Why I can’t use Things 3

I’d love to be able to use Things 3 as my daily task manager. I love the Calendar integration and ease of task entry but two things stop me from using it.

Accessibility

Things is really poor from an accessibility point of view unfortunately. I bump up the font on my iPhone these days thanks to my ageing eye balls and there is no support in Things to inherit the system setting. In fact there’s no setting to up the font in Things at all. All of the other to do apps I’m testing (Reminders/OmniFocus/Todoist) all support this and I can’t believe in 2020 there’s no accessibility support. It’s pretty tough on the eyes to go from a font I can’t comfortably to one I have to take my glasses off to see properly.

Repeating Reminders

The creation of a repeating task is a bit broken for my workflow

  • It takes too many taps to create a task that repeats on a schedule
  • Reminders in my testing don’t stick. So I create a task on Monday that repeats each day. I noticed on the Tuesday the reminder (at 2pm) hasn’t moved into the next days task. I update the Tuesday task to have a 2pm reminder. On the Wednesday the task forgets I’ve done this and I forget to do it

These two combined are deal breakers for me, a pretty UI isn’t going to win me over if the functionality I need isn’t there.

Don’t put habits into your to do app

I’ve been trying my best at changing a few things and bundled everything into my current To Do app of choice – Todoist.

But what I’ve found is that having a Reminder for something like ‘Write in your journal’ isn’t keeping me honest. I’m sometimes ignoring the Reminder, it’s not holding me accountable for not doing it. It also clutters up my view of what you need to do with all of these good habits you’re trying to accomplish.

What I’ve found is moving these into a dedicated Habit Tracking app seems to work better. It keeps my Todoist looking a lot cleaner and with streaks it keeps me more motivated to do it.

I haven’t settled on an app yet but am testing both Productive and Streaks.

App badges don’t help my productivity

Waking up and being faced with this red 22 to remind me how much I have on my plate makes things worse. It adds stress to an already stressful time, it’s got me thinking again about simplification. In this case Todoist is showing everything due today rather than stuff that’s gone over.

OmniFocus and Reminders can show me a badge count for when things go over due instead.

My current thought is just to turn off badges completely on everything apart from Messages.

Anyone else find it’s better just to turn them off?

Daily review in OmniFocus

I’m back using OmniFocus and one of the features I’m glad I have back is the Forecast view. I check this a few times a day.

I check it in the morning, around midday and then in the evening. I look at the count at the top to see if I have any items left today and I can also have a look at my calendar items.

If I see an item that I need to reschedule I simply long press and then pick an option to move it tomorrow.

Using this as I’m moving through my day is helping me keep on top of things.

New year, new productivity app

I’ve needed to simplify a bit over the break and made the switch back to Todoist.

Todoist has been my fall back app for a while but I’m determined to make it stick. It’s the fastest way to get things out of my head and the natural language passing really helps to track repeating items. I’ll share more as I move through my experience of getting to know the app really well.

Any tips?

On a side note I’ve really tried to use Reminders but I have no confidence it’ll see any updates until September and it’s got UX issues in my use.

Wunderlist shutting down in May 2020

My first to do app of choice and still one of my favourites, Wunderlist is finally being shut down May 6th 2020.

Link

I’m playing around with to do apps again so I’m going to install and test out its replacement, Microsoft To Do. I’m my experience of testing it previously I didn’t like the way it handled due items but I’m going to give it another shot.

Figuring out what to focus on

I get lots of random thoughts and ideas throughout the day (I both love and hate this!) that either get written down or forgotten but I’ve been finding it difficult over the years focussing on one side project. Going forward I’m going to do a bit of a mind map brain dump on all of these and figure out what to put time and energy in. At the moment it’ll be the blog, newsletter and something musical as I see it. I’ve toyed with YouTube but I went down that path 10 years ago and didn’t end up enjoying it so that’s definitely out, an easy one to drop. Podcasting is something I’ve enjoyed but I’m not good at or have enough to say weekly so pretty sure that’ll drop.

But I’m rambling, step 1 will be a brain dump onto paper then I’ll work through it.

How do you decide what to focus on?

How I’m managing my day with OmniFocus

I’m a couple of weeks in with using OmniFocus exclusively and it’s actually starting to stick. I wanted to write a series of posts on how I’m using it in my daily life.

First up each morning I’m looking at what I have on my plate and adjusting the day to suit my availability and energy.

I tap on the relevant day in the forecast view to drill into the day itself.

This shows me my agenda and the to do items I have set for the day.

If there is something on there I’m not going to be able to achieve I’ll long press and move to tomorrow.

My forecast view also shows me any items I’d like to get done today but haven’t set a due date or time. I tag these items with ‘today’ and change the view settings to show me them in my forecast view.

These show at the bottom of the list in the forecast view.

That gives me a view of the day within the app. To supplement this I also use the widget and the Apple Watch complication to have a quick reference of how I’m getting on.

So far the data sync has been good but if I’m updating on my iPad and don’t open the app on my iPhone to sync then app notifications do get a bit out of sync.

Setting up OmniFocus (again)

I go away but have found I always come back to OmniFocus (OF). OF still remains one of the quickest ways for me to enter new items to my inbox (I have SIRI disabled) using text entry and using a combination of due times and flagging I’ve been using it well this week and kept on top of things.

I’m still in the process of sorting myself out and setting some personal goals but I’ve settled on OF. I was going to go all in with Reminders but a few things put me off using Apple apps

  1. Sync has been unreliable across devices for me, especially macOS
  2. I don’t have any confidence in the Apple development team to keep the app updated. It’ll always be a small part of iOS for Apple and I don’t want to wait a year between updates for bug fixes
  3. If you need support, good luck. I’m almost a month in on my second attempt to get my iCloud sync sorted and Apple keep breaking their promises of calling me back with updates or even looking like they care about my data. I’m paying for iCloud storage and Apple aren’t taking me as a customer seriously, I don’t want to put my life into Reminders then hit a problem and be stuck trying to sort it out on my own

Ok, rant over.

So how am I’m setting up OF?

I’m starting pretty simple and mostly chucking items into the inbox via the app or Shortcuts. Anything that I think is urgent or want to get done today ideally I’ll put a flag against. I can quickly view everything flagged as almost a wish I could get this done today list or a reminder of items that are going to cause me some pain if I don’t get done.

Project wise I’m using folders to divide my projects into areas of focus. It’s pretty simple for now but I have one for my writing and another for personal, which includes any goals. I’ll share more on this one I’ve got my project structure sorted. I’m expecting it’ll be financial, work etc.

Everything else in OF I’m pretty much ignoring. The beauty is that it can be as simple or complicated as you need it.