A few days ago, I wrote about my first attempt at using the new and improved automation features in OmniFocus for iOS. In that attempt, I used Editorial to create a Taskpaper-formatted template that prompted me for dates. Those dates would carry over as due dates in an OmniFocus project. I’ve since tweaked that template, so that it flags the tasks, and automatically calculates defer dates based on the due dates.

This turned out to be pretty easy, and can best be illustrated by an example. Here was one of my due dates:

@due(«DepositionsDoneBy»)

To have the workflow defer the task to a date 80 days before the due date, here was the syntax I used:

@defer(«DepositionsDoneBy» -80d)

That’s it. I also added flags to the tasks using this syntax:

@flagged

The final tweak was to make the tasks parallel, instead of sequential, with this syntax:

@parallel(true)

Here’s a screenshot of the final product:

OmniFocus automation with defer dates

The way I use OmniFocus, my Flagged list is my main daily task list, although I have a few others I check in on. Now, when one of these case deadlines hits its defer date, it shows up in my Flagged list. From there, I can decide if I want to address the task then, or defer it to a later date.

You can download the Editorial document here. You’ll want to use an app like Goodreader (with its “Connect > Enter URL” feature) to download the text file on your iOS device. Opening in a web browser might give you strange characters. You’ll need to have Editorial and OmniFocus installed on your iOS device to use the document.