Thoughts on using Things 3 again

I’ve been simplifying a lot lately and whilst I hate the lack of accessibility options it offers I’ve settled into a little bit of a rhythm now using Things 3 daily. My main reason for this was I wanted a system that offered

  • An integrated Calendar
  • A great user experience when using the now always attached to my iPad Magic Keyboard
  • The ability to set a due date but not be forced to enter a time
  • A great sync service

I started off with Reminders and I really enjoy the iOS 14 widget for the app but the lack of trackpad support makes it a little painful to use if you have gotten used to using the trackpad daily like I have now. Reminders would be a great solution if I didn’t use it on the iPad so much, I feel like I have a hand tied behind my back without being being to right click on inbox items and projects.

OmniFocus was out because I had to set a due time and the UI can get a little overwhelming for me when there is a lot on. I also echo Matt’s (see link below) view of feeling bad for having red flags reminding you that you have failed somehow in your day and why he likes Things for this.

Link: Why Matt uses Things 3

Todoist is a good app with good trackpad support but I can’t justify paying for the app monthly when I have already paid for Things and OmniFocus without a subscription service.

This left Things 3, an app I had paid for on iPad, iPhone and the Mac and I wasn’t using. My previous problems with the accessibility options i.e. they don’t support full system font size support was a bit of a game changer (I even left a review on the App Store to try to highlight this to the developers), and is still an issue but as I started to use it on the iPad primarily the iPhone font size didn’t really bother me, I don’t go a lot of places and the app on my iPhone hardly gets used. I still think that the Things 3 developers should embrace accessibility going forward for now it’s ok and I’ve made my peace with it.

I have enjoyed using it, in a simpler way. I can fire it up, see my day covering both the Calendar and Tasks in one place. I can easily move items between projects and can simply set a due date without worrying about a time. I like the break down of areas, projects and the upcoming view is a great way to see what you have to do.

Accessibility aside my only real other gripe is around how many clicks it takes to create a repeating task. I’d like the option to be able to mark the task as repeating at creation rather than having to take another step once you have created it.

So, for now I’m with Things and look forward to seeing what they do for iOS 14 (if the developers are reading I’m open for beta testing…).

iOS 14: App Library

A week in testing iOS 14 and I’m loving the new App Library feature. My setup now involves one home screen and then the App Library, no more other pages of apps. This feature allows you to let iOS manage your app organisation and for me at least has encouraged me to install more apps.

When I swipe over I get all of my apps organised by category.

To do this I simply turned off all of my home screens in the edit home screen setting.

This has been working quite nicely for me and can’t see me going back to multiple home screens.

Now I just need Apple to bring it over to the iPad.

How I’m using tags in OmniFocus

I’ve been using OmniFocus on and off for years but after reading this article on MacStories and revisiting how I was using tags it’s finally clicked.

I was using a project for almost everything, I had one for my creative projects and others for Home or Family etc. Taking a step back things like home and family aren’t really projects but categories. This is where tags come in.

I’m now using tags for everything that goes into my system. What I’ve changed is to use projects for actual projects like my podcast or my blog. Basically where I have a goal and need to break it down into tasks.

What in finding since switching over to this method is I’m using the tags section of the app to view all of my tasks.

So far so good and I haven’t even thought about switching apps in the last couple of weeks whilst playing around with OmniFocus again.

Apple Watch Series 5 and third party apps

Since using the series 5 somethings happened I wasn’t expecting – a much better experience with third party apps.

I’d tried to use third party apps on and off in the past but sync or performance always turned me off. Using the series 5 has me excited to use them on my wrist again as they perform really well. As you can see above my watch face (Meridian) is pretty simple and I’m using

  • Activity
  • Date
  • Things
  • Streaks

As I build a new system for myself I’m trying to keep a few apps core to the way I manage my goals and tasks.

I’m only at the beginning and I’ll be posting how I’m using them all soon once I’ve created a framework and it’s settled down.

Setting up OmniFocus

I won’t go into my iCloud issues but needless to say I’ve switched back to my trusty OmniFocus. On setting up from scratch I’ve changed the way that I use the app and perspectives this time around.

As you can see above I’m using 5 main views

  • Inbox
  • Home
  • Money
  • Family
  • Wellbeing

Most items in my system sit in the Inbox as you can see from the item count but I use tags. Whereas before I’d have a load of projects this time I’ve used tags to categorise.

I then have a perspective showing me everything that has a particular tag. So the wellbeing tag simply shows me everything with a tag of wellbeing.

For my forecast view I’ve implemented a tag called ‘Today’ that I can add to any items I’d like to get done today but don’t want to add a deadline.

You can do this by tapping on the little eye icon.

This seems to hang together for me and in the last few days I’ve enjoyed coming back to OmniFocus. This seems to work with my brain and I’m not wondering if my iCloud data is going to be there or not as the OmniFocus sync is rock solid and never let me down.

Are you using OmniFocus? What’s your setup?

Setting up Apple Reminders

Switching back to the MAC also had me thinking about the core apps I’m using to manage my day, I’ve now settled into a little routine using Apple Reminders. The iCloud sync seems solid now and using across iOS and macOS I’m starting to find the benefits of using Apple’s own apps. I keep it fairly simple in terms of creating lists and haven’t overwhelmed myself by dumping everything into it.

I have

  • INBOX, everything goes in here to start with if it’s an idea when I’m out or if it doesn’t belong to a list it also goes here
  • HOME, anything related to home (like putting out the bins) goes in here
  • WELLBEING, anything health related goes in here
  • FINANCES, money stuff goes in here
  • CREATIVE (as a group)
    • Podcast, anything related to podcasting
    • Writing, anything related to blog post ideas or admin on the site
    • Ambient Album, a little project to get me back into writing music
  • Travel, anything holiday related

I then have the widget on iOS Today view to show me what’s due, I don’t bother with this on my MAC.

Keeping it simple has really helped me just focus on a few things and not be overwhelmed by a complicated TO DO app.

Writing and publishing to my blog using MarsEdit

I’ve been struggling with my workflow and in particular the devices that I am going to use in my day to day and might have hit a really nice writing workflow that will work out for me when I’m on macOS. When I switched back to the Mac I didn’t have a clue what apps to use outside of the core apps that come with macOS but I decided to find the right episode of Mac Power Users and get to customising my MacBook that I am going to use as my daily machine for now.

On listening I decided to install Setapp and wow it’s already proving to be a cost saver. I installed iStatMenu (to keep an eye on battery and to have a nice view of the time and weather in the menu bar), CleanMyMac (to let it take a look at how I can get the most out of this laptop in terms of managing space) and most importantly MarsEdit.

I’ve got it installed and connected to my WordPress blog, which I can publish to directly from this one app. The layout lets me write, add tags, categories and images all within one app that can be customised to my liking. 

It’s much nicer to use than the WordPress app on iOS and having the flexibility of being able to create short posts from my iPhone on the WordPress app and also this powerful app in MarsEdit is leaving me enthusiastic about sticking with this MacBook and adapting to it rather than jumping back in and replacing my iPad Pro.

I’ll update as I get more stuff done on macOS, I thought it might be interesting hearing about workflows from someone coming to the Mac from iPad.

Let me know some of your favourite Setapp apps.

Getting started with Apple Reminders

I’m going through some testing of to do apps (I know, not again!) and as I’m doing this I thought I’d share some thoughts on several of them, including Reminders.

When you pick up Reminders for the first time I’d recommend deleting any preloaded lists and starting with just one called INBOX. This will be where you brain dump everything. As you can see above I’ve also split out a couple of new projects as I thought of tasks, so a couple of creative projects. You can move more tasks later but my advice is when you pick up Reminders for the first time don’t worry too much about structure, just get everything off your mind and into the Inbox.

I’ve found the barrier to getting things done for me was worrying too much about creating a framework at the beginning instead of just keeping it simple.

Once you have everything in one place it’s really up to you if you want to organise them by categories such as home or work etc.

Planning your calendar using Things 3

If you follow me you’ll know I struggle with Things 3, mainly because of it’s lack of accessibility options but the Calendar integration is superb.

I’ve installed it just to use the ‘upcoming’ view so I can clearly see what’s on my plate for the next week.

I can’t read it clearly and need to really focus given it doesn’t adhere to my system font size but it’s helpful on the iPad to get a general view of important events over the coming week.

I can’t manipulate anything on the calendar but like I’ve said gives me a clear view of the week ahead.

I’m really hoping Cultured Code are working on bringing accessibility to their app so that I can more easily see what’s on screen.

How to delete a perspective in OmniFocus for iOS

I’m starting fresh and clearing down my OmniFocus setup and when looking at removing perspectives it wasn’t that intuitive on how, here’s how to do it.

First off you need to SHOW all of your perspectives, tap on the SHOW icon.

Select the perspective you want to delete by tapping on it and then hit the icon marked in the image above.

Scrolling to the bottom you will see a DELETE PERSPECTIVE option.