Colour coding of Due Dates

Just opened a Note with lots of due dates in it. Every Due tag is coloured orange.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the colour of the tag changed depending on the relationship between Today and Due? Eg:

  • Due is in the future, colour is pink
  • Due is Today, colour is orange
  • Due is in the past, colour is red

And the bonus feature, the ability to mark a Due Date as Done, the colour changes to green.

Or some other clever way to visually see the urgency of Due Dates. The note I’m working on is an outline work plan for a project, so lots of dates.


Colors for tags is a feature we would like to introduce at some point, yes.



This is a feature that’s slipped past me.

How is it that you designate a due date in a note, much more multiple due dates? Maybe I’m misunderstanding the usage?

I typically don’t use Agenda to track due dates, so maybe that’s why I’ve never really chased this down.

Create a tag “due” and enter the date in brackets immediately after:

You can also enter dates as text like ‘tomorrow’ ‘next week’ and they are converted into dates.

1 Like

Thanks for this. Guess I just missed it somewhere.

I’m straining my brain to figure out how best to utilize that feature within Agenda, though, assuming that I have multiple instances of it throughout all my projects. There’s really no way to bring all due items to one screen, chronologically, for instance, or just get a popup that shows them.

I see that out of scope for Agenda, or at least my use of Agenda. Things that are due in my notes I immediately add to Omnifocus in the proper project, or to its Inbox for processing.

That feature is a bit underdone at this point, so we don’t emphasize it too much, but one thing you can do is search on due notes, and it is smart enough to find notes that became due in the past.

The way to do it is to search for a due tag, eg, #due(today). This will show notes that include a due date of today or earlier. You can then save this as a saved search (premium required) calling it “Due Today”.

Of course, this is at the note level, not the paragraph/list item level, so it is not the same as a task manager, but still may be useful.

Thanks for your explanation. I always appreciate your candidness.

A question for you, since you are an Omnifocus guy like me (or was?)

In Omnifocus, you can create a very detailed project structure. Even to the point of being military spec with outlining (interfaces with Omni’s Outliner). At every level you have the ability to add notes. Project notes. At the very top level you can have unlimited notes.

My question is why use Agenda (other than you’re invested). If Agenda is used as, more or less, a project journal, and it doesn’t (now and probably won’t in the future) track detail tassks with start/due dates, why not use one product? I’m not trying to be adversarial, but more a window on the line of separation between the two. (I can see, perhaps in the future when you can get bidirection links to eternal programs, the answer to this mght change.

Thanks for your thoughts.

I think you are kind of answering the question already yourself, if you need military spec grade granularity, loads of details, lots of complex hierarchies, etc etc, you probably are simply better of with a product like Omnifocus. Many (most?) people don’t however, and I guess for them Agenda is a lot simpler/leaner/nicer than a heavy weight like Omnifocus.

Thanks, but I was hoping to hear from Drew.

My perspective is that Agenda won’t ever be a “task manager”. It might have some things to track some due dates, but as I am trying to grasp the vision here, I see Agenda being positioned as a little bit of an Apple Notes clone with a little better interface at this point. Apple Notes has a bit of a head start in the functionality…lots of great things including collaboraion on a note by note basis with password protection. Very good stuff and it’s already iCloud ready.

Agenda has to positioned as something different though right? I keep hearing the term “project journal”. I see people using it to record lab data for instance. I typically use it to record events and things that happened on a certain day for a project. All fine and good.

But I see a lot of people asking for “task manager” kinds of things. Due dates. Ability to sort and display notes (tasks?) by due date. Agenda really isn’t that tool, right? So that begs my question to Drew, that if he was using Omnifocus as I am currently, and he’s moving to Agenda, how’s he doing that while maintaining the task management (ie to dos for his projects).

I see Bear, Agenda and Apple notes all in the same space with Agenda being the baby that’s growing fast. Apple has gotten serious about adding more and more functionality to Notes. Bear is getting a VERY rapid following. All, in a way, a rebel-like turn from the bloated Evernote. Hence my attempt to kind of seeing where Drew’s head was in how he approaches this whole space.

Although it’s not a task manager app, you can manage tasks in Agenda. I do that for all of my projects now, including all my Agenda development.

What I love about using a notes app like Agenda for this, instead of an outliner, is how easy it is to mix in different types of content (see sample data for examples). It feels like there is less overhead to pasting in a link, or some text from an online source that will help when I get to start that task. I rarely used the notes feature of OmniFocus, because it was quite hidden away. I was even worried I would not notice I had attached a note when it became relevant a month or two down the track.

Agenda is also capable of much more extensive notes than OF is designed for. I used to use OF for everything, even non-task related planning, but it isn’t really designed for that. A note taking app is designed for that. Mixing content is what Agenda is good at.

Are there things OF can do better? Sure. It is a full GTD system. If that is what you want, you will need OF. But I didn’t use the perspectives or contexts, so I could move almost all my usage to Agenda.

What I still miss is sound paragraph level metadata, like due dates. If I am to remove OF completely, I would need to be able to apply due dates to individual paragraphs, and to create searches that would only show me matching paragraphs (as opposed to whole notes). Not surprisingly, these are features we want to look at in the future.

In terms of other notes app, yes, there are a lot of them. But I think Agenda has a completely different approach, very project focussed. It will appeal to a lot of people. The timeline of notes is completely unique as far as I know. And the market is big, so there is room for apps like ours, and Bear, and Evernote etc.


Drew - your vision here is really encouraging, just what I want from Agenda!

Reading all the comments about OF (which I’ve never used) and Things (which I have, a lot) highlights the absense of my favourite tool which Agenda is replacing - a paper notebook and pencil!

I used Things for several years before dropping it in favour of a paper notebook which worked really well. I used a notebook for all my notes and ideas, and as a bullet journal style task manager. The great thing about it was, here was one tool that did (almost) everything I needed in one place - no having to decide whether to write a note in one place, or create a task in another.

Of course the fundamental problems with the paper notebook were:

  1. Finding things. Numbering pages and dating entries helped, but visual scanning is not the same as ‘search’! (Agenda - tick!)
  2. Keeping related notes together. I tend to be working on two to four projects at any one time, plus admin and business development. But getting an overview of notes from one project was frustrating as they were dotted through the time line (Agenda - tick!)
  3. Bringing tasks to the surface. Any note - whether a meeting record, a planning brain dump, outline of a proposal - could have several tasks ‘in line’. I tried to make it a habit every day to review all notes and extract tasks and add them to my day or week planner. This worked most of the time, but it was easy to slip. (Agenda sort of does this with the ‘due dates’ and saved searches, but as you point out, it needs more work)
  4. Allocating tasks to time periods. I’d copy tasks to a list at the beginning of each week and at the beginning of each day, choose the tasks I’d work on that day and write them at the top of the page for today. (Often with a reference to the page number(s) of relevant notes with more detail). This worked well, except for the time needed to re-write the tasks, and that non-urgent tasks tended to get forgotten as they never made it onto ‘this week’! (Agenda sort of does this with ‘On the Agenda’, but that’s for whole notes, not tasks. Due dates definitely helps, but I’d love a way to put specific tasks On the Agenda or equivalent. A bit like Things’s ’Today’ - perhaps ’Star’? And I’d want to select those tasks myself, not have them automatically put there - that can get too overwhelming)

Despite the drawbacks of a paper notebook, one thing I really love about it (apart from the smell of the leather cover!) is that I am in control, it’s me at the beginning of each day and week who decides what I’m going to focus on. It’s a mindful process.

Before discovering Agenda I went back to Things for a bit as I had some complex projects on the go. But while it was great for capturing tasks they didn’t have any context, and worst of all, I was mentally overwhelmed by tasks being allocated to me by the software, as they appeared in Today and the list got longer and longer. Faced with that list I was like a rabbit in the headlights, unable to calmly review and decide what tasks really mattered.

The bottom line is that Agenda is the best notetaking tool I’ve found so far. And while I agree it shouldn’t aim to be a fully fledged Task Manager, it really needs to provide better ways of managing tasks within notes and across the notes.

And finally, like with On the Agenda, the process of managing tasks should be designed to give the user the ability to review upcoming tasks, and to decide for themselves which to focus on when.

1 Like

Where I see Agenda going is stronger search, combined with paragraph level search results. With those two things, you could build any system you want. You can have a tag “#onagenda”, and make a saved search for those paragraphs. You could apply due date to paragraphs, and create a search for those due in two days time. That would be an upcoming tasks.

In other words, I don’t think we want to turn Agenda into a particular system, but we want to give you the tools to make your system.


very nice! Looking forward to those enhancements.


Drew -

Thanks VERY much for your comments. You always give a lot of insight into the vision and philosophy of how you think of your product, versus others that tend to be more “sales-like”. To me, the openness of the developers at Agenda is a very strong feature for me, since my background is systems design and software development management. When you talk metadata I’m all ears, because that’s the real key. Translate your vision into a schema early. Development can be gradual and that’s ok, but if your schema is limited or worse, being developed by the seat of your pants, there’s nothing good that can come of that.

I am very curious about how you transitioned from a task management system (I picked on Omnifocus because we both have used it) to Agenda which is basically a note-taking application with nice formatting capabilities. Since our company works on several web-marketing projects at a time with multiple contractors and multiple milestones and delivery dates, we actually struggled in how best to set up lines of communication between everyone. I tend to set the “master schedule” based on project objectives. Those cover development, content management and service. During development is when the schedule is much more critical. I look ahead and plan resources for each project based on need, then set deliverables for the contractors based on the collective need. That way the contractor gets his/her own list of due dates and the items that they have to finish. We’re currently using Asana for this, and it’s a lot of overhead, unfortunately as there is almost no interface to or from it. But I CAN maintain a project schedule that’s communicated to all parties for their use. They they complete their tasks, mark them complete and I maintain a high-level view of everything.

So if you are using Agenda as your “task management” system, and there is no consistent metadata as you pointed out, it seems that you have to rely on the content to communicate the implied metadata. You set up a project on the left sidebar, name it, and then each “note” becomes a “point of interest” where both semantic information is held but also “schedule data”? Those notes with “schedule data” are just highlighted with due(date) kinds of references. That definitely puts a burden on the report mechanism. It also, as you pointed out, begins to demand that a note’s header metadata be rich enough to support things like start date, due date and possibly “assigned-to” functionality for some level of collaboration. As I’ve gleaned from you and others, that might be running outside the lines of what Agenda it all about.

If nothing else, Agenda has revealed a critical need in my personal and professional management of information of a note application. I had used Evernote in the past, like many, because it was the only real solution robust enough to be in that space. But it’s grown and gotten unwieldy. Yet, everyday I pump things into it especially via scans of documents (we’re evaluating DevonThink as a possible help here). Apple Notes wasn’t even on my radar until I began using Agenda. Neither was Bear. Now those are popping up as “island” solutions for some, especially seeing that Apple has recently committed to enhancing Apple Notes further (i.e. witness the 11.0 functionality enhancements).

Again thanks for your insight. If you could just briefly give examples of how you’re using Agenda now in tagging and logging tasks in your system, that would be incredibly valuable.


I noticed the conversation to go a bit off-topic, but I just wanted to +1 the feature request for color codes of tags with a date. (Although not sure about pink… :wink: ). It really would help to see what is overdue at a glance.

+1 on this, easy to get overwhelmed and simple traffic light colour coding on this would be very very handy.

Stolen from Trello:
* Light grey: The card is due more than 24 hours in the future :smiley:
* Yellow: It’s within 24 hours of being due :warning:
* Red: The card is due and will remain red for 24 hours❗️
* Light pink: Oh no, it’s past due :scream:
* Green: Congrats! It’s complete! :white_check_mark: