How to Set Up ABC Planning in OmniFocus 3


How to Set It Up

Here’s how you set it up.

Create three tags. Create a Today tag with three child tags: A—Critical, B—Expected, and C—Maybe. Here, they integrate very nicely with other temporal tags you may be using.
Add the Today tag to the Forecast view. Tap or click on the view options. Under “Today Includes:”, select your Today tag. Tasks with one of your Today tags will be included in the Forecast view.
Create a custom perspective. You want remaining tasks which are tagged with Today, grouped by tag, and sorted by tag order. Pin it someplace prominent on your sidebar or start screen.
How to Work It

When you select your tasks for the day, give them one of the A, B, or C tags. Then drag the tasks to arrange them in the order you want them within each group. The first tag is B1, the second is B2, etc.

Your big rocks may or may not be your A—Critical tasks for the day. Start your day with three smaller tasks to build up some momentum, then take on A1 and work your way down. If you have any tasks left over, make another conscious decision about when to do them at the end of the day.

Now, when it’s time to shift from boss mode to worker mode, you have a clean, clear list of your priorities for the day. Having your today list broken up into A, B, and C sections lets you know just how hard you need to push. A simple ordered list is a good start, but it doesn’t highlight the tasks that you really do need to get done today.”

One major item that’s eluded me is the ability to effectively pick out my tasks for the day from my task manager. Colter’s idea to use the Franklin Covey system is a decent one. Has anyone implemented this or something like it? How does the process work for you?

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I have played with the ABC-method in the past, so I’m happy to provide some input.

For starters, there is quite a cognitive load involved in assigning a category. You may think it’s easy to classify, but as soon as it makes you pause in a longer list of items to process, you’re already defeating the purpose. So making that decision up front costs extra time and effort.

After using it for some time, I also found that most tasks fell in A or B, rarely in C. And even then, it was clear what was A without assigning A. Then, when you’re basically left with 2 categories, you can create priorities simply with a flag. Flagged is A: the most important task and you work from that until the Flagged list is empty.

In general, I would say that, if you organized your folders and the projects underneath with a strict hierarchy in mind and you’ve got some decent focussed perspectives, then you can use flags to create quick priorities without going the trouble of setting up an ABC-system.


That’s some good advice. I think with OF3’s new perspectives you could really make a nice priority view without touching priority tags using only flags and the approach you’re suggesting.

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