Things 3 and GTD

Discussion in 'PUBLIC: Discuss Tools & Software for GTD' started by mcogilvie, May 19, 2017.

  1. Eddie Black

    Eddie Black Registered

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    Been an OF user since OF1 and have it on iPad, iMac, MBP, and iPhone. I've toyed with Things 1 and 2, and a few other apps (Todoist, Todo, Remember the Milk, Asana, etc...) but always came back to OF. Things 3 is beautiful and elegant. It actually gives me some joy to open it up. OF now seems clunky, dated, and hard to use. But I kept adding all of my tasks into Things to give it a good try.

    I am a training coordinator that plans training events a year out. So naturally deferred tasks are a biggie for me. I'm also a Platoon Sergeant in the Army National Guard. I will give out tasks to my SL's and wait for them to report back. And there are other areas. So in this, OF has shined. It is lacking because I cannot have an Agenda item context AND a waiting context at the same time. Creating so many profiles in OF gets unwieldy (make a perspective that uses search for a person's name, displaying all remaining tasks, multiply by number of people I'd need to have an agenda for and you see how it gets). Also, changing dates OF has, to me, never been easy. It's always been a point of friction. And switching back and forth between Available and Remaining views is two clicks, but it gets quite annoying at times without a keyboard shortcut.

    Things is such a breath of fresh air in this regard. Simple. Elegant. And super easy to adjust defer and due dates.

    Now to what bugs me about Things. I try to use the GTD model in that I look at my context and then what tasks fit that. I thought that the lack of serial lists in Things would not bother me. After all, you can't hide tasks on a paper planner, and people use that in GTD. Still, the other day I sat down and wanted to send an email out. I easily searched by tag in Things ( just start typing on the Mac, or pull down on iOS and start typing). I had 54 emails show up. By comparison, in OF I had 4. The majority of emails that showed up in Things were emails that occur AFTER something else happens. Example, I do a site visit for a training and deem it is okay, I'll email out the information to someone. Or if I receive a requested report, I'll email it up the chain to the next person. I noticed that as I added more and more to Things 3, what joy I had from simply opening the app started to be displaced by the cognitive fatigue of having to scan and determine what was actionable and what wasn't.

    I so very badly want to use Things. I keep trying to use it every other week. But the overload is too much. I keep going back to OmniFocus. Yes, it is clunky and looks like a 70's haircut in the 80's, and there are some dire needs to be addressed now (header rows appearing in task lists, projects without next actions showing in project list view, perspectives of a folder are unable to be truly worked in, and much more), but the ability to focus on the next action items is key. I can open it up, see a handful of things, and quickly move on. It isn't easy to batch edit on iOS (Things, again, REALLY knocks it out the park here), but I'm crossing my fingers for OF3 to be something truly great.
     
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  2. TesTeq

    TesTeq Registered

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    Just curious: did you ever try Nozbe?
     
  3. Eddie Black

    Eddie Black Registered

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    Yes, for a little while. I just downloaded it again to see if there were any changes. It's nice. But lack of defer dates is a big block for me. Plus it feels dated.
     
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  4. soundsgood

    soundsgood Registered

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    Hey, Eddie,

    I struggle with the handling of "waiting for" items (e.g., waiting for someone else to complete a task or return a phone call). Since you mentioned waiting for your SLs to report back, I'm curious: How do you designate or handle such tasks in Things 3?
     
  5. AndrewJMason

    AndrewJMason Registered

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    Just to chime in - I delegate single action "waiting for" to the Area of Focus, and a project-related one under the "next action". Then I assign a "WAITING FOR" tag, and can click that to see a list of all.
     
  6. soundsgood

    soundsgood Registered

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    I really appreciate the reply. However, some things are unclear.

    1. What do you mean by "under the 'next action'"?
    2. Are you saying you create two tasks for this purpose, one to the Area of Focus, and a second "under the 'next action'"? Because your reply seems to imply that you do, which seems cumbersome.

    Perhaps I should ask a more specific question:

    Say I have a task entitled "Call Dr. Smith to make dental appointment." I call to make the appointment, but I get voicemail, so I leave a message. So, I've made the call, and I'd like to be able to mark that task as completed, but since the appointment has not yet actually been made, marking the task as completed wouldn't be accurate. Still, I'd also like not to have to stare at that task all day, but it's technically not complete, because I'm waiting for someone else to do something (return my call, in this case).

    Things has no simple, built-in mechanism for handling this. Even a simple "snooze" function would help, allowing a task to disappear for a few hours (or a day, or 3 days) and then reappear.

    I was part of the Things beta cycle, and I repeatedly asked for a solution for this, but the folks at Cultured Code are very stubborn, believing that their implementation is perfect and is beyond reproach, even when a clear shortcoming has been painstakingly demonstrated for them. So, I continue to struggle with an elegant way to deal with this.

    Thanks again for your reply. :)
     
  7. AndrewJMason

    AndrewJMason Registered

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    Hey there soundsgood,

    Thanks for the question!

    “Under the next action” was meant to mean that I *do* check off that I’ve completed the action (in your example, making the appointment call). I leave the project open, and then create a “WAITING FOR” action in that project *as* my next action (with a “waiting for” tag). So, “WAITING FOR - Call back from Dr. Smith’s Office. 01/18/18” (I’ll throw in a date stamp, so I can tell how long I’ve been waiting on that item)

    If there are different moving parts to the project, I can add those elements in as well, either as second next action in the same project, or a new header under the project.....Hope that helps!

    (The “waiting for” tag Is just a quick way to view a cross-section of all WF’s you have across all projects or areas of responsibility....Very handy for those weekly reviews!)

    (I was in T3 beta, too....cheers! ;-)
     
  8. soundsgood

    soundsgood Registered

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    Ah! Now I understand. You create a task called "waiting for…" (and also give it a "waiting for" tag). Got it.

    I wish Cultured Code would give us an elegant, built-in way to deal with situations like this. But it's good to learn about the ways people are working around this shortcoming.

    Very helpful. Thanks!
     
  9. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    If I am not concerned about tracking the checked-off status, I might modify the original entry so "call dentist" becomes "WF return call dentist" and change the context. Alternatively, I might duplicate the original entry, check off the original, and then modify the duplicate. Either method preserves any notes associated with the action. This can be done very quickly, and requires almost no thought.
     
  10. soundsgood

    soundsgood Registered

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    Thanks for weighing in. I'm not a fan of modifying the original task, because it "breaks the paper trail" of what has been accomplished. There's no right or wrong way, of course; we all work differently. But I prefer preserving the chain of events that take place, marking each task as completed.

    That said, duplicating the task to preserve its associated notes, then renaming it, is a nice workaround. Thanks for the tip!
     
  11. Padre C

    Padre C Registered

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    Please excuse the late reply, but have revisiting my software lately. Before I got some GTD coaching I used things. After that, I moved to OF. It surprised me how much cognitive load things was causing. I agree from my experience that Things is very nice if it were not for the cognitive dissonance with GTD. I think after my brief jaunt with paper, I will go back to OF.
     
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  12. photodiva

    photodiva Registered

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    Things 3.5 released last week, and after looking at all the upgraded features, I decided to give it a try again. And I'm loving it. Here's my simple GTD setup: I have major areas (Personal, Work, Freelance) with projects listed under each area. In the notes section, I keep relevant key info about each project (but longer support material resides in Evernote). Now the areas are collapsible, which makes a HUGE difference to me. All my Next Actions go into the categories on the top left: Today, Upcoming, Anytime, Someday. I use the tags for the various basic GTD contexts. In other words, my next actions aren't linked to projects (except by abbreviated project name in the next action itself). Otherwise the project heading shows up and that was distracting; I like seeing just a basic list in any given context. This has been working great for me, and Things is so visually appealing, super fast, syncs immediately across all devices that GTD is FUN again.
     
  13. Don Turner

    Don Turner Registered

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    Folks, just found this forum and it looks helpful. I'm a serial turnaround executive who has to go into companies and quickly assimiliate a lot of information, create a lot of tasks, and followup. I've been using OF for years. I would like some thoughts on the following:
    1. When I go into a company I create a Master Project called "Acme, Inc." I may still have other Master Projects called "Personal", "Faith", and "Business Marketing" (i.e., still need to market for the next gig)
    2. I then create 7 to 9 sub projects by function - e.g., Management, Marketing, Development, Sales, Operations, Service, Finance, Strategy, and M&A
    3. I then create tasks under each of those as appropriate and followup.

    Thinking about going to Things 3.5 seriously. I don't think it has sub projects so:
    1. Assign an "Area" as "Acme, Inc"
    2. Assign Projects as Marketing, Development, Sales...
    3. Not sure how I would use Headers
    4. Oh, and I'll use the Tags as my GTD contexts - Call, Write, Followup, Waiting For, Errand/Physical

    Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Apr 27, 2018
  14. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I think most GTD'ers would regard your Master Projects as Areas of Focus. They are not really projects because "Personal" and "Faith" don't get finished. That said, I would probably make "Acme" an area in Things. I have found that Things works better for me with more smaller projects than fewer big ones. I don't really think Marketing and Sales are projects either, unless you have done turnaround for so long that you know what done looks like. Headers seem good for aggregating task for mini-projects or sections of projects. Contexts are naturally tags.

    I've used OF for years too. Both Things and OF are good. I think Things is a bit like a sports car: you take your eye off the road for too long, and bad things may happen. Omnifocus is more like a big truck: takes a long time to start up and get moving, lots of controls in the cabin and hard to make sudden turns with. I'm looking forward to seeing how OF 3 feels. My ideal is probably Things with a dedicated view sorted by contexts.
     
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  15. Don Turner

    Don Turner Registered

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    Great response, thank you
    Great response, thank you. In my "perfect world" there would be subprojects. Your are correct in that "Marketing" never gets done but it is a holder to place all of my Marketing tasks and followups (i.e., my style is NOT micro-managing, we agree on a task and a due date and I forget it until it pops up on my Task Manager).

    I really have no reason to go to Things 3 other than it seems visually stunning and flexible. As a long-time OF user I know how to make that "truck" work but was looking for something to "freshen things up a bit." When is OF 3 coming out?
     
  16. Don Turner

    Don Turner Registered

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    BTW, just read up on Omnifocus 3 - https://www.omnigroup.com/blog/omni-roadmap-2018 - and this article alone is convincing me to stay with OF.
     
  17. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I just got my invitation to the OF 3 beta. Given that they don’t have a beta for the Mac version yet, it may be a while before release.
     
  18. chirmer

    chirmer Registered

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    I have been playing with Things again since I got a Mac at work (HALLELUJAH) and what I do in this situation is mark the task as Someday. It stays in the project list (with the option to hide if desired), so you can keep your project outline, but when filtering by tags they don't show up. The checkbox will go dotted, so you can tell them apart from your regular tasks easily. But it stops them being listed as actionable in various filtering options, which is nice.
     
  19. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    Just to chime in on what @chirmer said: Searching by tag and filtering by tag are by design different in Things 3. If you search on a tag, you will get every item not completed that has that tag. That means items on the Upcoming (Scheduled) list and on the Someday list as well as on the Anytime list. If you want currently actionable items with a given tag, you should filter the Anytime list.
     
  20. mcogilvie

    mcogilvie Registered

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    I'm on the OF3 beta. The new features are there, but features != design.
     
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