I’ve been on the lookout for a ToDo list app to manage my daily life for a very long time. I tried some of the most common apps such as ToDoist and Any.do and the default apps such as Reminders. I even tried Notion. But none of these stood out to me. Don’t get me wrong these are well-built apps but they were just not working for me and my needs.
That’s until I discovered Things 3. Things 3 is an app I never thought about trying out due to its upfront cost, I guess I was just worried that I won’t like it, so the upfront cost put me off. But then I discovered Cristopher Lawley from the Untitled Site on YouTube. In one of his videos, Christopher presented his Things 3 setup and it turned out that that’s just the app I was looking for! It was clean and tidy and had a lot of useful features.
- Phenomenal Design
- Easy to use
- Great for personal task management
- Drag and Drop
- Can become expensive
- You have to pay separately for different platforms e.g. Mac, iPad and iPhone apps are all separate
- Only compatible with Apple devices
I can easily say that I’ve been using Things 3 for a very long time now and I think it’s brilliant. I’ve been using it to manage my daily life, personal projects and for just remembering things (No pun intended). In all seriousness, the app is a joy to use and it would break my heart if I had to give up on it. Let’s get into specifics…
The main thing that brought me to Things 3 is the phenomenal design, there are just no words for it, it’s amazing! The simplicity of the interface combined with some useful features is what makes the app stand out in my books.
The app features an Inbox area where you can list your ideas that don’t have a due date. I use it as a default location for my tasks and I then move the task to the appropriate project. Inbox is a technique I’ve been using in many apps, I’ve been using it in Trello, Notion and even OneNote. It’s the perfect place for ideas to shine.
The Today area lists all the tasks that you have due on that particular day. I mainly use this feature as a Home Screen widget on my iPhone 12 so that I know what tasks I’m doing that day. The upcoming area shows all the due tasks you have upcoming which is always useful to see.
I use the Anytime area for tasks that don’t have a due date and I can complete any time. These tasks are tasks that need completing but it wouldn’t hurt if they are completed later. I use the Someday area for non-urgent tasks that I can afford to procrastinate on. The logbook isn’t a feature I make use of but it’s still nice to see the tasks that have been completed.
The one thing I like about the app is the ability to make sections for specific things. For example, I have movies to watch and books to read projects under the personal section, it just helps keep things organised (Once again, no pun intended). I like having a progress ring next to the project because it shows how much work I have completed which makes me a bit more productive.
I know I said this a few times now but the design of the app is absolutely beautiful. I can argue that its simplicity makes me more productive, I migrated my dashboard from Notion into Things and it was the best decision I made in a long time. I found the Notion mobile app to be too cumbersome for managing my daily life. You can read my full article on why I moved away from Notion here.
I use Things 3 on my iPhone 12, Apple Watch SE and iPad Pro and can honestly say that I’m not looking to switch anytime soon. Things 3 works great if you use multiple devices that are in the Apple Ecosystem, but that’s where it fails me. I use multiple devices with various operating systems such as Android and Windows and Things 3 is sadly unavailable on these systems. This is a real shame and I can’t understand why they made this decision to only support Apple devices. I do think that they are missing out on a large market here.
On the other hand, if you are in the Apple Ecosystem, you will be treated with very good compatibility between Apple Devices. I like to complete a majority of my tasks from my Apple Watch. I know this is a little feature but having access to my to-do list from my watch is very important to me and Things 3 does it incredibly well. It also syncs well to my iPad Pro.
Great At Managing Tasks
The beautiful design is not the only reason I decided to choose Things 3, it’s also the way it enables you to manage your tasks and projects. The image above shows an example of a project. It shows how well you can mark and see the due dates on your task list. You can even put a star next to the important tasks.
Managing tasks in-between areas also works incredibly well. For example, if I wanted to add the “Review quarterly data with Olivia” task into this project from the Inbox area, I just select the task and click “Move”.
I can also set recurring tasks. I mainly use this feature to remind me what bins I need to put out on what date, but the possibilities are endless. For example, I’ve set a reminder to renew my bus pass monthly. I find this feature extremely important to me because as a human being I tend to forget what bins went out last week and what bins go out this week, I tend to forget that I had to renew something. It’s human nature, but this app changes that completely.
Things I Don’t Like
It’s difficult for me to write this section because I absolutely love the app. However, there are things that I think need to be changed or improved. Starting with the Apple only approach, I seriously think it’s a shame that they decided to ignore the other platforms, they are missing out on a large market here. As someone who uses multiple platforms, I seriously think that this needs to change.
Whilst, I think the iPhone app is actually reasonably cheap, if you plan to install it on your iPad or even Mac, it can get extremely expensive. However, they seem to be charging these hefty prices as a one-off which is always good, particularly as it means you don’t have to sign up for any subscriptions.
Staying with the price, the fact that you need to pay separately for different devices is another disadvantage. But I can see why they do it, I mean they have to make money somehow.
Productivity comes in all shapes and sizes and I’m not a productivity expert in any way. However, from my experience with tasks and projects, you need to be able to track tasks with a basic list of some variations without becoming overwhelmed. Therefore, the app should be clean and easy to use without too many features. Unfortunately, not all apps do this well, that’s why it took me a long time to find an app that I actually like. Don’t get me wrong, you don’t have to use all the tools in a feature-packed app such as Notion, I still think the simple mobile experience is an essential key to a good to-do list app.
I think Things 3 has the right balance of features and clean interface making it the ideal tool for managing your day and smaller projects. I still think that tools such as Notion are great for large projects, but not for everyday things.
Overall, Things 3 is perfect for my daily needs. But just because it’s perfect for me, doesn’t mean that it’s perfect for you, that’s why I’m recommending spending time downloading and playing around with these apps before you choose yours.
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