Cognitive load when using Things 3

So, in my ever increasing struggle to chose a task manager, I (think) I’m coming to a concluding when using Things . It is clearly more fun and joyful to use on iOS than Omnifocus. Moving around the app is also faster and easier on iOS. On the surface, it seems to be easier and less frustrating. But after using it more, I think I’ve come to an opposite realization. Because I have no way to narrow tasks (other than tag filtering) I think it may actually be more stressful to use.

Take for instance this example.

Lets say I had a deadline of a task for today, but decide to change the when date to two days from now because I just didn’t have time today. Now lets say I’ve done that with 5 tasks over two weeks. There is no way to only see “due” tasks in Things other than looking at all your areas for the red overdue indicator. In OF, I can simply have a perspective that shows only due tasks. This is a simple example, but I think after using it more, I actually get more stressed with Things 3.

IMHO, they should at the very least add some simple filters to the app. I think they would go a long way.

Sort of why when I toyed with Things, the rubber-band with OmniFocus pulled me back. I’m stopping my focus on choosing the tool and instead focusing on doing things on the list.


I had the same experience with Things 3 and ended up back in Omnifocus 3 because of perspectives and having sequential projects, both of which make it easy to filter out all the details and reduce the cognitive load. Things is beautiful and if I didn’t have so many projects at work that include tracking delegated tasks I would use it in a second. In fact my wife and two oldest daughters are using Things 3 and it is the perfect for their needs. They were able to get up and running quickly which is a compliment to Cultured Code’s design. But for my needs that include a very large number of active projects and tasks, Omnifocus was the right tool for the job.

FYI there may be a way to create your own limited “perspectives” feature using Things 3 url schemes. I recall reading somewhere about someone using Launch Center Pro using the show and search commands to create shortcuts to quickly view by tags and search terms. You can use their link builder to test this out. For example here is how to show tasks in “Upcoming” with the tag “Work”.


It’s nowhere near Omnifocus’s perspective feature, but it might help with having a fast way to filter Things.

Really appreciate the Apple ecosystem and how it provides us so many great options!

Another reason is I’m forced to use a PC at work and often can’t have my phone or iPad. The web app is passable and I’m really hoping perspectives are added in the near future.

I think cognitive load is more what you’re used to, and not necessarily something constant.

For instance, I found after using Things 3 for a year and then moving back to OmniFocus that OF was too cluttered. Dates didn’t pop at me, and I was having trouble keeping track of the items on my list(s). Everything just felt off and my brain wasn’t used to seeing things in the ways that they were being presented.

I didn’t feel this way prior to using Things, and now after using OmniFocus for a few weeks again my brain is fine. I’m able to parse what I need to and overall I’m fine with how things are laid out.

All that to say, I think cognitive load ebbs and flows with routine and usage. :blush:

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Great app , easy to use, looks fantastic and also has real power under the hood. Good choice you won’t regret it