Reminders May Replace Things - Here is Why

I’ve been experimenting with the new Reminders app.

Now that I have iOS 15 installed on all mobile devices (iPad 2021 M1, iPhone 13 Pro Max) and will on the 2021 MBP M1 when Monterrey is released, I’m continuing my effort to reduce the total number of apps I use and to use default solutions whenever doing so does not negatively affect my productivity.

The addition of Tags and Smart Lists and the ability to attach Apple Notes and Emails directly to a task is working well. The Smart List, and especially the relative date option) is akin (though not as powerful) to OmniFocus’s Perspectives. I also like the ability to create Smart lists based on tags and the seamless integration with Siri.

The only thing I miss thus far is the ability to send an email to Things or OF. Instead, I do a drag and drop. It is not as fast but perfectly adequate.

A word about Apple Notes (AN).

I’ve written several times that I abandoned AN. With iOS 15 I decided to give it another try. The main reason is that I found Obsidian to be clunky to use for taking meeting notes that need reference to key documents. I also need to have tables. Using transclusion, while workable, is clunky and not efficient. Craft is a good solution but I’d rather stick with default apps IF possible.

Obsidian will remain my default app for all writing and research. I’m giving AN another try for meeting and personal notes. If the sync proofs reliable I’ll stick with AN. While I don’t like the export limitations I can live with it. Craft would be the better option for exporting to plain text but it lacks tables and I don’t like writing in a block-based system. AN has the advantage of system integration, the ability to handwrite notes, type notes, Live Text, insert documents, scan documents, checklists, and more. Combined with Apple Mail and Reminders, the three together offer a powerful, though not perfect, productivity suite.

So:

  • Obsidian for all writing and research
  • Reminders for task management
  • Apple Notes for business and personal notes
  • Apple Mail
  • Apple Calendar
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This is nice! I just knew Reminders.app supports smart list.

I also interested to replace Things with Reminders because background sync. I will miss project, sure, also nested tags and tags with spaces. But I think I can live without them. Will give Reminders workflow a try for the next sprint.

Do you mean Reminders for Monterey on Mac?

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Oops, my bad! Obviously, I don’t have iOS 15 on the MBP. I do mean Monterey when it is released. :rofl:

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My biggest issue with Reminders is that it never syncs reliability — if I mark something complete on one device, or postpone it to another time, I can be pretty certain I’ll be repeating the same step on my other devices. I presume it is an iCloud issue. If it worked more reliably, I’d consider using it more.

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Interesting. In the past I’ve had that problem with AN (though that seems to have been resolved) but I’ve never had a problem with Reminders. :crossed_fingers:

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve thought iCloud’s syncing problems had been resolved.

I’ll soon know! :slightly_smiling_face: The “good news” is that if it causes problems I can import my Apple Notes to DT, convert to plain text and add to an Obsidian Vault. Not ideal but also not a deal breaker. AN is my main concern. I’ve never had a problem with Reminders syncing.

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Nice. Thank you for that. I am half tempted to give reminders a go… BUT… I have started playing with Amazing Marvin again and I am falling in love!

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It seems iCloud syncing issue that affects different app for each different individuals. @Bmosbacker had issue for AN, while I had issue with Safari Tabs. In my case happened not long after Bug Sir launch.

Mine’s solved and never happened again, so I hope your Reminders sync issue is solved too

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I, too, have been simplifying my task management methods and am close to relying solely on Reminders. My last use case that I can’t solve outside of GoodTask is a smart “Today” list that includes all tasks due today or earlier AND all tasks with no due date.

It is the latter requirement (all tasks with no due date) that seems to not be an option for a Reminders smart list filter. Nor can I create a Shortcut as a substitute “Today” list as “reminders with NO due date” is not an available filter.

I realize I could tag every reminder and then use the tag in conjunction with a due date as a solution, but I would rather not add the step of tagging every reminder.

Any other suggestions on a solution for creating this?

I have a couple of thoughts (probably worth what you’re paying for them :slightly_smiling_face:) that may be of some value depending on your needs.

  • I’m always more concerned with tasks that have an actual due/drop dead date. I don’t add due dates unless the task really really must be done by then (except for what I call “repeating maintenance tasks—see below). This means I have a lot of tasks without dates. Based on that, my approach is:

    • Make sure I review all projects once a week without fail (weekly review). I add dates if needed during this process.
    • I created a “Due this Week” Smart list using the relative date filter.
    • For projects that I want to start on (the equivalent of Things “when” date) I flag them (and they may have a due date). I review the Today and Flagged every morning (others could do it the night before) to map out my day.

As you can see below, I keep the number of tasks due today and/or flagged to a minimum. You will notice that I only have 62 tasks with a date out of 154. Of those, several are repeating tasks (“repeating maintenance tasks) due each day, e.g., log meals in MyFitPal. I probably have 30 or less project related tasks with real due dates.

  • For what it is worth, I have a large number of projects varying in complexity across seven divisions and 200 employees. Frankly, to my surprise, I’m finding that Reminders is now up to the tasks now that it has Smart List (OF Perspectives “Jr.”) and Tags. Once Monterey is released Reminders will be much better across my devices. I’m also learning to use Siri much more effectively for creating tasks.

Reminders does some things better than Things (pun intended :slightly_smiling_face:) and some not as good. The ONLY thing I miss in OF is the review feature.

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Interesting, I’m trying out Reminders in iOS 15 and it is pretty powerful now. It doesn’t have all the features of Things, but I’d say close enough for most people. One of the things I rely on is the Someday feature. I dump lots of ideas into Things and I think it is useful to say “not now” by changing the date to Someday and just seeing it in my weekly review. I also rely on the idea of a Start date. I don’t want to see the task for doing my weekly review until the day I plan to do it. How do you deal with that idea in Reminders?

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Thanks for the feedback and ideas!

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I created a list and only review it every few months.

I’ll not sure they are all that helpful but the price is right. :wink:

@Bmosbacker I’m curious; I know you delegate a lot to your staff, and you seem to largely use individual task management solutions. What do your staff on the administrative side generally use to manage their tasks, assignments and projects? Forgive me if you’ve written about this before!

Yes, I do delegate a lot. I learned, sometimes the hard way, that if I cannot confidently delegate to my senior team members then I have the wrong senior team. I make changes in this regard much faster than I did earlier in my career. When I arrived in my current organization four years ago I completely revamped the senior team and much of the organizational structure to simplify and clarify responsibilities. I’m blessed with an outstanding SLT, which makes delegating much easier. :slightly_smiling_face:

My direct reports use whatever system works for them BUT for collaborative projects/tasks we use Asana. We also use Asana for creating and managing senior team meeting agendas. I have two senior team meetings (SLT+ and SLT Tactical). The SLT+ team includes three individuals who are not direct reports but whose input is considered valuable when the senior team is making strategic decisions. The SLT Tactical is restricted to my direct reports and tactical meetings are never permitted to go more than 60 minutes.

In short,

  • Team members use whatever works best for their individual responsibilities
  • Asana is used for collaborative projects/agendas
  • I use Reminders to track both of the above. The ability to tag with project and/or names and to add emails, Apple Notes and URL’s (e.g., from Obsidian) means everything is immediately available to me. I use Smart Lists on a limited fashion, which is similar but less robust than OF Perspectives but is all that I need.

I hope I’m answering your question! :slightly_smiling_face:

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I am an avid GoodTask user (it’s built on top of reminders and expands its uses significantly), but still maintains ability to use all the built in reminders functions such as Siri reminders, location based, links between apps, etc. With the new reminders update I find that the reminders app pretty much does most of what I need now.

I keep GoodTask around because their widgets are still the best I’ve seen. Essentially you can put tasks and calendars on same widget (with many filters). So on my “personal” Home Screen my widget shows family calendars and today and overdue personal tasks. On my “work” Home Screen I have it show work projects/next actions and work calendar.

While GoodTask has amazing templates and quick changes (aka you can define your own due date, start date etc such as Monday 7am to be available from a quick select menu), it’s really just the widget with calendar integrations that keeps me on GoodTask. (Essentially GoodTask let’s you do fantastical calendar sets with calendar and tasks through apple native apps).

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You absolutely did answer! Gave me some things to think about. Using reminders to keep you out of Asana’s heaviness (how I feel about it, anyway) seems smart and lets you offload some of the complexity OF might otherwise have had to hold.

I like the tactical meeting—we do something similar, though we have three equivalents of the SLT meeting and our tactical meeting equivalent is shorter.

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Thanks for sharing this! It looks like Reminders now has the features that recently drove me to OmniFocus (though I, too, would miss the review feature).

OmniFocus has grown on me (it took me a while to wrap my head around it). But if the only thing I’m likely to really miss is the review feature, dropping the subscription would be a significant savings. I’ll have to experiment a bit.

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