Leaving Bear Tracks in Things

craig eley
Feb 5, 2018 · 2 min read

For the past few months I’ve been using Things as my daily task manager for the simplicity of its interface and its Apple Watch app. But one feature I have missed from more complex project management tools is threaded comments in tasks. Some of the projects I work on involve multi-step tasks that unfold over long periods of time; I find it can be really helpful to leave myself notes, sub tasks, links, and other bits of info as I work through them. While the “notes” section for Things works in a pinch, it is an extremely basic text area without features like Markdown.

So last week, as I was reading John Voorhees’ review of Agenda, a sentence toward the end caught my eye: “…I use notes in conjunction with my task manager far more often than my calendar…” And I thought, “Yeah. Me too.” But for some reason I never thought about a good, systematic way to make those linkages.

It struck me that the answer was probably a database-driven writing app, even though I largely avoid those in favor of file-based systems. But I decided to fire up the much-ballyhooed Bear, and soon realized that its solid URL scheme allows for easy integration with Things — and that integration can be automated using Workflow.

In fact, thanks to Workflow’s smart variables, this can be accomplished in only three steps:

Here is a link to the full Workflow: Things Notes In Bear. This works by asking you to create a task, then creating a note in Bear with that task as the title, then linking that note into a Things todo which has the same title.

After using this for the last week or so, I’ve found that keeping notes in Bear works as expected: the editor is great, and I can take more detailed, Markdown-flavored notes for complex tasks. But what surprised me is how handy it is for writing-based tasks (like this very post), where the link goes directly into a working document. Mentally, I’ve found this eliminates a lot of friction — getting started with writing is just a click away. And having not used a ton of database apps like this, I was really pleasantly surprised to learn that Bear’s unique URLs work across platforms. So my notes, their links, and the related tasks all stay in complete sync across devices.

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