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:

Image for post
Image for post

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.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store