Things and OmniFocus for GTD

Date: Tuesday, June 15, 2010 by GTD Times Staff

A Community Contribution from Jason Verly

For anyone who uses a Mac and utilizes the GTD method, you may eventually look into what software you can use to help manage your project and next action lists. Currently you.



14 Responses to “Things and OmniFocus for GTD”

  1. I used to use OmniFocus on my Macintosh, but found that it was inconvenient to store my tasks on the computer (especially when I remembered some things to do when I was away from my computer).

    When I purchased an iPhone, I decided to give Things a try as I had heard good things about it.

    In general, it is very good, but there are some short comings:

    1. You have to activate the program to get a notification that something is due.
    2. I don’t see any way of using the iPhone’s address book to delegate tasks.
    3. I would like it to integrate with my calendar and notes app (or have its own built in).

    Any chance of getting some applications for the iPhone reviewed? I’d love to know how Pocket Informant stands up to the test.

  2. Jason Verly says:

    I think we’re going to see some big changes in GTD task management software as part of the new iPhone OS (iOS4) due next week. OmniGroup has already stated they have some updates slated for the iPhone OmniFocus app due to some new programming changes related to calendars and notifications from new API’s in iOS4.

  3. Nuno Donato says:

    I can’t understand how people call some apps GTD-oriented when they fails some really basic GTD principles.
    Anyone can point out where are the WaitingFors in Things?? As far as I know there is no way to have task delegation… which IMHO makes it a non-GTD app.

  4. Brian Greer says:

    OmniFocus is the perfect GTD app for me. I had been using apps and systems in the past that either forced me to make compromises on GTD, or had too high of an overhead expense to stay on track. I started with just OmniFocus for iPhone, and then later added the Mac version to my MacBook Pro. It makes a huge difference for me.

  5. Massimo says:

    WaitingFor in Things could be a Tag. I find this way really useful because tasks remains in their project for a better “one time view” but in the meantime I can see all pending tasks in different part of my system simply filtering the Tag. For me Tags in Things are the Context (@office, @mac, @phone, @home, @errands) plus @waitingfor

    I’ve used Omnifocus in the begin (at least 4/5 months) but when I’ve found Things I immediately love it: it simply, elegant and give you will to use it! Personally I think it leave you concentrate on the job than on the way-to-handle it !

  6. Bud Ward says:

    I started out using Things, but I switched to Omnifocus for iPhone & Mac.

    Things is more visually appealing & easy to use. The tag system makes it very easy to customize. However, it doesn’t allow for sequestial tasks in a project. I also found it difficult to narrow down “what I should be doing now” because it shows all remaining tasks.

    Omnifocus is more powerful, but the interface is not quite as polished & the learning curve is a bit steeper. Omnifocus allows for parallel and sequential tasks. The iPhone app syncs over the air w/ the Mac version. It has better features that allow you to limit or focus your task view. The iPhone app’s ability to capture voice, text, & pictures for tasks is superior. I especially like the ability to send emails to the OF inbox.

    As much as I wanted to use Things, Omnifocus was more powerful & fit my workflow better.

  7. Mark Denu says:

    Thanks for such a useful discussion.

    I’ve been using OmniFocus for over a year. I debated whether or not to try Things. This thread answered my question.

    I think that ultimately your task manager’s feature-set should serve your needs and be fun to use. Things sounds like a great app if you don’t want to spend a lot of time tweaking your To Do list. On the other hand, if you’re inclined to tune your lists to precision using GTD next-action, waiting, sequential, etc. principles then it sounds like OmniFocus is your best choice.

  8. SRiggs says:

    I’ve been through a big collection of task apps. I started with iCal tasks, then toodledoo and then ToDo by appigo and then I went to Things and then Omnifocus. I stayed with Omnifocus for about a half a year and then I switched again. After much frustration with syncing and tweaking and wishing this and that was different and then getting settled only to have the developer change the process just enough that it messed with my workflow and let’s not forget the mercy of the network engineers at work changing rules….. I switched to paper. So far, after 4 months, I’m still here on paper. I do miss all my cool toys sometimes but having lists that work for me keeps me here. (for now) 😀

    (ps. I’m a computer programmer)

  9. Russell Corrie says:

    Great comparison of the two. I have found that Things works quite well. When I first downloaded the trial on my Mac, I was a little disappointed because they didn’t have the official GTD methodology built in (i.e. @Calls, @Action, etc.). What I chose to do was use the “Areas of Focus” section to list my @Actions. Although they have certain elements built in like Scheduled, Someday, and Next, I really wanted to use the @Computer, @Office, @Home method. For me this has been the best way to go about doing it with Things.

    Overall, it’s a great product and if you’re a GTDer on a Mac and iPhone, this is a great way to go.

    Take care,

    Russell

  10. RPerini says:

    Great discussion. I have tried both programs, but still have a big issue with both (the reason I have not bought either)

    I cannot use them to schedule appointments into Ical. I want a software to be my processing workstation for everything – I don’t want to switch to Ical whenever, as part of processing, I need to schedule an appointment.

    I have tried the demo of busycal, but it is again adding another layer.

    Any suggestions?

    Thanks
    RPerini

  11. deepfriedsushi says:

    I am using both Things and Omnifocus! Yes, call me crazy but it’s working out so far. I have been on things for 6 months and found it lacking a little but…not enough to switch.

    There are many things done well in Things so I use it for general purpose project management and working with iCal.

    I create todo lists in Omnifocus that are more complex and require multisteps in Omnifocus for estimation and project review, then drag the todo list as a hyperlink to the project or task notes in things.

    Omnifocus outliner feature (cascading lists) is awesome to really break down complex tasks and the extra columns for time calcs etc is what I use most for estimating jobs (I’m a freelance web developer). It’s easy for breaking down the estimate into smaller discrete tasks. I can better estimate time so I’m less caught out on estimations.

    Not for everyone but an idea that perhaps it doesn’t have to be one application versus another situation.

  12. deepfriedsushi says:

    I forgot to mention with Omnifocus the use of templates is also very useful for repetitive checklists!

    I hope this helps someone. : )

  13. deepfriedsushi says:

    I’m sorry. I should have said Omni Outliner above instead of Omnifocus. Never tried Omnifocus.

  14. Cathy says:

    I have tried both Omnifocus and Things but is using MyProjects (http://bit.ly/kO4ovt). It is more “in sync” with my way of working. 🙂

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