What’s the best Mac app ever? Different strokes for different folks so a definitive answer is virtually impossible.
For Mac users intent on getting things done, juggling multiple tasks and projects, Things is the best app you can buy—Mac, iPhone, iPad. Any app worth of best requires some substance, a wide range of uses, yet an interface and capability that appeals to experienced users and newbies. That’s Things.
Task Management 101
Everyone manages tasks, whether a simple list of to-do items, or major projects with tasks and milestones. In theory, I’m a subscriber to David Allen’s Getting Things Done method (GTD) which prioritizes and batches tasks.
At the time I was intrigued, but in a relationship with another Mac GTD app. It was free. Things is not.
What changed my mind? Free apps tend to languish in development (or, in the case of iGTD, stop altogether), or become commercial. And, the iPhone (then iPad).
As with many Mac users I find my time divided between Mac and iPhone. Certain information I want quickly available on both devices, tidy, clean, well synchronized. MobileMe does it with iCal and Address Book. Things does it with tasks.
Tasks in Things are nothing more than a list of to-do items which are created quickly and easily. Anyone can do it. Click the Plus + button and you’re on the way.
A simple window appears when you add a new task. Name the task, set a due date, add specific notes, add tags for search. A new task takes seconds to create and can be automatically synchronized with iCal.
So far, so good.
Tasks, Inbox, Today, Next, Scheduled
Tasks are simple to set up and track in Things. To Do items can be scheduled to repeat; weekly, daily, whatever arrangement of days works for you. Things even holds tasks to start until a specified date, and it shows up in your Today list when the time is appropriate.
The Inbox is for tasks you haven’t assigned yet. Create a task or to do, dump it here. The Today list gathers all the items that need attention now. Things lets you work on what needs to be worked on, and schedule or edit due dates for any task.
The Next list is for tasks that need to get done, but not yet. Drag and drop between Inbox, Today, Next, and Scheduled. Scheduled? Improved your work day by scheduling specific tasks to get done.
From Tasks To Projects
What about projects? Doesn’t project management make Things more complex? To do lists are really nothing more than tasks that need to get done. Things handles that. Projects are nothing more than a stack of tasks relating to a specific objective. Stack related tasks to create a project and let Things manage that, too. Create new projects with a similar point and click effort as tasks.
Whether it’s a simple to do task, or a project that holds a number of tasks, Things makes it easy to set up and keeps track of the details.
Add tasks to projects via drag and drop. Things remembers the association between tasks and projects, including deadlines, and details. Using a true GTD method, Things lets you assign specific tasks to specific times—batches—to improve workflow and efficiency.
Too many projects? Things lets you move lower priority projects to inactive status. Tasks often need to be assigned to coworkers and teammates, yet remain attached to a specific task. Things gentle learning curve lets you delegate tasks to others while you maintain control and monitor status.
An adept autofill function lets you create a new task with all the basic information of related tasks—all with a click, using the Quick Entry window.
Therein lies Things true nature and power. It’s simple to set up basic to do items or tasks.
Tasks can be assembled into projects. Due dates, notes, assignments, repeats can be managed for each item—even complex projects with hundreds of tasks can be built and managed with little experience in project management.
Things comes with search capability built in. Notes and references make it easy to remember more obscure tasks. The Dock badge gives you quick view of what tasks remain. Your task items get synchronized with iCal. Everything can sync with your iPhone or iPad. Things has specific versions for each. Both familiar, both friendly, both synchronize with your Mac over Wi-Fi.
The Best Task App
They say the best to do app is the one you use to get things done. Things is a to do app with a step-by-step learning curve that moves from simple to more complex tasks, then arranges tasks into projects, and manages all the complex details at your pace.
It’s the combination of a gentle learning curve that moves from simple task management to more complex projects—all nicely synchronized with iCal and Things for iPhone or iPad—that make Things the best Mac task manager ever.