfectly organized and it also means you don’t have to put all the info on a task. You can just write enough information for you to be able to do the task, and organize it the next day when you process your inbox.


And here are my weekly tasks:


One thing to note is that I treat a lot of these like a pipeline. I don’t have to get everything right all at once. All I have to do is progress something to the next stage. “Contextualize new tasks” is only there to fill in the context field on new tasks. That moves them on into “Estimate new tasks” and so on. Again, the intent is just to make it so I have simple digestible tasks.

And yes… I hate processing my physical inbox. :(