Making Productive Use of Tags in OmniFocus 3

Making Productive Use of Tags in OmniFocus 3

Learn how to make productive use of tags alongside projects, single action lists, and folders.

OmniFocus 3 introduces the concept of “tags”. In a nutshell, tags can be used to group related projects and actions; they add another layer of information that can be very helpful for honing in on your most relevant tasks. Tags can also be considered lists in their own right and their contents can be reordered independently of other tags and projects.

In this article we’ll explore the many ways that tags can be used to add ease and efficiency to your OmniFocus workflows. We’ll also look at the relationship between tags, projects, and folders (a common source of confusion), and how these organizational elements complement each other.

Putting Things in Contexts

Previous versions of OmniFocus allowed you to add a context to projects, action groups, and actions. The term “context” derives from David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology and defines the tools and conditions that need to be present in order to carry out an action.

For example, if you have a phone call to make you would need a phone and phone service. And if you can’t move forward on a project until you’ve had a chat with Joan, then Joan needs to be present in some form (e.g. in person or on the phone) in order to accomplish this task.

Contexts make it possible to see all of your relevant, actionable tasks, without the distraction of things that aren’t actionable. For example, it’s probably not very helpful to see a list of phone calls that you need to make if you're working on a plane and don’t have phone service. Conversely, if you’re going to be boarding a plane in 90 minutes, then it could be very helpful to be able to quickly pull up a list of calls.

Transitioning from Contexts to Tags

In OmniFocus 3, contexts were renamed tags. This change in nomenclature emphasizes that tags can be used for more than just contexts.

While tags can be very useful for GTD contexts (e.g. a “Home” tag that’s added to tasks that can only be accomplished when you’re physically at home), their use goes beyond GTD contexts. For example, you could use a “Today” tag to identify tasks that you’d like to complete today, even though they’re not technically due.

Another major change that came in OmniFocus 3 is the ability to add multiple tags to projects, actions, and action groups. Previous versions of OmniFocus were limited to a single context.

Article - Productive Tags - Multiple Tags

For example, if there’s a phone call that you need to make when you're physically at home, you could create an action such as “Phone: gas company about furnace maintenance” and tag it with both “Phone” and “Home”. You might also add a tag of “Today” if this is a phone call that you’d like to make today, even though it could be accomplished tomorrow.