Andrew: Things

Task Managers

Omnifocus 2 vs Things 3

For a long time there were two things in my digital life I agonised over more than anything else: email apps & text editors. Lately however I’ve settled on the opinion that there are no good email apps and I finally settled on Ulysses (which I’m writing this in) for my text editing and note taking needs. As these two titans of productivity have (for now) settled down in my mind, a new one crept in: task managers.

I used Omnifocus as my primary tool for productive organisation from mid 2014 until early 2017. Prior to that I was solid Todoist user and even went back to it for most of 2017. I don’t want to talk about Todoist much, other than the fact that while their service is good for the price, their apps for iOS and macOS are complete garbage which forced me to use their web app most of the time which is just, horrible. So late 2017 I made the return to Omnifocus. If there was one thing my time with Todoist taught me was that a super duper granular detailed task manager like Omnifocus was just too much for me. I didn’t really know what to do about it and having just made one move, doing it again didn’t feel like fun. Six months later however, I ended up playing with the trial version of Things 3 on my Mac & had made the move permanent 24 hours later.

So what was it about Things what drew me in? I’ve broken this down into a few categories and written it from the point of view of my thought process prior to moving.

Design

Let start with the eyes. Things is absolutely gorgeous and I mean it. I honestly feel it’s one of the sexiest apps I’ve ever used. Omnifocus looks far from bad, but it’s interface while nice has a cluttered and slightly aged feel. This has been drastically improved in the upcoming V3 release but isn’t a patch on Things design.

Task management

I don’t think that there is any doubt about how powerful Omnifocus is, it easily eclipses Things and just about any other application in this field. When working on projects with multiple steps each often with their own subset of steps towards completion, Omnifocus’s ability to give sequential tasks is invaluable. Each time you complete a stage, the next step ‘unlocks’ and is made available to you really helps with the planning and organisation of large complete projects. For me however, I just don’t need this level of power anymore. 75% of my tasks are repeating and fall along the lines of ‘Do this thing on this date’ and the thing in question is a single step process. This is where the new found simplicity of Things really won it for me.

There are some drawbacks here however. Firstly Things doesn’t have geolocation based reminders. I can’t set a reminder to ‘Upgrade parents router firmware’ next time I arrive at their house for example. This however is minor completed to my other main issue for Things and that is doesn’t let you complete a repeating task early, which seems an odd design choice to me. Surely everyone will look ahead to their upcoming tasks and complete some easy wins when they find themselves ahead of schedule? I certainly do. It’s not the end of the world but being able to check off a repeating task 1-2 days early would be extremely welcome.

Price

One thing that I think really worries most users considering to drop £50-£70 on a set of task manager apps is “Well how do I know a new version won’t come out in a few months meaning I have to buy it again?”. This is a valid concern but for me, Things 3 was only released last year and the developer has a solid track record of long gaps between paid upgrades. Either way whichever router you end up of the big three (Todoist, Omnifocus & Things) you end up spending around £75 every 3 years. I think that’s a pretty solid price point considering the power and time these applications give and save me on a daily basis.

Summary

All in all I’m extremely happy with my choice to move to Things having been a staunch Todoist / Omnifocus user for so long now. In the long run I’ve no idea where I’ll end up and in 3-4 years I might have moved on (that is my MO after all) but for now I couldn’t be happier and am enjoying the vastly simpler life with Things. I might not last but for now anyway, it’s love.