What do I do with completed tasks in OmniFocus?

Thank you wilsonng ! I’ve read a lot of threads actually, including yours ;).
I was tempted by Things for a few days, because it looks shiny and especially (I think)… empty! :slight_smile:
But after a few tries with it, I realized again the beauty of Omnifocus too.
There is a large amount of incredibly well-designed details, in addition to great power and flexibility. It is a real pleasure to use, especially on macOS. (not yet tried the web version yet.)
So I did a lot of cleaning / upgrading my system since a few days.
But then I have a general question: I never really understood, what do users do, what do all of you do, with completed tasks, especially with recurring (routine for example) tasks? Thanks for your advice !

I’d keep my system as simple as possible. Exploring and discovering new custom perspectives is a great way to try out new ideas. I’ve gathered many custom perspectives over the years and tried most of them. But I’ll delete many of them if I haven’t found myself using them after a month. I do take screenshots of my custom perspective settings if I ever need them in the future.

A growing list of custom perspectives can be found at @timstringer’s Learn OmniFocus site here:

He also has a growing list of tag ideas here:

Try a few custom perspectives and tags instead of trying to experiment with everything at one time. I have a small group of custom perspectives and tags that has stayed with me. Then I have a few temporary custom perspectives and tags that I will use for a short time. Then I’ll delete them when I no longer have the need for them.

I archive them on my Mac if I want to keep a historical record. I archive at the end of the month and I’ll keep usually 30-60 days of the current tasks. In my experience, I’ve rarely had to look at tasks further back than 60 days. Your needs will vary. If I am working and I need to refer to a recent task, 30-60 days seems to be a good number. Anything older than 60 days is no longer relevant to today’s work and that’s all I’ll keep on my iPhone and iPad. If I need to refer to anything older than 30-60 days, I’ll go visit my OmniFocus archives on my Mac.

There are many repeating tasks that I don’t want to keep a record of. Tasks such as water the plants, cut the grass, or change water filters gets tagged with Disposable. These are tasks that I want to keep track of in OmniFocus but I don’t want to sent to the archives later.


At the end of the month, I’ll visit my Clean up perspective:


This creates a list of all completed Disposable tasks.

I can select all of the tasks and hit the delete key to erase them.

For some other repeating actions that I don’t want to keep an archive of, I use the Due app. I’m seeing myself using the Due app for repeating tasks a bit more nowadays and letting OmniFocus keep my single one-off tasks and projects.

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Thanks for the repost of the topic.

I’ve read a lot about tags, and I get the impression that there are two types of tags: “informative” tags and tags that can be considered as fully “operable”.
From there, we can start thinking about what we want to establish as a table of tags.
I’m still keeping my set (imperfect, but improving) because I want to focus first on my file and project structure.
There are so many ways to go. (Especially if we let ourself be inspired by all that we can read on this topic! : )
But we must not lose sight of our own wishes. To quote a single example, I ended up deleting the “professional” folder, which seemed too “vague”, at least for the moment.
In addition, I’m thinking about how this structure could, in a sense, reflect the structure of my finder or even pair with it (not so simple!), if by chance it makes sense! (my finder structure also is in reconstruction / reconsideration, i’m trying to build a good and complete setting! ; )

About the perspectives, I basically have 5 really useful (plus a few others to try but I do not really use).
About that,
I’m trying to create a new perspective (for a test) but I find myself stuck:
A perspective that shows me the projects that have the tag “starting” (easy for now).
But who, among these projects, show the tasks within these projects whatever the tags of these actions are (= they do not necessarily have this “starting” tag). It does not seem very complicated though! I guess I block in the way the rules are hierarchically arranged? I desperately lack logic!
This is the thing I find the least intuitive in Omnifocus: the use of rules to create slightly elaborate perspectives. It takes a very logical-mathematical mind.

About the completed tasks, I used to keep those that have some (eventually informative) value in a dedicated project (itself in an “Archive” folder) and delete (as regularly as possible !) daily routine tasks that have no interest in being preserved. (I don’t use the archive fonction in Omnifocus because i have no idea how it works.)
Your “disposable” tag is really clever ! like it.

As such, I think I would have like to be able to create recurring tasks that, once they are completed, are simply “reactivated” (without this task being completed and a new task created).
This to avoid precisely the clutter of very regular tasks and the management that must be done.
For example the task “study english”: I’d check it, but instead of creating a new task + the completed one, it would simply be reactivated for the next day, etc.
I think I remember that Todoist acts like this.

Maybe it would be better to just defer or push them away manually to the next day?
But the impact is not the same, psychologically! : DD

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I have seen another person ( can’t remember who?) that would use Things for repeating tasks and one-off single tasks. Then he/she (?) would use OmniFocus mostly for project work. Both apps will send notifications when needed (task due date). The user compartmentalized the workload into different apps. If maintenance tasks, one-off tasks, and repeating tasks needs to be done, then Things would be used. When project work needs to be done, use OmniFocus. Using the appropriate tool when needed.

Yes, it does take some time to create a custom perspective in OmniFocus. It is confusing at times. There are times when I need to look at two different custom perspectives to get something done. I’m OK with that. I often find that a perspective that has more than 10-15 tasks is very frustrating to look at. I dread looking at long lists while I am in action mode. I do look at long lists when I am in planning mode. But it helps to shorten the list down to manageable bite-sized chunks to help with my planning.

That’s a good choice. If the folder structure doesn’t agree with your reality, re-arrange it or delete it as needed. Life will change and we need to do an annual evaluation to see if there are any structural changes that needs to take place.

Don’t forget to delete the ones that you tried out but don’t really use. There is no need to clutter up your perspectives list. I have an Apple Note that I use. I type in the name of perspective, the purpose, when I created it, and a tentative date to consider it for deletion. If I find myself not using it a lot after the first 30-60 days then I can consider deleting it. I also have a small handful of perspectives that I use daily and a another small group of perspectives that I use on a weekly basis. I kept those and deleted the others that I experimented with.

I’ve found that archiving completed tasks will clear it out of my database. The completed tasks goes into the archive which is a separate database on the Mac. If I need to look at it, I can open the archive with OmniFocus for Mac. Otherwise, I’ll never see the completed tasks ever again. I archive at the end of the month. You might try archiving once a week if you don’t think you’ll need to see it.

This is a personal preference. I just complete a task and have it repeat the next day. But that’s just my preference. I’m sure you’ll find your way.

If OmniFocus is providing a bit too much resistance, perhaps the new Apple Reminders or Things 3 might suit you better?

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Thank you for following the discussion.
When I downloaded Things, I considered about using both apps, but after that, I do not think that’s a good idea. Anyway, for me. I am happy because these few days playing with Things have allowed me to take back Omnifocus and my projects in control again, and greatly improve its effectiveness, and I do not regret at all to have resisted the temptation. I like the look and functionality of Omnifocus (I’ve often read that Things is “beautiful”, which is true, but that’s what I’ve always thought of OF - especially I like his “outliner adn” very much, its aesthetics (its harmony between form and function), and the many possibilities it offers me to set it according to my needs.
But yes I actually did what you said: I immediately deleted the perspectives that I did not use. I did not need them.
So if I understand the archives in OF do not synchronize. I’ll see if I try this feature some next day. For now I keep track of actions completed in an archived list, it does not bother me. And i like to keep track of certain items. I have also decluttered my tags.


If you have an Omni Sync account setup in the OmniFocus Settings, your settings will transfer over to any device signed up to that same account.


I used to have so many custom perspectives that I was testing but never used after more than 1 month. It’s so nice to have a decluttered perspectives screen.

Another method that I use is to put my “planning” perspectives on the top toolbar and the “doing” perspectives in the left sidebar. When I am in planning mode, I will use the icon at the top. When I am in doing mode, I will work in the perspectives that reside in the left side bar. This helped me group my perspectives so that I stay in either Doing or Planning.

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Things lasted virtually no time when I tried it, it looks fine when empty but fill it up and its starts to fall over, also it does not handle SAL’s very well, and I have a lot of these!

Overall it seemed like a lot of style over substance and while it does seem to enough for a lot of people for me it just could not handle what I needed it to do, as an aside when I asked for tips or ideas how to solve my issues, the only recommendation I got on the Things forum was “it’s opinionated software” so it’s probably not for you. Correct but not exactly welcoming or making me want to persevere.


This was my experience as well. If a person is going to try to use Things in an OmniFocus-style, it’s not going to work very well until they change their mindset toward the software.