Notes on Things

Context: I've been using Things 3 for around five years to organize my life, tasks, and habits. No piece of software will solve the real things that make life difficult — lack of leverage, lack of time, lack of discipline — but Things is an exceptionally good piece of software, and one that I proselytize to friends on a regular basis.

Two people over the past week have asked how I use Things. I think the official guide is a pretty good start, but I'm publishing my addendum in case it's useful to anyone else.

  1. Tags are for global contexts or descriptors. Some people use them a lot; I don’t, personally. I have two tags that I use — “Phone” (stuff I can do on the phone) and “Errand” (stuff that requires going around.) This is useful just for when I want to pull up a call I can make while waiting or something to go do and stretch my legs.

  2. Areas are pillars — long-lasting areas of your life. Right now, for instance, my areas are “Personal”, “Buttondown”, “2917 W Grace”, “Spoonbill”, “Purchases”, “”, and “Leisure”. (“Purchases” is probably the most contentious of those, and it’s just because it’s an easy way to keep a shopping list without it gumming up the works within Personal.)

  3. Projects are, well, projects. A personal preference of mine (and what I think is probably a good habit in general) is to try and define projects as falsifiably completable as possible — so instead of “Fundraising” it would be “Complete 2022 Fundraise”, yadda yadda. One exception I make here is that I like being able to lightly classify a lot of unscoped tasks for certain areas with a ‘forever project’, which is just a big bucket of stuff (for Buttondown I have “Bite-sized work” and “Marketing topics”, for instance; for Leisure I have “Albums” and “Places”). To make these a little more distinctive from ‘normal’ projects I preface them with the infinity sign: ♾. All of that is probably super overkill, I just like having it in Things because it means all of my capture/writing-down goes into a single place.

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