A Few Words About Mac Todo Lists, Task Management, And An App That Does It Right

ThingsIf you’re at all like most of the Mac users I know, then you’re up to your eyeballs in things to do.

In fact, the biggest difficulty isn’t managing a todo list. It’s buying out the time to do what’s on the list.

Getting things done is important in a modern life, which probably explains why there are dozens and dozens of todo apps for Mac and iPhone users. Take it from someone who thinks there are more than 24-hours in a day. Find a good todo or task management app.

The secret is in the discipline it takes to use it. My favorite, Mac and iPhone, is Things. It’s been around a few years so you’re paying for something mature, useful, and well though out.

Because todo list apps and task management apps have a learning curve, it’s important to begin using Things at a basic level, then take advantage of the added functionality. Things is simple enough for simple todo lists but syncs them nicely between Mac and iPhone.

Create a todo item using a keyboard shortcut and enter details into the pop up window. Things displays all you need on one window, with a click to view details for any entry.

Now, here’s the pleasure and power part.

Things creates todo items. You know, tasks. We all have a list of things to do, right? But add tasks to a project and Things becomes a modestly priced but semi-professional project management app.

Add tags to todos to create context in the Getting Things Done style. Create items you need to do soon, or create items that you want to do later but don’t know when (but you need to keep track of them anyway).

The Things sidebar may be the easiest of all the Mac task managers. There’s an inbox of todo items. Focus items (GTD-like). Active projects (each of which can have multiple todo items). And the top toolbar has additional category options.

But use only what you need at first. The secret is disciplining your daily habits.

Fortunately, the Things developers have an option for a free trial, or Things can be picked up at the Mac App Store (and the iTunes App Store for iPhone).

There is a caveat that bothers me, though. Things uses the free Things Cloud to sync your todo items from Mac to Mac or to iPhone. Why not Dropbox? Why not iCloud? That just seems like an unnecessary use of a middleman to track, backup, and sync my files.