The best personal task manager - the Things app

I wrote an article about the taskbook application Things, because I could not find any Russian-language information about this program. If you already use the Things application, you will not find anything interesting in this article. It's more a text for newbies. This is not a step-by-step guide. I will explain how I use Things and what tasks I can do with it.

Download Things in the AppStore.

Read about one of the modern 2Do problem books.

Appendix Things - the best of the best

Things are really cool. There aren't many apps like this where GTD is implemented in one way or another. The direct analogue of Things is Omnifocus. Choose what's best for you. I chose Things because of the lower price at the time of purchase and have no regrets.

As I was writing this article, I looked up the cost for the computer. Heck, Things is now more expensive than OnmiFocus. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that these programs are for Mac OS and iOS.

For Windows and Android, there is probably something similar. Tell me in the comments if you've used GTD apps for those OSes. It would be interesting to know if I may have missed some app, say, more worthwhile.

The method of use that I chose for myself is taken from this text How I use Things. It's a pdf, and it's in English (link at the end of the article).

There is no magic functionality in these programs and you can write everything on paper, but it's not convenient. If you have 2-3 tasks a week, you don't need Things.

A Little Theory About GTD

There is plenty of information about GTD, but I have not found any good articles in Russian. Read the article from Wikipedia, the basic principles and the essence of the method are described there. If you do not want to read Wikipedia, then I will try to explain the method in a nutshell.

GTD (Getting Things Done) is a technique that helps you organize and manage things. The method helps you plan tasks and remember to do them.
I don't like dogma and use Things outside of the GTD canon. For me, it's more effective.

Tasks

So, the basic organizational unit is a "task. By a task, we can mean anything. For example, I write down interesting thoughts in the form of individual tasks.

If we talk about tasks, then from the first minutes of use, it is important to develop an iron rule for yourself - all tasks should be entered in Things. If you don't do this, you won't be able to use Things. After all, The main motto of GTD is to free your head from remembering unnecessary information. Why keep plans in your head for a week or a month ahead when Things have been made for that purpose.

Inbox

New tasks get here. The source can be a new task window, called by a special key combination. The key combination can be set in the application settings. Tasks created on the phone or tablet through the context menu of the browser or through the Dashboard also get here.

I have few tasks in my inbox. I create tasks in Things and immediately move them to the right area (focus). This also contradicts GTD, but I don't care. ?

Tricks

All tasks are divided into focal areas. These are areas of task visibility by time frame. They are somewhat arbitrary and everyone is free to choose their assignment, probably except for "Today" and "Plans".

  • Today.
    Only the tasks that you have planned for the current day are placed here, or those that automatically fall under the plan. If at the end of the day the task is not completed, then it should be moved to "Next" or "Later". I never leave a task for the next day in the focus of "Today" unless I am sure it will be done.
    The best personal task manager - the Things app
  • Next (Next)
    Tasks for the coming week. Every evening or morning, I review the tasks and move them to the "Today" focus. This is also where the scheduled tasks go.
  • Scheduled (Scheduled)
    Scheduled tasks for a certain day. It is possible to schedule for a certain day, you can repeat the task at certain intervals (more on this later).
  • Someday
    Other tasks that do not have a specific time frame. It can be a month or six months. Usually I look at the beginning of the next week and move them to the focus "Next" or immediately to "Today".
  • Projects
    This area does not apply to timelines. "Projects" allow you to group tasks together. A project is a task that cannot be completed in one step.

Things project in the app

This is what the draft of this article looks like, very convenient to keep track of the sequence of execution and what has already been completed. If there are too many completed tasks and it interferes with the perception, you can click on the button "Move to the log completed". I do not delete completed tasks at all, but move them to the log.

Scheduling tasks in the Things app

There is nothing complicated about scheduling, but I will describe the process, maybe someone does not understand it. When creating a task, you need to specify on what day you want this task to be shown for viewing and optionally the deadline for its completion. It is also possible to make recurring tasks. On the appointed day, the scheduled tasks will be shown in the "Today" to decide what to do with them. You can click on the star and the task will become active in the "Today" focus. By clicking on the arrow and postpone to a later date.

Planning in Things

I created a test task without an expiration date on purpose to show the task counter. It shows that there are two scheduled tasks waiting to be viewed, one of which expires today. You can then postpone the task to today, or start it later. On iOS devices, you can set at what time to show notification of tasks with a due date or scheduled ones.

Projects

"Projects" are lists or groups of tasks. Sometimes it is necessary to break a large task into smaller ones and execute them sequentially or in parallel. In Things, there are no hard restrictions, like in OnmiFocus, on the choice of the sequence of tasks. I use projects for large tasks or purchases. Suppose I need to buy car parts for the next service, I create a "Service Parts" project and enter each item as a separate task. I don't use Things app for bulk purchases, usually no more than 5-7 items. You can use Evernote or a specialized app for bulk and regular purchases.

Tags

The "Tags" entity is a set of categories that you can use at your own discretion. They are assigned to tasks and projects. You can designate task contexts with tags.

There can be as many tags as you want, but I would not advise creating more than two dozen of them, you will forget which one and when to assign. You can make nested lists of tags.

I have several types of tags. The first is actions. For example, "Payments", "Find/Buy". The second, to denote the subject area of the task, like "Book", "Work", "Car", etc. You can also specify importance, priority, and whatever else you like. There is complete freedom for the imagination.

Tags in Things

You should not overload tasks with tags. It will be hard to perceive.

Areas (Area)

Areas are the global context of tasks. Large areas into which all your tasks are divided. For me, these are "Work", "Home Affairs", "Pets projects", "Hobbies", and "Health". You can set tags, which will be assigned to all the tasks of the area. You can do without this entity.

Areas in Things

I don't actively use them myself, but rather replace them with tags. So far, I haven't quite figured out how to use the areas more conveniently.

Tag filters

Another handy thing, you can filter tasks by tags. This is what all the nearest tasks filtered by the tag "@" look like, I use it to tag areas of tasks for work or household chores.

Filters in Things

Magazine

The log contains all completed tasks and projects. Completed tasks can be deleted. I do not delete anything.

Conclusion

The first time you read it, everything seems complicated and unclear, but once you work with the program for a couple of weeks, everything becomes easy and understandable. Before you start entering your tasks, don't be lazy and read about GTD, get to know the essence of the methodology. This will help you understand the nature of the Things application and how to use it. If you have any questions, be sure to ask them in the comments.

Materials used:

  • How I use Things https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1087960/HowIUseThings.pdf
  • Getting Started with Things http://culturedcode.com/things/guide/
  • How I Use Things To Set Up A GTD Workflow http://vanseodesign.com/online-business/things-gtd/

Leave a Reply

en_USEnglish