Things and OmniFocus, Again


After going cold-turkey on task management for a while, I started using Things again after cloud-sync became available.

Why should one go cold-turkey on task management? If you are tackling a big-picture issue, like a research topic for a dissertation, I find that a structured task management system gets in the way. It forces you to focus on coming up with something to "do" so you can check it off, even though the best thing to do is to wait patiently for inspiration to come to you.

Anyway, the best part about using Things with cloud-sync is that the sync is almost instantaneous. This reduces friction and frustration for me.

And the not so good parts of Things:

  • Lack of straightforward "doing" mode
  • Minor syncing instabilities (fixed by deleting and reinstalling application)
  • No nested projects (if you have tasks that have been sitting there for a while, it is probably because they need to be projects)
  • Inability to "order" the projects and areas of responsibility, which makes viewing the list of next actions confusing (projects always appear above areas of responsibility

Things I do love about OmniFocus:

  • A prominent "add-to-inbox" button that reduces friction in task entry
  • The "forecast" view, which shows me tasks that are upcoming (in Things, you have to look at "next" and "scheduled" separately)

So maybe that is the natural order of things... During initial brainstorming, go "cold-turkey" on task management. Use unstructured tools like mind-mapping and drawing and text editors. As things begin to get more concrete, switch to a "loose" task management system like TaskPaper or Things, and when things get complicated enough to start needing to "deliver", move to a "strict" task management system like OmniFocus.


  • OmniFocus for iPhone
  • OmniFocus for iPhone - The Omni Group
  • OmniFocus for iPad
  • OmniFocus for iPad - The Omni Group
  • OmniFocus for Mac
  • OmniFocus - The Omni Group

Kind of a boring post, so here is a picture of a lot of Nutella to make things interesting!


Mmmmmmmmmm (Ann Arbor, 2012)

Follow me on Flickr