Mac Power Users 451: Task Management Strategies


I was never big on task management apps or even day planners. I mostly relied on memory and some sparse items on the Reminders app. Primarily because I never had the discipline to actually list down tasks.

I did however used Trello to plan a trip last year and it worked pretty well for my needs. I used it because I was switching between Mac & Windows so having access Trello on the web helped a lot. And also because of the free tier.

So I do agree what @MacSparky said, get the task manager that gives you everything you need but nothing more than you need. I hadn’t explored other apps yet because I have what I need for now. At least that’s what I think.

I prefer the “Q2 Matrix” outlined by Asian Efficiency. They suggest taking one item form Q2 everyday to move your goals forward and not get lost in the urgent.

Q1 – The Quadrant of Necessity . These tasks are important and urgent. These must be done to do your work and live your life. They don’t necessarily move you forward that much towards your goals, but not doing them would set you back. Typical tasks are deadline driven, time-sensitive and part of day-to-day work and living.

Q2 – The Quadrant of Extraordinary Productivity . Your tasks are important but not urgent. This is where you choose what you want to work on because it gives you the highest return on your time and the tasks bring you closer to your goals. Typical tasks here are relaxation, planning, executing on tasks in alignment with your goals, building relationships, and thinking time.

Q3 – The Quadrant of Distraction . The tasks that fall in this quadrant are typically not important but feel urgent . I have emphasized the words “feel urgent” because this is where most people confuse what belongs in Q1 but actually do not. Typical tasks would be anything not in alignment with your goals but you somehow feel that they need to be done (false Quadrant 1 tasks). For example, attending meetings that aren’t really that important for what you do.

Q4 – The Quadrant of Waste . Everything here is not important and not urgent. Any tasks in this quadrant should be avoided and not done in excess. What’s interesting about this quadrant is that some activities here can belong in Q2 because they help you relax, rejuvenate, and build relationships with people. However, when done too much it’s a waste of time. Watching TV can help you relax (Q2) but done in excess is a waste of time (Q4). I love playing board games with friends (Q2) but when I go overboard for a whole evening with lots of fast food and alcoholic beverages, it becomes a Q4 activity.


I’m going to have to pickup the Omnifocus Field Guide and look over OF. I have been using ToDoist for a number of years, but as I have gotten better at it things seem be falling through the cracks. Unfortunately, I’m stuck with a Windows PC for work, so I’ll have to figure out that part of my life… maybe two task managers, one for work and one for all the other stuff I do.

Really enjoyed the show. This topic has been something weighing on my mind lately. Perfect timing!

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Basic my needs are… Though I use and like Things and especially appreciate being able to set a recurring task to “three days…” after completion of the task. Water veggies but it rained a great deal… I wait till the garden needs water… Then water and click on the task. The new watering date is three day in the future.


As I expanded my use of auto add to multiple Drafts lists. My use of Things has fallen off. Appointment dates are entered in calendar or through an overlay like Fantastical or Readdle.

Perhaps, I’ll declare this is it and use the method for ten years. … haha

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Sounds a lot like the Eisenhower Matrix.


Okay, over an hour in and we’re finally moving off Omni Focus…
My bad… still on it.


MPU 451: Task Management Strategies using Omni Focus


It is heavily based on the Eisenhower Matrix, but tweaked and given more direction IMO.

You speak to what you know.

I felt they mentioned others in the process.

You’re using Drafts as your task manager? Interesting!

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I did appreciate the link to the analog Full Focus planner.
I’ve ordered the planner, journal, and notebooks.
I’ve tried a lot of apps, and just feel like I always loose sight of the macro, and meso pictures, or the connections between. Or something…

No planning … just evolved.

I was praising Drafts in another topic. Posted this screen shot of one of my drafts lists (other post was about actions). List pictured is called random. I five other lists that are more specifically targeted.

IMG_0646 https://talk.macpowerusers.com


OmniFocus for Web is coming which may be a solution for you. I’ve been beta testing it (I have several windows machines which I use regularly at work) and it works great for accessing, completing and creating tasks, tags and projects.

Edit: I’m on a training course at work this week and the provided machine is a Windows machine. I’m getting on nicely with OF for Web


I’m using Todoist at work because Windows, but l’m looking forward to trying OF for the Web. This screenshot made me think I will finally be able to use OF at work!image

I think most importantly is getting rid of excess tags. I did a purge of sorts a couple months ago and that has been awesome! Can’t imagibe 7.000 tasks…I’m sure half or more could be deleted or keep somewhere else.

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I really like the idea of deferring, but I can’t justify spending so much on OF or Things.
I’m not saying they don’t deserve to cost that much as I really appreciate quality software, but my needs are small.

Does anyone have suggestions for a Reminders replacement that does deferred task management?

Would like to hear some suggestions on how one manages which date applicable tasks get deferred to, in OF?

I find that when I am making those deferments, it’s pretty random - as in, “think I will push this out by two weeks, not very urgent”. But before long - especially if I am batch-processing, I might have (unknowingly) deferred a whole lot of tasks to a particular day two weeks away, which then forces a review, and “re-defer”, for that day again…

How do you all ‘pick’ when you will be deferring to?


Yes this was really an Omni Focus show. But looking back (retired 3 years now) I used other approaches to digital task management. I do use Omni Focus for deferred reminders (change furnace filters, rebalance 401K, other infrequent tasks that are easy to forget) but never got into it for managing work tasks. I was an electrical engineer doing design work as well as a part time electrical engineering college instructor for 25 years.

I find myself gravitating towards todo lists (starting with a Palm Pilot) but I always documented and planned/scheduled projects and courses with OneNote back when I was on Windows and then Circus Ponies Notebook for the Mac. I sneaked a Mac Mini into work for documentation. Anything requiring a final report document I tended to track my progress using Scrivener and its management features. And now for anything where I might have used Circus Ponies Notebook (now things like trip planning) I use Growly Notes.

It works great from an organizational point of view because each project is entirely separate yet each can be shared on multiple devices using, for instance DropBox. For the courses I would start the term preparation with a template with sections for the lectures, assignments, solutions, and any notes on the students. For work projects the Notebook would just grow organically. I think it would have been a step back to have used something like OmniFocus for this which puts everything in one bucket and forces one style.

Excited to hear it’s in Beta. Is there any timeline for release?

I’m keen to use a task manager but use a windows machine at work so need a web access. I will hold off investing time in starting a task manager if OF is soon to be available.

If you have a Mac at home, you could remote in to it from your Windows (Amiga, Linux, et al.) machine.
Of course you’d lose all integration with other apps, but that might be a shortcoming of the web interface too.