Things vs OmniFocus

«Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.»
William James

I have used OmniFocus for years and years. It is a very good task manager. However, in personal use, the value of a task manager is not its ability to manage tasks, but supporting your ability to actually do them. And here OmniFocus became … not that useful.

I did put a lot of tasks into OmniFocus, but actually doing them was another issue. And yeah, that is nothing a task manager can be held fully responsible. But it should make it more likely that tasks get completed.

And here Things might have advantages:

  • Things is flatter. It does not support multiple hierarchies. What looks like a disadvantage can lead you to see the relevant tasks. They are not buried multiple levels deep. There are areas, projects, headers and tasks. It works for me.
  • You can use headers in projects, which work very well for different sub-projects (e.g., one project for student theses, then a header for each student).
  • There is a prominent «Today» view and the ability to postpone tasks to the evening.
  • Unfinished tasks from today are automatically moved to the current day.
  • Whenever you or Things moves a task, it shows you a notification which allows you to change characteristics of the task. E.g., you move it from the inbox to a project and without opening the project folder you can set a due date. (In the image below, it’s the partly greyed out task that is due on Thursday that was moved yet is still visible to edit it. At first that was confusing, then I began to appreciate it. As Things quickly moves tasks that get a due date or a project, you can still attach the relevant information quickly.)
  • Speaking of due dates, you can set due dates and deadlines separately.
  • There is also an easily visible upcoming view (everything from tomorrow onwards).
  • Calendars are nicely integrated.
  • And there is a Logbook showing you your completed tasks. That was something that bugged me about OmniFocus. It felt I never got anything done because I did not see my accomplished tasks. Okay, in part due to my habit to remove the completed tasks, but also because these were archived. I do want them removed — from the list of things I have to still do. But I also want to quickly see what I have done.

OmniFocus can likely be used to do all or most of the things Things can do. And it might be a sequence effect, given that I have learned a lot from using OmniFocus. For example, I keep only the active projects in my task manager.

But despite these possible confounds, Things seems to be better integrated than OmniFocus, at least for my style of usage. Also the smartphone app looks more helpful.

But only time will tell if I do things with Things (SCNR).