Things was one of those Mac apps I kept in my App Store wish list for a loooooong time. It’s pretty, looked useful, and was expensive as fuck ($59.99 or P2,490).
What made Things so popular though was how LOOOONG it took for Cultured Code to build features and release updates for the app. The update from Things to Things 2 took four years, and the time it took to build Things 3 afterwards was even longer. In fact, Things’ cloud service took about two years, I think?
So last May 18, Cultured Code released version 3. Everyone who loved Things went nuts. Those who knew about the company’s notorious roadmap wrote a lot of press about it.
After a careful 20-30 minutes thinking about it, I jumped on the Things 3 bandwagon myself. I got to try the iOS app, I’m convinced that I’ll be using this app for a very, very long time.
This is Things 3
This is Things for iOS—completely different from what Things 2 looks like. It’s got a clean white background as if you’re writing on paper; the most important inboxes listed for all of your undated, upcoming, and I’ll-do-this-someday tasks; your projects right below that; and your areas listed just above the Magic Plus button.
Currently my phone’s set to show all content in bold text, so the app looks a lot thicker and darker from everyone else’s perspective.
That aside, it’s such a pleasure to look at, which is a huge thing for me because of how bad my eyes are these days. I like working with apps that are pleasing to look at, and Things takes the gold here.
Task creation is finally enjoyable
A handful of new features are added to version 3, but you can read all about these on Things’ website yourself.
What I want to point out is how using it is the only way to find out why Things is such a fantastic app. It’s literally a rose among thorny bushes because it feels good to use. And I’ve not felt this way about a task manager EVER. Yes, not even Todoist.
My biggest issue with to-do apps is how clunky or unnatural task creation feels. I thought I was just being fussy, but I found confirmation when I read Macstories’ take on the task creation experience and the decision-making process behind it.
Creating tasks is a key part of any task manager. Traditionally, most task managers lean in one of two directions when it comes to task entry. Some will optimize for speed at the cost of data, making it quick and easy to enter tasks, but not necessarily all the data that needs to accompany that task, such as due date, project designation, prioritization, etc…On the other end of the spectrum are the task managers that optimize for rich data entry at the cost of speed. With these, hitting the plus button to add a task often presents a comprehensive sheet where you input all of the task’s accompanying data then and there…Things likewise tries to find a balance between the two extremes, but in a different and interesting way.
This “interesting way” is the Magic Plus button. Instead of tapping a button to add a task, Things lets you drag the blue plus button to highlighted areas within the app to create.
For example, you can drag the Magic Plus to the bottom left side to create a task for your Inbox. Drag it to the bottom of your Projects list and you can create a project. If you are inside a project, dragging the Magic Plus button will create a task within said project.
Once you let go of the button, a card-like task window opens quickly and fluidly to let you write down all of the necessary details. You can add tags, set its due date and reminders, and flag it to prioritize.
My calendar is now on Things
My second favorite feature would have to be the Upcoming list. You have the option to bring your calendars to Things where all of your events are displayed neatly under Upcoming.
This further enhances my experience because it saves me the extra step of opening Calendar to check what’s scheduled for the day/week/month. I can create tasks based on these events, so nothing slips through the cracks.
Quick Find: stress-free task search
Finally, I love Things for how easy and stress-free Quick Find is. The app feels snappy even with so many tasks created and completed. Searching based on keywords is the easiest, but it helps to tag each task with context so you know what you’re looking for.
In my case, I find myself searching for recurring bills-related tasks. I simply drag the app down to launch Quick Find, type the tag “bills” and all my tagged tasks show up.
Getting things done on your own? What does that mean?
I’ve used so many task management apps over the years and not a single one gave me that soulmate feeling. They either feel too bloated, or creating tasks just wasn’t enjoyable and natural.
Moreover, there was always this lingering urgency to share what I was doing. When I was using Todoist or Wunderlist (RIP), I kept wanting to share the work with Jayson or friends or anyone that I could post comments or share task links with.
The truth is that none of these people use these apps as heavily as I do. It made me feel… well, lonely. And unnecessarily stressed out. I’ll admit it’s strange. 😅
I titled this post “Getting Things Done On Your Own” because Things solves this very specific problem for me.
It’s literally the task management app for stuff you need to do on your own. Not a single collaboration feature is built into it, thus eliminating the need to share or worry if your “collaborators” are doing their share of the work.
This sorta reaffirms the loner in me, but I’m happy that I can now focus solely on my personal productivity. And if the Universe decides to bless me with extra cash, I plan on updating this post with my experience with Things 3 for the Mac. 🤑