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Originally Posted by Andrew Scott View Post
I think Things "Today" feature is a major strength and something that OF can't match on the iPhone. Today integrates sceduled tasks with manually selected tasks in a unified, simple view that I find very usable. Using Flags in OF doesn't replicate this. Setting the Start or Due dates on items can achieve something similar but it's far more cumbersome than the "Show in Today" mode of Things. The Next view in Things, although less structured and less powerful than OF, works very nicely and rapidly as a daily review mechanism, allowing for very easy allocation of tasks to Today.

It's not my intention to promote one app over the other--horses for courses and all that--but I'd dearly love to see OF maintain it's finesse and power while gaining some of Things elegance and simplicity. If OF ever allows the combined viewing of Due and Flagged items then it will be wonderful, at least for me.
I agree that the "Today" feature in Things is a significant advantage (probably the only one). Where I find it shines is in their iPhone app. I'm evaluating it now, and seriously considering switching, but I love so many of the other features in OF.
Hello, I tried Things too. I agree that "Today" feature is a main advantage in things. Anyway i have avoided the problem by creating Two perspectives in OF. My selections are begin/Project/Left/. As OF has no tickler I manage most of my project by start date and a flag perspective (ie the today's things to do).

Then when I use these perspectives i can see what I have to begin today, next week (ie tomorrow its a bug) and next week or the list of task i planned to do today (for i do dayly reviews).

I can tell you that i spent hours testing every soft included wikis and i must admit that OF is indeed one of the best software about GTD even if it really needs some improovements. I must admit today that OF is efficient and powerfull but it doesn't me suit (pretty, pleasant) for the moment.

I hope that the OF team will soon include tags and make OF clearest and pleasant for a dayly use as Things looks like. The way the did it with style is a very good beginning but for me they must go on further.

i shall soon buy an iphone i hope it will sync corectly...

Last edited by Jupiter; 2008-12-27 at 08:54 AM..
There are many UI features of Things that I like. I really like the simplicity, and frankly I'm not overly fond of the complexity of contexts (and the fact that everything belongs to ONE context). So many things about the way Things works with the tags are preferable to me.

However, it is a _very_ closed system... it can't import/export (the only option is through iCal sync), its notes don't support URLs properly (so you can't click and go to a web page or email message referenced in the notes), there is no Applescript support, there are no easy ways to capture from Mail cleanly (you can do it by setting up a system wide override for their services menu but it didn't work well for me), etc. They have _so_ much focus on UI and simplicity that there are just many things you can't do with the application right now.
The "today" feature of things was very useful to me. Perhaps multiple flags or tagging in OF could overcome the limitations mentioned earlier in this thread.

As I am just moving to OF from things, one thing I am still unclear about is how to duplicate the "areas" feature of things. Should I use contexts or projects? (or both?).

I use folders in a comparable way .. folders contain projects and single action lists ..just the same as " areas " in things contained projects and single actions.
I followed someone else's tip of using a single action list for each one of my contexts and it greatly simplified my usage of OF.

so a task to visit the grocery store is stored in a single action list called " errands " and that list is in a folder named " personal routine" it helps me exclude the routine stuff from review and cluttering up real projects etc .

Last edited by ext555; 2009-01-02 at 05:44 AM..

i'm new here...

i've struggled with trying to figure out how to use OF... i bought OF when version 1.0 came out earlier in the year to help me keep track of things at my job. but i haven't had the time to figure it out...

last night, i ran across "things" on versiontracker and tried it today... after viewing their mpeg tutorials and experimenting with "things", i'm starting to understand OF a little better... i figured out how to set up some projects and tasks in "things" that made sense to me. then i've replicated it in OF...

since then, i've spent today reading thru the forum to try to understand how to use OF...

the "today" features of "things" and also "chandler" are very intuitive to me... but i don't understand how to be able to set up that kind of view in OF... i'm under the impression that the "due" button in the toolbar will do something similar after i get more info and dates in the tasks, yes?

the other thing that i'm struggling with in OF, is the context... at first i thought that "tags" in "things" were the counterpart to OF "context". but it seems to me that "areas" in "things" is a better counterpart to "context". i read a thread in this forum about contexts from about a year ago which has helped... i'll keep researching that in the other threads, and not distract this thread... i'm not sure about where the counterpart for "tags" or "notes" in "things" are in OF yet...

anyway, i was surprised and interested to see this thread about "things" here... i've been able to figure out "things" much easier than OF so far... (i mean no put down for OF, just a comment that "things" has been easier and more intuitive for me as a beginner...) i might end up using "things" for a while to learn better how to use gtd, then transfer to OF when i need more features... unfortunately, the workload at my job is usually quite overwhelming and doesn't afford much time for things beyond the day to day activities, such as learning new software... it's a case of the tyranny of the urgent outweighing the important... the common way everyone describes how things happen at work is that each task, activity, or deadline gets overcome by the other tasks, deadlines, and events... but i digress...

my current method for some years has been to keep a simple text based "to-do" list with each of the activities i work on... then i just keep track of which project or activity i have to work on in my head based upon deadlines... while this has worked reasonably well for projects, when i work on them myself, it doesn't work well for the random tasks unrelated to a larger project or working with groups of people are group projects... also, somethings that gets put on the back burner can get lost when it doesn't have a "deadline" per se... i tried using apples, ical and mail "to do" list for the random things for a short while... that did not work at all for me... i'm hoping that one of these gtd tools will help me triage the work better and be more productive...

anyway, thanks for this tread...
@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.

I indeed understand you. So I try an answer hoping it will help you.

For the way of managing information in GTD process read the book of david allen getting things done or summeries in wikipedia or here

For the differences OF/things today feature have to be done via perspective. (see the menu)

OF is indeed powerfull autorizing a lot of possibilities : for example imagine you "tag" in notes or in the task it self something with a high priority i do mine (A) for essential, (B) Important (*) urgent (Z) needs energy (F) needs no energy Today is my perpective of tody's task (wich are flaged the evening <)

In brief : OF is much more powerfull than Things and less buggy. But OF is also more tricky & you have to invest a bit of yourself sweat and tears to get the best of it and in GTD process. Think about your process before too, because OF is like an open blanck sheet, you do what you want to do but it wont think for your self.

For me, Things is a more closed system. It seems simple but when you go further praticing GTD it is not as powerfull as OF for a professional use.

More : OF autorise any link from anywhere and anything so you can follow everythings in the same system and this is prodigious !!!

At last Project in OF are much powerfull you can do what you want. I did mine lile this see image 2. I work on area and I respected GTD process puting in front my most important projects (area business contains my critical projects) Area suppot business contains important projects wich contributes to important projects. I also added process wich are for me check lists about several sequences of tasks.

All I spoke about are example so you make what you want to do and imagine. The only way is practicing, practicing,practicing again because OF is like an open box & things is like a closed system.

This is the reason why i really think OF is fantastic, I hardly paid for using it efficiently, but it is much hardest at the beginning than Things for you have to imagine your organisation. it also needs time to be understandable and powefull. At last my system is operationnal .

I hope OF team will post more video about perspective and examples because theses perspective are the only way to take the best of OF

Best regards
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Last edited by Jupiter; 2009-01-06 at 08:18 AM..
thanks for your reply... much to think about...

i hadn't consciously thought about a specific working styles too much before this... i knew that "things" doesn't support making things in series. it also doesn't seem to support "folders" for projects, which is a minor issue for organizing the lists...

i have been wondering how to order the tasks in either software... in other words, if i have a list of 10 tasks available probably across different projects, i would normally plan where to start and in what order to do the tasks even when they are not interdependent. even in the context of driving errands, i normally write down all the stops and items i need, then reorder and number them according to what makes the most driving sense... if some stops are time dependent, like a dentist appointment, then time become part of the criteria for my list, like when i need to leave by... my habits for lists is to use them when i need them and otherwise not... i only write down items to buy that are things i won't remember naturally, not everything i intend to buy, because i know what i normally need or can decide what to buy based upon what is available, like produce... i only make a list for a day when i have a lot of things to do that day and need to plan it out... i don't plan to use OF or "things" for errands and these types of activities, but instead primarily for the longer term projects, like things at work...

at work, i don't need to write down steps for many activities because i've been doing them for more that 20 years and know how to do them without having to figure out how to do them... it's like riding a bike... i may put bike riding on my list of things to do, but i don't write down the steps for how to ride... even though some analyses can take 6 months work time and span more than a year to complete, i just need to keep that activity in my list of what i'm working on and make time for it, but i don't have to write down what to do when working on that activity...

this thread has helped me be more clear on what i'm planning to use this type of software for:
1 - a reminder to keep track of things i tend to forget,
2 - planning out a block of time or series of tasks
what i want out of this is to have a more efficient way of working that compliments what i already do, instead of replacing what already works for me...

after my post, it occurred to me that i've been using the "tags" in "things" to function like the "context" in OF... perhaps i might consider making "context" that match the "tags"? for example, i made an "admin" tag to remind me of the administrative things that i need to schedule... i don't use a calendar to drive my life, but i sometimes put a block of time in a calendar for administrative chores... my day's at work often are interrupt driven... i start the day with what i most need to get done from a schedule standpoint, e.g. deadlines i'm working towards. then people and activities interrupt that task and i spend much of the time working with people or tasks that pop-up during the day... the tasks and deadlines get change by various people... often i spend time at home either at nights or weekends making progress on the longer term tasks, which no one ever asks for but are things, like a template or presentation, i need to get done in order to be ready for an upcoming activity... everything requires my mac, but i always have it. so it doesn't seem to make sense for me to make a "tag" or "context" of "mac". what i do need a reminder for either for planned events (meetings) or to squeeze in some time for administrative tasks, like clearing out email or the piles of papers on my desk regularly... so, i'm writing down some of the chores that get crowded out of my schedule so that i can put them back in... this is how things are there for everyone at work, not just me... the real problem is overcommitment... there is more work to do that i can comfortably get done or manage... i suppose i'm hoping this software approach will help me be more conscious about i choose to let slide, instead of the important long term things becoming "overcome by events"... during a stable period of time, i do keep up with things... those periods are becoming less frequent and shorter as the years pass... during the chaotic times, i'm looking to use this software to triage the work better... as a matter of fact, the "chandler" software has a "mode" called "triage", which seems analogous to the "context" mode, or more correctly, it is like the "today" in "things"...

so i'm still a little confuse about time in OF... the inspectors panel all have a start, due, complete, and next, repeat, etc. fields... don't those work with the "due" button in the OF toolbar?

regarding "things" and "areas", i guess "areas" confuse me as much as the "contexts" confuse me... i thought one of the "things" tutorials referred to "areas" as a place for on-going tasks, that are never completed, possibly like recurring activities...

regarding using time/dates to keep track of activities and tasks, this is somewhat confusing and problematic for me... there are some activities and tasks seem very natural to work from a date and time perspective, like deadlines and meetings... however, there are other random tasks that can happen whenever convenient... that has been one of the difficulties i've had in using ical... it works for appointments, deadlines, and meetings, but hasn't worked well for me for anything else... the "to do" in ical doesn't work at all for me... i'm thinking now that i may be seeking something that compliments a calendar approach... but there will be overlap between the way i want to order things in OF and the "today" like approach by using a calendar... one thing that i really like about chandler that i haven't seen in any other calendar software is the ability to switch from a "calendar" view to a "to-do" view they call "triage" mode... osaf does state that use a GTD approach for their calendaring software... working things of in a list mode is much more efficient for me that to try to work the from a "calendar" view... i want to be able to get all the other information out of the way and just focus on the simple tasks at hand and not have the information overload of all the other things i don't need to see right now... i have seen that this is the essence of OF and other such tools, which is what attracts me to them... sometimes i need to work in the big picture and planning mode, and other times i need to work in a focused check list mode when i want to get things off my plate...

this is all so interesting... i always like figuring out new things that i don't quite understand... hope i'm not being too long winded... this is helping me quite a bit...

thanks again for your reply-
things" doesn't support making things in series. it also doesn't seem to support "folders" for projects
Yes Things is to new. It makes trouble for complex projects OF is completey adaptable.

not sure to understand #2 :)) I am french ! when you have a lot of task you can prioritize or choose only the next one see the glasses and learn how to use it reading OF support

others # remember GTD is action no proscration so make it simple, clean all what must be, planify your project's tasks at night, read it in the morning you may have it on iphone duing the day at work if you have no mac.

The inspector tool is very simple use it on a task i.e when you want to repeat something or add detail &so about tasks. I dont use it except for repeating. Work on Of is sufisant.

Areas are global domains about something for example FAMILY area includes PROJECTS such as TRIP TO USA (I dream to go at summer hope i will !) but also THEATRES or Family activities. My AREA business see picture in my last post includes All my projects wich make me earn money in corporate real estate investments (I am a broker).

Time management is much more complicated . Some people find usefull in David allen method to focus on time available (see step DO you make things depends on your energy, your time available, context -ie do you have a phone ? so can you pake a call ? " and of course priority. Well i never use this column for i focus on context, project and priority and energy. i plan my projects every night on my diary and it take the time that is has to take if it is too long or i am fed up i do something else and do the end at an another time... Remember alway focus on action !!!! Nothing but action !!!!

Ical forget sync tasks Things is better on that for you can sync only on what you have to do today in OF its all !!!! so it's a mess. If you work on projects just create an action diary and planify the project when you want to do it if you have to do it. So my diary is always open on my mac, ithas 2 open software in parallele ICAL, OF . or MAIL - OF when i work on mail twice a day not more ....

During the day you may use the function focus it's great it focus on the project you are working on and on the contexts. I use it every day....

So i precise i am just an user, i love OF such as hated it when i began on it i have tested nearly every soft working on mac and wikis now OF is realy fantastic but it needs some improovements and a little work on you and your process to be efficient


Last edited by Jupiter; 2009-01-06 at 11:06 AM..

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