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Things user looking to switch, has questions Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
The time has come for me to abandon Things as my GTD tool. I will switch to either The Hit List or Omni Focus. The price for either of these solutions is not an issue. Features are.

Honestly, Hit List seems better for my needs: I like the tagging features and its flexibility in nesting projects seems more intuitive. Plus I like the interface design.

OF has two weaknesses vis-a-vs THL for me:

1) CONVERSION FROM THINGS
THL seems like I could run one script and have all my Things info integrated into its system retaining hierarchy. The solutions for Things > OF dont seem quite as robust, Id have to do a lot of re-categorizing and re-filing. True?

2) LACK OF TAGS
I came to Things initially because of the hierarchical tagging feature which is the only program I know that can do this easily. It's a great brainstorming tool and I may still keep Things around for this feature. OF tagging seems much more limited.

. . . not really a factor between OF and THL, but . . . .

3) I STILL NEED TO KNOW THAT SYNC IS ROCK SOLID.
I was sharing Things between two computers using the dropbox sync technique.

This is why Im dropping Things.

I had to add notes to myself I have quit out of Things on my work laptop 6:35pm If I didnt see this note when I opened it up on another computer, I would quit out of Things so as not to destroy data. (I have a slower/erratic internet connection at home.)

Even with this safeguard, I would still mess up my database and lose data. So Things has stopped becoming a trusted system a major GTD app flaw.

Everybody raves about how seamless Omnifocus is with their sync but Im reluctant to pay for a glorified dropbox sync option. Writing notes to yourself about a GTD app inside a GTD app is ridiculous, and I dont want to do this again.

How is Thing's dropbox sync different than OF's cloud sync? How can I reply on a cloud sync solution with a slower/erratic internet connection at home?

Also/FYI: syncing to/from my iPhone is not a critical feature for me. Nice to have, but I wont buy software based on this feature set.

Thanks for your help.
 
I have to say I'm right there with you in alot of ways. Though I have to ask, you do know that Things is now in public beta with their sync solution, right? And you do know that it pretty much beats the pants off of Omni and any other todo list I've found. It's pretty frickin amazing. It's a little less amazing if you're not concerned about the iphone app.

That said, Omni's solution is great, but still obviously requires a decent reliable connection to function properly.

THL is wonderful software as well. I think each software has its plusses and minuses, I think the most important question to ask is, which software helps you Get Things Done as opposed to Getting Things Listed.... Right now I'm personally ready to go back to pen and paper becuase it's always in sync and my constant flip flopping of todo software has ironically made me way less productive than before.
 
Welcome! A search in the OF forums for "Things" should get you started with the experiences and opinions of others.

1) The conversion will require some care. Things is task-centric, with projects acting like folders to contain them. OF is project-centric, with tasks acting like steps that complete them. You are switching paradigms.

2) When you absolutely must have tags for your workflow with no exceptions, then OF will not work for you. That said, I came from Things with the same thought that tags were "essential". That day has long since passed as far as my GTD workflow. In the meantime, I now look for the day when OF has OpenMeta tag support to help me collect projects and tasks in sync with all sorts of other documents that are part of the entire "information content" of a project.

3) My Mac + iPod tend to stay in sync without a serious level of reminders on my part. Sometimes, I sync manually anyway, especially when I realize that I have made major changes on either platform. It just seems good practice to me.

HTH

--
JJW
 
Previous posters provided a lot of good info, so I'll chime in about sync unless you have specific questions...

Dropbox is a great service, but it was designed to sync whole files and makes no attempt to merge concurrent edits from multiple devices. It just puts both copies of the file in the Dropbox and asks you to sort things out.

By comparison, OmniFocus' sync is specifically designed to be able to merge changes from different devices. The potential for the kind of edit collisions you saw still exists, but for it to happen, the same database items must have been edited on two devices while they were out of sync, and it'll only affect those items in the database, rather than the whole thing.

The manner in which it sounds like you're going to be using OmniFocus - on two Macs, only one of which is in use at any given time - is going to make the chances of those edit collisions happening very small.

If you have un-synced changes, OmniFocus will sync them in the background one minute after you switch to another app, sending them up to whatever server is storing your sync data. Meanwhile, whichever Mac you're not using will check the server once an hour, pulling down any new items that have been put there. (This check also happens when OmniFocus is started or woken from sleep - if it's been more than an hour, a sync gets triggered.)

You're welcome to grab OmniFocus from our website - it runs in trial mode for two weeks, and we'll be happy to help you set up sync so you can see how it all works. Feel free to call us (800.315.6664) or send email if you'd like help!
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian View Post
If you have un-synced changes, OmniFocus will sync them in the background one minute after you switch to another app, sending them up to whatever server is storing your sync data.
Actually, it will sync them in the background one minute after you make the change, regardless of what you are doing (unless you've quit the application, but if there are unsynced changes when you tell it to quit, it will do a sync as it quits). The switch to another app bit applies to the iOS apps, not the Mac.
 
Thanks for the replies, this definitely gives me the info I need to make a good purchase.

@Brian: I really appreciate the detailed explanation on Dropbox vs. Cloud sync. Its a fine, but critical distinction. I feel I can trust cloud sync solutions now.

Another reason I'm dropping Things is their limited ability to nest and sub-categorize projects. I didn't want to initially bore forum readers with my workflow, but: I just find I'm working around Things's paradigm too much. I think of my projects as a collections of tasks, with some of those tasks involving a series of mini-steps. Perhaps I'm violating somebody's sense of "pure" GTD, but hey, its my tool for my life.

I can probably live without tags. I didn't use them as much as I thought I would, but backward compatibility is nice.

Tags & Hierarchical Tags are a great tool for sorting and filtering out large elements with overlapping categories. Things lets you do this without custom programming. I find this great for brainstorming & initial planning of complex projects, but there may be other uses. That's a whole separate thread and topic.
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by reason808 View Post

Everybody raves about how seamless Omnifocus is with their sync but Im reluctant to pay for a glorified dropbox sync option. Writing notes to yourself about a GTD app inside a GTD app is ridiculous, and I dont want to do this again.

How is Thing's dropbox sync different than OF's cloud sync? How can I reply on a cloud sync solution with a slower/erratic internet connection at home?

Thanks for your help.
I was also reluctant about OF's cloud sync but decided to give it a try. It is such a delight to use it. It's almost invisible to me.

I just have to remember to click the sync button to transfer any changes on one computer and have it sync to another computer.

I would make changes on my Mac, click sync and then open up my iPod touch or iPad, click sync there and all the changes just appear. If I'm out and about, I can check off or change an OF item easily. Then when I happen to be near a wifi hotspot, click sync and feel confident that my stuff will also sync back home without having to worry about losing or corrupting data.

I wouldn't worry about a slow internet connection. There isn't a lot of data that is being transferred when you're syncing changes. It's just small nibbles of text that takes a matter of seconds.

As for transitioning from Things to OF, I think there's no way around it. It may not be easy to transfer stuff from Things to OF. What I would usually do is to just keep Things around as an archive of my completed tasks and projects and then just start fresh with OF. Yes, there is a resistance from THings to OF because it just feels like a huge shift in thinking and workflows but it is well worth it. Start entering currently active tasks and projects into OF. Then start entering the "Someday/Maybe" projects/tasks.

Re: Tags..... I think tags are best used in moderation. I can recall a time when I went tag crazy in Aperture and started tagging everything. Eventually I had hundreds of tags. Later I started rethinking the process and refined my tags to about 25 relevant tags.

When I started using OF, I really ached for tags. But then after using OF for so long, I really don't miss tags. All of my tasks are already organized in sets of folders and projects.

I have my home projects, my personal projects, my office projects, my family projects, and my personal development projects, my community projects.

Sure, some projects may fall in more than one tag but I just picked the most relevant tag that I felt was the better fit. For example, I may have my "soccer dad project". This could fall under personal development (coaching kids and learning to interact better with my own children) or I could place it under community projects (where I put my own personal contribution to society). Or I could place it under family because I wanted to create a closer bond with my wife and children. Ultimately, I placed it under family because that was where i wanted to put the most emphasis.

Now that I've said that, I do look forward to the day that tags will be implemented. By that time, I'll probably find new ways to use tags in moderation. But for the meantime, the absence of tags isn't stopping me from getting stuff done.

I know that using OF is definitely a jarring experience and required a lot of major rethinking on my part to get it to work. But now I can see how these changes to my original workflow (which I thought was natural) has benefited me now.

I had to learn how to use perspectives to replicate many of the features and workflows in Things. I learned to create my own "Today" perspective. Then I set out to create a "Due" perspective. I used folders to create my "Areas of Focus/Responsibilities". These are all features that are automatic in Things but I had to figure out how to recreate them in OF.

The beauty of OF was that it allowed me to be flexible and allow me to create a design different workflows that may suit me this year but possibly not next year. My workflows have definitely evolved over the years. That's where OF's flexibility and power has helped me.

I used Things to originally get me started in the practice of GTD. But I eventually move over to OF when I finally decided that I outgrew THings and couldn't wait for cloud syncing and other features like the Weekly Review that were missing in THings.

Last edited by wilsonng; 2012-03-09 at 03:11 AM.. Reason: Added paragraph about moving over from Things to OF
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by reason808 View Post
Another reason I'm dropping Things is their limited ability to nest and sub-categorize projects. I didn't want to initially bore forum readers with my workflow, but: I just find I'm working around Things's paradigm too much. I think of my projects as a collections of tasks, with some of those tasks involving a series of mini-steps. Perhaps I'm violating somebody's sense of "pure" GTD, but hey, its my tool for my life.
This is the main reason I can't use Things. There's no way to nest tasks or create sequential projects. I hated when I would click a Tag and tasks that were Step 2 and Step 3 would appear when Step 1 hadn't been done yet.

I tried to get an idea if Sequential projects would ever be implemented and general response I received was they would not. Even if they were planning it, I can't imagine how long it would take to be implemented with Cultured Code.

But if you are concerned about sync, Things' new Cloud Sync is insanely great. Super fast and almost invisible to the user. It took them years to get this done, but in the end they did it right.
 
 


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