A long time ago, Things was my first task management tool as a new Mac user, but with the slow development times at Cultured Code and a lack of sync support, I made a move to OmniFocus. For the better part of 5 years, I never gave Things any further consideration.
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When I first tried Things 3, something clicked for me. I wrote about it in my initial review :. There always needed to be a secondary piece of software required. Things 3 is the first tool that made me think there was a chance I could handle it all in one place. And indeed, a project in Things feels very much like a blank document rather than a rigid checklist.
There is space for notes and reference information that does not feel like a simple free-form text field that is a second-class citizen in the apps UI. We spend an inordinate amount of time sorting through hundreds of apps to find the very best. We put together a short list of our must-have, most-used apps for increasing productivity. Using the Quick Entry dialog, you can quickly type a customizable shortcut and enter in a new task. Most task management apps offer this feature, but what I like about Things is, again, the usability. The form includes all the necessary fields, while also including excellent support for using just the keyboard.
Even better, with the Things Helper, you can create tasks from a currently selected item in other apps. Using this, Things will include a link back to the original item. Using one master inbox for all your inputs becomes a lot more feasible with this type of functionality.
On iPhone and iPad, Things is increasingly supported by other third-party apps thanks to its behind-the-scenes URL scheme. Our favorite email app for the Mac and increasingly for iPhone and iPad as well plays nicely with Things; inside Spark, you can simply swipe an email in your email list to send the entire email message or just a link to your Things inbox so you can act on the email as though it were a task. One of the aspects of Things that has always been important is how it structures the tasks that make up your life. That allows you to structure your projects, tasks, and checklists according to the various roles you play project managers, designers, and accountants, but parents, volunteers, coaches as well.
It even gets its own icon! This approach to the foundational structure in Things makes it easy to focus on one area at a time. Further down the structure, each project is also given a nice visual treatment. Again, this concept of a blank document works well. This allows you to include any background information or reference materials required at the top of the project. From there, you create the tasks required to complete the project.
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If your project has specific categories of tasks or is broken into segments, Things lets you create headers to add structure to the project itself. Further, each task can include notes or documentation, and tasks can be recurring or include a checklist. Add it all up, and you get this beautiful document of what needs to be done. You can set this view up to sit on the side of your screen as you plug away.
Another aspect of Things 3 that I admire is the consideration of how to use time. Yes, you can assign a due date for tasks or projects, but you can also specify a time when you want to work on your tasks but they are not necessarily due. This is how you add items to Today. This implementation in Things is very well thought out. If I have a task I want to complete tomorrow, I set that value in the task itself all from the keyboard, mind you.
Most other task managers would treat this as an overdue item and give you a glaring read badge. This is a far friendlier way of allowing you to address intention when managing your tasks. Due dates are still there for when needed. For me, hard due dates are rare, so the more relaxed approach to time in Things is welcome. Most task managers give you the option to use tags.
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Yet I and believe many other Apple users never seem to get around to using them. Not in the file system, and not in my main applications. However, I really like the way Things handles tags. The basic structure of Things is as mentioned above. You create high-level Areas of Responsibility or high-level projects to Things. From there, areas can include multiple projects and tasks. In this way, Things operates a lot like folders on your file system.
Tags are how you can view tasks across the different areas and projects in your life. You can view any given tag by using the high-level keyboard-based navigation.
Things 3 Review: The Best Productivity App for Mac, iPhone, and iPad
Simply start typing the name of a tag and then select it from the search modal. The result is a view that looks like a project. Except it can include tasks that are located in different projects, grouped by area. Since there is little ability to create custom views in Things more on that below , this ability to view tags allows you the most flexibility. You can even filter your list of tagged tasks by other tags.
So meta. Compared to some of the other options, a lot of people will find it too rigid. Whereas a tool like OmniFocus allows you to configure things in a myriad of ways, Things only gives you a minimal set of options. Nowhere is this more apparent than creating custom views. Where OmniFocus or 2Do allow you to build highly customized and specific views for your tasks, Things has almost no options at all.
If you like to focus on one day at a time, the Today view is a good option. The same is true for viewing an entire area of your life. If you view an area that includes projects and single tasks, you cannot see all the tasks for the entire area. All tasks for a specific project can only be viewed by clicking into the project itself.
Apart from the lack of customization which, I should add, some people would see as a positive feature , there are a few other missing features in Things. First, the lack of Markdown support or any other formatting is a bummer. How much more useful would the notes be if you could add headers, bold or italicize text, or even include file attachments? As well, other apps in this category provide options that some folks will not want to be without:. All things considered, these are small items that do not take away enough from Things.
One last item to mention is the different versions of the product.
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Apple users in are people using more than one device. How does Things shape up on an iPad or iPhone compared to the desktop? With Wunderlist, teamwork can be very flexible since you can share tasks and work together. Basic level task management. As long as you need standard task management features in a to-do list app, Wunderlist comes in really handy.
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The tool lets the user keep track of all their tasks, and in that way, helps them enjoy peace of mind. With Todoist, you can efficiently add the tasks, set reminders, never worry about forgetting urgent things. It keeps all the tasks in one place and gives users confidence that all the activities and to-dos are well organized.
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Todoist is best for those people who want to meet productivity goals. The Todoist Karma points, streaks, and levels are some of the features they can use to see tangible progress of your project. As the name implies, this tool lets the user make checklists to-do lists , organize them in the order of priority, and then tick them off after completing the tasks. Millions of people use this to-do list template to capture, organize, and prioritize tasks and make the most of their working days.
The flexible calendar view helps a user check their schedule and manage it according to their convenience. Those who want to work collaboratively , can assign tasks, share the to-do list, check project progress, and stay productive together. TickTick can be synced across multiple platforms.