Bower's Voice: Why I switched back to Things

Bower's Voice: Why I switched back to Things

(Wilson Ng) #1

Eric Bowers tried OmniFocus 3 and loved it. But he yearned for the simplicity of Things 3. He found himself spending more time tinkering with OmniFocus instead of doing his work.

He did say that he was going through a life change when he took on a job as a mortgage consultant. He was very busy and really liked the power that OF gave him. But its power was its downfall according to Eric. Too many features gave him a chance to procrastinate and excuse himself for playing around with different perspectives and building the “perfect system.”

So he switched back to Things. He will miss many of OF’s features but he loved having keyboard shortcuts on Things for iPad.

Now, I don’t believe in the “perfect” system. I believe in having a system that adapts with you and morphs enough to give you the right tools at the right time. Life changes so quickly nowadays. We might change jobs or hop from one project to another as an independent consultant. We might decide to drop some roles or projects and lighten our load. Our task manager should be able to change with us. That’s why some of us might go from the OmniFocus powerhouse back down to the steady and capable package of Things.

I used to be a tinkerer. I would endlessly search for the best perspectives, shortcuts, workflows, and habits to adopt. I stopped tweaking my setup. I’ve decided to spend less time in my task manager and more time in the real world. My strategy is to use my task manager as my storage bin for all of my projects, tasks, commitments, and promises. Then I bring a handful of tasks to the surface by choosing 3 MITs (Most Important Tasks) and writing it in my notebook. I focus on just those 3 tasks and get to work. I don’t linger in my task manager. I don’t open my task manager unless I need to. It’s hidden from my screen by collapsing the window into the Dock. I’m more resistant to tinkering with my task manager when it is hidden from view. I’ve noticed myself being consistently distracted if my task manager app is visible on the screen. I banished it to the Dock and work from my notebook.

I’m glad Eric is able to shift gears and change task managers when needed. There is a bit of friction transitioning a database from one task manager to another and can lead to some unwanted downtime. I would switch task managers only if a major change in my life. But there are a few exceptions of course.

My question to the Guild members is:

What made you want to switch to your current task manager? What would happen if you minimized your task manager from view? Would you get more work done?

(Beck Tench) #2

I did this, too. I just decided to. I committed to OF for a quarter and it’s worked well. If I hadn’t made the decision to stick with it, the option to try out different things would have been available to me and I would have (possibly) never realized the rewards of the system.

I’m also realizing (with OF, Mailmate, DevonThink, Tinderbox) that form follows function for me these days. I need powerful systems. It’d be awesome if they looked nice, but that can’t stop me anymore. I needed to extend my boundaries around what sort of interface was acceptable.

I needed to feel like I was on top of things (that I have appropriate awareness of all the spinning plates and none were breaking without my attention). Things 3 and Bullet Journaling, while strong in many ways I value, weren’t giving me this security. OF can handle it.

For some reason, I don’t feel I’m in these systems too much. Maybe I have too much to do? I’m not sure. I use two pieces of software people complain of tweaking too much (Tinderbox and OF), but I’m finding my tweaks feel on task and towards something productive — learning (TBX) and strategy/awareness (OF).

I also have been writing weekly plans and updating them throughout the week and find this flexible habit helps me prioritize/reprioritize. My weekly planning session is probably almost 2 hours long, but I think that time is well spent.

p/s. I originally read “Bower’s voice” as “Bowser’s voice.” :t_rex:


OF always seemed like it was way, way overkill for my needs.

I liked the look of Things a lot, and a lot of the Mac cognoscenti jumped on it after its refresh, but the inability to try it on iOS before buying kept me from it.

I own 2Do pro on Mac/iOS but found it to be a little too clunky and limited for my uses.

I could have gone with Ticktick but I decided a month or so ago to try Todoist Premium (I’d previously only played with the free version), deciding to sign up for a few reasons - first, the Mac/iOS front-ends to the service work and sync extremely well, it’s fairly straightforward, the 2-way sync with Google Calendar is fantastic (I love being able to look at my calendar, move items and have them moved in Todoist immediately), and because people signing up (by the end of today, in fact) are guaranteed the current $29/year premium price for future years, and the price goes up starting tomorrow to $36/year. And finally, I chose it for its potential, as the app is about to experience some sort of big refresh over the next few weeks.

I can’t help but feel that Things is potentially losing sales to more people like me who want to kick the app’s tires on their iPhones before plopping down $10 on the app. I don’t mind spending money on a good product - heck, I paid $29 for a year of Todoist - but I want to be able to try before I buy.

(Wilson Ng) #4

LOL. We all have too much to do!

I’ve found daily, weekly, and monthly reviews as an essential workflow to stay on top of things. I’m forgetful and need to remind myself of the various spinning plates too!

I think if I total up my daily and weekly review totals up to about 2 hours too. But it’s spread out through the week.

LOL. :joystick:

Thanks for the links on the weekly planning sessions and writing weekly plans. I’ll be checking those out now!

(Wilson Ng) #5

I hope Cultured Code will recognize the need for a trial period on the iPad and iPhone version too!

I’m also very fond of Todoist myself. But there just a few things in OmniFocus that keeps me locked in.

I initially thought I would be using 2Do as my main task manager. I love the pinch zoom to expand or shrink the details so easily. I did imagine that I could use this app. It’s a one-man shop so I’m hoping the developer adds another person and grows this wonderful app. I’d like to see this app grow. @mat_rheinappeared on the Asian Efficiency podcast to highlight his use of 2Do. He has since moved on to Things 3.

I’m looking forward to seeing Todoist’s future. It’s great for teams as well as individuals. The ability to also use it on various platforms multiplies its user base tremendously. I just hope they’re not spreading themselves too thin.

(Greg Newman) #6

I’ll preface by saying I’m a multi-persona-type individual. Some call it a polymath or multipotentialite (hate that name).

  • Software engineer
  • Working artist
  • Student of the Classical Guitar
  • I work with German Shepherds

I used TeuxDeux for years and absolutely love the simplicity of it; and it’s beautiful.

In order to keep track of all my “personas” I had to get off TeuxDeux for more structure. I own and tried Things for a while and while I like it, I couldn’t get a nested structure that just works like I can in Omnifocus. The folder structure in Omnifocus is perfect for all my areas of focus.

TeuxDeux has no api and adding things is either by opening the app or emailing to it. The ease of adding tasks to Omnifocus is excellent, even in my Truck with Apple Car Play.

I had created a mind map of TeuxDeux vs Omnifocus back before the 3.0 beta which you can see below.

I know I had created one for Things vs Omnifocus but I can’t find the file anymore.
I could really break this down much further but I’m certain I’d bore the hell out of everyone. lol

(Greg Newman) #7

I do something similar but do it daily outside of my weekly review/planning. I do journal entries daily and I stub out the day first thing in the morning. DayOne allows checkboxes so I create a list of “What would a good day look like?” and make my list of what I really want to get done (outside of work related tasks). At the end of the day I complete my journal entry and review the wins and fails of the day.