I have long been on and off with task management applications and they all failed me for 1 reason. They were either great at big projects or small tasks but never both.
Well that changed with Things 3. Yes I might be over a year late to the release of Things 3 but for a long time I needed something that worked on Android and Mac so never gave Things 3 a looking. Now I have finally converted back to iPhone it was time to look at what exists in the Apple only universe.
The big projects
Let’s start with what I consider to be the most important part of a to do app. Managing large fast move projects.
I have built a successful web development and marketing house over the years and we have a lot of projects which I have a list of things I am responsible for. These range for reviewing a junior developers work, writing code, documenting functions and all the way through to meeting with clients.
Things 3 has Areas of Responsibility which are kind of like folders that hold and separate your personal and work projects. You can create as many or as few as you need - you can even use the full application without creating a single area if you so wish.
Once you create an Area of Responsibility you find yourself creating project of all sizes and adding tasks, headings (more on headings later). So once the application is full of everything circling in your head you start to check things off and wait, you notice projects have a pie that fills as you complete the tasks giving you a really clear overview of where you stand. Yet there is more a project can be checked off and completed just like a task.
Ok, so I mentioned headings and you are wondering what these have to do with task lists and projects. Well in truth they don’t do a great deal but they are invaluable when it comes to laying out your project and keeping things looking clean and organised. A heading is just that a heading to separate a set of tasks and give some organisation to a large project.
I have tried collaborative to do apps and they never work out because I cross so many different types of people and 1 app will never fit everybody’s workflow. I like that Things 3 is personal and closed to me. It allows me to run both my personal and professional life from 1 application. Speaking of which that brings us nicely into...
The small tasks
I purposely didn’t use the word projects for this as I am talking about tasks that are too small for a project. Things like buy milk, return Johns call. They are single tasks that take 3-5 minutes out of your day. Often personal task that don’t require a lot of thought but need tracking none the less.
When you are using a task management application you need to trust it and the only way to trust the system is to add everything you have to do into the application. If you leave stuff in your head that is the first step to losing trust in your application and your system. As soon as you lose trust you can’t get it back without a complete reset and rebuild.
After that small tangent lets look at how Things 3 can handle the small tasks. As discussed previously Things has Areas of Responsibility which allows you to superset work and personal projects. Well you can add a task to an area. Yes that is right areas don’t just hold projects they can have their own task lists. This is perfect for small little jobs that don’t relate to a project and don’t need a whole project of their own.
Yet more. You can add a task to today. This is a task that doesn’t have a project or an area and at the same time doesn’t belong in the inbox. This is an idea I love for those quick jobs that crop up during the day that need to be done that elegant but not the most minute, for example return John’s call.
The bottom line is I love Things 3 and have been using it for over 3 months now making it the longest lasting task manager I have ever used. Now it is not cheap at £50 for the macOS app, £10 for the iPhone app and £20 for the iPad app you are looking at a £80 investment to get the full package. I would say, however, with out a doubt this is the best £80 I have spent on an application is a long long time.
I highly recommend Things 3 to anybody that lives and works in Apple’s universe. It complements each of Apple’s platforms perfectly something I guess the likes of Todoist will never do as they strive to be the same across 20+ platforms and operating systems.
One thing I would like to see them add is a web version and I would even pay a small subscription for access to the web version. For those occasions I need to do a lot of task entry away from my Mac a web version would be great. This is not a problem with Things for iPhone as task entry there is truly amazing - it is more of a problem with typing on an iPhone in general.
Over the coming months I will be writing a lot more about Things 3 and some other apps I have adopted into my new workflow.