Things Check In

Things helps me do my job while not making my job my life.

I wrote those words in December after just having switched to using Things 3 as my task manager from Todoist. It was also right before my school's winter break, so I hadn’t fully put Things through the ringer of a lot of school work. So, 4 months later, I wanted to do a check-in on how Things is treating me.

First, let me say how much I have loved using Things. It's easily the best task manager I've tried for how my brain works. While I've been tempted to sign up for the beta of Omnifocus 3, every time I look at it, I realize it would be a step in the wrong direction for my productivity. Things meets my needs well, and the new shiny isn't going to

What I initially loved about Things still holds true. I love its design. I love the Today View and how it integrates with my calendar. I love how tasks marked for today simply roll over to the next day and don't turn red and make you panic if you don't complete them. Things helps me stay on top of everything I'm managing as a teacher without making me stressed.

I had some people ask me when I first started using Things how I had it set up. I was still in the process of figuring that out at the time, but after a few months I've settled into a workflow that I like, so I thought I would share that.

Setup

Things 3 has different levels of structure for your tasks. There are areas which can hold projects which can hold headings which can hold tasks. Almost all of these can also have tags as well.

I have 4 different areas in Things: Work, Personal, Worship and Arts (I help serve as a leader in my church's Worship and Arts ministry), and The Class Nerd. Each of those can have projects, and some even have projects that are constantly updated with new tasks as old ones are checked off.

 
 My Projects List in Things 3

My Projects List in Things 3

 

For example, in work I have an Admin project that is always active. This will have repeating tasks I need to complete in it as well as headings for grading and planning. Anything outside of Admin will have its own project created.

I only use one tag, "Important." This only gets busted out if I have a lot of tasks that need doing in one day, but some are a higher priority than others. I'll tag those tasks, and then filter my today view to only show those tasks. It can make me feel less stressed on busy days.

Apple Watch and Siri

One of my favorite features of Things 3 is its Siri and Apple Watch integration. Many other task managers only allow you to add tasks via Siri on the phone, but Things 3 allows you to do so on the watch as well. If I remember something I need to do today, I raise my wrist and say, "Hey Siri, in Things, remind me to do such and such today." Done. This also works great on my HomePod.

The Apple Watch app is also really nice. I leave the complication on most of my watch faces, and will often check something off my list quickly after completing it.

Automation

The thing I missed most when I started using Things was the ability to easily send tasks from other apps. With version 3.4, which was released a couple months ago, powerful automation features were added. I can now write scripts to easily send tasks from Drafts 5, create whole projects immediately using Workflow, or open instantly to particular views from Launcher. This has made the usefulness of Things increase dramatically.

For example, I have an Add to Admin script that asks me for a heading and due date, then sends the task to my Admin project for work.

I've also made a Drafts action that will create a new Draft with a blog post idea here, then send a link to that Draft into Things so when I'm looking at the list of posts I want to write, I can open that draft with one tap. I'm hoping to think of more ways to string multiple steps and apps together for the classroom the way this action does.

Even with other task managers being released or new versions being updated regularly, I think it's going to take a lot to get me out of Things 3 at this point. I'm still sold on the simplicity and elegant design that doesn't stress me out, but the power features I need to make sure I don't forget to get anything done that I need to.

If you're looking for ways to keep up with all the tasks you have in the classroom, I highly recommend Things 3 (iPhone, iPad).