My Things 3 Setup and Workflow

I agree with the security concerns. I don’t usually work with such incredibly sensitive things that I can’t email them.

The Things team seems pretty interested in security, but any time you toss something to email, who knows.

I have actually disabled the Email to Things integration on one repo that does include sensitive information (primary possible trade secrets) that I need to lock down.

But that is “day job” stuff anyway, so no major issue.

I’m trying to eliminate workflows that rely on AppleScript. I feel the way forward with automation is likely to be Web API / JavaScript based.

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I’m with you here. I wish I had written most of my AppleScripts in JS at this point. But when I started, OmniFocus didn’t have JS support so I stuck with it. Nowadays, I want everything to have an API.

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:: sigh ::

So, it has been a while since I’ve posted in here. Not because Things is going badly, just because I haven’t really done anything noteworthy with it for a while.

And then… today I get an email.

“The Omni Group has invited you to test “OmniFocus 3”

Sometime I wonder if I should throw my phone in the lake and search eBay for a Motorola Razr. :wink:

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Was there something that you wanted Things (or whatever task manager of choice) to do for you? If you’re getting your stuff done, isn’t that all that really matters?

Or did you put Things away and went back to pen and paper or another digital app?

I think the app is just a tool. It’s the process that we need to focus on. The app helps us organize our projects, one-off tasks, maintenance work, and pipe dreams. But it’s elbow grease and hard work that gets us through.

I’ve learned not to fall in love with the app but fall in love with the process. I know I got that dopamine hit when I first get that OmniFocus TestFlight e-mail. But that quickly fades after a few days as I work to learn about the new features in OmniFocus 3. It’s still a work in progress but I think I’m slowly figuring out how it fits into my system now.

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I wonder if this this is why people switch task managers so often. We lose the dopamine rush of using the tool and checking off tasks, so we look for a way to get that again.

I think so. It’s why I switch sometimes. Other times I think maybe I’ll find a better system than I have. Often times I don’t. :man_shrugging:t2:

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I’m pretty sure this is why I switch so much, too. But I wonder if there’s a better solution…

One of the things I’d love to see more of is how people actually use their tools. Thanks @wilsonng. :grin:

I’m guilty of this as I haven’t posted enough detail to make it worthwhile for most but many times it’s not that I need to switch tools but I need to see it used differently. That same “high” can be achieved just by re-arranging. However sometimes that “high” needs to be ignored too because it’s just wasting time. It’s a constant battle for me.

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A big part of the issue with the desire to switch / tinker with a system, is due to reading about productivity systems on a regular basis. When that is a hobby or interest, you are constantly flooded with new and novel ideas. There are so many tools developed on a regular basis it becomes difficult to not want to chase the new shiny idea. The chance of coming across the silver bullet that will make everything fall into line is no different than the addictive nature of social media or email can provide. Dopamine is a hell of a drug.

Same thing happens with diet and exercise programs

.

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No, nothing in particular. I’m just, overall, trying to get technology to work for me, instead of against me.

I’m actually quite happy with Things. I got that dopamine hit from the OmniFocus beta. But ultimately it didn’t draw me in enough to make me want to switch back. Probably, mostly due to forcing myself that the grass is perfectly green on the current side of the fence.

Still using Things, still very happy. I’ll have to come back in with an update soon.

Teaser: I’ve completely disabled the GitHub Email to Things… they just ended up being duplicated work. I already use GitHub as a task dashboard (focused down to development work) so having to manage and check them off in Things just wasn’t worth it. (I find a code push to be more satisfying than tapping a checkbox.)

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I’m an iOS developer so I work on a Mac, but I still separated my work & personal tasks & notes. And I much prefer it this way. When I work I like to stay focused on work tasks, not be distracted by my personal goals and tasks. And when I look at my personal stuff, I don’t want to see some work project or task and get stressed out during my free time. :slight_smile:

So I use Things 3 for my personal tasks & the whole GTD system/routine. And Apple Notes for my personal stuff.
While for work - I use Obsidian, both for tasks & work notes. I really prefer having both tasks & notes in the same app for my dev work.

In Things 3 I have a similar setup to yours when it comes to Areas

These Areas of my life is where I devote my time in one way or another. They are pretty broad by design, because specifics might change. For example Discipline contains the tasks around the current GTD system that I use, with planning & reviews, journaling tasks and things like that. But in the future I might switch to a different strategy, instead of GTD. But Discipline will still be needed no matter the system I use. Or take the Adventure area. It is actually about my sailing tasks. But in the future I might buy a van instead of a sailboat. Or go backpacking. Culture is just books and my Spanish learning. But I might pick up piano lessons and study French later. And so on.

It’s interesting the order I arrived by in time. The bottom areas support the ones on top. But the ones on top are more meaningful/important to me. For example I don’t do Finance or Discipline tasks for their own sake, but because they allow me to do better in the other areas which are more meaningful to me.

I like to keep it simple as well. I usually use 2 weeks periods for planning and review. One week was too much overhead for me personally. While 3 weeks, or 1 month, I forgot/didn’t care about the tasks anymore. 2 weeks is the sweet spot for me.

The other levels beside the 2-weeks planning & review :.

  • I started to be more disciplined by first setting a “Vision” - which basically just describes the areas which are important to me.
  • Then I make 3 years plans. Just broad goals on the “direction” I want to take in the next 3 years. Not SMART goals, just big picture stuff like “I want to learn to play guitar” stuff.
  • Then I make a 1 year plan which is a bit more actionable. Like I want to study guitar at least 3 days a week for the next year.

Being more disciplined has changed my life. I’ve been doing this for about 6 years now. And I have accomplished so, so many things I wanted for myself.

One more trick which I have discovered. When I start something new, I start small, really, really small. Just to get the habit going. For example I want to exercise daily. I will set a 10 minute daily routine. With stretches and some squats. And I’ll keep increasing the time or difficulty of the exercises every 2 weeks, 11 minutes, 12 etc.
At the beginning there is a lot of enthusiasm, and you want to start strong. But in time it WILL become an annoyance at one point. To get past that, it needs to be quick & easy. After a couple of months it will become a habit and it’s safe to keep increasing the time/difficulty of the task.
It’s like running a marathon. You can sprint at the beginning and it even feels good, but you won’t make it till the end.

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@lmihai I moved this post to a different topic as I thought it was an excellent fit in this discussion!

Thanks for sharing your setup and workflow!

I like your idea of naming this Discipline – it definitely does take discipline to stay on top of any productivity system, whether GTD or otherwise. I might steal something like this!

I’ve started organizing/ordering projects and areas by meaning as well by happenstance. I tend to want to grab the most meaningful things first, but meaning can change over time so it’s nice to be able to re-arrange.

How did you stay disciplined with a system that long? I’ll be honest - it’s been hard for me, and I know it is for others too. Any tricks you care to share?

Minimising overhead is the name of the game for me. And automation.

The first 2 years I overcomplicated my system, then slowly I went to the other extreme, where I dropped too much stuff. And in the last few years I have found a balance.

I have automated most of my GTD tasks. And I try to keep everything stupid simple. I don’t want to have to think too much about recurring tasks. So I have detailed steps for most of the tasks that I cannot automate. So when I do them I can think about something else :slight_smile:

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