Switching back and forth between Things and OmniFocus

In the last few weeks I have moved back and forth between Things and OmniFocus several times. I find both systems to be effective, but each has its plusses and minuses.

Sometimes I prefer Things

Sometimes I prefer Things because of its simplicity.

Using Things is generally very easy. The user does not have control over the lists used by the app. Things has an Inbox, Today list, Next list, Scheduled list, Someday list, Projects list, and Areas list. Contexts are implemented as tags. Multiple tags can be assigned to a single action or project. Each list can be filtered by time or by a tag. This keeps fiddling to a minimum, allowing me to focus on the things that really add value, my projects and actions.

Sometimes I prefer OmniFocus

Sometimes I prefer OmniFocus because of its customizability. I am an engineer by training and temperament, and so I find pleasure in continuously improving my tools and methods.

Learning OmniFocus has a bit of a learning curve, and you can customize your use of the tool in many ways. OmniFocus allows an infinite number of lists. They can be used for projects, areas, or any other kind of list you can define (e.g. a grocery list). A single context can be assigned to any action or project.

OmniFocus supports hierarchical project lists. Your project hierarchy can include both folders and project lists. In my system, I have top level folders for each Area of Focus (e.g. Wellbeing, Family, Career, etc.). Within each area I have sub-areas (e.g. within Family I have Dog, Outings) and projects belonging to this area.

OmniFocus supports hierarchical context lists. Your context hierarchy can be of any depth you want (e.g. I have a Home context and an Outside context within it).

As you can see, OmniFocus can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it.

Switching systems

I own licenses for the latest versions of both products on both iOS and OS X.

To switch from one system to the other I open them both side-by-side on my Mac, and do a full sweep of whichever I am currently using. I review every action and every project to assure that the system I am switching to has everything contained in the other system.

This full sweep is part of my normal weekly review, but I find it valuable as a stand alone task, as it gives me yet another opportunity to consider each project and each action and decide if this is something I really want to have in my system.

Where am I now?

I am using OmniFocus on my iPhone 6+, my iPad Mini, my iMac and my Mac Book Air.

Both Things and OmniFocus are excellent GTD tools. Both are very worth the price of admission. And there are other excellent options these days for a true GTD system.


Originally published at gtdandy.com on April 15, 2015.