I’m a productivity junkie. I’m always looking for a new way to organize my projects, housework, and general to-dos. Paper planners, bullet journals, apps, sticky notes – I’ve tried it all. Which has given me a really good idea of what I want/need in a to-do list.
In a perfect world, my to-do list would:
- Sort tasks by two main categories – Home and Work
- Allow me to break Home and Work into smaller sub-projects
- Can be accessed anywhere, from any device
- Let each task have sub-tasks
- Let each task have notes and reminders/deadlines
- Show my calendar events in with my to-dos
- Isn’t focused on collaboration or sharing tasks
Previously I used a paper planner or bullet journal to break my days down two ways: Events/Tasks and Home/Work. It worked well, but had one huge downfall – paper can’t send me reminders. And you have to have it with you to check your to-dos. Which is kinda lame.
So I did some digging. Researching the best To-Do apps, trying to find one that offered the right combination of features without being overwhelming. And after trying about a million different apps, from Wunderlist to Actions, I finally found what I was after: Things 3.
Hello, Things 3. ❤️
I was initially hesitant to try using Things 3 because it’s a premium app – getting it on every device costs nearly $80. That’s a huge expense for productivity software.
It’s actually really worth it.
Things 3 checks all the boxes, then it checks boxes I didn’t even know I had. It lets you create “Areas”, where you can group to-dos – in this case “Home” and “Work”. From there, you can create separate projects, or simply add tasks to the area.
I usually opt for the latter, adding my to-dos directly to the areas. Because of all the features, this works for most of my tasks. Sometimes, for larger client tasks, I’ll create a “Project”. A project allows you to have multiple tasks, each with their own dates, while also having a due date for the whole project.
Each task (regardless of whether it’s just in an Area or a Project) can have notes, sub-tasks, a deadline, reminders, and tags. You can even set tasks to repeat. And they can be as complex or as complicated as you want them to be.
By far my favorite feature, however has to be how Things 3 handles due dates. By default, you get four options: Today, This Evening, a calendar (so you can pick a date) or Someday. The date you pick is like a soft due date, though – if you mark an item for Today and don’t check it off, it will roll over to tomorrow.
To set “hard” due dates, you can set deadlines. This means you can use the “soft” due date to pop a task into your Today view, and then a deadline for when it really has to be done. I do this all the time for development – I’ll keep a client project on my Today view, but set a hard deadline so I can work on it day after day.
Oh, and what is the “Today view”, you may ask? Only my favorite ~thing~ about Things 3. The Holy Grail of my productivity. Today’s events, and tasks, broken down by area and project, all in one easy-to-digest screen.
It’s the most beautiful ~thing~ I’ve ever seen.
The Today view is where I spend most of my time, as it lets me focus on exactly what I need to tackle each day, and nothing more. It’s a no-stress, no-frills way to present my tasks. (Things 3 also has Upcoming, so you can see what you have to do tomorrow and so on, but I’m more of a live-in-the-moment kinda gal.)
Things 3 works on my Macs. It works on my iPhone. It works on my iPad. Even my Apple Watch. And it syncs across the cloud so I can get all my tasks anywhere.
It’s a dream come true for my productivity-focused brain.
Things 3 let me set up my tasks management my own way, which has done wonders for my productivity. And while it’s kind of an expense, it’s a one-time purchase for each version, instead of monthly or yearly renewals. (Plus you definitely get what you pay for.)
Do you have any go-to task management/to-do apps? Let me know what they are in the comments!
P.S. If you’re on the fence about it, you can download a free trial of it for Mac OS.