Thread: Things Setup
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@jefferyn, the beauty of Things and OmniFocus is that they both can be configured in various ways to fit the needs of the user, so even though they are inspired by GTD, the user is not locked into using them in one "correct" way. Frankly, I find a lot to like in both applications and, for my usage, each has strengths and limitations when compared to the other. The following is my experiences and observations of using the 2 applications, however I'm not suggesting that it is the "right" or "only" way than can/should be used.

I find that Areas in Things is comparable to Folders in OmniFocus. I have set up Areas in Things and Folders in OmniFocus to represent the "Roles" I have, which is a carryover from the Covey philosophy. In OmniFocus, I've created single-action lists in each role folder and file the projects for each role under these folders as well.

I see Tags in Things and Contexts in OmniFocus to have similar functionality, but the distinction is more blurred than what I see with Areas/Folders. OmniFocus can currently have only 1 context assigned to an action, while Things can have multiple tags. OmniFocus does have the ability to set estimated times for actions, which many users of Things also assign to a tag, so in that regard OmniFocus can have a context tag as well as a duration tag. Personally, I like the ability to assign tags in addition to a context and I would like to see this functionality in OmniFocus.

Given your questions, the differences in Things and OmniFocus really becomes apparent is when comparing the Thing's Today view with any of the Context views in OmniFocus. The Today view is something of a hybrid of GTD and a manual to-do list. The appeal of Today is that it allows the user to add "like to do tasks" to a list of "must do today" tasks. Some users like seeing their work in this perspective, but it does put the "must do today" tasks at risk of slipping through the cracks. OmniFocus does allow the user to flag tasks, somewhat similar to marking a task as "Today" in Things, but one cannot get a single view in OmniFocus that contains next actions and flagged actions like what you see in the Today view.

The only advice I am comfortable giving is to be cautious about trying to use OmniFocus exactly like Things or Things like OmniFocus. While the programs are comparable, there are some fundamental differences that the user needs to be aware of when formulating his/her task management strategy. As example, one needs to be careful when using tags as a context in Things. Currently Things does not support sequential and/or nested projects, so filtering on a tag assigned as a context in Things may not get one the intended results. For example, if I have a project (Service car) due today that includes the steps:

1) buy oil and filter (context: errand)
2) Change oil and replace filter (context: home)
3) Log auto expenses in Excel (context: Mac)

In OmniFocus, I would set this project up as sequential, meaning that I cannot change the oil until after I buy it nor can I log the expenses until after I complete the errand. Taking this project one step further, I could nest a parallel project under item #1 that included steps #2 and #3. Then when I look at my available actions, only "buy oil" appears in the context "errands". The contexts of "home" and "Mac" are empty. Once I buy the oil and mark it done, both "change oil" and "log auto expenses in Excel" appear as available in their respective contexts, so I can choose to log expenses if my available context is the Mac, even though I have not changed the oil yet.

In Things, if all actions are on my Today list and my context is the tag "home" or "Mac", Things will propose that I can change the oil or log the expenses before I have completed the errand of buying the oil. Now in this example, most of us would know that we have not bought the oil yet, but what about a more complex project? If one has to process all the (completed/uncompleted) steps in the project before acting on an action item, it works counter-intuitive to the GTD philosophy of clearing one's head of everything that cannot be done in the current context/available time. Clearly there are some people that cannot work without sequential/parallel projects, some people that are quite comfortable working with this ambiguity, and other (self included) that fall somewhere in the middle. What's important is that the user identifies where his/her comfort level is in this regard when evaluating these 2 applications.