May 9, 2015

Still love plain text; Omnifocus still tempts


Still love plain text

I’ve been using Taskpaper files for productivity for a few years now. Like many others, I love the simplicity, portability and flexibility of the format. Custom searching is a killer feature. I can apply GTD, have multiple contexts per task, quickly add metadata to tasks via Textexpander , use multiple apps as I see fit. I mainly use Taskmator and Editorial on iOS.

Omnifocus tempts

Omnifocus presents a powerful, albeit, expensive collection of features across Mac and iOS. Many users appreciate the more complex feature set which includes Perspectives, Forecast, and scripting. I have appreciated the emailing of tasks to the Inbox in the past. The like the design of Omnifocus much more now. Omni is a classy design house and I do respect them.


The lack of multiple contexts per task, the lack of inclusion of deferred items in the Forecast counts, and the high tap counts eventually drive me from Omnifocus.

Tap counts

Omnifocus is of the class of apps that are tap-o-genic” (for lack of a better term). This is the common feature that has driven me from Omnifocus, Things, Todoist, Reminders and others. In order to apply metadata to tasks one must tap in and out of multiple screens. Admittedly, some of this has improved but, still, using these apps takes time and the tap counts are high.

High-cost / complexity trap

Omnifocus costs a lot of money. Once invested in the ecosystem, unless a user utilizes the full feature set, then he or she has spent greater than $100 for a simple list manager. The cost motivates a user to employ all of the features which, ironically, takes time from productivity. Omnifocus can become a jealous master of sorts that must be kept happy.

To each their own

My productivity involves many tasks, few of which are repeating on firm dates. A plain text task list with associated scripts, Textexpander-applied repeats, search filters, multiple contexts per task is quick and powerful. I put a very small number of repeating items in Due.

Apple Watch

Now that I have an Apple Watch, I am thinking of task management apps again. Obviously Omnifocus has a robust watch app as does Things and others. The new version of Taskmator adds alarms which appear on the watch.


I’ve been reassessing the options again. I’m sticking with plain text via Taskpaper files for now. It just works for me.

Additional Reading

Does iOS/iPhone todo app design really matter in productivity?

Taskmator and Omnifocus

Apps, Scripts and Taskpaper

Repeating tasks in Taskpaper

  • productivity
  • plaintext
  • apps

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