Managing Tasks on My iPad: Bye Bye Things, Switched to OmniFocus

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OmniFocus iPad app

I posted a week ago about finally finding a potential replacement for the Things app, for managing tasks on my iPad and Mac desktop. The potential replacement was OmniFocus and it’s not just potential anymore – I’ve made the switch.

I haven’t opened Things on the desktop or iDevices in 5 days. I am using OmniFocus on the iPad, on my MacBook Pro, and occasionally on my iPhone. I’ve bought the iPad and desktop versions, and had already purchased the iPhone app back in 2008 so just had to install it.

My switchover has only happened over the last few days, but I feel very happy with it, for a number of reasons. Here are some of the big ones:

— I LOVE the OmniFocus iPad app. I’ve always thought of OmniFocus as having a less than beautiful UI. No, scratch that. I’ve always thought OmniFocus had a very ugly UI. But the iPad app is really handsome. It’s a great looking UI, and a very effective one too of course. I can see all the different views and groupings of tasks that I want, including the superb Perspectives views. Entering new tasks is easy – whether I want to add them straight into a specific project or just dump them in my Inbox and work out the project and details later. It even lets me add photos and voice notes to new or existing task items. I do at least 50% of my task management on the iPad, so having a killer iPad app like this one is a big hook for me.

— I don’t like the UI on the Mac app as much as the iPad app, but it’s more than good enough to work with. Also, it can be customized a bit via settings in the app, and there are a number of themes online done by OmniFocus users. I’ve now got mine looking pretty much just as I want.

— I had always thought of OmniFocus as being just too complicated, too powerful, too feature-rich for me. Having now spent a bit of time getting to know it, I don’t feel that at all anymore. I’ve now got the app setup in a way that’s very easy for me to use. I don’t use all the features and capabilities of the app, but I’m able to take the parts that work best for me and use them to make myself more productive. I use Projects and Perspectives (customizable views) very heavily, for instance, while making only minimal use of contexts. Once I got myself organized with the app, I’ve found that I spend most of my time in the app managing things out of the Inbox and the Due Perspective / view.

OmniFocus for iPad

— I am loving some of the features of OmniFocus as well – things like Clippings, which lets me use a keyboard shortcut to instantly pull an entire email or web page into the OmniFocus Inbox as a new task entry, a bookmarklet on the iPad to send Safari pages to the OF Inbox, and keyboard shortcuts for common actions within the app itself.

— The app has got me full of enthusiasm for finding better and more efficient ways of managing tasks – so I’ve spent time watching some screencasts and reading tips and tricks for OmniFocus. I highly recommend the series of three ‘OmniFocus Ninja Tricks’ by David Sparks at Mac Power Users. They helped me discover an excellent set of Apple Scripts for OmniFocus from I’m using four great ones that are a huge help to me: Today, Tomorrow, Defer, and Snooze.

— Oh, did I mention OTA sync, sync that ‘just works’? Oh yes. No more being tied to local WiFi sync by Things, watching even that sync get flakier and more error-prone, no more waiting forever to see when Cultured Code may decide to add cloud sync. And no charge for the feature either, something Cultured Code still haven’t ruled out for if and when they ever get cloud sync going.

Switching to OmniFocus has been expensive. The desktop app is $80 and the iPad app is $40. But for me this is money well spent. I use these apps every day. A lot. I’m a pretty minimal user of calendars, I run my life and work based on task lists – always have done even back in the days of personal organizers and such.

I honestly feel like OmniFocus has already made me a little more efficient in my daily handling of tasks and keeping on top of what I need to get done. One quick proof of that – my Due list is getting shorter all the time.

Here’s an App Store link for OmniFocus for iPad; it’s priced at $39.99 – and here’s a link for the Mac version, which costs $79.95 and offers a 14 day trial.

Patrick Jordan

Founder and Editor in Chief of iPad Insight. Husband, father to a lovely daughter, Commander of the Armies of the North, dog lover (especially Labs), Austinite, former Londoner, IT consultant, huge sports nut, iPad and mobile tech blogger, mobile apps junkie.

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17 thoughts on “Managing Tasks on My iPad: Bye Bye Things, Switched to OmniFocus”

  1. First, I would like to thank you Patrick for taking the time to write these very helpful and informative posts. The comments left by others and your responses have also been a big help :-)

    I finally purchased the iPad2 recently and have been looking for the ideal task management/to-do list app. I have spent countless hours on iTunes searching & reviewing a lot of info on way too many apps. Upon doing a Google search I landed on your/this site/blog and I’m now feeling a little less overwhelmed and confused…

    The thing is, for many years I have been a huge Franklin Covey (FC) user, fan etc… Before I got the iPad, the plan was to use the FC app(s) and keep it moving… but unfortunately, after doing a little research I realized that FC hasn’t kept up w/ the technical and/or app revolution very well. What they do best and are all about is surprisingly still only great in paper form.

    As I narrow my search, I am seriously looking at the OmniFocus (OF) these days. I wanted to know if you or your visitors would be able to make a few things clearer for me before I purchase this pricy app…

    – What is the difference between the FC system and the GTD system?
    – If you are familiar w/ the FC system, is the OF system comparable? If so, in what way(s)?
    – One of the things I absolutely love about FC is their task prioritizing system (A1, A2, B1, B2, etc…), does OF offer a similar option?
    – FC also has unique task outcome options/scenarios to choose from such as; delegated, forwarded, deleted, in-process, etc…, does the OF system offer something similar to this?
    – In addition to task management, I am very interested in a system that allows me to set, plan and track my goals step-by-step, does the OF app allow for that?

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

    1. Hi Darline – thanks for the kind words.

      I’m sorry but I really don’t know much at all about the details of the Franklin Covey system, so I can’t offer any comparisons or guidance on that.

      I can say that OmniFocus is an incredibly powerful, feature-rich, and versatile app.

  2. Thanks Patrick for your review. You helped me make the final choice between Things & OmniFocus… And I don’t regret it one bit.
    Darline, the FC system always seemed to have more than needed, especially with the level of prioritizing you mentioned. OF was built to work with the GTD methodology, and I’m new to both, but I’ve found I manage my time far better now I have these systems in place.
    OF does have a bit of a learning curve, but once you read through the PDF and watch the how-to video, you’ll master it in no time.
    You asked about following goals step-by-step: OF has folders, projects and then tasks. Folders can have multiple projects which can have multiple tasks. You can set whether you want a project to run sequentially (finish one task before doing the next) or doing tasks in any order.
    Contexts let you do things according to where you are or what you’re doing at the time: you can see all the phone calls you need to make or emails to write, regardless of which project they are in.
    You won’t regret spending the money on OmniFocus!

    1. Hi Jarrod – glad it helped and very glad to hear you’re happy with your choice.

      Thanks for the helpful comments for Darline as well.

  3. Thanks all. I miss FC and need a good new system — would love use my iPad. How does OF work/sync with Outlook email and calendars? Or is that part manual to the user? Does OF offer good “sketch/note-taking” fully integrated into folders or a calendar (like FC)?

    Thanks again!

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