OmniFocus Tags Directory

OmniFocus tags can help you quickly and conveniently hone in on the projects and actions that are most relevant.

The following directory showcases some of the many ways in which tags can be employed. Use these as a starting point and adapt them to accommodate your life and work.

Create as many tags as you need, but not so many that you’re adding unnecessary complexity to your system. If you want to add visual flair, consider including an emoji character in the tag’s name. And you’ll probably want to group at least some of your tags together (e.g., all related to people) to help keep things organized.

Let us know if you come up with innovative ways to use tags to enhance your productivity.

Guide: Making Productive Use of OmniFocus Tags

If you’re a Learn OmniFocus Member, check out this detailed guide for making effective use of Tags, in combination with Projects, Single Action Lists, and Folders, on Mac, iPhone and iPad.

Not a member? It only takes a moment to Join Learn OmniFocus. All memberships include a 30-day money-back guarantee.

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What do tags represent?

A tag can represent a Getting Things Done (GTD) context or can be an additional bit of “metadata” that makes it easy to locate related actions, action groups, and projects.

For example, tagging actions with ๐Ÿก Home makes it easy to identify all the actions that need to be done at home. And tagging actions with ๐Ÿ– Vacation identifies actions you’d like to complete before heading off on vacation, even if they could technically be completed after you return.


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Our example tags are grouped into categories. Consider grouping more specific tags to make them more manageable. For example, the ๐Ÿ˜Ž Shallow, ๐Ÿค“ Moderate, and ๐Ÿค” Deep tags could be nested under the ๐Ÿ”Ž Focus tag so that you can easily identify all of the tags that you’ve created that relate to your focus level.

๐Ÿ“… Date & Time โ€“ Identifies actions and projects that correspond to a time of day, a time of the year, or an event. For example, you could add a tag of ๐Ÿ•• Evening to things that you’d like to focus on in the evening.
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+ Eisenhower Matrix โ€” A time-management technique popularized by Stephen Covey that involves evaluating activities based on their urgency and importance.
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๐Ÿ›’ Errands โ€” Things you’d like to take care of when you’re out and about. For added convenience, errand tags can be associated with a physical location.
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๐Ÿ”Ž Focus โ€” It can be very helpful to distinguish between actions that are best done when you’re in a focused state from those that you can practically do in your sleep.
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๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ง People โ€” Things that can only be completed if one or more people are present in some form (e.g., in person or on the phone).
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๐Ÿ— Projects โ€” Useful to help ensure that projects move forward towards a well-defined objective.
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๐Ÿ“ Physical Locations โ€” Things that can only be done if you’re at a specific location. For example, you would need to be at home to complete the action “Water the plants.”
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๐Ÿ’ก Someday/Maybe โ€” Used to identify things that are currently undefined. OmniFocus isn’t necessarily the best place to store these things.
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๐Ÿ›  Tools & Services โ€” Indicates that a tool (e.g., iMac) or service (e.g., cellular phone service) is required to complete this item.
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๐Ÿ“ Types of Tasks โ€” It can be very productive to group related actions together (e.g., writing, brainstorming).
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Identifies actions and projects related to a time of day, a time of the year, or an event. For example, you could add an ๐Ÿ•• Evening tag to things you’d like to focus on in the evening.

Date & Time

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๐Ÿ“… Today โ€” Something that you’d like to get done today, even though it’s not technically due.

โฐ Early โ€” Actions you plan to complete first thing in the morning. This could include actions that help you prepare for your day.

๐Ÿ•˜ Morning โ€” Actions that you’d like to complete in the morning.

๐Ÿ•‘ Afternoon โ€” Actions that you want on your list for the afternoon.

๐Ÿ•• Evening โ€” Actions that you plan to take on in the evening.

๐Ÿ—“ September โ€” Projects or actions you don’t plan on working on until September. You could set this tag as “On Hold” until September arrives and make it active on September 1.

โ›ฑ Vacation โ€” Added to actions and projects you’d like to complete before returning on vacation.

What about defer dates?

You can specify when you want an action or even an entire project to become available using defer dates. We recommend deferring anything you can’t act on until the future. For example, if you plan to buy tickets to the U2 concert, and they don’t go on sale until Friday, it makes sense to defer the “Buy tickets to U2 concert” to Friday. If the tickets will likely sell out, you might also want to tag this with ๐Ÿ“… Today or add a flag.

There may also be things you could technically do right now but probably won’t get to until a future date or time. You could defer items to the future, though using a tag may be more convenient. For example, you could add a tag of ๐Ÿ•• Evening to something you plan to do this evening instead of deferring it to 6 pm.

Repeat Until Complete

There may be results that you achieve over a period of time. For example, let’s say you’re reading James Clear’s excellent book, Atomic Habits. You could create an action of “Read Atomic Habits” and tag it with ๐Ÿ“– Read (or ๐ŸŽง Listen if you opt for the audiobook), but you wouldn’t be able to mark it complete until you’ve finished the book. Instead, consider having an action such as “Read Atomic Habits for 15+ minutes” that repeats regularly (e.g., every day) and give it a tag of ๐Ÿ” RUC (Repeat Until Complete). When you’re done reading the book, delete or drop the action.

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OmniFocus 3 - Date and Time Tags

Eisenhower Matrix

The Eisenhower Matrix is an approach to time management that was named after Dwight D. Eisenhower, who served as President of the United States from 1953 to 1961. The late Stephen Covey popularized it in his bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The basic premise is that items that consume time, energy, and attention are rated based on their relative urgency and importance. The four quadrants of the Eisenhower Matrix can be expressed as tags in OmniFocus.

1๏ธโƒฃ Important/Urgent โ€” Used to identify important items that need to be addressed immediately (e.g., Phone: hydro company about power outage”).

2๏ธโƒฃ Important/Not Urgent โ€” Added to important things that don’t need immediate attention (e.g., Discuss: plans for summer vacation”).

3๏ธโƒฃ Not Important/Urgent โ€” Indicates things that demand our attention but aren’t aligned with goals and values (e.g., being interrupted by a call from a telemarketer during an important meeting).

4๏ธโƒฃ Not Important/Not Urgent โ€” For items that aren’t pressing, don’t support long-term goals, or bring a sense of fulfillment (e.g., binge-watching a show on Netflix).

Focusing on What’s Most Important

Applying these tags lets you hone in on the most important tasks and helps you better understand what types of actions and projects are predominant in your system. A productive goal is to have most tasks in 2๏ธโƒฃ and minimal tasks in the other three quadrants.

To see how the Eisenhower Matrix can be applied using OmniFocus, check out OmniFocus Workflows with Jeffrey Taekman.

OmniFocus 3 - Eisenhower Matrix Tags

Errands

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It can be very helpful to quickly pull up a list of all of your errands, both when you’re planning your day or your week and when you’re out and about.

Errands are distinct from Physical Locations. If something is tagged as an errand, the assumption is that it’s a stop along your way, typically a short one. Conversely, work activities (sometimes lengthy) are performed at specific physical locations.

๐Ÿš˜ Errand โ€” A general-purpose tag for an action that involves running an errand.

๐Ÿฆ Bank โ€” Actions to be performed the next time you’re at the bank (e.g., Deposit: cheque from Acme Corporation). Consider adding a location to this context. It could refer to a specific branch (e.g., RBC Royal Bank at 685 W Hasting Street in Vancouver) or could be a search that will allow you to find banks in the area (e.g., RBC Royal Bank).

๐Ÿ›’ Grocery Store โ€” Actions to be performed when you’re at the grocery store. It could be something as simple as “Buy groceries.”

๐Ÿ› Gastown โ€” A tag can also be used to identify a town or a region of a city where you perform errands. p.s. If you’re wondering, Gastown is a popular historic neighbourhood in Downtown Vancouver.

A Note About Shopping Lists

While keeping your shopping lists in OmniFocus is technically possible, it can add unnecessary clutter. Keeping details of what you want to purchase in a separate app, such as Reminders or AnyList, may make more sense.

Reminders and AnyList allow you to share your list with others. AnyList will automatically group your grocery items into the appropriate sections (e.g., fresh produce, canned goods, and bakery) to make your shopping trip quicker and more convenient. Grouping is also available in Reminders as of macOS 14 (Sonoma) and iOS/iPadOS 17.

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OmniFocus 3 - Grocery Shopping List

Focus

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Using tags to differentiate actions that are best done when you’re focused from those you can practically do in your sleep can be very helpful.

๐Ÿ˜Ž Shallow โ€” Actions that can be accomplished when your energy level is low (e.g., late in the afternoon) or when you’re in a distracting environment (e.g., a noisy coffee shop).

๐Ÿค“ Moderate โ€” Actions that require a moderate amount of energy that could be accomplished in a somewhat distracting environment.

๐Ÿค” Deep โ€” Actions that are best done when you’re full of energy and in a focused environment.

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People

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Some actions require a specific person or group of people to be present. Having tags dedicated to people you regularly contact (e.g., your boss or your significant other) can be helpful. When that person is present (e.g., in person or on the phone), you can bring up a list of all the activities related to them.

๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐ŸŽจ John Smith โ€” Actions that require that John is present in some form (e.g., Discuss: quarterly report).

๐Ÿ‘ต Mom โ€” Actions that require your Mom to be present (e.g., Discuss: plans for Dad’s birthday party).

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ Family โ€” Things to discuss when everyone in your family is present (e.g., Decide: whether to vacation in Spain or Italy).

๐Ÿ“Š Weekly Sales Meeting โ€” You could have an OmniFocus tag to keep track of things to discuss at your Weekly Sales Meeting. If you have tags for other regular meetings, consider grouping them under ๐Ÿ’ฌ Agenda. It probably makes sense to set these agenda tags to “On Hold.” This way, they can be pulled up when needed without cluttering up your action lists.

Waiting for something?

If you asked someone to do something and you’re waiting for them to let you know that the task is completed or to provide something tangible (e.g., a report), consider tagging the action with both the person’s tag and an “On Hold” โธ Waiting tag. If you have the Pro upgrade, create a Waiting Perspective to track everything you’re waiting for conveniently.

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OmniFocus 3 - Dog Waiting Tag

Projects

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โœ”๏ธ Checklist โ€” In the Getting Things Done approach, David Allen describes a project as a defined objective that requires two or more discrete actions. The Best Practices for Naming OmniFocus Projects article discusses the importance of naming a project in a way that clearly describes its objective (e.g., โ€œPlan Trip to Viennaโ€). To reinforce this desired outcome, it can be handy to include an action group within the project that details the conditions that need to be satisfied in order to call this project complete (e.g., “Flight to Vienna booked” and “Vacation time approved”). This action group and all of the actions that are contained within it can be given a tag of “โœ”๏ธ Checklist. ” We recommend setting this tag to “On Hold” so that checklist items don’t appear in your list of available actions.

โžก๏ธ Progress โ€” It can be very helpful to have a repeating action that prompts you to make progress on a project (e.g., Make Progress: Plan Trip to Vienna). You can jump to the project by clicking the project link in the inspector or choosing View > Show in Projects (โŒฅโŒ˜R) on the Mac. Additionally, consider pasting a link to the project field in the notes field of this action for easy access. Once you’ve made some progress, mark this action complete and dive back into the project the next time it becomes available (e.g., tomorrow or the next business day). The emoji chosen for this tag implies that you’re chipping away at a project, making consistent progress until it’s complete.

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Physical Locations

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Some actions can only be performed when you’re at a physical location. This could be a building (e.g., your apartment) or an area of town. Here are some examples.

๐Ÿ  Home โ€” Actions that can only be taken when you’re physically at home (e.g., Water the plants).

๐Ÿšช Arriving (Home)  โ€” There may be things that you want to be reminded of as soon as you get home (e.g., Take out the recycling). This tag could be nested under the ๐Ÿ  Home tag and be configured to notify you when you get home.

๐Ÿ˜ Leaving (Home) โ€” It can also be handy to have a tag that you assign to things you want to be reminded about when you’re leaving home. Nest this one under ๐Ÿ  Home as well.

๐ŸŒฒ Outside (Home)โ€” If you have a home with a yard or outdoor space, it can be helpful to identify actions that you perform outside (e.g., Mow the lawn). Make this a sub-tag of ๐Ÿ  Home.

๐Ÿ›‹ Inside (Home) โ€” Similarly, it can be helpful to identify activities that take place indoors (e.g., Replace furnace filter). If it’s a cold and rainy day, you could focus on these actions, leaving the ๐Ÿ  Outside ones for days with more favourable weather.

๐Ÿข Office โ€” Actions that can only be taken when you’re physically at the office (e.g., Change the lightbulb in your desk lamp).

๐ŸŒ† New York City โ€” Actions to take the next time you’re in the Big Apple (e.g., visit the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue).

Location-Based NotificationsHiVE Vancouver Tag

You can optionally be notified when you’re near these locations by tapping on Location in the inspector and specifying a physical location or search. For example, here’s a tag called “HiVE Vancouver” that’s used to identify all of the actions that need to be done at this location. It’s associated with the HiVE’s location in Vancouver’s Gastown neighbourhood, and notifications are set to trigger when arriving within a short distance of this co-working space.

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Someday/Maybe

In the book โ€œGetting Things Done,โ€ David Allen coined the term โ€œSomeday/Maybe.โ€ He shares how โ€œโ€ฆit can be useful and inspiring to maintain an ongoing list of things you might want to do at some point but not nowโ€. He goes on to say that โ€œโ€ฆthis is a โ€˜parking lotโ€™ for projects that would be impossible to move on at present but that you donโ€™t want to forget about entirely. Youโ€™d like to be reminded of the possibilities at regular intervalsโ€.

? Maybe โ€” You can add this tag to projects or actions you may take on (e.g., Climb Mount Everest) that you’re not yet committed to pursuing. Ensure that this tag is set to “On Hold” so that none of these items appear in your lists when it’s time to get stuff done. It’s important to review these lists regularly and to discard ideas that are no longer valuable.

๐Ÿ”ฎ Someday โ€” This tag can identify projects and actions you plan to do at some point. Unlike things tagged with ? Maybe, there’s a commitment to take action on things that bear this tag, even though the “when” is unclear. Ensure this tag is set to “On Hold” so items on these lists don’t clutter up your day-to-day activities.

Is OmniFocus the best place for someday/maybe items?

OmniFocus isn’t necessarily the best place to park all your someday/maybe items. Instead, they can be housed in documents (e.g., OmniOutliner files) or in an online repository that’s shared by a group of people (e.g., Trello). This keeps a clear distinction between things that you’re committed to taking on and items that are less defined and may never transpire.

If you keep these lists outside of OmniFocus, consider creating recurring OmniFocus actions to prompt you to revisit these lists frequently (e.g., Add a “Review: list of ideas for blog posts” action that repeats every two weeks).

For more information, check out Managing Someday/Maybe Lists with OmniFocus.

OmniFocus 3 - Someday Maybe tags

Tools & Services

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Some actions can only be performed if you have a specific device or service at your disposal. For example, video-editing work may only be performed on an iMac, and you would need an Internet connection to place an order on Amazon.

โ˜‘๏ธ Asana โ€” If you’re working with others, you may use a tool such as Asana to coordinate team communications and shared projects. Add this tag to any OmniFocus actions that prompt you to do something in Asana (e.g., Review dashboard for Project X). The next time you log in to Asana, pull up a list of all of the OmniFocus actions that bear this tag.

๐Ÿ“ถ Internet โ€” Actions tagged with this task require that you be connected to the Internet. This tag may be useless if most of your actions fall into this category. Though, if you spent a fair amount of time “off the grid,” it could be helpful to quickly pull up a list of online tasks when you have an Internet connection handy. You could also use this tag for tasks that require a fast Internet connection (e.g., Upload: 4K video) from those that require less bandwidth.

๐Ÿ“ฑ iPhone โ€” Actions that can only be taken on your iPhone (e.g., Install iOS 17 update).

๐Ÿ–ฅ iMac โ€” Actions that can only be taken on your iMac (e.g., Backup to clone drive). This tag could be grouped under the Physical Location where this computer resides. For example, if your iMac is at home, you could group it under the ๐Ÿ  Home. This way, iMac actions will appear when you look at everything you can do at home.

๐Ÿ’ป MacBook Pro โ€” Actions you’d like to do when you’re in front of your MacBook Pro. Perhaps some of these tasks could technically be done on another device (e.g., an iPad) but are more efficient to do on your MacBook Pro.

Airplane Mode

Identifying actions that can be performed without a tool or service can also be useful. For example, an โœˆ Airplane Mode tag could indicate actions that can be performed without needing an Internet connection. It’s handy to be able to quickly identify such actions when, for example, you’re soaring at 35,000 feet and don’t have an onboard Internet connection.

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OmniFocus 3 - Airplane Mode Tag

Types of Tasks

Doing the same types of tasks in one sitting tends to be very efficient. Additionally, you may have time carved out of the day for a specific activity (e.g., writing), and it’s helpful to pull up a list of all related tasks quickly. The following tags can be added to actions (or even entire projects) to give them the extra definition needed to home in on and batch tasks.

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๐Ÿ—„ Admin โ€” Most people have at least some administrative tasks (e.g., Pay bill, Submit expense report). These actions may be spread across multiple projects and single action lists. It can be very helpful to corral all your admin actions together so you can go into admin mode and take care of this work. It might even make sense to schedule regular admin time on your calendar to ensure this work gets done on time.

๐Ÿ™€ Avoiding โ€” There may be some actions that you catch yourself avoiding. Maybe you’re constantly deferring them to the future, even though you could have taken action days or weeks ago. On the surface, they may seem trivial, but constantly putting them off wastes your time and attention. Tag actions that meet these criteria and make a game of completing at least one by noon each day.

๐Ÿค  BOLD โ€” Actions that take you outside your comfort zone and may result in failure, embarrassment or rejection. Consider making a point of doing at least one or two of these actions a day. It’s a tangible way of taking bold steps forward in your life and work.

๐Ÿง—โ€โ™€๏ธ Big Rock โ€” One of The “5 Choices to Extraordinary Productivity” that’s documented on the Franklin Covey website is Choice 3: Schedule the big rocks, donโ€™t sort the gravel. This tag is used to identify your most important actions. Get into the habit of identifying your Big Rocks and schedule time for them on your calendar to help ensure that they get the attention they deserve.

๐Ÿ™‡โ€โ™‚๏ธ Brainstorming โ€” Actions that involve brainstorming, perhaps using a tool such as MindNode, or even a good-old-fashioned whiteboard or a piece of paper. Brainstorming is inherently a creative pursuit, and it can be very helpful to keep these activities separate from more structured work.

๐Ÿ“š Research โ€” Add this tag to any activities you consider research. You might also want to add a focus task to distinguish research that requires your full attention from less intensive research.

๐Ÿ” Routine โ€” Productive routines (e.g., “Process: office inbox”) are essential to living a productive life. It can be helpful to tag actions or even entire projects (e.g., “Perform Morning Review”) with a Routine tag and to take care of routine tasks at specific points during the day.

๐Ÿ“† Schedule โ€” If your life and work involve a lot of scheduling, consider having a tag dedicated to identifying scheduling-related actions (e.g., “Schedule: time for weekly review”). It can be very handy to see all your scheduling actions together, whether you’re scheduling time independently or in collaboration with a team.

โœ Writing โ€” When you get into a good flow, you may find that writing projects flow easily. Conversely, jumping between writing projects and totally unrelated work involves a “context switch” that can significantly hamper your progress. This tag can be helpful for easily identifying writing tasks.

Action Prefixes

It can also be helpful to add a prefix followed by a “:” (colon) to actions to indicate the type of task. For example, “Write: the first draft of workshop summary” is prefixed with “Write:” and you could identify all writing actions by searching for this prefix. The colon is included so that tasks like “Remind John to write the letter” don’t appear in this list.

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