I’ve been using Things from Cultured Code for about 2 months now, and can’t imagine getting a thing done without it. Things was a very natural, yet amazingly useful step in getting more out of my Mac.
There seems to be a flood of GTD (getting things done) applications available for the Mac lately. There is OmniFocus from the OmniGroup, which doesn’t seem to fit my needs at all. A little too professional and over the top. I need something very flexible and that will get me up and running quickly. Then there is a new application about to debut from The Potion Factory, entitled The Hit List. The Hit List takes another unique approach to task management, and I’m sure that I’ll be taking a look at it more closely in the future.
Ease of Use
I think that one area Things excels in is ease of use. You can customize the system-wide shortcut to create a new task, no matter what application you’re currently using. Just hit that keyboard shortcut and a small window pops up, letting me give it a title, pressing a couple keys to tag, drag an email, website, contact or file into the notes area, set a due date if I wish and I’m done and back to working on what I was doing.
Organizing your tasks couldn’t be simpler. There are a few focus areas: “Today”, “Next”, “Someday”, “Scheduled” and “Projects”. Today obviously contains what you’ve deemed you should focus on today. If you set dates on your tasks, they default to automatically showing up in Today on the day they are due. You can make a task show up several days ahead, if that’s what you wish. ”Next” just represents what you’re not working on today, but is upcoming in a few days or weeks. A nice overview of what you’ll be tackling soon. ”Scheduled” lets you create repeating tasks at your leisure, great for finances, or create a task that you’re just not ready to start on. Just create that task in scheduled and it’ll show up when you can actually get started on it.
Projects lets you organize your tasks according to what you’re working on. Your tasks show up here (and in Today, just separated off by the project). Just another way to separate your tasks. Areas follow the same principle, allowing you to group similar tasks according to maybe work, school, or a hobby.
There’s support for People, allowing you to add teammates and keep up with what they’re working on. If you have Leopard, Things can place your tasks as To-Do items in iCal, which can be handy. There’s great support for dropping just about anything you can find in the Notes section of a task: drop a webpage to view later, a file that you need, a contact from address book, or an email to view. Nice way to get everything you need grouped together so when you’re ready to tackle the task, everything is there in one place.
Tasks don’t just die when you’re done, they go to the logbook. A simple way to look up information about past projects, who completed what, what that website was, etc.
What allows Things to offer such great flexibility is its great support for tagging. I can create a task, and assign it to as many tags as I want. Then, the smart filter bar at the top lets me quickly see all tasks sharing whatever tags I want. I can assign a group to a set of tags, so those tasks always show up there, easily manage tags and the hierarchy (for instance, have my classes under “School” and my work projects under “Work”).
Open up the tag manager to see what shortcuts have been assigned to each tag. In my case, I can quickly select a group of tasks and press “w” to assign them the “Work” tag. I have a few of these memorized and it makes creating new tasks much quicker, even though Things already has great auto-complete support built in for your tags.
Things for iPhone
I think we are starting to see a trend in Mac software: applications that want to take advantage of the Mac and provide a full set of features will undoubtedly provide an iPhone companion. In this case, the iPhone version of Things is just as full featured as the Mac version, letting you very easily view your tasks for today, upcoming, or someday. You can quickly enter a new task, great support for quickly tagging, set a due date, etc. And when your Mac and iPhone are on the same wireless network, Things will automatically sync the two devices. Overall a great iPhone application that makes using Things just that much more useful for me. Things for iPhone will set you back $9.99 USD.
Things for Mac and iPhone work wonderfully together. They provide you with a seamless way to stay on top of everything you need to be tackling in your busy life. At $60 USD for both apps, it’s a little pricy for some. But compared to similar offerings already available, the level of fit and finish, and the enthusiasm of the development team, I’m sure there will be plenty of new features and more exciting things to come, making Things the #1 task management and organization application for the Mac.