Today in Things

I’ve been using Things 3 since it came out. There is one thing in my workflow that I don’t like and I’d like to change. I often put things in Today that I want to get done. I often don’t finish everything and then it carries over to the next day. Sometimes these tasks just pile up into a big unwieldy list. Some days I open up Things and I have 10+ tasks sitting in Today, some carried over, some things that I scheduled that I have to get done today. Is there a better approach to handling today? I don’t want to start out a day with 10, 15 tasks in my Today list.

If you are adding items to Today that you have no intention of doing today perhaps you should stop doing that, and put those items into another area, yes?

I intend on doing them today, but then life intervenes and something more important comes along.

If you continue to add tasks to the Today queue and never finish them, then you’ll be on an endless cycle of frustration. It’s better, I think, to start the day (or end the prior day) reviewing your upcoming day, the hard-scheduled meetings, appointments or other obligations (i.e., the calendar) and then determining which of your tasks in your Things (or OmniFocus, or whatever) projects you can feasibly complete that day – given available time and priorities.

If you find you continually plan tasks that never get done “today” then figure out why. Is that task unpleasant but necessary and you are avoiding it – then just steel yourself, get it done and move on. Is that task really not important? Then put in a “maybe someday” bucket. There’s no objectively perfect system for planning which tasks get done today, but if you pile so much on your back you feel guilty about not accomplishing anything then you should reassess your system. Plus, if you can let yourself accomplish a number of quick and easy wins, then you might find that energizes the rest of your time.


I’m in the habit each night of looking over any remaining Today tasks and pro-actively rescheduling them - either to the next day, to a later date, or in some cases clearing a due date and just letting the item sit in a project where I’ll revisit it in due course. I end up juggling due dates nearly every day because I view my task manager, also Things3, as a tool not an overlord telling me what to do. But the tasks I delay/push are never the critical ones for the day.

You might also consider using the “Someday” list in Things3 if you have tasks you want to get done but that don’t have to be due “Today”.

An app can’t make you do things, or stop you from listing things you won’t really be doing. I recommend buckling down and using Today for actionable items you know you will do; otherwise put the items somewhere else.

I live inside Google Calendar, and I put items I need to do into time slots when I can. When I can’t I put them in my task manager (Todoist) which has Google Calendar sync. So if there’s something I need to do I bounce between Todoist and my calendar to view openings in my schedule. And when I can I set a date/time in a Todoist … and it auto-syncs onto my GC (and if I move it in GC the info gets auto-updated in Todoist).

Aside from (1) being more realistic about actionable items and (2) putting to-dos on my calendar for specific times when possible, I do (3) two daily reviews - (a) one in the morning to see if items are indeed doable today (otherwise they get moved) and (b) one at the end of the day (to responsibly decide if remaining items can or cannot be moved to tomorrow).

If too many things are constantly building up in Today then you need to realize your perception of what’s doable on a given day needs to be reconsidered and adjusted.

Thanks for the suggestions. Thinking about it some more, I’m going to try to use a new tag, Important. I won’t put a date on these tasks, just tag them as Important so I can have a cleaner Today view. And just visit the Important list a couple of times in the day to make sure I’m doing tasks from that list.

The Today view can definitely get out of control if you aren’t careful. Like others have said, I do a quick check each night on Today tasks I didn’t complete. Sometimes I let them roll over, or I will defer to a different date.

Occasionally, I will see the same task remaining undone in my Today view for a while, and I will challenge myself if I’m really intending to do it at all. Sometimes these get deleted or rewritten as more actionable tasks.

Every morning, I spend 2-3 minutes reviewing my Today tasks and rearranging in some kind of sequence of how I’d like to complete them. Lots of times there will be new recurring tasks that won’t be appropriate to complete that day and I will defer them. These morning planning minutes give me a sense of control over my day which I enjoy.

For some tasks that don’t have a hard date they must be accomplished, I won’t specify any date at all. I usually add these tasks in the project view during my weekly reviews. These show up in the Anytime view which sift through when I have spare time, and keeps my Today view less cluttered.

Sometimes in Todoist I’ll use the catchall inbox to hold things I’d like to do but am unsure I can do them immediately - occasionally using it similarly to Lisa Woodruff’s ‘Sunday Basket.’

This is not what the Inbox is supposed to be for, however (it’s supposed to be a temporary staging area for items before you have time to classify them), and it can get just as out of hand as an ever-growing Today view if one is not careful.