In the first two post of the OmniFocus Perspective Galore series I have covered a 'Today' view together with basics of Perspectives in OmniFocus and described enhancements to the build-in 'Next Actions' view. This time I’d like to focus on another build-in Perspective of OmniFocus: The ‘Due’ Perspective. You’ll find it readily available once you have downloaded and installed OmniFocus for Mac. However, there are a few enhancements we can bring to that Perspective as well and it allows us to explore what the ‘Restore: Expansion’ setting for Perspectives does.

Setting the Scope

Initially we need to make sure we set the right scope for the Perspective. In context mode (Menu: 'View > Context Mode' or Command-2), invoke the 'View Bar' (Menu: 'View > Show View Bar' or Command-Shift-V) and select 'Remaining' for the Context Filter. This makes sure you get tasks that are due from all contexts, also those that are 'On Hold'. Particular for 'Waiting For' contexts, which are typically set to 'On Hold', you want to make sure you don’t miss a due date for task you have delegated.

due-perspectiveGrouping and Sorting should both be set to 'Due'. The task grouping will allow us later to play with the expansion state for the different task groups. OmniFocus does very intelligent grouping for due tasks. Assuming you have tasks with corresponding due dates, you will find groups for 'Due within the last week', 'Due yesterday', 'Due today', 'Due tomorrow', 'Due within the next week' and so on. In order to later configure your expansion state correctly, I suggest you make sure you have at least one tasks in each of the mentioned groups. The Sorting basically sorts descending by due dates (soonest first). While there is little sense of sorting inside the 'Yesterday', 'Today' and 'Tomorrow' groups, the other groups spanning longer timeframes will benefit from this setting.

The Availability filter should be set to 'Remaining'. No matter if the due task is the next one in the project or actually tasks blocking the project, e.g. 'Waiting For', doesn’t really matter. I assume you’d like to see any task that is due, regardless of where it sits in the system. Otherwise you wouldn’t set a due date on it, would you?

The Importance of the Status Filter

You have a choice to limit the scope to tasks that are overdue, due today and due soon (in the next few days - see setting in 'OmniFocus Preferences > Data tab') by setting the Status filter to 'Due Soon', which is what I recommend. Leaving it at 'Any Status' will also show you tasks that are due in 6, 12 months or even further down the line. If we would have the 'Forecast' view from OmniFocus for iPad, this wouldn’t be much of a problem, but in the current user interface things tend to become a bit messy. My general use case for my 'Due' Perspective is that I’d like to see what is overdue or needs to be done either today or the next few days, hence the 'Due Soon' Status Filter.

Unless you have some specific requirements, I recommend to leave the Estimated Time Filter at 'Any Duration'.

Restoring Collapsed/Expanded State of Task Groups

With all those settings done, we can now focus on the Expansion state modifications. With the exception of 'Due today' I generally collapse all task groups as you can see in the screenshot. This allows me to focus on what’s on for today, but with one click (or key press) I can still access tasks that are either overdue or need my attention tomorrow or in the next couple of days. Whether in this or any other Perspective you can expand and collapse groups as you like (also in Planning Mode Perspectives) and by setting the 'Restore: Expansion' checkbox in OmniFocus’ Perspective Window ('Menu > Perspectives > Show Perspectives' or Command-Control-P) that exact state is restored every time you access the Perspective.

While I will cover the effect of setting or not setting the 'Restore: Selection' checkbox in one of the next posts, this time around, please just make sure it is checked. Finally you can, if you like, clean-up the window a bit and add or remove columns in the window’s main area. I have described the required steps for this in my 'OmniFocus Perspectives Galore - Basics & Today View' post. If you make any modifications to the layout, make sure you set the 'Restore: Layout' checkbox as well to get those changes back every time you go that Perspective.

Of course, you should finish by setting a keyboard shortcut for this Perspective and potentially your own flavour of a Perspective icon (I use these). I hope you have enjoyed this post, learned a few new tricks and are reading the other posts of the OmniFocus Perspective Galore series.