Task Priorities: Finish What You Start

Despite the flexibility of the OmniFocus todo list manager, one feature that is lamented by some as being missing is setting explicit priorities. I haven’t found this to be an issue because there are so many attributes available to assign to todo list items (tasks). Two I have found to be very useful are flags and start dates.

Flags

Flags can be assigned to highlight tasks for special treatment. This can be a binary assignment to identify priority items if you like. One essential attribute of prioritization is setting limits. For example, identifying your current 3 Most Important Tasks (MIT’s). By limiting yourself to just 3 MIT’s you are forced to decide what are your must do items because you don’t allow yourself to flag anything else until these items are completed.

Start Dates

Assigning a start date for a task in addition to or instead of assigning a due date is one way I prioritize items. Some tasks might not have an established due date but you want to get started with them and make them a priority for current activities right behind your MIT’s. By establishing a start date you can have a perspective on tasks you have started sorted by how long ago you started them (Perspective – Project Filter:Remaining; Grouping:Start; Sorting:Project; Status Filter:Remaining;). This perspective allows you to prioritize by focussing on finishing what you have started before starting new tasks. This is really helpful so you don’t start too many items in parallel. Sorting by how long ago you started also encourages reviewing old items that you should either finish or recognize should be closed or perhaps put back on the some day list.