Trust is a Must
For all of the aspiring Pebble Snatching, Productivity Fu Masters out there, I’ve created a Fu Master Productivity Checklist with Things3 as the backdrop. My goal is to provide a framework that will guide others to a point where they can confidently TRUST their Productivity System.
Why is trust so important? Because with trust comes confidence. With confidence comes the ability to let go and focus on whatever you’re doing … to be present and in the NOW … to focus on what’s truly important.
When trust is missing from the productivity equation, a constant haze of distracted worry tends to set in 😬.
Did you remember to get back to your boss about that one super important thing? Is there a thought or idea that’s been buzzing around your head all day and won’t go away? … and how distracting is that buzzzzzz? How insanely full is your Today List and how often do your todos tend to rollover from day to day?
At times, this productivity thing can feel like a moving target. It can be a frustrating and defeating proposition.
The Fu Master Productivity Checklist is designed to help you get from constant haze of distracted worry to Productivity Fu Master where you can confidently trust your productivity system … where productivity confidence oozes from every pore.
Master All 10 Components
The Productivity Checklist has 10 key components, starting with mastering your INBOX (which sits at the TOP of your productivity system) all the way through making sure that a healthy dose of PURPOSE exists in your day to day (which is the foundation of your productivity system).
This checklist isn’t a how to use Things3 tutorial, Cultured Code has an awesome guide for that. This checklist is all about how to think about using Things3.
I’ll use the Anytime List as an example: IMHO, the Anytime List is the key to unlocking the power of Things3 and your ability to trust your system. Over-stuffed Today Lists & Over-scheduling todos are a symptom of an underutilized Anytime List. I want Anytime to be a go-to list for everybody because I know how powerful it can be!
Once you’ve mastered all 10 concepts, you are ready to confidently roam the Earth as a Pebble Snatching, Productivity Fu Master 🥋👊💥, spreading the good word about the impact of being Productive with a Purpose.
The Fu Master Productivity Checklist:
Click a link to jump directly to additional details about each component …
- Use your INBOX to capture evil distractions immediately throughout the day (Mastering your Inbox is the #1 step towards becoming a Productivity Fu Master)
- Start the day with a glass of water & a solid MORNING ROUTINE
- Always do a DAILY REVIEW to create a laser focused Today List
- Always pause for a WEEKLY REVIEW to focus your Anytime List (by utilizing your Someday List … which I swear, is NOT an idea graveyard!)
- Use AREAS to track ongoing areas of life focus (these can have multiple projects over time), use PROJECTS to track shorter term goals (2+ todos & an end date), only keep NEXT ACTIONS in Things3 (todos are always actionable) & once a todo lands on your CALENDAR, it’s a done deal
- Keep your TODAY List tight & stocked w/ only “Must Dos” & constantly use your ANYTIME List for “Bonus Todos”. Trusting your Anytime List is the key to trusting your productivity system!
- ALMOST NEVER SCHEDULE TODOS, consider using Due Dates instead
- Use TAGS SPARINGLY & STRATEGICALLY & master basic KEYBOARD SHORTCUTS to find todos instantly (this is where the magic happens!)
- Use a separate app like BEAR TO TRACK NOTES & PROJECT DETAILS & for JOURNALING when tough questions need answered
- Know that PRODUCTIVITY IS THE FORCEFIELD that allows you to stay focused on what’s TRULY IMPORTANT
… and do it that way EVERY SINGLE TIME.
The minute you stray from your productivity system … the minute you skip a Daily Review or don’t use that Tag the same way you did last time or you don’t capture that distracting thought immediately in your Inbox … you’re sunk. You’ve opened the door to doubt. And doubt makes it really tough to trust anything.
Doubt is for jerks 👎. Trust is for the cool kids 👍. So, let’s do this.
You’ll find additional details for each Fu Master Productivity Checklist item below …
1. Master Your Inbox
For anyone wondering: “Where do I start?” … welp, you start right here! Mastering your Inbox is 💯 the first step on your Productivity Fu Master journey.
Your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.David Allen, Getting Things Done
You need a single place to put thoughts and ideas when they hit you, no matter where you are. Capture every thought, idea (big or small!), email, web link, etc that requires later thought immediately in your Things3 Inbox so you can get it out of your head and get back to what you were doing!
Head Zero, Inbox Everything gets weedy into how I use Things3 as my one, true (trusted) Inbox. See how you can utilize quick entry, Siri, mail to Things, etc to help you master your Inbox.
Go back to the checklist @ the top …
2. The Morning Routine
Launch Your Day
When you wake up in the morning: drink a glass of water (clarity 🧘♂️), plan your day (focus 🤓) and do the most important thing first (impact 💥)!
I boiled the Internet’s Top Productivity Tips down to one statement. What I’ve realized through my research is that the best way to set EACH DAY up for success is to double down on your MORNING and create a simple, consistent morning routine. And do it that way every day.
I have a 🚀 Launch Area @ the top of my Lists in Things3 where I keep daily and weekly reminders that help facilitate my morning routine. I track these as separate “todos” … you can just as easily use a checklist within a single todo … it’s completely up to you.
My daily routine is the exact same every single day:
- I chug a giant glass of water 💦
- I get my coffee ☕️ (and chug that too 😋)
- I take ~10 minutes to do my Daily Things Review and plan my day (what’s my #1 goal for today!?). This is the best 10 minute investment I can make because now my day is planned out and I can live in my Today List. (More on my Daily Review in a bit.)
- I get my 2nd cup of coffee because I’m really on a roll now …
- Each Monday, I take ~30 minutes to do a super weedy Weekly Review in Things. (More on my Weekly Review in a bit.)
- I have a “💪 ME goal” to write for 30 minutes each morning!
- I sneak a workout in
- I help get the kids ready for school (and since my day is already planned, I don’t need to stress about work stuff … I can be present and sneak a few laughs in w/ my kids before school 😃)
- Work starts … where I want to do that #1 most important, most impactful thing first 💥
I happen to be a morning person. If you’re a night owl, I’d still encourage some sort of “Morning Routine” to get your day pointed in the right direction, but you can certainly do your Daily Reviews in the evening and your weedy Weekly Review on Sunday night. It’s best to do this type of work whenever your brain fires best.
Shifting Gears After Work
I’ve recently added a “🧘♂️ Shift Gears” Area @ the very bottom of my Things3 Lists. I work from home, so it can be tough for me to mentally shift gears from Work to Home so I created a daily reminder to Meditate & Journal. I meditate for 10 mins and then Journal for a few minutes, reflecting on the day and thinking ahead to the evening w/ my family. It has really helped me turn the page and get into Dad mode.
(FYI: If I could schedule todos to automatically show up in the Evening, I wouldn’t need a separate Area for this purpose. But since I can’t, this is how I’ve solved for this need.)
Bottom line, a simple, consistent morning routine is absolute gold ⭐️. By front loading your day, you build early confidence and ownership over what’s ahead of you. And you can start experiencing “success” during your first cup of coffee!
Go back to the checklist @ the top …
3. The Daily Review
The goal of the Daily Review is to get you to a point where you have a clear, concise list of “Must Dos” (i.e. today’s top, I HAVE to do them today priorities) in your Today List. If you do a thorough Daily Review, you should be able to LIVE in your Today list (and not ping pong around in Things3, hunting and pecking for todos) … all day long!
At a high level, the Daily Review looks like this:
- Check your Calendar – What’s already scheduled for today (and over the next couple of days)? What actions are required today for these future events to be successful?
- Clear your Email Inbox – Review any unread emails and use Mail to Things to forward anything to your Things3’s Inbox that requires later review or follow up.
- Clear your Things3 Inbox – For each item, ask: What is this? How Much Effort? When do I NEED to do this? Where should I put this? What Else will help me find and / or take action on this later?
- Review your Today List – You may have previously scheduled todos for today … is everything still relevant? Review and tighten your Today List so it just has the items you Must Do today.
- Now Visit your Anytime List – Peruse your Anytime list for other todos that you need to tackle today. Always take a minute to review your ME specific todos (non work related) so you always have a healthy dose of purpose in your Today List!
Check out Be a Pebble Snatching, Productivity Fu Master. It gets super weedy into my Things3 setup, hitting on my Daily & Weekly Review processes, how I use Tags, some of my go-to Key Board Shortcuts, etc.
Go back to the checklist @ the top …
4. The Weekly Review
If the goal of the Daily Review is to create a focused Today List, the Weekly Review exists to create a focused Anytime List. Ponder that for a second 🤔 … If you have a tight (and trusted) Weekly Review process, your Anytime List should be the only place you’ll need to go to find Todos throughout the week.
With focus comes IMPACT 💥. The Weekly Review helps you get real focus for the week and it’s basically the Daily Review on Steroids:
- Get Weedy – You’ll roll up your sleeves and comb through your Things3 setup: Area by Area … Project by Project … todo by todo (including the Someday List).
- Clean House – Each week is an opportunity to do some hardcore Spring cleaning in Things3. Add, remove & consolidate projects, delete todos that are no longer relevant, organize and tidy things up. When you finish your Weekly Review, you should feel really good, liberated almost. Your Things3 setup should feel as fresh and clean as it did the first day you set it up.
- Pause & Celebrate Success! – Part of my Weekly Review is pausing to reflect on my Accomplishments from the previous week. It’s too easy to jump head first into the next thing and that’s no good. Productivity Fu Masters also ain’t scared to share their goals and celebrate their successes with others 😉 … it creates a mini-support system for your success + creates accountability for you to do the work. I’ve started doing this with my team at work and it’s good to realize that you’re making an impact every single day!
- Set a Goal for the Week – Pick ONE 💻 WORK Goal + ONE 💪 ME goal (something that’s non work related that’s all about YOU) that will net the largest impact this week. Think 80/20 rule: What 20% of your efforts will net 80% of the results? Do these things FIRST. PERIOD. Once complete, find your next biggest impact item, focus on that one, crush it, etc. Know this: If you only complete these few items this week, it’ll be a successful week 🏆!
- The Someday List & THIS WEEK – I swear, the Someday List isn’t a place where ideas go to die 💀! In simple terms, the Weekly Review helps you identify what you want to focus on THIS WEEK. Anything you don’t plan to focus on THIS WEEK should go in your Someday List. Conversely, during your Weekly Review, you’ll also scour Someday to see what Projects or Todos you do want to work on this week and pull them into Anytime. If you do a thorough and consistent Weekly Review every week, you can trust that your Someday List items won’t fall through the cracks!
Go back to the checklist @ the top …
5. Areas, Projects, Todos & Your Calendar
- Areas (Ongoing, Important Areas of Life Focus) – Areas are where you track important areas of focus in your life. This could be Work, School, Home, Hobbies, things you’re super passionate about, etc. I use Areas for any ongoing, higher level life bucket or initiative that doesn’t necessarily have a start or end date (like a Project would). Areas can have multiple Projects over time.
- Projects (Start & End Date, 2+ Todos) – I think of Projects as mini goals that have a defined start and end date and have more than one todo. Every Project should always have a Next Action (even if that Next Action is to “Think about the project to determine what the next action should be …”)
- Todos (Always Actionable, Next Actions Only) – I subscribe to David Allen’s GTD (Getting Things Done) approach to todos: 1) They must be Actionable & 2) Only “Next Actions” should live in Things3.
- Your Calendar (The most actionable level possible) – Once it lands on your Calendar, you’ve secured time to do what needs to get done. At this point, it’s a Crocodile Done Deal.
Next Actions Only
When we have a project, our instinct is to add the five steps “we think we’ll need” to get from point A to point Z. There are two problems with this: 1) We often can’t take action on steps 2-5 until step 1 is complete (this creates noise and clutter in your system) and 2) These are “possible” next steps. Too often, once step 1 is complete, the flow of the project takes it in a slightly different direction than what was originally planned. Now you need to go back and rethink a bunch of todos that are no longer applicable.
Here are a few options:
- Use the Project Notes section in Things3 to list out steps 1-5. When you do your Weekly Review, you’ll review these details and can adjust accordingly.
- Utilize the Someday List. Someday can be a great place to keep possible, future todos for a project. Again, your Weekly Review is when you can confidently review these items, delete the stuff that’s no longer applicable and adjust accordingly.
- Use a 3rd party Notes App like Bear (more on that below). Notes apps are a great place to keep detailed notes and thoughts and goals for a given project. With Bear, you can copy a link in the Things3 Project Notes that take you directly to your note in Bear.
I encourage you to play with these options to see what works best for you. But, like everything else we’ve discussed, once you land on something that feels right: stick with it and do it that way every time!
A Quick Example – From Inbox to Calendar
- You’re sitting in a meeting and all of a sudden, “Team Meeting Slides” hits you out of the blue. Oh geeze! I need to finish the team meeting slides by this Friday!
- So you cntrl + space on your Mac (quick entry!) and enter “Team Meeting Slides”. This thought is automatically saved in your Inbox. You can relax and go back to being awesome in your meeting. This item isn’t Actionable yet … but that’s ok. You know that during your Daily Review on Tuesday morning, you’ll dig into this one more and make it Actionable.
- Your Tuesday morning Daily Review rolls around and you come to this item. You might decide to turn it into a Project: “Complete Team Meeting Slides”, if it’ll take multiple steps to complete. Or it could turn into a single, Actionable todo if you feel you can knock it out in one sitting. That’s what you decide, so the title becomes Actionable: “Complete Team Meeting Slides”, you set the Due Date = Friday. You assign the 😎 Focused Action Tag. You move it to your general 💻 Work Area. You add a checklist of items to the todo that you want to include in the Team Meeting Slides.
- You can either decide to do it Today or leave it in Anytime where you know you’ll have an opportunity to work on it multiple times before Friday.
- If it’s a high priority item, you may decide to block 30 minutes on your Calendar so that you have time dedicated for this specific task. Once scheduled, you can let it go and move on with your day!
Go back to the checklist @ the top …
6. The Today & Anytime Lists
If you nailed your Weekly & Daily Reviews, you should be able to straight up live in your TODAY List (which should only have a tight list of actionable “Must Dos”). The only other view you should need to visit is the ANYTIME List, and that’s only after you’ve completed all of the todos in your TODAY List … Anytime is where “Bonus Todos” 🎉 hang out!
Back in the day, my Today List was busting at the seems with stuff I had to do today + lots of extra todos that I hoped to get to today. Frankly, it was a hot mess. It seemed that I could never complete everything in my Today List, there was simply too much stuff. The same few todos would start to shift to tomorrow … and the next day … and so it went. It was super defeating.
I’ve since realized that I did this because I wasn’t utilizing the Anytime List to it’s full potential. If I didn’t see the todo dead square in front of me in my Today List, I was afraid I’d forget about it completely. Why was this? Because I didn’t trust my system 🤦♂️.
Once you complete all the “Must Dos” in your Today List, that’s when your Anytime List becomes your new best friend. The Anytime List is chocked full of “Bonus Todos” that are just waiting to be completed! (And IMHO, “Bonus Todos” are way more fun to complete than the “I hope I can get to it today 23rd item on your over-stuffed Today List todo!”).
Go all in on your Anytime List and you’ll make one ginormous stride towards trusting your system! You’ll notice that Anytime continues to pop up … it’s even tied to your success when Scheduling todos …
Go back to the checklist @ the top …
7. Scheduling Todos & Using Due Dates
Over-scheduling Todos & Your Anytime List
Think for a minute … when you schedule a todo for a future date, what are you solving for? If you really can’t take action on the todo until that date, then great! This is when scheduling is appropriate.
But if you’re really scheduling the todo for a future date because you want it to pop up on your Today List as a reminder … because you’re afraid you may forget about it otherwise … then you’re not using scheduling effectively (and you’re causing yourself other issues). You may not realize it, but you’re missing a huge opportunity to utilize your Anytime List.
By definition, a Scheduled Todo = Any todo you can’t take action on until a specified date in the future.
By definition, the Anytime List = A list of todos that you can take action on … well, Anytime. If you misuse scheduling, you’re inadvertently breaking your Anytime list.
As tempting as it is, I rarely schedule items in Things3, unless I really can’t do something until a specific date in the future. Why? Because during every single Daily Review, I review my Anytime List and I can choose what todos I want to tackle each day. If you trust your system, the Anytime List is an amazingly powerful view where you see all of your todos that you can take action on … Anytime 😃!
Use Due Dates Instead
I’m more apt to use Due Dates than to Schedule Items. A Due Date ensures that a todo will pop up in your Today List when you need to see it, but doesn’t remove it from your Anytime List. When you add a Due Date, you can have the confidence that the todo will magically surface on a specified date (if you did somehow forget about it) … but you can also grab it off your Anytime list and knock it out early if you so choose.
Go back to the checklist @ the top …
8. Using Tags & Keyboard Shortcuts
Simpler is Better
It’s important to use Tags sparingly and strategically. Why? Because they can add unintended complexity to your productivity system. It’s easy to get lost in Tags and this is one instance where I subscribe to way less is way more.
The only reason Tags exist is so that you can whittle a big list down to a small list so that you can find that one todo you need, when you need it. That’s it. When used consistently, a simple set of Tags are unbelievable powerful! So you should definitely use them, just remember: The only Tags you need are the ones you use to filter your lists.
Since my original Fu Master article, I’ve simplified my Tagging system even more. I found that there were Tags in my system that I never used as a filter … so I deleted them.
I only use three types of Tags
Focus Tags – Every Area in Things3 has ONE Focus Tag
- 💻 Work – All of my work related Areas, Projects & Todos.
- 🏠 Home – Basic boring around the house stuff, projects, errands, reminders, etc.
- 💪 Me – Projects and Todos that are all about ME! Research for my blog, coaching my son’s baseball team, doing an art class with my daughter, etc … inspiring stuff thats fun for me to work on.
- I assign a Focus Tag to every Area in my setup. This way, each Project and subsequent Todo automatically inherit the Tag. It’s then super easy for me to filter any of my Lists to only see todos based on what I want to focus on.
Action Tags – Every Todo has ONE Action Tag (initially assigned during my Daily Review)
- ⚡️Quick – Anything that’ll require low mental effort and will take me less than 10-15 minutes to complete.
- 😎 Focused – Anything that’ll take longer to complete. I use this Tag when bigger picture decisions have already been made and I know it’ll take me 20-30+ minutes to complete the task.
- ✍️ Journal – I use my Journal Tag when there’s a big topic, idea or problem that I need to flush out more. Todos with the Journal Tag require a much deeper level of thought. I use Journaling as a problem solving weapon and it works every time! (More on this in a bit.)
- 🚧 Waiting – Used when I’m waiting on something.
- 🛒 Errand – Stuff I need to do when I’m out and about.
- ☎️ Call – Something I can’t take action on unless I’m engaged with someone else.
People Tags – I have Tags for family, friends and coworkers (anyone I may want to filter a list of Todos by later).
When you pair Keyboard Shortcuts with a tight list of Tags, magic is only a few key strokes away! I have my primary Keyboard Shortcuts set up across the top of my keyboard. This makes it super easy to A) remember what my shortcuts are and B) fly through them when I filter my Anytime List (it’s become total muscle memory at this point).
Revisit my original Productivity Fu Master article to get a closer look at how I use Tags & Keyboard Shortcuts. I tell ya, it’s like magic ✨.
Click to go back to the checklist @ the top …
9. Using Bear with Things3
I use Bear for all of things writing, notes, journaling and to track supporting details for my Projects in Things3. I love Bear because it’s super easy to use and has the best UI of all the Notes apps I’ve tried.
A huge perk is that I can save links in Things3 that take me back to my notes in Bear. Bear also has a super flexible tagging system that allows me to keep my Tags consistent between Thing3 and Bear.
I mentioned Journaling … I Journal A LOT. For me, it’s an amazing problem solving weapon. Check out Journal like a BA, Sucka to learn more about how I think about Journaling and for additional details and screen shots regarding how I use Things3 and Bear together.
Click to go back to the checklist @ the top …
10. Productivity is the Forcefield
Life is about being in the NOW. Purpose puts you there. Productivity is the forcefield that keeps you there.
Productivity isn’t the end goal, it’s a means to an end. Being productive for the sake of being productive isn’t the point. There has to be a purpose … a Why? behind all of the lists and todos and productivity tools and that constant, incessant desire to be more productive.
If your Inbox sits on top of of your Productivity System, Purpose is the foundation that keeps it upright.
I’ve spent a ton of time Journaling in Bear about “My Why?” I’ve landed on a few areas that are Uber important to me … being a Loving Husband, a Great Dad, a Caring Son, Brother & Friend, an Inspiring Leader, my Health and my Productive w/ a Purpose Blog. I call these “My Why Buckets” and I’ve added them to Things3 as Areas because I want to keep them front a center. I then add Projects & Todos that will help me try to fulfill my purpose for each bucket.
When I do my Daily and Weekly Reviews, I always prioritize a few 💪 ME todos … stuff that’s not Work related, stuff that’s just for ME. I try to keep my Today & Anytime Lists chocked full of them.
In The Why is Your Shark Repellent, I tackle the importance of asking WHY? Why? Because everyone has a Purpose. And when we can confidently trust our Productivity System, we can redirect our our time, energy and focus to the things that are truly important.
From their Inbox to their Daily Review to their Anytime List … A true Pebble Snatching, Productivity Fu Master 🥋👊💥 understands what being Productive with a Purpose is all about.
Another great post! Along with “Be a Pebble Snatching, Productivity Fu Master”, these are some of the most useful guides for Things 3. I’ve used some of your tips to streamline and supercharge my workflow. I find it better to do a weekly review on Sunday though. It preps me for a good week ahead and also frees up my Monday morning to focus on work.
Your idea of avoiding scheduling and using deadlines is fresh. Some users think deadlines shouldn’t be abused so I’m trying it to see if it works well for me. But so far so good!
With scheduling, sometimes when I’m done with ‘Today’, I don’t feel like looking at ‘Anytime’. Even if I have the time to knock out some bonus to-dos. I think it’s because it feels like all the must-dos are completed.
But with your approach, there’ll be days when I have nothing scheduled (other than repeating to-dos)…
So during Daily Review, I’m forced to prioritize what I need to do ‘Today’ by picking selectively from ‘Anytime’. I’m more keen to look at ‘Anytime’ for bonus too – maybe I trust ‘Anytime’ more now.
This approach also makes sense because I’m being deliberate with my to-dos based on my priorities/time for the day. And like you say, this is the true value of productivity – doing things that matter.
But I have a question: Say you also have nothing scheduled, except for repeating to-dos, do you shift tasks in your ‘Anytime’ to ‘Today’ during Daily Review, or do you just live inside your ‘Anytime’ for the rest of the day?
It seems like shifting to-dos over to ‘Today’ if they are not a MUST DO leads to a flooded ‘Today’ list – a problem we try to avoid by using more of ‘Anytime’. What do you think?
Also, where do you usually write your daily/weekly goals?
Hi, glad the article has been helpful!
Also glad that Anytime is proving to be a trusted go to for you, that’s seriously awesome.
Regarding your questions, I do my best to keep Today tight and tidy, even if I don’t have a ton of hard core must dos on a given day. I want to make sure I knock the ones off I need to do first, but once I’ve done that, it’s free game on Anytime and those bonus items!
Re: question two, for my weekly review, I typically use my iPad with split view: on the left, is Things3 and on the right is Bear. As I go area by area, project by project, I jot down the things I want to accomplish this week in Bear. By the end, I know what a successful week looks like and I send any extra Projects to Sometime. This shores up my Anytime list for the week.
Let me know if you have any other Qs, have a good one!
During the Daily Review one scans the Anytime List and, if an item has sufficiently increased in priority, one can make a commitment to address it by moving it to Today. Otherwise leave it in Anytime for ‘bonus time’.
Here is an example of how I think it should work. I have 4 weekly repeating cleaning tasks – Clean Bathroom, Bedroom, Kitchen, and Living Area. They are scheduled to occur on my Weekly Review Day during which I move them to Anytime and set the Due Date to the end of the week.
During the week I may knock one or more of them off as an Anytime bonus. But, say, one day during my Daily Review I’m looking at the Anytime List and I see Clean Bathroom and I realize the bathroom has already become pretty grungy. Having a light day I can make a commitment to clean the bathroom by moving it to Today and avoid the possibility of overlooking it for another day.
Jeff, this is spot on. Thank you for sharing this example. This sums it up perfectly!
Very nice example, thanks Jeff! I’ve started implementing your cleaning tasks workflow into mine. Never thought of using Weekly review to set a deadline for these tasks. Right now I set it to occur every week after completion, which I’m forced to postpone it if that day is a busy one for me.
Hey mate thanks for this. I’ve spent a couple of days, on and off, on your site tweaking my setup.
Love the use of the emoticons, does make it all a lot more fun!
Also the breakdown of Today, Anytime and Someday is brilliant. I’ve had the exact same problem you speak off where your today list has must-dos and nice to-dos and you end up finishing the day stressed because you inevitably didn’t get to your nice to dos. The mental kick that completing your must-dos gives inevitable motivates you to get one or two nice to dos done. Sum total is that small tweak has been a productivity multiplier!
Also love the idea of a Launch area for a morning routine.
Let’s hope I can stick at it and really build a system I can trust!
Glad the article has been helpful! It wasn’t all that long ago for me when the Today, Anytime, Someday 💡 went off and just that simple mindset tweak has made a HUGE difference. Appreciate you taking the time to share your feedback and best of luck!
Don’t hesitate to reach out with any additional questions!
Thanks for this amazing system. I’ve already started to implement it and it’s working great. One question though, how do you deal with emails or tasks that you receive during the day that you want to action the same day? Presumably you could enter such an item straight into Today and process it immediately rather than entering them into the Inbox and risk forgetting until the Daily Review the following day?
Also, I assume you implement the 2-minute rule when processing emails from GTD?
Hi Simon, glad the article was helpful!
I’ve developed a pretty strong habit that when I get an email I know I need to follow up on later (today or at a later date), I IMMEDIATELY send it to my Inbox. If I don’t need to address it today, I leave it for my daily review tomorrow morning. If I need to take action on it today, I’ll hop over into my Inbox quickly and “process it” (assign an action tag, select Today, move it to the right project, etc).
The 2 minute rule is a tricky one (IMHO). I worry that if I start handling emails and Slack messages and text messages every time I get them just because it’ll take < 2 minutes to process, I’ll end up in a constant haze of distraction. So, I try to get anything I need to think about later into my Inbox. Once it’s all processed (during my daily review), I try to bucket a bunch of ⚡️Quick tasks together so that I can knock them out at the same time. Hope that makes sense!
That makes sense, thanks. The limiting factor in my current workflow is that I work in an organisation where I would not be able to forward emails externally using the Mail to Things functionality due to confidentiality and security considerations (all external emails are monitored). Therefore I am limited to entering things manually into the Inbox on my iPad/iPhone where I can make entries generic enough so as not to infringe our information security policy. This admittedly does make clearing my work email inbox a bit slower so I may be better off responding to emails that take less than 2 minutes on the spot.
Ah, gotcha. You may be right with the < 2min approach. Another thought though, if you do really want to go all in on your Inbox (even for work emails) ... the fastest way on your iPad / Phone would be to quickly use Siri (“Remind me to review Bob’s email ...”). That may or may not “work” if you’re around a bunch of people, but it’d be a quick way to get a reminder on the books immediately so you can stay focused on what you’re doing. Anyways, it sounds like you’ve got a handle on your options. Have a good one!
Another approach that works well for me is to use the “Quick Entry with Autofill” feature in Things3 directly on emails: If I receive an email that should be converted to a task, I press Ctrl+Alt+Space while I have the email selected. This gives me a Things3 quick entry box with a link to the email. I can now phrase an actionable task and store the todo directly in some suitable Area and Project, without having to forward the email to my Things Inbox before processing it. The link to the email still works if you subsequently move it to another folder (say, Archived).
Thanks for reaching out Anders and great suggestion! I use this one all the time on my Mac as a quick way to get emails into my Things Inbox (it also works with Websites that you want to save too). Thanks again and have a good one!
John French says
This is interesting stuff. I have just started using Things 3 and it has given me a good way to start.
However, I must take you to task (no pun intended) over the suggestion to organise all your todos in the morning. Much peer reviewed research, and the experience of myself and many others is that the best time to sort out your todo list is last thing at night. This might seem counter-intuitive, but it has been proven over and over that if you do that, you sleep better and worry less. You have taken these things off your mind and onto paper (well, computer, but that is what we used to say 40 years ago when I was the personal time organisation trainer for my school ).
Hi John, glad you found the article helpful! Regarding your point of whether to do the “daily review” @ night or in the morning … I believe that folks should do what works best for them. I’ve tried it both ways and for me personally, doing a daily review in the morning works best. It’s when my brain fires best.
More important than when to do the daily review is just to make sure it gets done, every day. IMHO, that’s what matters most!
Thanks for your feedback and best of luck w/ Things3!
Hey, loved your post I found on Reddit yesterday as suggested by someone while I was sneaking around to find answers on the way I was using Things (and trying to stick to GTD) and your system makes sense! I’ll implement it today and might take sometime, but it’s never too late to make a significant change and to improve, right?
I have one question that came up in transition to your system: how do you manage lists?
For instance, I have some lists: things I want to read later on (articles like yours), books, things I need to buy later on for me or my family, how do you manage this kind of things?
I have been also intrigued by your “My Why?” bucket (or buckets, it seems you have changed the organisation). It seems you’re using projects without end dates if I’m not wrong but I’d like to know more about the content of it.
I currently have a “self-improvement” area where I list all the trainings and other actions I’d like to do to keep improving myself, it seems to fit in.
Have do you manage the task as such? Do you have any other examples on the “My Why” bucket?
Hi Sham, glad you’ve found the article helpful!
Regarding your questions, I have lists in Someday for movies, books, etc and during my weekly review, I peruse the list to determine what I might want to start this week. I like Sometime because it doesn’t muddy up my Anytime list throughout the week.
Regarding the “My Why?” Section, check this article out. It gets weedy into the Why stuff. Let me know if you have any Qs or additional thoughts!
Have a great week!
Matt J says
This was an exceptionally helpful post, thanks very much for sharing it. I have been struggling with exactly how to use Things 3 to best keep me on track and always seemed to have more Todos in my Today folder than I could realistically cope with. I would then end up pushing them to the next day and the process would repeat.
I have now been back in and moved everything around into Anytime, for the coming week, and Sometime ready for the weekly review. My only question is when you mention Due Date, I assume you mean Deadline, to ensure that the task appears in my Today when it absolutely must be done. Is that correct?
Thanks for a very insightful post 😀
Hi Matt, glad the post was helpful!
And you’re spot on with your question … I’m referring to the deadline so it pops up in today when absolutely necessary (but you can find it in Anytime and complete it early at any point).
Thanks again and take care!
How do you handle when you have very different work areas, but they are still work? I think a catch-all for “Work” might be misleading (I have multiple jobs very different from each other)
Hi Elias! I’d recommend a separate “Area” in Things for each different work area that you focus on. And this can (and should) be fluid, it’ll evolve over time. I have a general “Work” area for basic work tasks that need to get done, but I have separate areas for “People” (anything employee related), “2020” (anything 2020 initiative related), etc. I think of Areas as buckets of responsibility. You should def pick buckets / Areas that are pertinent to what you do. Have a good one!
I was a big fan of Things before I found your blog, but the ideas you have shared here are transformational! THANK YOU! I’m really looking forward to putting some of these ideas into practice. I am curious about one aspect of your tag structure that I can’t find a place you have elaborated on… can you breakdown how you use the “On Hold” tags (Waiting, Owned, Next Up)? I understand the benefit of the waiting tag (when used in conjunction with a person tag), but what is your intent with the other two? Thanks!
Glad you found it helpful! To simplify things, I’ve actually removed the owned and next up tags. I found it was extra complexity and not much return.
Best of luck with your setup and let me know if any questions, thanks!
I just downloaded Things3 the other day and am trying to figure it out before the free trial ends so I’ll know if I want to purchase it. Ive read this article as well as “Be a Pebble Snatching, Productivity Fu Master” and they both helped out a lot, so thank you! I do have some questions though.
1. Do you ever have to-do’s that are just loose (not part of a project or area) in the today/upcoming/anytime/someday, or do you make a habit to always assign to-do’s to a specific project/area?
2. Similarly, do you ever have to-do’s within an area that aren’t within a project? Or is it best practice to have only to-do’s within projects, and only projects within areas?
3. I’m just kind of confused overall about where to put repeating to-dos, for example routine things that i do at least once a week, like work out, grocery shop, laundry, etc. Where should these repeating to-do’s be kept? I don’t want to put them in a project because those are supposed to have a start and end, and those tasks never end, so should they just be loose in an area? Your answers to questions 1 and 2 might answer this.
Appreciate any help you can give 🙂
Hi Matt, glad you found the articles helpful! I absolutely have todos and repeating todos that are in areas but aren’t in projects.
For example, I have a “Work” area where I’ll capture lots of general work related items. But within my Work area, I have a number of work related projects that house their own todos.
A project should have more than one step and have a start and end date. In my setup, any todo that isn’t tied to a specific project would be attached directly to the area.
Hope that helps!
Nice article – thanks for sharing.
As someone who is constantly on the lookout for the perfect personal workflow, flip-flopping between OF and Things en route, this approach looks the closest I’ve found to something that may stick.
I like the discipline of only scheduling tasks with real-world Due Dates and dipping into Anytime for some bonus tasks when I get a free slot. As a ‘completer’ I like zero Inbox and zero Today view at the end of each day. Which leads to my question…
Today is Tuesday. I have a task that has a real-world deadline of Friday but I know I need to get started on it before then. If I wait for it to appear on the Today list on Friday, then I won’t have time to complete it. Yes, I could try and break it down into smaller, actionable, steps but that isn’t always possible.
How to handle these tasks in the above system?
I have been using Things ‘as designed’ for these (deadline of Friday, start date of – say – Wednesday and keep chipping away). This gives visibility but is killing my OCD of wanting a clean Today view at end of each day(!) I also find that I keep nudging these longer running tasks back a day at a time as the afternoon draws to a close. Basically, all the bad habits that come with artificial start dates …
I could set reminders to kick in ‘x days’ before the deadline but Things 3 only allows Reminders t be set for the deadline day as far as I can tell.
What is the cleanest, most frictionless, way of handling these?
Hi Brian, glad you found the article helpful!
I have 2 scenarios just like what you described in my Things this week. I am wired the exact same way that you are … I do my Daily Review to get to zero Inbox before I start working on any tasks and I NEED to see my Today view empty by EOD!
At the end of the day, I think you have to break the big deliverable into smaller pieces. If you can’t block 2+hrs and just grind it out in one sitting, you have to break it down a bit. Here are some options to visualize this:
– You could use a checklist w/in the todo. Check off the sub-task when you finish it. It’ll feel good to “complete” something, making it ok to then schedule the todo for tomorrow (where you’ll finish the next step).
– You could use a project and break the sub-tasks down into their own todos. You could make the project due Friday and schedule the project for TODAY. Then, you click into the project and work on the first task until you complete it and if you need to move on to something else, then you simply re-schedule the Project for tomorrow. The project and all the remaining todos will disappear from Today.
– If this is a recurring project, you could think about using a Repeating Project. You’d set it up once and follow the steps above however often you need to complete it (once a week, once month, etc).
At the end of the day, any of these will “work.” I think for folks that are wired like we are, you need to feel like you’re making progress everyday. It doesn’t feel good to push unfinished work from day to day (even if we are making progress). That’s why I think the key is to force yourself to break the bigger task into smaller tasks and use a Checklist or a Project. I think the satisfaction will come from checking something off your list before you schedule the next step for tomorrow (think of it that way … you aren’t pushing it out, you’re scheduling the next step!).
I hope this helps!
Thanks Vince. Nice to know I’m not alone in this way of having to trick my own brain.
I have been using the Checklist method thus far for these multi-day tasks but it does still feel like I’m pushing the Task down the road moving from day to day.
I quite like the idea of a Project (which I usually reserve for ’big stuff’) for a couple of reasons:
1) checking off Tasks feels more meaningful than items on a checklist; and
2) the project has a slightly different appearance in the Today view so I can reconcile internally that it may stray across days.
Its strange how we have to fool our own minds but … if it works…
Thanks again. I’ll give that option a shot.
A couple of other things I have done since you introduced me to shortcut keys for Tags ….
1) I have resurrected my time-based categories:
– (S)hort … which is 10 minutes or less and usually but doesn’t always tally with low energy
– (M)edium … which is more than 10 and less than 30 minutes… and means I can grab it between meetings
– (L)ong … which is 30+ minutes and usually means I have to tag it as a Pomodoro session to focus on it too.
I also renamed “Focussed!” to “Pomodoro” to encourage me to schedule a session and avoid my Procrastination-chimp… which has just taken over now while I’m responding to this post of course!
Its a work-in-progress but your method has certainly kick-started a floundering set of productivity techniques, so thank you.
Hi Brian, I think you’re spot on … the mental side of this is so important (maybe the most important thing)! To feel good about clearing your plate every day. To feel like you’ve got a flow that works. To feel confident that everything is in it’s proper place. It’s gold.
I think a clear Inbox each morning and a clear Today list @ day’s end are 90% of the challenge. If you can consistently do that, the rest is personal preference and maybe a few bells and whistles. And love the mental effort tag / strategy that you’ve employed.
Great stuff. Have a good one sir!
I love picking a top goal for the day or week; I’m curious how you set those up in Things. Do you have a “Top Goal” tag? Or just make sure to keep it at the top of your today list? Thanks.
Hi Dylan, thanks for leaving a note! My flow has evolved over time, but what I’m doing currently regarding weekly goals is working really well for me:
Each Monday morning, I have a recurring task that’s called “Weekly Routine.” In it, I have three sub tasks: 1) Weekly Review, 2) Journal, 3) Weekly Goals. For the Weekly Goals, I use a note that I update each week (I have a link to the note in the sub task so it’s easy to access).
Each Monday morning, I determine my 3-5 top goals for the week and I add them to the top of the Weekly Goals doc. Throughout the week, I’ll return to my Weekly Goals doc to see how I’m progressing.
What’s nice about this approach is that I can see my progress from previous weeks as well so at the end of the month, I can see all the big ticket items I accomplished!
This separation is important in my opinion: Goals in Notes (or Bear, Apple Notes or wherever), separate from your tasks & projects (in Things, Apple Reminders or wherever).
Hope that helps!
Don Turner says
Simple the best article I’ve ever read on organizing tasks – especially as it relates to Things 3.
I’m a semi-retired serial CEO who is pretty proud of my organization system and skills. Having to go into companies and quickly get a handle on stuff I’ve developed a comprehensive organization system for the “Office of the CEO.” In doing so, I’ve been a longtime OmniFocus User because of the customization I could do to fit my organizational system.
Recently, I switched to Things because I don’t need the functional by company granularity and was looking for something simpler and more aesthetically pleasing. Still working on keyboard shortcuts and I do wish they had two features:
1. Ability to subsort with a Today Area by Context (i.e., Tags)
2. Ability to have default fillings like Tags and Areas
That said, find Things a beautiful application to work with.
Still studying this article but WELL DONE! Thank you.
Hi Don, I’m glad you’ve found the article helpful (and thank you for the kind words)!
I’ve never used Omnifocus, but I understand that it’s incredibly flexible (which has it’s pros and cons). I think you’ll be happy with Things as you settle in with it. I honestly think that keyboard shortcuts in Things are one of the things (pun) that sets it apart! If you can get a mastery of the basics it’ll take you to the next level. To start, I’d zero in on the Date and Tag specific shortcuts. Once you nail those, you’ll be able to fly through your Daily Review in no time.
And you may find that you don’t need to sub-sort by Tag. When it’s time for me to get to work, I filter my Things list to only see certain tasks (typically I’ll filter to see only my “Priority,” “Focused” or “Quick” tasks … opt+cmd+KB shortcut). I don’t like staring at the whole list, it can be too daunting. I focus on my high priority tasks and the ones that’ll take more brain power early in the day and when I get a free 15 mins or so, I filter to just see my Quick tasks so I can knock them all out.
Sorting would be nice, but I find that being able to quickly filter out the noise and hunker down on one type of task is super helpful!
I’m sure you’ve already been studying this, but here’s the Things KB Shortcut article if it’s helpful: https://culturedcode.com/things/support/articles/2939808/
Best of luck as you get your Things groove on and take care!
Vince, I am blown away by the discovery of this article! I used Things a while ago (iPhone + PC guy) and shifted to Todoist for cross platform. This article brought me back, the beauty and function of Things is untouchable and the way the app can be used such as you describe is so effective. Yay!!!
A question on Anytime/Someday: If I have a project due in 3 weeks and it has open 10 tasks, 5 I would—like—to do this week, should I kick the last 5 to “someday” so the project/anytime view only shows the scope I want to get to that week? Or is it better to never assume I can “clear” my anytime list for the week after knocking out the big 3 tasks each day?
Related, would you kick projects to “someday” if you want to take a week break on them even if they are due in 2+ weeks? I’m basically trying to avoid the “Anytime” view becoming my new overplanned “Upcoming” view.
Hi Paul, glad you found the article helpful!
I try to stick to Anytime = stuff I want to tackle this week and Someday = extra, bonus stuff. But, I also try to restrict tasks in Anytime to my next action for each project. What often happens is you may start with 10 things that you think you’ll need to do for a given project, but after you complete item number one, the scope changes.
What I try to do is use one Note per project that houses all my project details. This will include potential next steps, links to slides or other docs (or links to other notes), etc. I keep my potential next steps @ the top of the Note and revisit it often. I copy the link to this Note in my Project notes in Things.
So as I complete tasks in Things, I’ll revisit the Note to see what’s next. If the scope has changed, I’ll update my note and then put my next action in Things. For me, this helps me separate what I use Things for (organization of todos) vs. what I use Notes for (project details).
This works for me, but honestly, I would go with whatever works best for you! My biggest recommendation would be to try and keep Anytime filled with next actions (vs. any possible actions) as much as possible, this will help keep it from becoming too noisy.
Hope that helps, have a great one!
Vince, thank you for your thoughts.
I’ve had a great week learning hands on about over-planning next steps :). I am getting better at this! I’m not yet hybridizing and using the NOTES in Things as my Bear for project notes.
A few more items:
I want to plan an anniversary event each year for me/my wife.
If I want a task to [repeat] annually to achieve this, it HAS to be scheduled? I like the idea of a deadline with ability to tackle early in “Anytime”, but with limitation of repeating tasks, how to do this?? Maybe I don’t set to repeat and leave a final step to set the next year’s item?
As I write the above, I realize normally planning the event would take multiple steps and should be a project, so here is what I’m thinking:
Project: “Plan anniversary event” (deadline: week before the date)
Set to repeat, set to appear 2 weeks before deadline
I can bump into this project when it drops into “Today”. I can [Clear] “Today” so that it stays in my week, or more preemptively, in a weekly review (Is that the time to check “Upcoming”?) I can catch it and plan a real start date or clear the start date?
If you block time to complete a task, do you keep that task sitting in TODAY/UPCOMING and then check it when actually done?
Do you set DEADLINES or just add things to TODAY when you add must-complete items?
Days ago I did a lot of work getting things going on an insurance payout for a totaled car 🙁
I needed to get documents done and ready to mail. Throughout the day at—different times—, I:
Looked up UPS store hours
Read over documents at work
Called business 1
Called business 2
Called business 3
Coordinated with my wife
Drove to bank/notary
Finished documents and packed a bag at home that night.
What is your rule for a checklist in a task? Steps for an item that will complete in ONE sitting (ideally?)? I struggled with best use of them with the above work.
The scope shifted a bit as I completed each item, I first had a task with a growing checklist (felt wrong to do that, checklist should be known definitive steps??), but then made separate tasks since steps were in different contexts/at different times. But with that, I didn’t have larger unifying named goal to group the steps under (since they all lived in a project called “Replace the Forester”) So after the fact I actually re-named a single task that contained my goal “Complete State Farm package and plan shipment” and made a big checklist and moved all things I had done inside, because seeing so many tasks in my logbook for the day made me feel weird vs previous days having my “big 3” (+1 or more extra) completed 🤣.
With the above ITEM 4, would you have added “Replace the Forester” to TODAY and added any other items to make a “big 3”? Or better with such importance to move specific tasks from the project to TODAY separated by day/evening and filtered by tags as needed? I did plan and complete other tasks from other projects/areas that day.
I actually can’t find where you specifically said big 3, I think you just recommend adding MUST-COMPLETE items no matter the quantity?
THANK YOU for reading through this and helping me!!!
Hi Paul, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to accomplish any of the examples you’ve listed. Here are my quick thoughts:
Item 1: What you described is exactly how I’d solve for it. I have recurring monthly projects that follow a similar course, each month the project pops up in Today. I’ll take the project out of Today and then schedule / add due dates to each task based on real dates in the current month.
Item 2: I tend to keep my tasks open until complete, in the off chance that I need to step away or tackle something else. I don’t want to forget to come back to it.
Item 3: I mostly use deadlines as a way to remind me that I need to take action on a task. This way it pops up in Today and I can make a decision on if Today’s the right time to tackle it or I can put it back into Anytime (with or without an updated deadline). I will put deadlines on Projects that are “real.”
Item 4: I don’t have a hard and fast rule for when I use checklists in a task vs. when I’ll break out into separate tasks in a project. I’ll use the checklist quite a bit when I’m capturing quick ideas for something I’ll need to do later … it’s a nice way to get a few bullet points down before I leave the task in my Inbox. I wouldn’t over think this one honestly. The beautiful thing about Things is that there are so many different ways to do things, as long as the main tenants of your system are tight, you can play with things like recurring projects, checklists, headers, etc.
Item 5: I have a problem with 3s … like, I have to bucket EVERYTHING into 3s! So don’t let me put my issues on you, 😆! Regarding items 4 & 5, the example you gave (in my opinion) is exactly why I think you should be careful not to plan too much stuff in Things ahead of time. If you do, you may find yourself tweaking and renaming and adding and deleting quite a bit.
In this case, I might have a project called “Replace the Forester” and a note (in Notes or Bear) where I map out my approach. Who am I going to call? What websites have I visited? I’ll capture links, photos, etc in the note and copy the link to the note in Things. I will typically even map out my thoughts on the steps required to complete the project. Then, I’ll figure out, what ACTIONS am I going to take this week? Those actions then become Tasks in Things. I might have tags like “quick” or “focused” or “call” or “priority” assigned to each task, based on effort required, etc.
Hope that helps and have a great one!
You’ve helped me out a lot once again, I appreciate it very much!
Being more flexible with a checklist makes sense.
Related note: It is such a game changer for me to put the week’s tasks in Anywhere as you recommend, it’s been amazing for me!
That’s great, glad I could help. Have a good one!
Vince, I can’t thank you enough for this post! It has been revolutionary. I had Things 3 installed on all my devices but only used them as to-do list.
You taught me how to use the app, but much more than that some very sound principles.
I want to share with you something I discovered yesterday. A JS script that you can run with BetterTouchTool to send items from your today list to your calendar with the whatever duration tag the tasks have. You can see the post in the link below. I have made some changes to the code, which are also in the forum as a comment.
It is nothing compared to what you have shared with us but maybe it will be useful to you and the other readers. It was also very nice reading through the comments, as others have already asked some of the questions I had.
Thank you very very much for taking the time to share all this!
You can email me or write in the forum If you have any questions regarding the Script. Have a nice day.
Hi Orkhan, I’m glad you found the article helpful! And thank you for sharing your script, I’m sure other’s will find it helpful!
Thanks again and best of luck nailing your trusted flow!
Thank you for your Things 3 advice and examples – I find them very inspiring and useful. You had written above “FYI: If I could schedule todos to automatically show up in the Evening, I wouldn’t need a separate Area for this purpose. But since I can’t, this is how I’ve solved for this need.)”.
I’m not sure if the following is exactly what you want, but this person (whose Things 3 approach I also have found helpful) has written an Apple Script that automatically moves items tagged with “Evening” to the “Evening” category. If you go to the URL below, just CMD-F the page for “Applescript” and it is the first occurrence of that Find term: https://accordingtoandrea.com/tag/things-3/
Hi Mike, glad you’ve found the article helpful and thank you for sharing this suggestion! I’ve seen it on the Things Reddit sub a few times and have heard that it works really well. Thanks again for sharing and have a good one!
Paul Harren says
I’m stuck with apps like Asana at work. Tasks can have a “start” and “due” date or just a “due” date. So can’t replicate using Things in Asana because there’s not a native function to differentiate a scheduled task vs a deadline. Any recommendations for making Asana work more like things? Maybe include a red flag emoji in tasks that are a deadline and not a scheduled date?
Hi Paul, thanks for reaching out! I’m unfamiliar with how Asana works, but if I understand you correctly, it sounds like it works similarly to Apple’s Reminders where you can pick just one date for each todo (which definitely forces you to make a few decisions).
In Things, I rarely EVER use a Start Date because that moves the todo out of my Anytime view. 99.99% of the time, I use the Due Date field so the todo shows up in Anytime and it also pops up in my Today list when it’s due.
With that logic in mind (if I were personally trying to use Asana the way I use Things), I would use the todo date as the “due date.” If you use the Things start date a lot and wanted to duplicate that process in Asana, I think your recommendation is a sound one. I might use a “flag / emoji / priority indicator” to highlight that the todo has a due date, and then maybe I’d include the due date at the end of the Tasks name: Ex: Team Meeting Slides (6/2). This way, you just need to look for / filter based on the flag and look for the due date in the title.
Not sure if this is helpful or makes any sense, but best of luck getting this to work in your setup!
Paul H says
This really helped, thank you!
Glad it helped, have a good one Paul!
Antony Stubbs says
Absolutely love your writing! It’s amazing!
Question- any thoughts on how to manage keeping in touch with friends?
To elaborate – I live in a country away from my home country so have lots of friends back home that I struggle to keep in touch with. I made a social area, where I have the list of friends that I try to keep in touch with. I schedule their names into the future for frequencies when I think I should touch base. However as you know – this quickly becomes unmanageable with everything else – and your well explained issues with over scheduling. Any ideas?
I thought if maybe a spread sheet with a date column of last contact – and sorting by number of days since contact, maybe with different classifications of frequencies… However, I usually just forget about it or it’s too much hassle, so I usually revert to having them in Things. Thinking of maybe using due dates on date of last contact, so the overdue count shows days since contact. But thought that might overload the due date function too much.
P.s. I’ve been using Things for I don’t know how many years – maybe 15 or something. And just YESTERDAY discovered that tags can be inherited – this is literally going to change my life. I came across your blog when searching for tag info – and then your blog is next level going to change things 🙂
Other issue in relation to this is I have projects and areas from 2009 that I can’t bring myself to delete (they’re all marked Someday projects, or XXX Archive). Yes, I’m an information hoarder. Would love if things had an Archive function so I didn’t have to press that scary delete key 😉
Hi Antony, I’m glad you’ve found the articles helpful! Tracking friends and family can be a little tricky. If it feels like a chore, you’ll be less likely to follow through.
I use due dates all the time BTW. Anytime I want something to pop up in my today list, even if it isn’t “due” on that day. So, if due dates work for you, go for it.
Another simple option could be to create a weekly recurring project that has your friends / family listed as separate todos. When this project pops up each week, you could then go in and schedule these calls out or use due dates. If you add these calls to your calendar, you’ll be even more likely reach out.
Best of luck keeping in touch with your peeps! Take care. Vince
Julio Vera says
Hi there! Thanks for this wonderful post, it has been very helpful.
I wanted to ask, what if you can’t complete an item in your today list? Do you just reschedule it to the next day or send it to “anytime”?
Hi Julio, I’m glad the post was helpful! To your question, I think it depends. If I realize I won’t get to an item on my Today list, I’ll ask myself when I realistically need to complete it and / or when I’d like to be reminded about it. Typically, I’ll remove the item from “Today” (sending it to Anytime) but then I’ll add a due date when I want it to pop up again. That could be tomorrow or at a later date. I lean towards this approach because if for some reason I do have time later in the day to tackle it, it hasn’t been removed from my Anytime list. Hope that makes sense. Have a good one!
Julio Vera says
Thanks! I’ll try your approach 🙂
thanks to much for that post, even though I am a bit late to the party of publishing it. But I have had Things installed and lying around for some time without being used. Common problems like a always full today folder with rolling over every to do to the next day and so on.
I am also a bit trapped in looking for the right “how to do it” instead of just starting and procrastinating even more by that. But your approach seems reaaally solid and I am gonna give it a shot.
One question though, which I could not answer myself, even after reading the article more than once plus reading the comments.
I get the powerful idea of the Anytime folder – anything for the coming week and it protects me from a too full Today folder. But when I move something from the inbox to anytime, it does not get assigned to a Project. It just shows me “One to-do was moved out of the inbox”. I would like to assign a Project AND put it to Anytime. If I put it from the inbox to a Project, it gets assigned a “Someday” time stamp automatically. How could I make it a “Anytime” time stamp? Is this somewhat understandable to read?
Thanks so much again, this might be the start for a more organized scheduling for myself and i will definitely read into your website more.
Hi Jan, I’m glad you’ve found the articles helpful! Regarding your question, when you move something out of the Inbox, it should automatically get moved to “Anytime.” To move it to a project, you can 1) just drag it into the project, 2) click on the to-do, click “move” and then select the project or 3) press shift+cmd+M and select the project you want to move it to. As part of my morning routine, I move each to-do out of my Inbox and into a project. I hope that’s helpful, if you still have questions, don’t hesitate to follow up. Thanks!