I used OmniFocus full-tilt for years. Then I abandoned it for the same reason as the OP: I found I experienced too much cognitive overload in switching app-contexts. I was doing a lot of organizing to keep my projects and tasks aligned with notes and writing, to little benefit. So, I quit task management apps and started using plaintext to keep track of what I had to do.
Task management apps work well when projects and tasks are concrete and well-defined, or are easily decomposed into concrete well-defined structures. Errands and grocery lists fit here. So does event planning. But the more creative/generative a work is, the less it fits with a set of hierarchical todos.
As Ahrens and others write, research work doesn’t lend itself well to this kind of planning.
- [ ] Have world-changing insight is not a task worth putting in a to do list. Neither is
- [ ] Write paper, and we certainly don’t want to add
- [ ] Discover big problem with the approach we've used for the past month. These things are obvious. What’s less obvious is the cost of switching to a task manager to add a todo to
- [ ] Lookup Pangaro's latest paper on cybernetics or
- [ ] Finish that paragraph in the introduction. I have found that, because the task manager is full of other things I’m not currently doing, but are important, switching into it and accidentally seeing many of those can be distracting and cost my train of thought.
So, I too would value a few features in Obsidian to make inline task management easier. I have personally been creating tasks as whole new links from other notes, such that each task is its own note. I think I’ll use a hashtag to track these as well.
I also use DEVONthink, which can add metadata to existing files. I use this metadata to add things like reminders and filters to plaintext task files.
But I’d love to be able to query tasks from within Obsidian. That’s why I created this feature request: Making tasks/todos a first-class citizen