There are any number of ancillary perspectives that may be created in OmniFocus. One example may be a perspective attempting to answer:
“What’s been on my mind recently (about this)?”
Whether for a particular project, such as writing, or with one’s overall database of tasks, whether concerning the last few minutes or the last several days, it can be nice to have a means of considering the recent past.
To this end, I use a perspective called “Recent Additions”. Basically, it answers the question above be it for a particular project, a folder of projects, or my entire library. The perspective answers more specifically:
- What tasks have I added to the system today?
- What tasks have been added to a specific project recently?, and
- Oh, wait! I wasn’t done with that task before I hit clean up! (Not a question, I know, but a problem with which to deal nonetheless.)
The following is the perspective’s creation and a few practical uses. It does require some knowledge of creating perspectives and a general familiarity with the context/project based means of viewing tasks.
Setting up a Recent Additions Perspective
In short, the perspective is context based (Command-2) with the following settings:
- Group actions by: Added
- Sort Actions by: Added
- Availability: Available or Remaining (see below for utility of either)
- Status: Any Status
- Duration: Any Duration
Here it is from the perspectives window (Control-Command-P):
I’ve added the key command Control-Option-Command-S (which obviously stands for “Recent”).
Notice that the restoration of Focus is unchecked:
In addition, I’ve set the columns to only include the Project name. To add or remove columns, with filter options open (Shift-Command-V), control click on the gray name bar:
Finally, the “Added today” grouping is expanded while the others are collapsed. The perspective appears as follows:
As always, salt to taste.
1. Tracking a Recently Added Task Moved from the Inbox
Now, any time I have cleaned up a task that I suddenly realize is not written to my satisfaction (e.g., I have forgotten to flag it or it could have been better written), I can type the perspective key command to gain access to these most recently added erroneous tasks.
One could argue for making the availability filter set to Remaining for tasks added instead of Available as noted above. For example, a task written that starts in the future would not appear. However, when I transfer the perspective onto the iPad, the client slows down tremendously as I have far too many On Hold tasks for it to calculate speedily. The same is not true for the iPhone’s version of OmniFocus which a different mechanism for graphical presentation of tasks. Your mileage may vary.
Speaking of the mobile clients, the Recently Added perspective can be very useful there. Adding the perspective to the front menu of either client makes it easy to go back and look up anything recently entered rather than having to hunt for the task:
Note: Though the Focus field was left unchecked during the perspective’s setup, I have found that the mobile clients ignore this setting and always use the entire database of tasks.
2. Looking Forward and Backward in Time
At the end of the workday, if I have the time, I will examine not only the Forecast view to see lays ahead tomorrow, but also the Recent Additions perspective, to review any of the day’s loose-ends. Tasks that I entered into the Inbox while I was too busy to follow them during the day wait here. I often discover a loose-end or simple task that I could easily just wrap up or complete there and then at the end of the day.
3. Utility in Writing
A Recent Additions perspective has also been useful in the midst of a particular project, where I have the need to recall what I had just considered a few moments ago. Having that option open allows me to follow a whim of thought, having placed a marker in the trails of work in the form of a task.
To do so, I simply focus upon the project and call the Recent Additions perspective. Again, having left the “Focus” field of restoration unchecked allows for the perspective’s utility to work with the entire database, individual projects, or even groupings of projects and folders.
For example, while writing, I can have many thoughts come to mind seemingly at once–or at least faster than I can reasonably develop them. Tossing the ideas as tasks into a project helps alleviate the strain associated with the feeling that the ideas need to be developed in their moments of inspiration.
I write down the several options of thoughts to develop, choose one, and move forward. Upon its completion, I may return to the perspective. If I had additional thoughts come to mind while writing, I enter them as tasks into the project, too. The tasks closer to the top tend to be more related to the topic I had chosen, having been more recently on my mind. As I tend to move from the top of a list down, the process creates a form of automatic closed loop, promoting completion of a thought and therefore thoroughness in developing the various possible paths.