Which is the simple, affordable, minimalist productivity app? Thinks vs Todoist on-hand review to identify better task management capabilities.
I asked 2 of my friends, David and Aysha to use Todoist and Things respectively, for 3 months as their productivity tool. They both are freelancers on the same gig.
Things Review by Aysha:
When you’re in the middle of taking a poo or refilling your coffee or having a mental breakdown that 2021 is not yet over and suddenly an idea pops into your mind but there isn’t any way to write it down and just like that brilliant idea is lost. Yeah, that happened to me all the time until I discovered “Things”.
I’ve been using this to-do list app for about three months now and I’ve already invested sixty dollars into it and there is really no going back now.
I did want to show you exactly what “Things” is and why it has taken me so long to figure out my ideal to-do list system and show you how to set up things for your workflow.
Culture Code developed Things back in 2007 but to this day it is still a small nine-person team based out of the small city in southern Germany and if I was wealthy enough to travel Europe and we still weren’t in a pandemic, I definitely would visit Germany.
‘Things’ is a to-do list app.
There are no fancy note-taking, databases, or kanban boards but that’s actually what I like about it. Culture code has spent 10 years fine-tuning an app that is just a to-do list and made its design clean, minimalistic, and has just enough features to suit a power user without appearing cluttered or overwhelming.
It is well organized. There are enough levels of hierarchy that make it easy to structure your tasks, and they seamlessly incorporated it into the Apple ecosystem by far one of the best desktop and mobile experiences that I’ve seen.
This is just a to-do list app and there probably are far more exciting things for me to be reading about but let me show you why I’m so hyped about this app.
For every to-do list system that I’ve tried, there’s always been something missing, so I used a planner in school like every other kid. Besides scheduling my problems, hobbies, and exams, and once a week mandated fun, I also used this for my to-do list, but the problem was portability.
Check the healthy morning routine.
I didn’t always have my planner with me like when I was in the dining hall or lectures.
Once I graduated, I switched to something smarter. I do admit Trello works pretty well as a to-do list and I love the satisfaction of dragging a task into the ‘done’ column but I still feel like Trello’s UI is too clunky. I don’t like all the extra fields on a task card or having to periodically clear the ‘done’ column or waiting for pages to load.
I just need something simple so I went back to basics with notability on my iPad. I loved how customizable this was, how I could make a to-do list as simple or complex as I needed with no restrictions.
I had to navigate away from what I was working on and with some notion speed issues and my general distractibility, this was a recipe for disaster and yes this was aesthetic but after a few months I couldn’t be bothered to pick an emoji and cover art when I just want to get to work. I’m being extremely picky but my time is valuable so I’m always thinking there must be something better out there, something more optimal.
At least for now, ‘Things’ has been checking all the boxes with the inbox page. I can easily jot down an idea without having to think. I don’t need to think about how to classify a task when I need to complete it, where to store it, or how to format it.
In fact, there’s even a shortcut on mac. It’s a controlled space that allows me to enter a task faster without switching apps. Now, besides the Mac and iOS apps the ‘Things’ widget on my phone and watch app is another reminder of my to-do list.
The biggest drawback of ‘Things’ is that it is only available on Apple devices and for mixed users like me, it really sucks to hear it.
And unfortunately, I don’t think they’re going to do anything about it, not anytime soon. I do admit I was initially very turned off by the lack of customization options but now I’m actually cool with it. Maybe it’s a sign of a new grown-up mindset. However, everything looks so clean and consistent, and how there aren’t any more bells and whistles than I actually need.
Even though this app looks really simple, every single aspect of its organization is incredibly well thought out and intentional. Each to-do is customizable by adding notes, a checklist, a deadline, or when you’re planning on completing it.
It is not as clunky as other big players like Trello, ClickUp but a lot more powerful than just a simple checkbox and multiple to-dos’ can be grouped together in a project.
Within a project, you can have multiple headers and can store to group similar tasks and multiple projects in an area.
There are tons of ways to structure your tasks and keep things organized. There’s also this logbook feature that shows your completed tasks. I really enjoy using this to go back and see what I completed on certain days — kind of like a diary now.
Has fair pricing and ‘Things’ is pretty good about this because they just require a onetime purchase. The Mac app is $50 and the iPhone app is $10, which comes out to $5 a month for the first year of use. Even though this is quite the investment, I like the fact that I’ll never have to pay again for this app but will still get access to lifelong updates.
Now I’ve seen far more complicated setups online and mine is still a work in progress. I set up ‘Things’ by making an area for YouTube now at the top of the page. A list of all of my projects with progress wheels like all of my upcoming videos and below the projects are just random errands that I want to get to, eventually.
For example, during this past holiday break, I ran out of movies to watch. I got bored and actually took on completing these tasks. I was very proud of myself and if I were more organized, I would probably set aside when exactly I want to complete these tasks which I can do by typing commands and setting a date.
Besides that, I got bigger long-term projects in the someday section. For example, I have a goal to publish 100 articles on my new website within 365 days so I separated them with headers representing each phase of production.
I usually start off my day by reviewing the tasks on my monitor. Tasks which are separated by project and rearranging them in the order of completion and there is also a feature that I use the most and could be helpful to you.
For example, if I actually had zoom meetings, I could integrate my Calendar right into ‘Things’ and if I want to be more organized, I could also label my tasks with tags.
I use ‘Things’ for things outside of work which has been surprisingly beneficial to kill my procrastination and be more productive.
You can have the watch list to check off during Netflix hours. You can keep your grocery list here for your bi-weekly escapades into the public and to curb late-night panic shopping regret.
I got another list just for returns. It is just nice to have a single place to dump these different things that I would have otherwise forgotten about.
It’s been a lot more useful than I would have expected. Now, if I convince you to try out ‘Things’, that’s great, but really my goal here is to show you that my productivity system is far from perfect and that no single app will work for everyone nor can one app do absolutely everything. So, it’s about trial and error and figuring out what works for you.
I struggled a lot to find a good to-do list system, so I’d love to know how you manage your tasks.
Todoist Review by David:
There are a lot of to-do apps both free and paid. But Todoist is just a simple-straight-forward task management app.
1 Todoist offers an insane number of options to add tasks fast. Call it from the notification panel, using a simple gesture on your home screen, or from a widget on your home screen.
Being able to load a task off your mind into your phone is so important. It frees up mental memory so you’re more productive, efficient, and you never lose a task ever.
2. Todoist offers the fastest way to add a to-do or a reminder onto your phone or onto your app. Adding a task and then attaching a reminder, a deadline, assigning it to a project, and setting a priority are all achieved with natural language typing, and just think about how fast that can be.
You don’t have to tap on a specific tab to select a day then you have to select the clock you know the hours and minutes — Nothing just type the whole thing out and the task gets saved with exact things you want in that task manager.
3. It has the best cross-device syncing and cross-app integrations I’ve ever seen. You can add and access tasks on your mobile phones, tablets, PCs, and laptops.
You can convert your emails on Gmail or in Outlook as tasks directly. You can convert your slack messages into Todoist tasks. You can even take a chrome browser link and add it as a task using a Todoist chrome extension.
Todoist filters are popular on the internet. Filters let you organize the projects, subprojects, sections, tasks, and subtasks.
For instance, I have a project which I can expand to show other two projects that have nested within that major project. Each project can have sections, each section can have tasks, and each task can have multiple subtasks and you can have as many of these as per your wish. You can get really creative in the way you organize.
All of this for yourself in a way that works for you.
It’s like a high-level calendar view of all the tasks that I have pending. I can see their due date so I know exactly which date has what task pending. That is really important.
If you have sections under a project, you can lay it out like stages and then move tasks from one stage to the next until they’re finally completed. So think of it like a Trello board or something that you can do on the Notion as well.
You have a board view and you can move tasks from one to the other stage and then when it’s finally done, you can just check it off. Having that ability in a to-do app that is actually missing in a few other to-do apps is really what gives Todoist the edge. I use that a lot specifically for my project so that becomes a really good reason for my productivity.
If you don’t know how to use or where to get started with Todoist, they offer a pretty magnificent library of templates that you can use. To get started, these templates are across different use cases and genres and chances are you’d find something that works for you. You can just tap on ‘use template’ and it creates a copy of that template as a project in your to-do list view.
Step By Step Slide To Create A Project On Todoist
You can customize these templates based on your requirements and just flee.
Finally, I have seen that it has got a great interface across all devices and plenty of themes that you can work with depending on what mood you’re in. You can also create widgets on your phone or your tablet for a quick view of a certain set of tasks as defined by you. The widgets are customizable and you can set them according to your preferences.
You can also easily add a task from the widget. As I pointed out earlier, these are some of the important features that incline me to use Todoist over other apps. I’m not saying that other apps cannot do any or all of this, I just prefer the way Todoist does it and it works for me.
This quick demo to explain how it looks and how it functions that I told you about may be helpful I think.
The only premium features are where you want to add a date or location-based reminders, use labels, and filters, or tags, and you want to attach comments or files to your tasks.
For that, you’re going to have to get the premium version which is three dollars a month.
You can purchase it annually here or first try out the free plan.
|Unlimited Active Projects||Yes||No|
|Fast UI||Yes||Yes, but not fast as Things|
|Price||$50 one time||$3-$6 per month|
Based on the features, I would suggest going with Todoist. We can make Todoist do complex tasks with integration and make it a procrastination killer. Integration is not possible on ‘Things’.
The UI is very decent for both apps. If you are a less techy person, you can go with Things. It feels like a one-on-one interaction.
Todoist does not have a bulk delete option like Things and Ticktick so if you think privacy is your main concern then you may have to rethink.