Create a Foundation

Get clear on why you’re using OmniFocus and configure it in a way that accurately reflects what you’re up to in life.

Whether you’re using OmniFocus for the first time or are revamping your current setup, it’s worth taking some time to clarify what purpose OmniFocus serves and to create a convenient and consistent structure. Don’t worry about creating the perfect OmniFocus setup right from the get-go. You can always tweak it as you go along.

NEW to OmniFocus or ready for a review of the basics? Watch Start Smart with OmniFocus and learn how to make effective use of OmniFocus on Mac, iOS and Apple Watch.

Why use OmniFocus?

OmniFocus is a personal task manager for Mac and iOS that offers a unique combination of features to support you in living a fulfilling and productive life. Designed with David Allen’s Getting Things Done (GTD) principles in mind, OmniFocus is a tool to support you in strategically engaging with the all of the things you have going on in your life.

When used appropriately, OmniFocus is a trusted place to go to answer the question “what’s next?”. Rather than spending time pondering what you could be doing, OmniFocus has the potential to instantly connect you with the actions that are most appropriate based on factors such as due dates, your physical location, who you’re with and your energy level.

Make OmniFocus a Sacred Space

It’s important to give some thought to what you’ll be using OmniFocus for, and what belongs elsewhere. We recommend that you make OmniFocus a sacred space. In a nutshell this means only using OmniFocus for things that you intend to action on and not as a repository for everything under the sun. By keeping OmniFocus clean and relevant it becomes a useful and trusted sidekick that enhances productivity while freeing you from having to remember your commitments.

Creating Structure & Defining Context

As the name implies, OmniFocus allows you to create a system that encompasses all aspects of your life, while also giving you the ability to focus in on the projects and actions that are most relevant. OmniFocus supports folders that can contain projects and other folders. As a starting point, we recommend creating a mind map of your “areas of responsibility”, in GTD speak. Essentially a map of everything that you’re responsible for across all areas of your life. The Foundation: Mind Mapping Your Responsibilities article walks you through the process of creating the mind map and the Creating Structure in OmniFocus article illustrates the process of configuring OmniFocus based on this mind map.

Another key concept in David Allen’s Getting Things Done methodology is “contexts”. In practice, contexts allow you to filter your lists of OmniFocus actions to show those that are most relevant based on your current circumstances. We recommend creating a mind maps of your contexts, a process that we describe in the Foundation: Mind Mapping Your Contexts article. You’ll likely find that you need to tweak this from time to reflect changes in your life.

Cultivating New Habits

Using OmniFocus effectively requires that you get into the habit of using and reviewing OmniFocus on a regular basis. We’re here to support you as you cultivate new habits.