Home Getting Things Done Things 3 Simplicity with Power

Things 3 Simplicity with Power

by Kerry Dawson

It’s sometimes hard to imagine how something could be powerful yet simple at the same time. Things 3 draws it’s power from it’s simplicity. The ability to be easily able to work with the product is empowering. Instead of spending x amount of time trying to figure something out, you just do it and fortunately Things 3 provides you with a good range of views that allow you to assess what you need to do.

All Good Task Managers seem to Follow a basic Four Part Structure

If you look at any of the good task managers, such as Omnifocus, The Hit List, 2do etc they all seem to enjoy a four part structure for managing data.

Looking at Things 3 you have from top to bottom:

  • Areas of Interest
  • Within these areas you have Projects which are made up of two or more tasks
  • From there, within a project you have your tasks and when they are all completed so is the project (you’ve accomplished your goal)
  • Views from the simple through to the complex which allow you to look at what needs to be done; how; in what time frame and on it goes

Things 3 has been so well designed that this format or layout is relatively intuitive. Some task managers, which do exactly the same thing, are not that intuitive leaving you puzzled as to what needs to be done.

Things 3 makes easy work of projects and tasks so you can concentrate on the work and not the formatting of the project or task.


Things 3 could be a little stronger in the realm of views however, the problem is that you might layer on unneeded complexity. It is simply nice to quickly glance over what you need to do for today, tomorrow and the next to ready yourself. Something that is too complex can end up wasting a lot of time in trying to fit things together.

Things 3 though does provide many views of your work from priorities accomplished through the assignment of priorities to tasks that need to be done in certain areas of focus. As you’re putting together your work, you can easily manipulate any of the items so they sit where they should. You shouldn’t however, spend a great deal of time thinking about your layout. In Things 3, the layout falls into place relatively fast in an easy to understand manner. As such, you can get to your work fast without being buried in trying to interpret the road map.

Clean Interface

One of the nicest things about Things 3 is the interface itself. It is very clean with almost a minimalistic view. It’s nice to look at and work with.

You can write out a task on a line but with a double click the line expands out to show underlying material such as its categories or tags. Things 3 is very Tags centric. Through the application of tags in a logical fashion you can generate views based on these tags such as show me all my tasks by priority or all my financial tasks.

The effective use of tags in the product is central to its good design. A lot of products allow the use of tags but their effectiveness can get lost in the myriad of things you have to do. Complexity can replace this simple but effective approach which can also lead to confusion and an overly great deal of time being spent on your task manager.

The Key to a Good Task Manager is Getting Things Done

Completing work

If a task manager is powerful enough yet simple enough to allow you to outline what you need to do quickly but let you get to the task at hand and complete it more quickly, this is an effective task manager. Ones that can do everything under the sun might keep you buried in the task manager, wasting time and ultimately preventing you from getting things done in a timely fashion.

The worst thing in a day might be when your boss comes a long and says how is x,y,z going and you say great – I have 100 projects and 1000 tasks but am not quite finished writing out the tasks. To that you add, to top it off this is a very challenging project as I have no idea where to start. This would likely be the worst thing that could happen in your day except the part where you’re being led to the door.

Things 3 is Not the Only Well Designed Task Manager

There are other well designed task managers but only if they sort of follow the Things 3 lead. As an example, 2do is incredibly well designed and can let you go a bit further than Things 3 but it can also lead to overuse if you’re not careful. Things 3 has just the right balance needed to be extremely effective yet sharp to look at. 2do falls into this same category and some of its extras can prove invaluable as long as you don’t spend all your time writing out what to do but not doing.

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