Task Bankruptcy

I am curious if and how you all handle declaring task bankruptcy.

I want to start my task system (Omnifocus) all over. Currently it’s filled with low to zero priority things. I’m considering just select all delete type of thing and then do a new brain dump with a new setup (projects, tags etc). But then I was curious if maybe it would be better to move all the old into a “ARCHIVE” type folder.

What say you?

I’ve done it in OF before. I have deleted everything and it’s super satisfying and energizing. But the last time I did it, I wasn’t quite as far off track, so I went through and, for each project, either cleaned up the NAs, deleted it, or moved it to a someday/maybe list. I predict you wouldn’t actually consult the ARCHIVE folder. Deleting it with the database archived is probably the way to go if those are the choices.

Export all your projects and tasks to CSV then wipe the database and start over. You can refer to the CSV in Numbers or Excel if needed. But it you create an Archive folder then you’ll have to manage the stuff inside of that – or at least some level of triage – and that’s just going to be another complicated potential time-waster.

Or, dump OF entirely and start over with a new task management program.

Starting over should be starting over. Log the projects and tasks you both know about and fully intend to do. Don’t fuss with “maybe someday” at this point until the discipline you’re looking for gets ingrained In your brain and you can handle adding fluff to your task manager. Don’t start over by trying to imagine all the possible projects trailing off into the future – that’s most likely the reason you got where you are and need to declare task bankruptcy.


I completely understand the scenario, over the last 6 months or so, I’ve cycled through OF (my long term choice), a custom Excel spreadsheet and MS Outlook’s tasks (I have to use Windows at work) then back to OF again. My project list had ballooned massively between Projects I was driving, Projects I had delegated to staff and those I was a part of, and when I sat down and wrote them out, I have over 100 project which were active or waiting on others.

  • The excel spreadsheet was great for listing projects and getting the 10,000 and 20,000 foot views, but wasn’t granular enough for adding individual tasks, plus really didn’t work on iPhone or work well for reviews
  • Outlook Tasks was good for working in outlook, turning emails into tasks and collaborating with colleagues, but on both Excel and Outlook I missed the review features and the repeating projects with sub tasks.

So I’m now back in OF as my trusted system, but I still can’t get that true 10,000 foot view within OF for IOS (I don’t use the Mac Version) which is literally just a list of projects in a format/presentation I can wok with. When I have time I need to look into automation to see if I can do this with Shortcuts.

The transition back into OF was in 3 stages

  1. Remove all tasks and projects from previously
  2. Review my Folders and Contexts to set up a system which reflects how I work now
  3. Add projects back into OF and add tasks to them

I’m now in the process of building perspectives as I need them to get the views I need.


Great topic.

I wanted to second the idea of switching apps/systems for this. It’s a great way to get new perspectives on both your work and on your workflows.

When I switched to Things for some time (okay, fine, it was a single day; I know), its lack of layers (e.g., no subgroups) led me to realize how many inactionable tasks I’d captured in OmniFocus. Apparently I got used to adding ideas as tasks, like “think about writing a paper on x”. Deleting those led to a lot of clarity.

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Can you export to Taskpaper and throw into Drafts (or Editorial)? I would think that to be the easiest way.

(I could imagine an action that takes ticked Taskpaper tasks and exports them to Omnifocus.)

(I also wonder if Arrange Mode in Drafts can re-arrange Taskpaper tasks.)