14 Comments

Summary:

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my quest to organize my workflow, it is that everyone’s brain works differently. There are almost as many answers to the question “what task management tool do you like” as there are people, and we’ve reviewed a host of […]

Things-LogoIf there’s one thing I’ve learned in my quest to organize my workflow, it is that everyone’s brain works differently. There are almost as many answers to the question “what task management tool do you like” as there are people, and we’ve reviewed a host of those solutions here at WebWorkerDaily.

I’ve struggled for years to try to find the right solution for me. I’ve used a Franklin Planner, a Palm T/X, Microsoft Outlook , Remember The Milk, and a few other options. Nothing ever seemed quite right for me, though, and at times I found myself scribbling on paper pads still.

That was the case until I bought my first Mac and started looking for a task list for OS X. One of my friends recommended Things from Cultured Code. I almost didn’t try it because of the price ($49.95 desktop, $9.95 iPhone app). Thankfully, there is a free trial of the desktop application, so I was able to check it out without committing to the hefty price tag. It’s good that there’s a free trial, because I would otherwise have passed it by.

Put simply, Things has been the solution I’ve been searching for. It has revolutionized my productivity. It works with my natural flow, instead of against it.

I like to make long lists of tasks. There are urgent tasks that I have to get done immediately, the ones I need to get around to soon, and my projects and long-term items. Things gives me ways to track all of those items, without them having to be in my face all the time making me feel overwhelmed.

The desktop version of Things is very Leopard in its look and feel. It is simple, uncluttered and intuitive to use. It syncs with both iCal and the company’s iPhone app (via Wi-Fi).

Things-desktop

I can easily drag-and-drop my tasks between the Today, Next and Someday lists to prioritize them. I can use tags or areas of responsibility to filter the list to show only certain types of tasks.

It isn’t quite as easy to move tasks around on the iPhone app. Since drag-and-drop isn’t an option there, it takes a few more steps. But the iPhone app is excellent for adding items on the go, or reviewing your current list and marking tasks complete.

Things-iPhoneOne of my favorite functions in Things is the ability to make project lists. For a large project with multiple tasks or steps, I can create a project list of all those tasks and then drag individual tasks to my Today or Next lists while still also viewing them as part of the project as a whole. If a time comes when I am focusing almost solely on a project (such as the trade show I have in a few days) I can use the project list as my main working list.

Scheduled tasks are probably my other favorite feature of Things. For a future task, either a one-time or a recurring one, it is easy to create a scheduled item that will not appear on my main lists until I need to see it. This avoids distracting clutter and keeps me from feeling overwhelmed by tasks that don’t actually need to be seen at the moment.

Task management that fits well with how I think and work is worth the price of Things to me.  I am getting more things done, and feeling less stressed about it. That is priceless.

Do you love your task manager? Or are you still looking?

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  1. David Turnbull Monday, July 27, 2009

    I’ve been using Things since I won a free copy a while ago and I’ve been loving it. I recently bought the iPhone app and once again it’s absolutely fantastic.

  2. I’m an enthusiastic user of Things for a while now too. One of my favorite functions is the shortcut (crtl-opt-space) to drop every thought or meeting minute into an action without any hassle.

  3. I use it as a bug tracker when working on websites. Works great with the iphone.

  4. I would LOVE to try it, but no Windows version. I have been using EasyTask for the iPhone. I really wish it had a web interface, but no such luck. Anybody have a good windows alternative that makes use of nested project folders?

  5. Maximilian Bartel Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    Things is great indeed – purchased the desktop and iphone app a while ago and use it to schedule all of my meetings, projects & appointments so it quickly became quite essential to me.

  6. I had been using Omnifocus but to complicated. been using think for months and it’s the best ever.
    Simple and effective, kind regards Dr Shock

  7. Simon Mackie Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    @Justin — when I switched back to Windows earlier this year, Things was the thing I missed the most. Now back on Mac :)

  8. I have tried a number of different to-do applications – Things included. I WANT to like Things, I WANT to rely on it for my task management, but there are a couple of flaws in the application that are (to me) completely unforgivable – and a fix for them seems a way off.

    The most glaring ommission – and one that makes this a laughable task management application, is the lack of an ability to set reoccurring tasks.

    Let me preface by saying that I only have Things for the iPhone – so some complaints may be addressed in the desktop version.

    I have a hard time understanding how all these glowing reviews for Things – where people profess how their life has been transformed, can be legitimate – when I can’t even set up a task to remind me monthly that its time to do my dog’s Frontline treatment.

    Makes no sense to me that this isn’t a part of the application. Seems to me this would be one of the first things I’d build. The fact that it’s been updated and revised numerous times, and it hasn’t been added suggests it might not be.

    My other main complaint is that for iPhone only users – there is no backup or alternative way to access your tasks. Sure, if I bought teh desktop app, I could sync to it – but for those that don’t have or sync to a Mac, this seems like a bit of a limitation.

    Just the ability to email my task list seems to be simple enough and would provide me some type of safety net when my phone breaks, runs out of juice for the day, or I leave it on an airplane.

  9. Simon Mackie Tuesday, July 28, 2009

    @MRoselius – I haven’t used the iPhone app, but you can definitely set recurring tasks on the desktop version — it is surprising that can’t do it in the phone version.

  10. @MRoselius – aparently it has reoccuring tasks. That would completely turn me off from trying it.

    http://www.tuaw.com/2008/03/17/things-gets-recurring-tasks/

  11. You may want to check out http://www.GoalsOnTrack.com, a nicely built web app designed for tracking goals and todo lists, and supports time tracking too. It’s clear, focused, easy to navigate, worth a try.

  12. Apologies to everyone for not answering comments sooner…I was working 14 hour days at a trade show this week. Thanks to Simon for filling in for me!

    @MRoselius I never noticed that you can’t set up recurring tasks from the iPhone because I do my heavy work on my desktop module where it is easier to type. I have several recurring tasks set up from there.

    It seems like the iPhone app is designed as an add-on and not really a stand-alone application.

    I think the comments here perfectly illustrate my intro to the review – everyone’s brain works differently regarding task management and we all need different approaches. Things works perfectly for some people and they rave about it. But it doesn’t “sync” with some people and so they complain about it.

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