Actually, that’s a criteria that works, and a suite of apps because one of the criteria items was the ability to run a todo app on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. Along the journey of escaping from Calendar, Reminders, and Notes I also decided that I needed more than todo lists, and finally settled on the Things task management system.
Things has an almost perfect blend of options for anyone who needs todo lists or GTD focus, but also understands that projects are made from collecting tasks into a group. All that means is that the curve is gentle from the simple side of the todo spectrum to the more complex side of project management.
Here’s the way to start using Things.
Click the New button to create a new task (or, todo item; same thing). Repeat as needed to take care of a list of tasks. Things lets you add notes to each item, add tags for searching, and even set a due date. Task items can be grouped together for projects, or categorized into Focus to manage tasks the GTD way.
One key strength of Things is the ability to add items quickly using keyboard shortcuts. You can even do it within Mail using the Quick Entry window which pulls data from the email message you’re viewing. Man, is that handy, and it works with Messages, Finder, Safari, Pages, and other Mac apps.
Once you get all your task items into Things then they can be organized to fit your particular workflow. Setup active projects, put items into future projects, schedule specific items to be done at a particular time. You get the idea. Things makes it very easy to separate work from home from play from hobby.
Two parts of the Things system turned me into a paying user. The first was the learning and usage curve. Things works well for simple todo items, but it’s just a few steps to combining todo items into projects, and adding due dates or assigning work time.
The second was the Things app on iPhone and iPad. My Mac does not go everywhere I go but the iPhone does, so keeping up with new list items works just as well on mobile devices as it does on the Mac. And, whatever additions or modifications you make to Things on one device will show up moments later on the other devices.
There is a caveat here, though, and it’s related to synchronization. Things does not use iCloud or Dropbox. It uses Things Cloud, which is proprietary sync and storage method. You’ll need a free Things Cloud account but I have no idea where it is located, how secure it is, or how it works, but that’s really a minor nit for me because I’m not creating tasks which are government security sensitive.
Things for the Mac is pricey, as are Things apps for iPhone and iPad, so you’re committing to a system that requires some commitment. However, there’s a Mac try-before-you-buy version, so if you like that you’ll like the iOS versions.