04 September 2012
Update Since writing this article, I’ve switched back to OmniFocus.
When CulturedCode finally announced the public availability of their cloud-based syncing system, I decided to switch back to Things, from OmniFocus, for my task-management tool. Although I’m quite happy with the switch, there’s one killer feature that (for me) is missing from the app, which I’ll describe in this article.Why I switched from OmniFocus to Things
It’s all about the user experience.
While I love OmniGroup and the quality of their software and support, I just don’t like the user experience of OmniFocus on the Mac, probably because it’s still so tied to its ancestor OmniOutliner. I imagine OmniGroup are aware of this, because when they built OmniFocus for the iPad, they started with a clean slate, thinking, what’s the best OmniFocus experience on the iPad,rather than starting with a derivative of OmniOutliner for iPad.
In fact, OmniFocus for iPad is quite nice; but at the end of the day, I’m working on my Mac far more than I am on the iPad. And for that reason, I prefer Things. Here’s what I like about it:
I use Things on the Mac, iPad and iPhone and the one annoying thing on the iPhone is that it truncates the titles in the task list, preventing you from getting a quick overview of what’s on your place, and requiring you to tap each and every one.
Here’s how I use any task-management tool.
Weekly review On Sunday afternoon, I review all my tasks, in all my projects and areas:
Before getting started, if anything’s in the “Inbox”, I file it in the appropriate project or area. (I actually try to do this daily.) What that out of the way, I start reviewing each project and area:
Daily review each day, I filter the “Next” view on the “This Week” tag, and move whatever tasks I feel I can (or need) to do today into the “Today” view taking into account a quick overview of “urgent” and “important” tags. (And in the “Today” view, I review any auto-placed tasks Things itself highlights via its new “Daily Review” feature.) Then, I get to work.
As you can see, the main purpose of my Sunday afternoon planning is to figure out what I’m going to work on during the next week. And there’s where Things, and other task management systems, are missing what for me would be a killer feature a weekly planner.
I don’t just want to know what I’m going to work on next week, I also want to have a rough idea when I’m going work on these things. For that, I would like to have a one-week calendar-type view, where I can plan and schedule my work on the tasks I’ve scoped out for the week.
I need to be able to easily stretch blocks in time (say, from one hour to three), and move them around (say, from Monday to Wednesday). Something even as rough as this:
The yellow blocks represent Things tasks that I’ve dragged onto the calendar, and the gray blocks represent fixed, scheduled commitments brought in from, say, iCal.
So the purpose of this planning view is just to provide some visual validation that the time I have available in the coming week is compatible with the tasks I’d like to get done. That’s all.
Why not just use iCal? Apart from the obvious loss of integration, one problem is that while I do want my planning area to bring in scheduled commitments that I have in my iCal calendars, but I do not want my work plan synced back out to iCal. This is about a plan, not a commitment.
Hopefully someone from CulturedCode will read this, and add such a feature to Things. If such a feature could be useful for you, maybe consider tweeting this article to CulturedCode. Any momentum we could build could only help in terms of giving them some motivation. :-)