I am now settling again for Things, after being lured over to TickTick with its neat calendar integration and shabby user experience. It really has a lot of advantages and disadvantages, just as every other task manager out there. So the lists here are purely subjective.
Feel free to chime in with your favorite pro or con! Maybe someone even sees my con and has a working solution / workaround?
Killer sync- you will never think about it, what a relief
You can put your tasks wherever you want. Given you have set up an area of interest, it can contain tasks, Projects, tasks with checklists and Projects with Headings just to your liking
Helpful date parsing in the time picker (keyboard- friendly!)
Identical keyboard support on Mac and iOS. No need to learn new tricks when I am planning on my iPad Pro
No real review feature - doing a weekly review in a combined window of the log screen and Fantastical is regularly driving me nuts. My current workaround is to log all accomplished tasks in the calendar while also tracking focus time with “flat tomato” that publishes a calendar entry per achieved POMO.
No real display of tasks and calendar in one interface- I always have to split-view with a calendar
I am a happy user of Things but not a busy person and don’t use it for work - my usecase is extremely light. Some “cons” that come to mind:
Things has no concept of time - just dates. This is less powerful than other tasks managers but also strange because Things has a concept of “This Evening”… but the tasks put there appear to you all day and activate the badge icon if you turn that on. Why add that if you can’t “hide” This Evening tasks until the actual evening?
No location-based tasks, task notes can only contain text.
Lastly, Things is a one-time payment app. Most people still prefer this to subscription apps (I do), but it incentivizes Cultured Code to hold onto new features until the next version comes out. I like Cultured Code and all but would not be surprised if they have some of the above cons fixed but are waiting for Things 4 to release them.
Another thing that bugs me about Things is that there is no way to adjust the font size. This is kind of annoying on iOS and really annoying to me on macOS. I can see dozens of tasks at once. Actually reading them can be a challenge at times. Things 2 supported font size customization but it was removed in the redesign. Grr…
Font size, lack of an organized review, and the handling of repeated tasks are my big three complaints about Things. I don’t have good solutions for any of them. I keep thinking about moving to Omnifocus (which solves at least the first two) but am concerned that it might be too fiddly for what I thought were pretty modest needs.
On the Things plus side I really do appreciate the sync. I remember some pundits dumping on Cultured Code for taking so long to add sync support but, unlike the case with say Apple, sync in Things always works. I’ve been using it since the day it came out and never had a problem with it.
That’s not entirely true. Repeating tasks can be set to appear in your Today list some number of days before they are due. (It’s not the most intuitive, but you do this by choosing the “Add Deadline” option in the repeat interface.)
If you set up a repeating task this way, you can check it off as soon as it becomes available in your Today view (or you can push it to tomorrow, etc. like any other task) rather than waiting until the due date to check it off.
For example, I have to circulate an agenda for a monthly meeting at least a week before the meeting each month (but I can send it earlier if it’s ready). I have a repeating task that is due one week before the meeting, but the task appears in my Today list three days earlier, since it is somewhere in that window that I expect to finalize and send the agenda.
Have you turned on the option to show events in the Today and Upcoming views? I find the subtle integration very helpful.
This bugged me the most when I switched from OmniFocus. But I’ve replaced it with repeating “Daily Review” and “Weekly Review” projects. I’ve also found that making liberal use of the “Someday” category helps keep my top to bottom review of active projects manageable.
My biggest complaint with Things right now is that it doesn’t have an obvious way to have inactive/waiting for tasks. For now, I’ve got a “waiting for” tag, which does allow me to quickly review things that I’m waiting on, etc. BUT these tasks show up in the “Anytime” view when really there should be some way to mark them as “unavailable” and exclude them from that view.
I too use a “Waiting” tag, but then set the tasks to “Someday”. This keeps them out of the “Anytime” view and allows me to check them when I need to by searching for the “Waiting” tag.
Yea, I don’t have many needs for location-based tasks, but when I do I just use Reminders. All other location-based task apps are too fiddly, often firing notifications pre-maturely, and they don’t stick on the Lockscreen like Reminders.
Agreed. Seems like they could do more to help with “laying out” the tasks for your day. I also wish that you could pre-schedule tasks for “This Evening”.
I’ve tried a similar approach, but found it cumbersome to keep track of and I wasn’t finding that much benefit to reviews of my past time. I’m actually just making more use of Timing, and that’s been sufficient to keep track of how I’m using my time throughout my work days.
I still miss Reminders + 2Do + BusyCal. With the Reminders database update I can’t get this combo working anymore.
I use a KM macro to handle this on macOS and a Shortcut on iOS. It’s cumbersome if you have a lot of tasks, but works fine for me when I need to modify one or two.
For KM, you’ll need to insert your personal Auth Token in the final URL step of each macro.
Wow, thank you so much for the lively discussion, folks! I feel a lot reassured and will rather perfect my Things setup than searching for the ideal task manager - as long as possible.
totally with you, @kennonb! My biggest reasons for remaining with Things is sync and the fantastic cross-platform keyboard shortcuts. Once you learned your way around, you can fly through the interface.
Turns out that freeing “anytime” of anything that is not actionable into “someday” brings back a holding position for all tasks that would otherwise clutter up “today”. Having “Today” populated with just the necessary stuff is liberating to the utmost! Thanks again, @kennonb!
Late to this discussion. Sorry. I have heard Steven complain of this before (on ‘Connected’). It’s true. You can’t check things off in advance. I think there are a couple of approaches to dealing with this. The first is setting a repeating task to appear before it is due as @ciaran suggests. From memory there is a 14 day lead time. The other approach is simply to dive into the Upcoming list and edit the repeat date. A little clunky, but it wor you like the validation of having a checked task in the logbook. Purely personally, I don’t need this (or not often!). When it’s done, it’s done. Look forward! This minor firction doesn’t outweigh the benefits of using Things for me. I personally found the workflows suggested at https://productivewithapurpose.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/Be-a-Pebble-Snatching-Productivity-Fu-Master-PDF.pdf useful.
In almost every other app, I had to use “Due Date” to really be start date. I like that with Things, I can set a date for “When” to keep my Today view clean, can see these on the Upcoming view, and on that date, that task just drops into the Today view. I dont’ have an overdue due-date the next day. Very intuitive.
It’s just words isn’t it? You are (in my view, correctly) making the action “Start something” on the due-to-start date. Nothing says that “due” means “completing” something. And tracking by the end date is always too late.
I wholeheartedly disagree with this generalization. I for one am actively looking for apps that are not subscription based and judging by the comments whenever an app switches their models and the number of complaints about this trend amongst people outside the power-user cosmos I am by far not alone with this.
I currently only have 3 iOS subscriptions, of which I am looking for ways to cut 2. Overcast will be the only one remaining. It is the only one for that I feel a certain spark of joy to pay the yearly $10.
And Cultured Code is nowhere close to holding back features for the sake of selling them with the next version jump. Things 1 was around for 4 years, Things 2 for 5 years. Things 3 is already in its third year and the app is being actively developed with features being rolled out continuously. There are no hints that Things 4 is around the corner. The devs even stated that Things 3 will be around for a while.
In my opinion it has the most refined feature set that actually manages to keep the balance between casual and pro users. Other task managers don’t achieve this at all. It comes with best in class interactions (drag and drop, swipe etc.) and that while being cross-platform without breaking macOS paradigms, keyboard shortcuts on both platforms, reliable sync, one of the most powerful and well documented URL-scheme systems for power-users out there.
Yes, location-based notifications, collaboration/delegation are still missing and conditional tasks “if that task is done, then set this task to active”. However those are difficult tasks to fit into a minimal UI that appeals to both, casual and power users. And also data structure-wise this needs to be achievable.
They are also making progress with saved searches and hidden views, such as the “list of all projects”. Besides that, the recurring tasks editor needs a clear maker-over, with which I clearly agree.
When you log completed actions that are in a project, the actions are still contained in the project. Scroll to the bottom of the project task list and you will see the option to show/hide logged items.
Also, if I log completed tasks in Today to the Logbook, they no longer appear in Today for me.